Ten tips for fishing

The mission of the Church is still the mission of Jesus Christ. And Jesus is still calling fishermen to become fishers of men. I sang Masses at St. Peter's in Gloucester for eight years. And as we approach the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, I remember one thing I learned from the fishing families of Cape Ann: Nets and lines and traps don't put food on the table, a good catch does.

But how do you fill your nets? And if you're trying to catch souls, how do you draw fish into the flock? How do you keep from coming up empty handed?

Evangelizing isn't easy. And most of us who keep venturing out into the deep have at least one or two stories about the ones that got away. But there are some tips that can help, and some basic principles that might well make the difference.

1. Go where the fish are. In other words, don't stand in the middle of the field and ask the fish to come to you. Go out to people where you know you will find them, not where you wish they were or where you hope to bring them. Someone once asked John Dillinger, the violent thief of the Depression era, why he robbed banks. His answer was as startling as it was logical: "Because that's where the money is." If you don't know where to find fish, ask a fisherman.

2. Use the tools of the trade. That is, cast a line, drop a net, sink a trap, or throw a harpoon. Understand that different tools will result in a different catch, even on the same water. You can't catch a lobster with a rod and reel, or a marlin with a dragnet. Likewise, you are unlikely to draw a teen to Jesus with a CD, or a senior citizen with a Facebook group.

3. Use the right bait. If you don't offer a fish something he is already looking for, he'll just keep swimming. Know what the fish is looking for, and if you don't know, ask the fish. That is, know what people's needs are and meet them. It seems to me that sometimes what we want to give isn't always what someone wants--or needs--to receive. A new mother needs a hot meal and an hour to herself more than another yellow baby undershirt. But understand that when it comes to bringing people to faith in Christ, your life and the way you live it is the live bait on your hook. People won't bite on a plastic lure for long. Be good enough to eat, and honest enough to go to confession when you're not.

4. Be prepared for a long day, week, month, or years without catching much of anything. God knows that you are tired and wet, and your nets are empty. God knows that you think that fishing is, perhaps, a colossal waste of time. But he also knows what is swimming around in the water, and just maybe, he is sending you out there to catch it.

5. Reel or haul them in. A fish in the cooler is worth five on the hook. Bring what you catch to Jesus. Some fish really know how to put up a fight, and it takes more than one angler to land them. Ask for help if you need it, and know that you will in fact need help. Rely on the Holy Spirit and not yourself, and realize that some catches make it hard to sail the boat. When a wave of new people suddenly arrive at the parish, things change for a while, and not always for the better.

6. Know that not every fish is a keeper. Sometimes, even the most experienced fishermen hook a rock, or a shoe, or a shark. A dragnet will bring in everything, including a lot you won't really want. Don't worry about it though. People have a way of sorting themselves out. Not every fish will choose to leave the sea for the pasture.

7. Share your tales with other fishermen, but don't exaggerate. Christians need to learn from one another and encourage one another. The first story you tell, however, should be your own. How were you caught, and by whom?

8. If you've never caught much of anything, try something new. Look, there really are plenty of fish in the sea, lake, river, etc. Remember the time when Jesus told the disciples to cast their nets on the right side of the boat? It's because they were fishing on the wrong side (not the left side).

9. Pray for a catch. Nothing happens without prayer. The same Jesus who commanded the wind and the waves and who walked on water provides you with everything you need. He will also fill your nets.

10. Pray for the catch. In other words, pray for all those people who are swimming through life without God. Pray for the people you are hoping to bring to faith in Christ. Pray for the people you aren't even thinking about bringing to faith in Christ. And, continually place the people you have brought to Jesus into his hands.

When Jesus called the first disciples, they left their boats to follow him. But in these days of chaos and confusion, in this age which some have called post-Christian and post-Christ, Jesus is asking us to try it all again. From the eternal shore he calls out to us, "Children, have you caught any fish?" (John 21:6)

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Nation
Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

World
Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

World
Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

World
After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

Nation
DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

World
Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

Nation
What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

World
'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

World
Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Nation
Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...

World
Leaked German report shows 3,700 cases of abuse of minors in 68 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12 documents nearly 3,700 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by ...

World
Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian bishop arrested for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop who was arrested and charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in ...

World
Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said. ...

Nation
Washington cardinal to meet with pope to discuss resignation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington has told the priests of the archdiocese that he will meet soon with Pope Francis to request ...

World
Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops' leaders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention ...

Nation
Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights ...