Sunday, September 16, 2012

Heaven and Judgement

Do you think when (if) we get to Heaven, we will get to see everything clearly? Will we get to see whether or not the people who "have it all" really do? Will we finally be vindicated in our beliefs and behaviors? Or, will we not care. Will it just be so fantastic that we won't even think to concern ourselves with what someone else has/thinks/does?

Personally, I pray for the latter. On an almost daily basis I am judging and being judged by others and, frankly, I'm exhausted. Let me explain.

It must be over a year ago now, I read a blog post by a most well-meaning Catholic about "dos" and "don'ts" at church. I had gotten to know this person a bit and I believe she meant it in the best possible way. Still, something about it troubled me greatly. I thought it was because I felt judged as a mother who couldn't manage to get through Mass with my small children with nothing but religious reading material. Yesterday I realized my true fear was the license it gave me to judge others.

We went to Vigil Mass last night. We don't do this often because of nap schedules and because, frankly, it's not the devout crowd that we're used to on Sunday morning. (You can say that's a judgement but, really, it's a fact. I see maybe one or two people at Saturday night Mass who are daily Mass attendees and the come late/leave early crowd seems to be in greater numbers at the Vigil).

Last night we were behind two women who were my age, a woman my mother's age and three children - two girls who looked to be friends, about 10 or 12 years old, and a boy who was about four. My two tiniest children were doing their typical "I'm in church instead of my crib, what is wrong with this picture" but, on the whole, were no worse than a usual Sunday Mass. The older two were suprisingly good as far as I could see. The middle child. Well, he's the middle child.

Trying my best to keep my kids in line and follow along, I found myself disrupted by the woman in front of me "beeping" her cell phone (not sure what that was) and the two girls who were chatting, flipping hair, standing on the pew seat (twice) and doing everything except following the Mass. Almost every time one of ours would speak or fuss, one (or many) turned around and just stared. Not even in a bad way, specifically, just in a rude way.

So, when we all got up to process to Communion, that was the end for me. The girls walked up and received as if they had been praying the entire time. When we all got back to the pew and C was less that pleased that we didn't just head home with the rest of the people, one of the girls took up camp facing directly eye level with me.

I smiled...stare.
I smiled again...stare.
I said "Hi, how 'ya doin'? Are you having a good Mass?" Yes, thankfully she did move after that. I am very much afraid of what would have come next.

I am appalled at my actions. I can't blame the blog post. I can't blame the lack of sleep. I can't blame the girl for being such a crummy example to my daughter of how to be properly disposed in Church. I can't blame anything. It's me. It's all me. I am a deeply flawed individual. Judgement is so easy for me. I hate that. Without a doubt, it is my most difficult cross to bear.

I suppose, in a way, that is the reason the whole "wow...five...(silence)" doesn't bother me so much. I realize how many stupid things I say and how many times I act badly. I am trying more and more to give "those" people some room. I wish I could be that laid back in every aspect of my life.

I digress. Back to Heaven.

My learning moment from last night was that I hope that everyone is in Heaven. Nancy Pelosi, Lady Gaga, Mother Theresa, me (!), everyone. I hope that we all have enough grace to get us to Purgatory where we can have our eyes opened to all of our flaws, repent, and be washed clean. I certainly pray that I have that opportunity.

Since I also hope it is a while before we get to that circumstance, can we all try a bit harder to judge one another less now? Can we also be a little kinder when we, ourselves, are judged? I know it's hard. I am terrible at the former and only mildly successful at the latter (in certain instances). Still, we have to try. Society is a big ball of sensitive stew right now. A powder keg ready to ignite at the tiniest slight. I don't like where we are headed.

I'm not saying just ignore what people say. If someone is judging you unfairly, think of the most peace-filled response you can and try to educate them. If you find yourself judging someone else and it seems to you to be righteous, talk to them about it - kindly and quietly. My response to the girl was completely inappropriate. Now she is probably going to be very anti-Mass and it's my fault. I am praying that she just laughs off the stupid lady and her comment (but maybe also thinks a bit about her side of the situation).

The upcoming election is going to be an extreme trial for me. Even the "like minded" groups I've chosen to join are not entirely "like minded". It is going to be a struggle. I am going to pray a lot and speak less. I am going to pray for my enemies. I am going to remember that we all bear many crosses and that I will never know what someone else is suffering at any given moment.

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