The latest Pew research study of American Catholic beliefs reveals most self-identifying Catholics don’t believe in the Church’s teachings. Prayer and penance are required to convert their hearts.

The latest Pew Research study came out on the beliefs of American Catholics, which you can read here.

Every handful of years, they do one of these studies and it makes the news. It always depressingly shows that most self-identifying American Catholics don’t actually believe in Catholic dogma, and much concerned hand-wringing follows about what we should do about it.

In this latest study, most self-identifying Catholics think contraception is good (it’s not), that abortion should be legal (it shouldn’t be), and that going to Mass on Sundays is not important (it is).

St. John the Baptist
Rosary and American Flag

The fact that the vast majority of Catholics surveyed admitted that they don’t go to Mass every Sunday, which is a mortal sin, tells you all that you need to know about their lack of faith and conversion.

The rest of the study is moot at that point, as in it doesn’t matter what they say, because they do not even understand nor follow the most fundamental teachings of the Church.

They need conversion, or reconversion.

How can we make that happen?

The Reconversion of Catholics through Prayer and Penance

St. Gemma Galgani and St. Therese of Lisieux, two women who lived in the late 1800s and died in their mid-twenties, show us the difficult path to converting sinners: prayer and penance.

St. Gemma, to whom Our Lord gave the stigmata, along with bleeding from the pores of her skin like Jesus endured in the Garden of Gethsemane, would pray earnestly to God for the conversion of specific sinners.

She offered herself as a victim to suffer so that they would be converted.

St Therese the Little Flower
St Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese, in a famous story, did something similar with a convicted criminal named Pranzini, who had refused to repent leading up to his execution.

She adopted him and offered prayer and prenance for him, and when he was led up to be executed, a priest approached him, and Pranzini kissed the crucifix, indicating his repentance.

So it is today. Jesus gives us the noble mission of offering our sufferings as penance for the conversion of sinners, joining our sufferings to His on the Cross.

Jesus gives us the privilege of sharing in His Redemption for our fellow man.

We continue to be in a terrible crisis in the world and in the Church, but God has shown us through His saints what we must to.

How Do We Do Penance and Pray?

How do we put this into practice?

Lots of ways!

God gives each of us sufferings on a regular basis, some big and some small: the person driving too slowly in front of you, the unkind word from a friend or loved one, physical ailments and pain, emotional wounds and trauma from abuse, neglect, and even from our own sins.

Each of these sufferings can be offered to God in union with Christ’s sufferings, especially in the Holy Mass, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the countless offenses against God and Our Lady that are occurring every day.

You may be given extraordinary sufferings like St. Gemma, but the vast majority of us will not be, so you can adopt St. Therese’s “Little Way” where she offered every little contradiction to God, where she sacrificed her own opinions, inclinations, and preferences in every matter of life. Easier said than done! But possible with grace and our effort.

Prayer-wise, the sky is the limit!

For the conversion of sinners, you can pray the Rosary for them, pray a novena for them (ideas on that below), offer petitions in your Mental Prayer for them, and so on.

Many novenas are good for the intention of converting sinners, notably Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Also the St. Monica Novena, who through prayer and penance converted her son, St. Augustine.

And Our Lady of Fatima Novena, whom God sent to call us to conversion.

Start with one penance, and with one novena, and go from there.

We will beg God for the grace to save the souls of so many people from hell.