Search and Rescue by Patrick Madrid

Excerpts from the book:

“Evangelize always. When necessary, use words.”St. Francis of Assisi

Jesus wants you to help Him find the lost sheep and bring them back to the fold. Finding out why they left could be the hardest part of your job; often, the reasons people cite aren’t the actual reasons at all. Pray for the grace to listen with your heart as well as with your ears, and be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to use you as His instrument in the world. Don’t be so busy thinking up your own response that you miss what the other person is really saying. It’s important not to interrupt when a non-Catholic is making the case for his beliefs. Patient, attentive listening shows respect and will greatly improve your chances of getting a fair hearing, free of interruptions, when it’s your turn to explain what you believe.

Sow the seed of Truth. We all want to come to see the Truth on our own, not be dragged there kicking and screaming, some people put up obstacles to the Truth. Some people readily accept the Truth; others reject it b/c the soil of their heart isn’t ready for the seed you plant. God is the one who converts hearts, not you or I. His grace reach souls in ways we cannot understand. Therefore, you must not measure your success in terms of arguments won or converts made. This isn’t a numbers game. Only God knows the hidden realities of the human heart. Situations that you may see as failures, in God’s eyes, victories of grace and truth.

Show through your actions and the way you speak – calmly, patiently, and with joy and humor – that you’re interested in your friend as a person, not as a potential conquest. Your adversary in your search-and-rescue mission isn’t the person you seek to rescue. Rather, it’s the blindness, the indifference, the hostility, the bad info, the ignorance, the sin, or any of a number of other impediments that block his path. Look for common ground and build on it.”Were you once Catholic?” is much better than, “Are you an ex-Catholic?”

Don’t think you can change a person’s heart through your efforts alone. Without God’s will and help, even your best efforts and bound to fail. You must learn to rely on God. It’s God who has to do the heavy lifting when it comes to changing a person’s heart. Only He is able to illuminate hearts and minds with the light of His grace. John 15:5-7 – He is the vine, we are the branches – we can do nothing apart from Him.

Examine your own motives often, and work for the good of souls, not your own good. Let others see for themselves the benefits that come from living according to the Faith.

Be much more reliant on your hidden “secret weapons” of prayer and fasting on your friend’s behalf. Relentless daily petitioning prayer that God will grant them the grace of conversion.

Ask a series of questions that will lead the other person to the conclusion you want him to see – to help him see the illogic of his position.

“You’re always welcome to come home to the Catholic Church. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gone or what you’ve done in the meantime; you can come home, if you want to. The door is always open to you.”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Phil 4:13.

ASK Christ for the graces you need to reach out to those away from the Church – He will give them to you. SEEK out that person who’s wandering far from the Lord – you will find him. KNOCK gently at the door of that person’s heart – it will be opened to you so that God’s grace can pour in and transform him.

2 powerful examples in the life of Christ show Him revealing a deeper problem in someone’s life: the case of the rich young man (Matt. 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-22) and the case of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26).

A martyr in Greek means “witness” or “one who gives testimony.” You are a martyr for Christ. You simply have to expect rejection. Remember Christ’s words: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” Know that you are following in Christ’s footsteps. In the final analysis, all of this is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Think like a builder. Start at the foundation, and work your way up, level by level. Doing this ensures a strong, stable structure.

– Pray the Rosary every day for one month for the conversion of a friend or family member.
– Make a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament once a week and beg Christ to touch that person’s heart with graces.
– Fast from one meal a week as an act of suffering in union with Christ on his behalf.
– Tell God about your fears in understanding your search-and-rescue mission, and ask Him to grant you peace and confidence.

– Do I recognize that God is the only One who can convert souls, and that I’m only His instrument, to be used as He chooses?


“First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow.” – St. Philip Neri

“Work as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends on God.”- St. Ignatius of Loyola

“It is our part to seek, His to grant what we ask; ours to make a beginning, His to bring it to completion; ours to offer what we can, His to finish what we cannot.” – St. Jerome

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