Bishop John Barres is the new Bishop of Rockville Centre, which encompasses most of Long Island, New York. In his very first statement to the 1.5 million Catholics in his diocese, Bishop Barres made this beautiful plea for Lent:
I am asking every active Catholic of every age in the Diocese of Rockville Centre to invite one inactive Catholic friend or family to come with you to Mass and to gently, humbly, compassionately, non-judgmentally witness to the beauty of your intimacy with Christ and your love for the mission of the Catholic Church and how it has enriched and inspired your life. I invite every inactive Catholic in the Diocese to come back to the power of the Word of God, the power of the Sacrament of Penance, and the power of the Catholic Mass.
The power of these gentle and compassionate invitations is enormous. They always plant a seed of grace. And now's the time to make these invitations. Let's do it together and realize that it is the kindest thing anyone of us could do for anyone....let's give ourselves till Easter Sunday, April 16th, to make that compassionate invitation to our friends. And let's open ourselves to making these invitations more frequently and consistently.
When we die, we will all look lovingly into the merciful eyes of Jesus and review our life with him. The people whom we have helped to invite back to Mass and their Catholic faith will be standing around us with radiant smiles. And we want a big crowd!
Just last week I was with a group of women friends at a prayer meeting. One woman mentioned how, not that long ago, she would never have been so “bold” as to suggest someone come to Mass. Now as her faith has become stronger and as she's gotten older, she doesn't hesitate. “It's evangelizing, it's helping them. I wish fifteen years ago when I was going through horrible situations someone had suggested I come back to church. I could've used the peace of going to Mass.” This woman ran into a young mother in the neighborhood a few days ago who was clearly stressed out and overwhelmed with a number of things going on in her life. “I just said it straight out, immediately. You should come to morning Mass. Your whole day will go better.! I didn't know if she thought I was nuts or not. But this morning she was there, at morning Mass!”