Anchoress attains rank of rank Amateur

At the urging of Julie, who has way more influence over me than is probably healthy, I have thought about it and conceded that I am, in fact, quite the Amateur Catholic.

As such, I get to put that blue button thingy in my sidebar (scroll down) and I get to figuratively kneel before you in something resembling a cyber-Chapter of Faults and tell you why I am now, and will likely forever be, an Amateur.

I am an amateur Catholic because after 30 freaking years, I still cannot get comfortable with the hand-grabbing sign-of-peace at mass, and I never will. I want them to move it or lose it – it’s that simple.

I am an amateur Catholic because, while I like the breast-tapping that goes with the Agnus Dei, and wish more folks did it, because there are both mystical Christian and Taoist purposes behind it, so it’s kind of neat and Ecumenical, I also know that I can never seem to get the taps right. I’m always out of sync, like Steve Martin in The Jerk, I just can’t catch the rhythm. I CAN, however, tap it in Latin. And so, it would be best if the mass would allow us to, you know, chant “Angus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis” with the lovely, wandering air, as opposed to the unsingable “Lamb of God, you (super high vocal high jump) TAKE away the sins of the world….” But don’t get me started on modern Catholic music.

I am an amateur Catholic because even though I have published numerous articles in Catholic magazines, whenever I mention that I am a writer, people say, “sorry, I’ve never read anything by you, I don’t think.” And I say, “perhaps you read thus and such,” and they get a blank, sad expression on their face and say, “no…nope…doesn’t sound familiar…oh, do you mean that book about why men aren’t necessary? Are you Maureen Dowd? WOW! You look so much thinner and crankier on television!”

I am an amateur Catholic because whenever blogging folk congregate somewhere they ask me to come participate and maybe lead a forum on “Women Bloggers” or “Christian Women Bloggers” or “Catholic Christian Women Bloggers” and I always must refuse because I rather like being anonymous and unknown. I was tempted to accept one invitation but I believe they thought I was joking when I suggested I show up wearing a nun’s habit and wax teeth to protect my identity.

I am an amateur Catholic, because I was serious.

I am an amateur Catholic because all these years since the second grade, wherein I made my first confession – and I have loved the sacrament ever since – I still find myself confessing, at least once a year, that sometimes I just miss mass because I was feeling childishly obstinate and I wanted a pajama day.

I am an amateur Catholic because while I can name the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary and the 7 Sacraments and can mostly name the Ten Commandments (if I sing them the way Sr. Gemma taught me) I can’t for the life of me remember the 7 Deadly Sins or the (how many) fruits of the Holy Spirit…

I am an amateur Catholic because while I am second to no one in my appreciation of Gregorian Chant and the great music which has been composed for the church over the last 2000 years (basically anything before 1965) I have a deep and abiding love of the music of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the old-timey Gospel music, Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, the Dixie Mockingbirds and The Abbot Kinney Lighthouse Choir. And while I have no doubt that our warm pope Uncle Benedict XVI would quite enjoy some of that music, he might give a frown if he heard me singing that I’d see him in the Rapture!

I am an amateur Catholic because try as I might, I still find myself curling a lip at other people who have done nothing to earn it other than being in my way when I’m in a crappy mood. I fail in love every single day. I harbor great resentment toward people who stand around in church after mass chattering loudly because – after all – can’t they see I’m trying to PRAY over here? I do so many things that offer no glory to God. I lack humility. I lack charity. I am not unkind, but I am often impatient. When I am lazy, I embrace cynicism. I have a sharp tongue and am too often very quick to unleash it on someone. While I do not lie or gossip, I am capable of using that sharp tongue to not only “cut” but to literally slice open an artery and bleed someone out. I am selfish and self-interested and my use of the world “I” is second only to Bill Clinton’s use of it.

So, yeah. I’m an amateur. A rank amateur. I need grace – oh, I need it. Amazing grace.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Sigmund Carl and Alfred

    I’m not sure what reaction you are trying to elicit, but I will offer up my own: This is hysterical!

    You really put your pants on, one leg at a time and like most of us, have to hop around every now and then because we cannot seem to put the other foot into a hole the size larger than our waists (unless of course, you zip and button up those pants before you put them on).

    So much for the secret Catholic rituals!

  • Myssi

    My goodness, when you do Chapter of Faults, you really do Chapter of Faults. If I were a Catholic, I would be an amateur for all the same reasons, I’m sure. Except that, not being a Catholic, I can’t name the Mysteries of the Rosary, but I can name the 9 fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control). So, I guess that makes me an Amateur Christian, even after almost 32 years.
    Bless you, Dear. You always make me smile.

  • Donna

    Well, Anchoress, it looks like you’re – pretty human. :-)

    I have yet to confess to a priest that I skipped Mass a couple of weeks ago out of sheer sloth and so I haven’t been able to take Communion since (you non-Catholics may find that statement weird, but, hey, dem’s the rules.) What a relief to find I’m not the only lazy-ass Catholic hangin’ around St. Blog’s parish.:-D

    I do so many things that offer no glory to God. I lack humility. I lack charity.

    Tell me about it. On Ash Wednesday, I was making catty complaints about a co-worker to another (non-Catholic) employee, when she looked at her watch and cut me off with a smile: “Didn’t you say you wanted to go to Mass at noon and get ashes?” Believe me, I felt like some sackcloth would have been in order, as well. Missing Mass isn’t the only thing I have to confess.
    I certainly don’t have worry about whether my halo is adjusted correctly.:-)

  • Romeocat

    *NINE* Fruits of the Spirit – three sets of three:
    love, joy, peace
    patience, kindness, goodness
    faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
    I don’t think you’re an “amateur.” I think you are one of God’s Chosen Children, and just like the rest of us, He loves to show His grace and love in our lives… Just because we’re His kids!
    CatHouse Chat

  • http://none Darrell

    Apparently, there are twelve(12) Fruits of the Holy Spirit…”But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.” St. Paul(Galatians 5:22-23)
    Long-suffering (patient suffering over an extended period)

    Some early translations dropped three, apparently.(Catholic Encyc.)

    Every virtuous act which man performs with pleasure is a fruit. Note the caveat…”with pleasure”

  • goddessoftheclassroom

    I can’t remember all the 7 Deadly sins, just the one I’m prone to…

  • Sal

    I’m laughing so hard – Gospel music is my secret vice, as well. Especially quartets. Is it the rumbling basses? Those stratospheric tenors? I don’t know, but I’m hooked.

    Though I automatically do the theological corrective in my head – “Yes, I’ll see you on those Golden Streets – if we die in a state of grace and maybe after Purgatory”. Which I kid myself makes it okay.

    I’m an amateur, b/c though I’ve been a Catholic for 20 years, as the only one in my family, I’m sort of an underground one.

  • tracey

    Why do you think we love you, A?

  • Truthseeker

    A, I do so love your honesty! Saints we ain’t unless it is by Grace. So, dear A, please take care of youself and lighten up! Gotta admit tho, you had me ROFL at your reasons for being an Amateur Catholic. I seem to remember the word “amateur” comes from the word “amator” in Latin, meaning “lover,” and “amatus”, of “amare,” French, “to love”; so you don’t get paid to go to Mass, but go because you love Mass. I think God is pleased. At least most amateurs I know are excited about the object of their focus. Would that all believers in Christ were serious amateurs! Maybe we would heed the lessons of Archbishop Chaput, and others like him, all the more. (Don’t forget, all of this comes from a conservative Mennonite.)