Bright Maidens: Week Three: Admonish the Sinner

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

The Bright Maidens’ Lenten Anniversary Series

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Three: Admonish the Sinner


“A famous story in the life of Archbishop Sheen illustrates this [spiritual work of mercy] well. As a young priest, he was on duty at St. Patrick’s Church in Soho Square in London. A woman, an actress, came to the rectory to speak with a priest about her rather sinful lifestyle. However, to get up the courage to do so, she drank quite a bit. As young Fr. Sheen tried to speak to her about her immoral living, it was apparent that because she had drunk so much, she could not understand what he was saying to her. So he asked her, “Would you come back and see me when you are feeling better?” She answered, “Yes, but on one condition: that you promise me you will not ask me to go to Confession!” Fr. Sheen promised her. In fact, he promised three times in all: twice before she left, and once when she came back! When she returned in a sober state, they spoke for about an hour and she felt much better! As she was ready to leave, he said to her, “Can I show you the inside of our Church? We have some very beautiful paintings there.” She said, “Yes,” and as they were walking along the side aisle, they came by the confessional, and he pushed her right in. He kept his promise not to ask her to go to confession! The woman made a confession of her whole life, and later on became a cloistered nun for over forty years in nearby Tybourn Convent in London. When the woman kept saying, “Promise me you will not ask me to go to confession,” young Fr. Sheen realized that she was really unconsciously yearning to go to the Sacrament of God’s mercy! She was protesting too much, and it became evident that what she really needed and wanted was God’s forgiveness.”

– From a wonderful article by Fr. Andrew Apotoli, C.F.R.

Alpha Delta Upsilon Lambda Tau

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.

Sinner, I Admonish Thee

TBM Topic 28: Admonish the Sinner

“Sinner, I Admonish Thee” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.

There’s a Protestant church up the street from my house that has a sign up for Lent. It reads, “Pray. Reflect. Prepare.”

This sign makes me wrinkle my nose. Mere semantics, perhaps, but why “reflect” instead of “repent”? Aren’t we called not just think about what we have done but act to more align ourselves with God’s will, as the Kingdom of God is at hand? As the Christ is going to unjustly die for our sins? My sister says it’s because “repent” has more of a negative connotation. So does the Spiritual work of Mercy “Admonish the Sinner” – which is precisely why it is needed.

Americans love admonishing the sinner. Who hasn’t signed up to promote some cause, using social media, clothing or dolla-dolla donation? Who hasn’t felt that twinge of guilt at the grocery store when you don’t give a dollar to the Very Good Cause? Oh, so you don’t support this cause? Do you kick puppies and take candy from babies too?

The second route of admonishing the sinner offends the “Don’t Judge Me” movement. Fraternal correction (as we Catholics prefer to call it) is a private correction of a fellow soul as a way to lead them to God and, ultimately, repentance. As we say in the Act of Contrition, we should be sorry we sin not out of the loss of Heaven or the fear of Hell, but because we have offended God, whom we love. This is why people cannot separate their conscience from their public actions anymore than one can separate the facts from a situation.

Admonishment should always happen out of love, and in a loving way. To act otherwise is to distort the meaning of God’s way, and perhaps turn people away. This is always a tragedy.

There are, however, some sinners need to be admonished publicly. There is a new social experiment growing to draw attention to Joseph Kony, the leader of a rebel group in Uganda who abducks children to be sex slaves and soldiers. Kony wants to establish a theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments and says God sends spirits which communicate directly with him.

His actions go beyond not practicing what he wants preached:


KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

Admonishing the sinner is the loving thing to do, even when it is the unpopular position. Admonishing the sinner is the right thing to do, even when the sinner claims to the higher moral ground. When Jesus lived among us, he did so in order to relate to us human, to understand our tendency towards sin, and to forgive when we ask it of him.

Repent, my fellow sinners, and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ! The most we’ve got to lose is our pride.

Questions and Faith

TBM Topic 27: Counsel the Doubtful

“Questions and Faith” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.

Anything worth knowing begins with a question. ‎Philosopher Etienne Gibson wrote, “Faith comes to intelligence as a light that overflows it with joy and inspires it with a certitude that does away with question.”

I like asking questions, so perhaps I’m sympathetic towards the doubters of this world. I like to see them as truth-seekers, wishing to truly know and understand the kind of magnitude God has to offer us. I also like figuring out answers. If something doesn’t seem right, I push the subject till I am satisfied. If I still lack total comprehension, especially in terms of theology, I don’t mind. I read on. I think about it more, talk about it, pray about it.

But I never doubt God.

Perhaps this sounds prideful. Maybe it sounds like I’ve got this God response system down pat. I pray, he responds. No doubt about it.

Or maybe I take my place as his child more seriously. When Dad talks, I listen. When Dad says I can’t do something, I ask why. He tells me. I might ask a different way. He shows me. When I don’t understand, I look at it a different way. When I don’t agree, I seek his guidance to discern why the Mother Church leads me to believe such a thing.

What I love most about the Catholic Church is how she guides souls – authoritatively, gently, and humbly. She is sure of herself because her bridegroom is Christ. Her children may wander, but she is there to guide them home when they wish to return.

The hardest part about faith, I think, is that it is a choice. I choose to believe in God. I choose to believe Jesus is the Savior of the world. There are a lot of reasons why I choose these belief systems, and none of them have to do with making my life easier and more enjoyable. I like facts, so the resurrection place in history cements Jesus’ authenticity as God, verses a wise man who taught us good things thousands of years ago. Everything stems from that.

The doubtful must be counseled because it shows love towards their human development. Man must know God or remain incomplete as a person. Doubt is not a bad thing either – but it should be used as the fuel towards belief, guiding one’s prayer.

Last night, as I was playing Euchre with my fiance and his parents, I told the dealer to pick up the card and B. visibly grimaced. He didn’t know I had the two highest cards, plus one more to trump. I asked him, “Don’t you trust me?” and his expression turned to pure confidence. We won all five hands of that game.

God is no card player, but he does hold the ultimate trump card. The readings yesterday show us how God the Father did not make Abraham sacrifice his only son, setting up the world to see the great significance and sacrifice God the Son made, to willingly die for the atonement of our sins.

The doubtful may see all the negative parts of God before they choose to see the good, but the road to Damascus is not any easy one for any person. There can be no discipleship without the cross. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain.”

Counsel the doubtful out of love, and perhaps the burden of doubt will turn into a freedom to believe.

For those truly struggling, as I have, I recommend praying a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Bright Maidens: Week Two: What if it’s all a hoax?

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Two: To Council the Doubtful 


“What if it’s all a hoax?”
My brother, a college freshman, asked this question while home on winter break.  “What if it’s all a hoax?”
“What do you mean exactly?” I asked back.
“Jesus…the whole thing…”
I took a steadying breath.  “Well, Jesus is a historical figure.  He existed.  We know that.”
“Yeah, but what about the rest of it?  What if it’s a hoax?”
He wasn’t aggressively rejecting what he’d been taught, just questioning.
“I would rather buy into a hoax that made me richer, more powerful, wouldn’t you?”  He nodded.  “The early Christians died in terrible ways.  I don’t think I’d sign up for a hoax that was very likely a death sentence.”
He nodded again and the conversation ended as we got ready to eat dinner.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it though, and fear struck my heart.   If my brother is wondering, “What if it’s a hoax?” does that mean he hasn’t met Jesus, hasn’t become a disciple, and is just a kid who’s been catechized?
What do you do when someone doubts?
Thomas and Christ
I will confess that I am a doubter.  Not that I doubt that God exists or in the wisdom of the Catholic Church guided by the Holy Spirit, but I wonder if God has a plan for me and if perhaps he forgot to grant me some gifts and talents.  I often jump off the deep end into despair and long crying sessions.  
Then my dear boyfriend, whose faith is remarkable, will gently yet firmly remind me to turn to Jesus.  He loves to reveal himself.  He loves to reassure us, as he did with Thomas, his Apostle. 
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

So this morning as my family prepared for Mass, I made sure to swing past my brother’s room.




“Hey, you know your question the other day?  Why don’t you ask God during Mass to show himself to you?”

We can do nothing better than point people to Christ.