Admonishing the Sinner
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I hate this one. I hate it because I’ve been admonished for things in the past.

At which point in our lives have we been admonished most often for our sin? Childhood.

And we’re all under the false impression that onset at age 14 or so that we’re past a “stage” of being admonished. Graduating to the next stage is like being inducted into a life fraternity:

“Welcome to the club, fellow adult. Now that you’re one of us, follow our lead, turn around and give those younger folks a piece of your mind. This is how it works.”

By virtue of having more birthdays or making a few responsible life choices, we feel we’ve crossed a divide and so unwarranted advice or admonishments fall on adultified, deaf ears.

Beyond the Huckleberry Finn, pseudo-adulthood syndrome from which we all suffer, we get defensive when someone admonishes us.

If my sister calls me out on gossiping, I am ready with a quick retort about how I’ve heard her gossiping, cussing, maliciously hiding small mousetraps in the cereal boxes, or putting salt in the sugar jar. Don’t you dare tell me I’m doing something wrong when I can easily find dozens of things YOU do wrong. So there.

Both of these mindsets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, sound pretty childish when written out. See? I’m admonishing myself right now. The truly Adult Club way of handling an admonishing situation is to take a deep breath, ask myself if the person point out my faults might be right, as annoying as that might be, and correcting my behavior.

Often the only people who feel comfortable admonishing us also Love us — which, as any Peter Pan can tell you, makes it all the more annoying and hard to hear. However, in Loving us, they also wish us to be better. That’s a valiant truth about relationships, adult or otherwise.

When it comes to admonishing those who don’t know that well or stepping out of our comfort zone to admonish others on more serious sins, we listen to the Holy Spirit. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if your actions are “Loving,” one way or another.

Would it be Loving of me to yell out across the road to the pro-choicers standing and holding their signs in front of an abortion clinic that they are advocating for murder of innocent babies? Would that do more harm than good? Should I engage in a dialogue with them, instead?

I venture to determine that, in most cases, the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t ask someone to use hurtful, loud words in this situation. It might depend on the personality of the “admonisher” on how exactly to handle a situation like this, but that the Holy Spirit would assuredly ask us to be Loving in our actions.

As an active member of Alpha Delta Upsilon Lambda Tau, I vow to try to remember the Holy Spirit is the real helper in these moments. God will give me the grace to handle them the way He wishes, both when receiving and dolling out the admonishments.

It’s my job to remain like a child.

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