I walked into Mass this morning and sat down in front of a teenager with her phone out, the texting screen visible. I thought, "Whoa." In our family that teenager would find herself phoneless in a hot second. I thought, "Maybe her mom doesn't know what she's up to." The mom turned back to her daughter a second later and said nothing about the phone. Again I thought, "Whoa." I thought, "Your daughter is texting in church and you're letting it slide?"
I know better than to be a judgmental toad; really I do. I have this inner judgy streak, though, and some days it gives me more trouble than others. I knelt down and prayed for the girl, that God would shower her with grace. "Maybe," I thought to myself, "she's called to religious life! Maybe this situation is supposed to prompt me to pray for her to be open to God's glorious call." So I did, but my inner Judgy McJ was still thinking indignant thoughts.
"Maybe," I thought to myself, "she was texting her frail old grandma who was supposed to meet them here. Maybe she is texting because she is a kind and concerned granddaughter." JMcJ snorted, "She still should have stepped outside."
I glanced across the church and spotted a young mom nursing her baby under a cover. You already know JMcJ had something to say about that, too. Before the first reading the kids were dismissed for children's liturgy of the word, and the choir director played Edelweiss to accompany their walk down the aisle. You guys, I am ashamed to say I made actual scowly faces: why does she play secular music during the liturgy? Why is she playing the whole thing -- bless my homeland forever! -- when the kids have already left the building and the lector is waiting to start the reading?
Once the readings started, the irony that I was wrangling with JMcJ on this particular day was not lost on me. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. You have had five husbands, and the man you have now is not your husband. Did Jesus make scowly faces? Did Jesus wag his finger as he told people UR DOIN IT WRONG? Uh, no.
Our pastor gave a lovely homily, encouraging us to learn more about our faith in a specific and manageable way. Part of my brain thought, "Yes, I should totally do that!" Part of my brain was busy sitting on JMcJ. I asked St. Therese to pray for me, remembering her struggles with the nun who clacked her rosary beads. Sadly, I did not notice any immediate results. There was just no let-up, all through Mass. Even at the end-- we sang a hymn where the choir director always makes a particular mistake in the accompaniment. While my mouth sang about God being beyond all praising, my brain thought, "I can't really explain the mistake in a conventional blog post, so maybe I'll make it a video post instead." Because that's exactly how humble people do it -- they plan video posts about other people's errors during Mass.
Sometimes I am reluctant to post about my weak moments and my strong opinions for fear of being judged in the comments. But you know, if you judge me for a post about being how I struggle with being judgy, I will have no choice but to smile at the irony. And maybe if I put it out there -- I just spent an hour of my life in a fetid fug of fault-finding when I could have been learning to be the aroma of Christ -- maybe you can pray for me to do better next time.
I had just finished writing this post when the phone rang: my BIL is gone. He died a beautiful death, my MIL told me, with my SIL right next to him. I cranked up Mozart's Requiem until the kids complained, and I thought about the times we spent together. Here's the thing that struck me: the only words I remember from him are kind words, encouraging words. I cannot remember a time when he was irritable or snarky or mean -- not even once.
I hope I can leave a legacy like that, free of pettiness and ugliness. Et lux perpetua luceat ei.