I was recently invited to join a University prayer gathering at a local Christian University in Rocklin, CA. After the prayer, one of the lovely young students was telling my friend Pam about how she attended a Catholic Mass and had such an awful experience. My friend casually looked over to me, because she knew this was a divine set up that I would 'happen" to be there at that moment.
The young lady spoke about how her major is inter-cultural studies and she wanted to experience a Mass because Pam told her how she attended a Mass and someone (ME!) explained it all to her so clearly and she "loved it!" This sweet girl had quite the opposite experience and began crying. She even left her phone in the pew and returned 2 minutes later to find it gone. She was told by the person handing out bulletins that there was nothing they could do but to call the office on Monday. Poor girl!
When she was done unloading upon Pam, I looked at her, opened my arms and said, "I am SO sorry you had that experience. I am Catholic, and I want to ask your forgiveness. That is not the heart of our Church." We talked and wept for a few minutes. She couldn't believe this was happening. Healing and unity flowed.
A wise Lithuanian Bishop once told a group of us, "God wants to build community through love. If there is no love, He will build it through suffering." Let us reach out in love to those who are visiting our parishes, our work places, our social groups we attend and make them feel very welcome. It's a new day-- a new season in the world when fear and self protection seems to be increasing all around us. Let's walk in the opposite spirit and be friendly and genuine in the market places. You and I can make a difference!