There’s no accurate way for a human being to take another’s full measure. Like our own brains, we’re complex in parts and stages, in growth and regression, in expansion and retraction. There’s a secret us in every other fold, and a potential saint in every other fold.
It began last night, and I found the rest of the trial this morning.
Indeed, I’ve been tried — and I flunked.
Of the five RCIA journeys I’ve accompanied someone on — four as sponsor and the last as prayer partner — one seems not to have “taken.” In the same way that 11 was good but 12 was better since it was the Master’s original Plan, 4 is good, but all 5 would’ve been better, as surely all 5 had been Planned.
Naturally, it had to be the distant family member (whom I sponsored). I recall initially telling her that since she had been happy for 32 years in another church with her mom and their family, maybe she ought to stay with that. No, she was determined. Something had been missing. So, she signed up and we began.
Nine months later, on that Easter day after the Vigil the night before in which she had fully received all the rites and the sacraments of Confession, Confirmation and Communion at last, she was beside herself with joy. We went to the beach with the girls and her that day, and she was wearing a rosary as a necklace, so that she could touch the Crucifix of the One Who loves her. She all but glowed from happiness.
Time and distance (a move down south) and busyness intervened, and she didn’t go to Mass but once in a blue moon and I doubt she ever made her Easter duty. She fell away. (Even cradle Catholics do.) We didn’t have a problem until she publicly sold me out on Facebook, told family names/location info I had hidden for years. She didn’t know, so I explained it to her.
She laughed at every sentence, and at my “Please take that down,” and then insulted my friends, there! I had a problem with her refusal (as did husband and adult kids with kids!), and finally had to say I’d contact Facebook admin about her account if she didn’t take her post down within the next 10 minutes. She had a problem with my problem, and demanded an apology, telling me that both our mothers must be rolling in their graves over the horrible way I treated her, having told her that her problems are not always someone else’s fault.
It ultimately caused a cold war between us. I reeled it all in and warmed when her brother took gravely ill and she had come up here for a visit to him in the hospital, and again a year later, when he died. She stayed with us both times. She also demanded to go to Mass with me; it was her “right as a Catholic.”
She didn’t get it, that Catholics have obligations, not rights. It was too late on every scale to say so, and certainly not a good time for the reminder that we don’t just go to Mass when we want something, or to feel something. We go as duty to the rest of the Church, and duty to God (of course), and because there is no other way to receive His Body and Blood in all known ways. She had heard all this from way better than me.
After not hearing from her for a couple of years — actually after having been actively ignored — I was both surprised and pleased to see that a card from her was waiting for me last night after work. Maybe we were okay after all. Maybe she’d grown up.
The card had its own printed Easter wishes, so I was dismayed to see Scripture I’ve been hearing all my life penned out as if she thought it would be my first time, and to read her admonition to “Get saved!” — to “Be born again!” I raised a suspicious brow this morning, and double-checked the card. Yep, there was a “God bless,” where “Love,” used to be. Perhaps she had meant well, too, but she had most definitely meant ill.
I called her a b*&%!. Out loud.
On Good Friday.
And now, I can’t get to Confession until after Easter.
So, I return to my first paragraph, here, and submit her to the One Who not only loves her, but knows her. He knows every fold, stage and potential. He sees the begun project all the way to the finished and eternal.
I’ll be in Good Friday Apology School from noon to three, restudying the part where Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Perfect Victim and Perfect Offering of atonement, manages to choke out between the constriction of asphyxiation and the horrendously bled out and thus, full-body thirst, “Father, forgive them…” Like Eve and then Adam before them, they knew darned well what they were doing that day, but then again, they really didn’t. Only He knew the extent of their, and her, and my dis- and mis- and un-knowledge — and loved us unto His undeserved death in our place, anyway, and into His own resurrection.