“You are embarassing the angels”

Yes, I think for Lent, I will join Peggy Noonan in this endeavor.

When I see teenage suburban girls talking like 7th Avenue streetwalkers while they flick their cigarettes, I will say it.

When I hear my feminist friend railing at the unfairness of a biology that forces women to menstruate, but not men, I will say it.

When I hear a priest change the liturgy to suit his ego or his ideology, I will say it.

When I see teenage boys wearing pants with the crotches at the knees and their underwear exposed, I will say it.

When I hear parents and children speaking to each other disrespectfully, particularly if they’re flinging the eff word around like sailors, I will say it.

When I see people call presidents and former presidents by tawdry nicknames I will say it.

When “I” am cursing like a sailor-wannabee, I will say it.

When I find myself walking away from my husband or kids with an intemperate mutter and shake of the head, I will say it.

When I imagine myself flipping off another driver while in traffic, I will say it.

When I find my mind wandering during Holy Mass, and realize I was thinking about really stupid, superficial or judgemental stuff while the rest of the congregation praying to the Holy Spirit, I will say it.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton once wrote a book called What’s Wrong With the World. He meant to tell us. It took him many hundreds of pages, just to begin.

But the seed for his task had been planted years earlier; a newspaper had contacted him, asking him to contribute to a sort of symposium of prominent men responding to the same question: “What’s Wrong With the World?”

He replied, Dear Sirs; I am.

The book is pretty good, btw. It begins:

I originally called this book What is Wrong, and it would have satisfied your sardonic temper to note the number of social misunderstandings that arose from the use of the title. Many a mild lady visitor opened her eyes when I remarked casually, I have been doing ‘What is Wrong’ all this morning. And one minister of religion moved quite sharply in his chair when I told him (as he understood it) that I had to run upstairs and do what was wrong, but should be down again in a minute.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Joseph

    When I find my mind wandering during Holy Mass, and realize I was thinking about really stupid, superficial or judgemental stuff while the rest of the congregation praying to the Holy Spirit, I will say it.

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, Anchoress. The rest of the congregation is doing exactly what you are doing. This is the human condition, which is also the fertile material we have to work with.

    It would be nice if we didn’t fail, it would be nice if we didn’t sin, but none of us are going to have this happen. The avenue for the Holy Spirit is when you fail or sin, but realize that it actually hurts to do so. Remember, Confession and Penance is a Sacrament. What else can this mean but what I have just written?

    St. Paul is excellent reading in this regard. Who had more trouble than he with his own human failings? But who was granted the vision on the road to Damascus?

  • TheAnchoress

    Aw, don’t worry, Joseph, I’m not being too hard on myself. I’m well aware that for most of us in prayer or contemplation, the wandering mind is part and parcel of the whole deal of our humanity – part of what keeps us on this side of the veil, so to speak. But I think when I catch myself (as I did this morning at mass) thinking about the pompom on top of the beret the lady in the next pew was wearing, and wondering why anyone in her 60′s would wear a pompom on a beret, it would not be a bad thing to roll my eyes at myself and say, “Good Lord, girl, you’re embarrassing the angels, PAY ATTENTION!” :-)

    A bit of self-mockery can be useful!

  • Sigmund Carl and Alfred

    Anchoress, it is clear there are/were fire fighters in your family.

    You can put ought a possible disaster like nobody else.

  • TheAnchoress

    ;-)

    IRISH Firefighters!

  • mcpotap

    Dear Lady,
    My primary concern with Ms Noonan’s article, and to some extent your follow up is the idea of embarrassing the angels.
    My greatest concern is how it impacts on God Almighty, not His angels or creation.
    Angels cannot make moral judgments; they are God’s messengers. It is God who makes the judgment(s).
    Shouldn’t we be more concerned about how God is going to see what we are doing, or saying?
    Love your blog and your mind.

  • TheAnchoress

    Of course angels can’t make moral judgements. But while they’re standing around trying to tap us on our shoulders, I don’t doubt we make them blush! :-)


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