Here’s a crazy story for y’all. I have an adoration hour Tuesday nights at my parish’s Perpetual Adoration chapel. This week I witnessed the saddest and bizarrest thing in my 15+ years as an adorer, and a vivid example of how *not* to Catholic.
Our chapel can comfortably accommodate 7 adorers – two rows of chairs+kneelers, with a pew along the back wall that seats three, plus kneelers. I choose either the rear left or rear right corner, if available, for my hour. This week, I nabbed the rear left seat. As is my habit, I started praying the rosary.
Several minutes later, a woman entered the chapel – we’ll name her W. She’s a semi-regular Tuesday visitor, late 50’s, staying for an hour or longer. She sat down opposite me in the back right corner.
Less that five minutes later, a mother – M – and daughter – let’s call her D – entered. I always look at who enters, this time being no exception, and I didn’t recognize them. D looked to be early teens, wearing short jean shorts (do people still call them jorts?). D sat in the front right chair, and M sat behind her. I continued saying my rosary.
Thirty seconds later, W walks up, a light jacket in her hand, and drapes it across the girl’s lap saying “Cover up – this is Jesus we’re talking about here.” She then goes back to her seat, without saying anything to M – and resumes praying.
SHE SLUT SHAMED THE GIRL IN THE ADORATION CHAPEL.
I immediately thought “O no u dint”, quickly followed by “This won’t end well.”
Mind you, I’m focusing on my rosary and trying to not pay attention. Were D’s shorts short? They weren’t Daisy Dukes short, but they were pretty short. I wasn’t looking looking, but things get noticed, y’know? Obviously I wasn’t the only one who had noticed. Still, what possessed W to think this was going to produce a positive result? I get it – modesty’s important, and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. But kindness is too, as is gentleness. Charity as well.
Shortly thereafter, a man came into the chapel – we’ll dub him G. G sat down in front of me, unaware of the slut shaming that just went on. G isn’t super important to the story, but plays a role nonetheless.
Within five minutes, M tapped D’s shoulder, and whispered something to her, which I guessed was “Should we leave now?” D turned around, and I saw TEARS STREAMING DOWN HER FACE!!! She nodded vigorously, and upon exiting the chapel, began crying loudly. Now, I have zero daughters, so I missed out on all the joys of raising girls, but even I know the difference between Tears of Drama, and Tears of Shame. These were clearly the latter. Giant sobs, and gasps for breath. i felt terrible for the poor girl.
M returned W’s jacket, and left.
After they left, I debated whether or not to say anything. I try to rely on the Holy Spirit when it comes to confrontational situations, and this time, the answer I got was “Not now.” As if to confirm that, another woman – W2 – entered the chapel: mid-20’s or so, wearing yoga pants. Since G had no clue what had happened, discussing W’s Modesty Police brutality in front of two strangers would have been disruptive.
And no, W didn’t attempt to cover W2’s yoga pants so Jesus wouldn’t be offended. It wouldn’t have been a surprise.
With four of us in the chapel, I decided to hold my tongue. One, it was the wrong time to talk. Two, I know I would have been snarky. And three, since W and I are usually there together, a future opportunity will present itself.
But here’s the thing. W didn’t know the circumstances leading up to M and D’s visit. Maybe they had come directly after visiting a hospitalized family member. Or perhaps a family member had died, and they sought consolation. Maybe the girl had an abortion, and she sought forgiveness. Maybe they were on their way home from a barbecue or party, and popped in to say hi to Jesus. Perhaps M had forced D to come, who was already feeling hostile to the Church. Or maybe this was her first time in the chapel. My point being, let the girl pray, and when she’s done, maybe go up to her and gently explain that her style of dress could be seen as inappropriate. Or perhaps say something to M. But to shame her thirty seconds after arriving? Absolutely not.
Slut shaming in the adoration chapel – or anywhere else – is a terrible way to encourage people to stay Catholic. Even a misfit like me knows that. You’d think that’d be common sense for everyone, but you’d be surprised.
I didn’t write this to impugn W. She needs prayers as much as D (Lord, I hope she doesn’t abandon Catholicism over this). I wrote this simply to say that how we treat others matters. That our words and actions matter, and we will be held to account for each and every one. Being right can be important, but being kind is better – and if you can’t be kind, then mind your own business. Rash judgment is a sin against the 8th commandment, and for this to have occurred in an adoration chapel makes it even more terrible. Catholics can be such terrible Christians.
Instead of extending D the benefit of the doubt, W embarrassed and shamed her. D had done nothing wrong. She had come to Jesus for whatever reason, and left in tears due to the rash judgment of a fellow Catholic. And that’s the most shameful thing of all.
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