Friday, June 8, 2007

Response to Comment, Looking Good for God or Man

A reader commented the following in response to An Authentic Show.

"You are what you are in the eyes of God, and nothing else."- St. Francis of Assissi

I tend to disagree with your statement, "I want to make a good impression and represent big families and my Catholic faith well." We should avoid scandal, but I think it is an error to attempt to 'look good' in the sight of people who are looking with the eyes of the world. Our judgments are based on the combination of our perceptions and our premises. A worldly premise will always lead to a worldly judgment, no matter what evidence is presented.Avoid giving any evidence of violation of the natural law, which you and the worldlings share alike. But even so, do that for God, not for men, and ignore the rest.Will people always make their little comments? Of course. Remember that your life is a standing rebuke to every person living a materialistic lifestyle.

"Let us therefore lie in wait for the just, because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law, and divulgeth against us the sins of our way of life." (Wisdom 2:12)

God love you for wanting to make the Faith look good. But that is not a task for you. The appeal of the Faith is not you or I, but Jesus Christ. Let them see Jesus Christ in you, and you have represented the Faith well. So let me ask you this, are people more inclined to see Jesus Christ in you if your family measures up well to the standards of the world, or if their curses and insults are returned only with kindness?

"Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." (Matthew 5:11-2)

Point taken! Absolutely, my concern should not be for worldly praise. The eyes of men are not the eyes of God. I think, however, the main point of the essay was to work towards the development of virtue. This work towards virtue, done for the love of God, will empower us to present ourselves properly, as ambassadors of Christ.

I think it is important to remember, though, that by virtue of vocation, some have more of a struggle living in the world, but not of the world. At times, for me, I think it would be easier to wear a nun's habit, so that everyone just had an apparent explanation for my counter cultural lifestyle. A nun's dress would satisfy curiosities about my Catholic oddities. As it is, I have to appear to be normal, even with a long string of kids, behaving in various shades of good or bad, depending on the day, while people comment ("How do you do it?" "You must be a saint!" "It's superwoman!" No, I'm just a normal person with a lot of kids) or suggesting I should be turned into Child Protective Services for snarling at a kid (Doesn't every mom do this now and then, even moms of two? I really do love my kids, all eight of them!).

I don't know if all this is making my point, but I guess I am saying that ultimately, yes, all that matters is that we do the will of God, and if that is what we are doing, then nothing else matters. Overt concern with the thoughts of men are sheer vanity and pride. However, it can be a struggle to be cast in the limelight whenever one is in public, just because you have eight kids. Truly, imagine that everywhere you went, every time you went out, eyes followed you and your children around. I do think this issue is worth addressing, just because it is a very real occurrence for big families.

Peace, Hope