On Easter Dresses and Judge-y Pants

I rose at the rather unpleasant hour of 5:30am to make sure everyone was ready for Mass. Yes, we always go to the earliest service, but I don’t typically have to get the troops moving before dawn.


It was Easter.


And there’s nothing like Easter (well, except Christmas) to bring out the Catholics who haven’t attempted to attend a single other mass throughout the entire liturgical year.


I knew it would be packed in there, so we made sure to be there a half hour early. We sat in our usual row and waited contentedly. My son was handsome in his new shirt and khakis. My girls looked darling in their Easter dresses made by Bama. Everything was dandy.


Although there are no “assigned seats” at church, we all know that we are creatures of habit and gravitate toward the same general spots. The people and families who usually sit around us did on Easter, too. They just ended up squeezed in closer to us. And that was all good.


An older couple often sits in front of us. We know them and they know us. They have grown daughters, a few years older than we are, who do not typically attend that church. One was there on Easter, with her own daughter, a girl of about ten.


I smiled. I truly like to see families gathered together for worship and for the holidays. I don’t know their story. Maybe they regularly go to a different church. Maybe they don’t usually go, but went to make Grandma and Grandpa happy. I really don’t know. And I don’t need to.


But then.


This girl, who was hardly a small child, throughout our hour of praise and worship, sat on the kneeler and read a novel about vampires. She didn’t stand. She didn’t sit. She didn’t pay even a whit of attention. She glared at me when my kneeling meant I got a little closer to her.


And, even as I belted out “Jesus Christ is Risen Today!”, I was annoyed. I felt bitterness rise up in me.


Why even come? Why bother? It’s one thing to only come to church once or twice a year, but, seriously, can’t you pay attention for an HOUR? Who thinks this is okay? I mean, it’s not like we’re trying to placate a toddler here!


And on and on…


It was reminiscent of how I felt a couple Christmases ago when the man behind me followed the Giants game on his phone throughout the Mass. It made me angry, quite frankly.


But I know it’s not my place to judge.


I know, if I tried hard enough, I could probably come out with some stretch of a story that would justify and explain these actions. And maybe there is one. Maybe there are very good reasons that these people are coming to church without even the tiniest bit of desire to be there.


Obviously, it shouldn’t be my concern.


I’m working on it. I really am. But, it pains me to admit… along with my Easter dress, I apparently pulled on my judge-y pants.


It’s proving really hard to get rid of those things.



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9 comments to On Easter Dresses and Judge-y Pants

  • Jamie

    When you figure out what helps with those judge-y pants please let me know because I sadly wear mine almost every day and I despise them! You’d think my dislike of them would help me to change them, but nope I havent figured out how to get them off yet.

  • Ugh there may be a good reason to go against your will (family harmony with the in laws here), but there is no excuse for basic common decency. You can sit quietly and let your mind wander, but reading a vampire novel or being on your phone is NOT acceptable. In this case I think your judgey pants are warranted. Seriously there are few cases where multi-tasking is necessary at Easter mass (checking in on your NICU baby for example). Those people are just rude, selfish and lack respect. We are those jerks that show up for Easter and Christmas at my MIL’s request. (She holds out hope she’ll convert me) I dress appropriately, sing the songs and “gasp” even listen to the sermon…not because I particularly want to go, but it’s appropriate to be respectful for a lousy hour out of my year!!! Geez how hard is that?

    I am sorry your Easter service was marred by that bratty girl And your irritation AND your catholic guilt about your anger. ;)

    • Thank you for being respectful when you attend the church service– that’s really all I would like to see. I don’t hold out hope that all these people are going to show up THIS Sunday– I know they won’t! And that is totally their choice.

      Honestly, I think the “Catholic guilt” plays a much bigger role in many of these Christmas/Easter people showing up to church than it does in how I’m feeling. I don’t actually know any other practicing Catholics who would criticize my feelings about these situations. I just really want to stop concerning myself with others’ missteps whenever possible. That’ll give me more time to work on my own. ;)

  • Susan

    I grew up Catholic, going to church every week and going to Catholic schools. When I went to church, we were expected to behave and participate from a very young age.

    What I see in our church in Los Angeles now: kids wear t-shirts and sweat pants to church, people are on their iphones checking text/emails, kids are playing with action figures or reading vampire books. I think many people are forced to go to church for family or school reasons. To get a tuition discount at Catholic schools in Los Angeles, you have to attend mass for 48 weeks a year (turning in church envelopes to prove you were actually there.) I think many of those families feel “forced” to attend and probably don’t really want to be there. My son is quiet and thoughtful at church but honestly, I don’t think he wants to be there either. I try to not judge other people in church and hope they won’t make fun of my blue jeans.

  • Celine

    It really was not right that the adults with her allowed her to disrupt others with her actions. There is no reason why she could not have quietly participated in the mass or found a more appropriate activity to occupy her time during the service that would not have cause a distraction for others. It can be very hard when you have been distracted to get back that focus.

    It really would have bothered me to. I guess it comes from the way I was brought up. I would have expected my own children who are similar in age to yours, to sit properly and participate to the best of their abilities, even though.they are not use to that kind of church environment. Sure I might allow some books or a quiet activity but it would have been much more location appropriate then vampires.

  • I have a different perspective on this. I let my son read books in church every single week. He is 10. He also has Aspbergers and ADHD. Church for years was horrible because he was terrible. Not actively trying to be bad, but crawling all over us, making noises, talking in a very loud voice, laying on the pews, etc.

    Then he learned to read. Letting him read a book in church has allowed the rest of us to enjoy the sermon and keeps him sitting nice and still and quiet. At first I let him read the entire time. We have now moved onto letting him read up until the sermon starts and then he has to put the book away and listen. Eventually we will get to where we don’t bring a book at all. His behavior is improving with age. Letting my son read a book has been better for everyone!

    • See? And THIS is what I meant about there always being a possible story that totally makes sense behind it. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and experience. (In reality, I’d bet my eyeteeth that this particular girl never attends church normally and the mom just didn’t want to deal with her. But STILL. Judging in any case never helps.)

  • OK Jennifer has a point, Vampire novel reader COULD have a valid need for distraction.

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