Because of the Divine Beauty of the Mass

Guest Post by Terry Fenwick

I met Terry by way of Francis Beckwith’s Facebook page. Pretty soon, we were “friends” too. Shortly thereafter, we were trading e-mails back and forth and I learned that she was a Catholic convert from the class of 2004.  She, and her late husband, Tom, came into full communion with the Church in 2004. She shared this piece she had written for her parish bulletin with me . I don’t know much, but I knew one thing immediately upon reading this; it needed a wider audience. Take a look and see if you agree with me.

Come and See

Since becoming Catholic in 2004, I have asked myself over and over, why I was never invited to attend a Mass. I could attend funerals and was invited to a few weddings, but not one Catholic ever invited me to Mass.

I was obviously a believer: I loved the same God, I taught the Word of God and many Catholics came to an interdenominational group Bible Study I taught. I always behaved well; I would never have embarrassed anyone. The Catholics who came to class all seemed to like me. I have always been approachable. Why, in more than 35 years, did no one ever once ask me to visit his or her parish for Mass? Why didn’t they ask, “Will you come to Mass with me Sunday and let’s go out for brunch?”

My husband, Tom, and I went to our first Mass at the Cathedral on February 2, 2003. The minute the Mass ended, we turned to each other. Wide-eyed, I said, “This is worship!” Tom said, “Yes, and we are coming back!” As we stopped to say hello to the priest Tom told him, “We want to become Catholic.” One visit to one Catholic Mass; that is all it took. That one visit and a ton of grace – but God provided the grace. The time was right for us. The time was perfect.

We attended Mass for one year and one day – and on February 3, 2004 we were received into full communion in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is true, we did not “get” to come forward for the Eucharist for one year and one day, but it was always clearly stated in the Cathedral bulletin: “All those who have not yet made their First Communion, and those who are not members of our faith, are invited to come forward and receive a blessing. At that time, please cross your arms across your breast and come forward for a blessing . . .” We could live with that. What was wrong with that? A blessing. We loved it. We loved that blessing for one year and one day.

I can remember one of our grandchildren, hearing we could not “take” Communion “yet” said, “Grandmother! They would not let YOU take Communion? You are the best Christian I know.” But I told our grandchild, “The Eucharist is so special – first, the Eucharist is a sacrament. Second, they wanted us to fully understand what the Catholic Church knows and teaches as Truth. It is like waiting for the wedding night – being ready for it – anticipating – and we loved the blessing while we waited.”

Tom and I kept inviting people to Mass; we invite our family now, but others, too. We both know that our believing Brothers and Sisters “in Christ” in the many other Protestant denominations, although not believing in the “Real Presence” in the bread and wine at the consecration, do understand that Communion is not just a sip of wine and a chunk of bread. We know we all love the same God.

So what is the reason many Catholics don’t invite friends to Mass? Is it because we can’t explain to our friends or to our family that they will have to wait, like everyone else had to wait, until they understand what Catholics believe before they are ready to receive the Eucharist?

Any person who is secure in his or her faith would find it easy to come to Mass with us. The stronger the Protestant-believing Christian is in his knowledge of the Bible and his faith, the more he is going to see the Mass as beautiful. He will know the untruths of what many Protestants have been told in the past – that Catholics crucify Jesus all over again and again, it is a bloody Mass, or Catholics have a death cookie at Communion. He will know we don’t worship Mary, or the saints but we do worship Christ who has died, Christ who has risen and Christ who will come again. He will be amazed at the beauty of the Old and New Testament seen and heard in the liturgy and how much Sacred Scripture we hear at Mass every day. He just might fall in love all over again with the Lord and want to come worship with us. Tom and I did just that.

We have it ALL in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Why then are we all not sharing it? Pope John Paul II told us to be evangelical. Why do Catholics keep this a secret – this wonderful worship – exquisite worship? It is clear we do keep it a secret. If we don’t ask friends or family to come with us to a Mass, most of them are not going to fall in the door of the Cathedral when they walk by, as Tom and I did.

Sure, you will be turned down. I can promise you that. You will be rejected. Embarrassed? Yes, you will be embarrassed and some people will tell you things that hurt you about your faith. Who cares? Call it suffering if you like – Catholics do that well. Catholics understand suffering and how it unites us to Christ. Protestants get turned down right and left when they invite people to church, but they still invite people. Do you know why? Because they believe, with a passion, that faith is a life-and-death situation. Do we believe that? Do we believe, with a passion, that faith is a life-and-death situation? Sure we do. Do we want others to know what we believe and why we believe it? Sure we do. For some reason, we just don’t know how to tell them.

The Mass might show them.

Faith is more than a matter of life and death. Faith is a matter of divine worship. Absolutely divine. Invite someone to come to Mass this week. Bring a friend for a blessing. Tell them in the words of Jesus, “Come and see.” They will like it. We did.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14664864341946607447 Terry Fenwick

    Wrote this almost 5 years ago, to the day. As I read it, after Frank posted it, I know I still feel the same way. I wrote it to Catholics but both for Protestant friends and Catholic friends to see how they want the same thing for Christ. I still see that. I have loved every day of being Catholic and I have such security as I do know this is the only Church Jesus started in Matthew 16 and the Gates of Hell will NOT prevail against it. Jesus did it ALL before he left – leaving no loose ends. The keys were important – see Isaiah 22:22, 23, the Shepherd Peter was so important as we needed to be fed as lambs, guided and fed and kept secure as sheep; then the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost was to finalize it all. The perfect plan for His people and the sheep of His pasture.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07712575631937682691 Autumn

    Amen!

  • me@50

    I have known Terry for 26 years now and I had the great honor of being her sponsor when she entered the Church! What joy! Terry's heart was overflowing and she was glowing. Tom was weeping holy tears that day as he received Jesus in the Eucharist and as he renewed his marriage vows with his bride. Terry was my Bible teacher and then she was (and is) my friend. In her lectures and in our private conversations she'd often talk about the importance of worship. She longed for true worship. She was the only Protestant I knew who had a kneeler in her home. She's always loved to pray on her knees.When I was torn by comments from misguided Christian friends and tempted to leave the Church, she persuaded me to stay…and to pray for the answers to my questions. I prayed, God answered, and I stayed…with a new fervor. I prayed and prayed for Terry and Tom to enter the Church..and ten years later they did.Now, did I ever once INVITE them to Mass? I blush to say I didn't. I should have. But I do know that it was God's perfect timing that day they went to the Cathedral. As with any story, there were all kinds of little things that God had done along the way to prepare them for that day and that was the perfect day, the perfect Mass (Candlemas) for them to be there in that perfect place (St. Mary's Cathedral) and they didn't even hesitate when they heard His call. God is good.And Terry is so right…why don't we invite others to Mass? Maybe we don't feel our choir is very good? The homilies are not strong enough? The people are not welcoming enough? We should just trust God, shouldn't we? We should trust that His Word is powerful and will reach the hearts of the people as it is proclaimed and that when Jesus "is lifted up" in the Eucharist He will draw all people to Himself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05840225587885934271 That Straight-Haired Catholic Girl

    I'm with Terry! I have loved every day of being Catholic (2006). The Church draws you in and holds you tightly. You are safe and secure knowing that Holy Mother Church will guide you in the way of truth. The first time I attended Holy Mass, I knew I had come home…

  • http://www.ipadre.net Fr. Jay Finelli

    That is awesome Terry. I wish more Catholics had the courage to invite their friends and neighbors to "come and see". People of other faiths have no problem doing it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08503199813799648349 Patty Bonds

    I thought I would be shrewd and ask a Catholic friend of mine if she would come to my church if I came to hers once. She agreed. Little did I know what the Lord had up His sleeve! I was very impressed by how much scrpture was read before the homily began. But when the liturgy of the Eucharist began, I encountered the Lord I had always longed to see. Having learned to recognize the presence of God through discipleship and prayer, I was immediately enveloped by the Presence of God as each person filed to the altar and received Holy Communion. I could barely speak after Mass and ran to the parking lot praying all the way. "Lord, I know that was you I encountered in there! What do I do now? Where do I start?" He told me to start with what was drawing me. Start with the Eucharist. 51 weeks later I was received into the Catholic Church. That was almost ten years ago and it just becomes a deeper and deeper experience and God's grace changes us into what we receive!Blessed be God forever!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06526710417511058512 Patricia Tardi

    What a powerful testimony Terry! So many miracles happen during Mass, especially bread & wine transubstantiated into the BODY, BLOOD, SOUL & DIVINITY of Jesus Christ our Lord by the Catholic Priest who acts in PERSONA CHRISTI!!!… so many of us Catholics just seem to take it for granted; But we NEED to be FERVANT & ZEALOUS for our Catholic Faith & for Holy Mother Church …ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, & APOSTOLIC! Thank you so much for sharing this post, & I really think Marcus Grodi should book you on the "JOURNEY HOME" on EWTN so the whole world can be blessed by your amazing story!!! :) God bless you! +

  • peggy

    What a great article…. I am a cradle Catholic and I wouldn't trade being one for anything in the world.God is good. Thanks for sharing such a special story.

  • Gary Goedde

    I got to know Terry about seven years ago. I remember her telling me that she wished that someone would have invited her and Tom to the Catholic mass sooner in their lives. I have never forgotten that. I continue to invite not only protestants but fall-away Catholics to mass.

  • Gabriella San severino

    I was so blessed to read this beautiful testimony of faith, love and openness to the Holy Spirit!Thank you, dear Terry, whom I've only known for a couple of months now, through our Catholic community on Facebook:)..but right away, was touched by your gift of zeal for the Lord and His Church! You have given 'cradle' Catholics-like myself-such inspiration to share the rich treasure that is God's gift of Himself at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He truly is the One who "draws all men to Himself."…thank you for being so open to receive Him in His fullness. Blessings always,my sister in Christ+

  • http://thepeacefulplace.wordpress.com MaryJ

    I love Mass and thanks for the reminder that we should invite more people along. I never thought of doing it before. Now will certainly endeavour to do so.

  • http://openid.aol.com/rrsoseman R R Soseman

    Very well written. I often thought we should have "bring your neighbor to Church" Sunday like the Presbyterians down the street. Part of our hesistation comes from the recusant spirit which English Catholics had to follow, or be martyred, and so they developed their own spirituality, but didn't speak about it. I have often invited non Catholics to Mass, reminding them that they are there to pray, but not to feel bad if they don't follow along with everything we do. Congratulations Terry on these excellent words of encouragement!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14664864341946607447 Terry Fenwick

    I appreciate your comment, Monsignor Soseman. I had often wondered, how being so selective/cautious about inviting people, thereby losing the Evangelistic approach, might have happened. Recusant spirit . . . and that word is only used in the England situation by definition. It was to save their heads. But even earlier than that, it was difficult to be evangelistic as it cost many their lives. Maybe you should write about this – or have you?We do have it ALL and we need to share it. I love being Catholic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1529680037#!/profile.php?id=1529680037 Don Gatwood

    Lovely piece Terry. I'm sharing it. Be blessed!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06821950576683551325 Esther G.

    Aloha:I am so grateful that you shared Terry's story here. I am ashamed to admit it is very difficult for me to invite non-Catholics or fallen away Catholics to Mass because so far, the few times I have tried, I have been turned down. One Good Friday, I invited a Protestant friend to services. I had to explain to her that she could not receive Communion. She could not understand why she could not. Terry has given me the courage I need to ask more people to attend Mass with my family and me.

  • Terry Fenwick

    Do you know I just came by and here I was . . . how fun that is~

  • Terry Fenwick

    My good friend -


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