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 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.