[quote="uwwhitewater84, post:1, topic:183366"]
Last night, I went to an evening daily Mass at the Cathedral. As I was sitting and reading my missal for the day's readings, a somewhat elderly man came in and out of the chapel.
After coming and going a few times, he sat down next to me, started making small talk and asked me what I was doing that evening. Eventually he asked him if I would give him a ride home. I told him that I couldn't because I didn't drive, even though I do.
What would you have done in a similar situation? I don't think I would feel comfortable tracing around Milwaukee with a guy whom I don't know.
Laudetur Iesus Christus.
Is there more to this story? Is there some particular reason that you did not think well of this man? It is profane to make, "small talk," in a house of prayer, but (since lying there is worse, being directly blasphemous) this is not much to go on. Without more details, my observation would be:
Cowardice is not a virtue and lying is a sin.
I am often surprised that people are willing to substitute alternative advice, based on fear or hate or greed, for direct instructions from the very mouth of the Lord. Consider, “Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you,” (Matthew (RSV) 5:39), among other mandates.
There is merit in giving the man cab fare, if a ride is really what he needs. However, another possibility is that he is lonely and looking for friendship in a city so desolate that even those in a Catholic church are so hard-hearted that they shun a stranger merely for not being already known to them.
The Church, in the person of an usher or even a committee or program, is not a bureaucratic excuse, relieving one from the actual demands of love. “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (James (RSV) 2:15f.)
In answer to the specific question, “What would you have done in a similar situation,” I must say that the degree of similarity matters. Lacking any further specification, I would not be at Mass alone. My custom is to attend Holy Mass with at least five others, members of my family and two or three friends. If an elderly man had approached me in this manner, I would have presented a polite but reserved demeanor, to try and dissuade him from chatting inside the church. If it seemed that he was in need or even pressingly interested in conversation, I would have suggested that we go to the vestibule to talk. (Or, if time was short before the Sacrament, I might suggest that we talk in the vestibule after Mass.)
If he asked for a ride home, I would have asked where he lived. If he seemed in earnest of needing a ride, I would have offered either to give him the ride he sought, or offered cab or bus fare, if it was inconvenient to make the trip myself.
However, if it seemed that what he really needed was companionship, I would have introduced myself and my friends and invited him to come to a diner with us after Mass, since it is our custom to have brunch or dinner after Mass, to discuss the readings and the homily. If he accepted, after the meal, I would have given him a ride where he wanted to go.
Now, admittedly, I am a 51-year-old man, who would be in the company of several other people, the youngest of whom is usually 22 years old, and one of whom is my son, a 22-year-old man, about 6 feet 2 inches in height. So, my willingness to die in serving the Lord with regard to this hypothetical would not be greatly tested in these circumstances, even in my imagination. (Though automobiles are dangerous and any drive might be one’s death.) However, one has to wonder where one’s fear of the Lord is, when one is willing to disobey His clear commands, for fear of men who can kill only the body. "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke (RSV) 12:4f.)
There is no need to go it alone in these instances. Getting a friend or two to go along would make the party merrier and would avoid any ambiguity about what was intended in the friendship. However, one must love one’s neighbor as oneself and one must die sometime, better to do it while doing the Lord’s will than in fretting in fear of imagined ills which cannot touch one’s soul.
I have some experience in helping people who make similar or much more sordid presentations of themselves. Often once assistance and friendship is openly offered, they will decline and leave, one suspects because they are in the grip of some fear that is the cause of their lonesomeness in the first place. However, on the occasions when the offer is accepted, I have heard some interesting stories, learned surprising things about people’s way of understanding the world, and been told some, “whoppers.” Generally, my life is richer for such encounters.
Pax Christi semper nobiscum.