God, I pray for an understanding heart today.

Dialogue is not easy. It seems fairly simple, and many times when we look at situations from a third person perspective it's so easy for us to see how a dialogue should look like. But when it comes to actually implementing that, especially in difficult and touchy topics it's much easier said than done.

Many times, and myself included, I find that we resort to the Bible and Church Teaching as ammunition against certain arguments. We absolutely need to be firm with what the Church teaches and watering it down is NEVER the answer. But it does matter how we use and relay the Church's teachings in conversation.

My time spent in retreat ministry taught me a lot when it comes to approaching young people who have very skeptical views or different views from the Church. The minute they sense that you are "throwing the rule book at them" the conversation is gone. They shut down, get guarded and defensive, and quite honestly pulling any fruits from this moment becomes near impossible.

I love listening to different debates with Catholic Apologists, and also looking at the approach of St. Thomas Aquinas. Both desire to understand what the other side is claiming, and why the feel the way they do. When we take the time to understand the other person we present an opportunity of trust and comfort.

In the Gospel we know that Jesus did not water down God's law. He was very clear about it, but we also see how He "sat and ate with sinners" (Matthew 9:10-11). He spent time with them, listened to them, and allowed them to develop trust.

We may be faced with many different situations like this today. It may be a friend, a family member, or our own children that have either strayed from the faith or have difficulties accepting or understanding certain teachings of the Church.

Desire to understand before you want to be understood. Go deeper with them. Take the time to want to understand why they feel the way they do, and ask them questions. Ask LOTS of questions. When we use questions instead of statements we allow the other person to search deep into their own convictions and what their claims are founded on. It allows them to come to the full truth on their own rather than us throwing it at them.

God, I pray for an understanding heart today.

Walking Together,

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