Inviting Friends to Mass Might Just Be the Nudge They Need to Explore the Catholic Faith
When I was a freshman in college, an Orthodox Jew, and his two Chaldean Catholic friends, invited me to Mass. I am confident their simple invitation opened the door to my reversion back into the Church and provided a model worth following.
My first two years of college were at a local community college. I was one of very few women in the physics and higher level math departments studying to be an engineer, so I was the target of a lot of jokes, questions, and eventually ridicule. Moreover, I was visibly a Christian because I wore a cross prominently around my neck. Early on in the semester, an atheist classmate began to hassle me about my cross. He badgered me daily for weeks asking a barrage of antagonistic questions regarding the bible, Jesus, Church history, and other topics. I had no answers for him due to my poor catechesis and lackluster enthusiasm for the Faith. However, those three men, my peers, began to answer the atheist's questions for me.
Out of the three, it was Matt, The Orthodox Jew, that especially knew quick and apologetic answers that would silence his derisive questions. Eventually, Matt shared with me that he started going to daily Mass earlier that year and he asked if I would like to go. I found this strange but would later learn that he believed Jesus to be the Messiah.
His invitation to daily Mass was simple and humble. I felt no pressure whatsoever, no guilt, no appeals to long-winded reasoning. I agreed to go to daily Mass with the three of them. We sat together for one daily Mass. After Mass, Matt invited me to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (at the time, I had no idea what that was) to pray in silence. After we prayed, he told me I should consider going to daily Mass more often to learn what it is I believe.
Little did he know, I would take him up on that offer. His simple question and polite push opened the door to a complete head-first dive into the beauty and mystery of our faith. Daily Mass, prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and eventually, weekly confession, became my routine schedule.
As I reflect on his invitation to daily Mass, a few things stand out to me as to why it was so easy to accept.
1. The invitation was simple and without conditions. He genuinely gave me the freedom to say yes or no and nothing in our friendship changed. He had no ulterior motives. He simply wanted to share the Truth that he had come to know.
2. He knew what he was talking about. Before he invited me to Mass, I had witnessed, quite a few times, his ability to defend the faith. He spoke without fear and with authority addressing each question that was posed. If he didn’t know the answer, he would find it out. I found this intriguing and wanted to know how he knew so much, especially since he was not Catholic.
3. He was rooted in prayer. He would spend time praying before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and his invitation to daily Mass seemed to flow from this humility he was learning rather from a position of pride.
For love of neighbor and in gratitude for the gift of redemption, we should be seeking souls for Christ, striving to bring all closer to the Sacraments. Although this looks very different for each person and each state of life, the invitation, especially to Mass, should always be a foremost expression of our apostolic desires. Our invitation to others should be personal and come out prayer for that particular person that we are extending the invitation to. As for ourselves, we should be cultivating a deep desire for the Mass in our lives and especially for Holy Communion.
Years after this invitation to daily Mass, I have looked for Matt on social media, but have had no luck in finding him. As I think back on how much of an impact this had on my life, it seems strange that Matt would be left without any idea about the good his invitation produced. Yet, I pray this will be a consideration for all of us: that no matter the result we see, it will be Christ that uses our invitation in amazing ways that we could not have ever designed.