Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Lax Romana, or, Get Me To The Church One Time

This post is pre-scheduled, for Easter Sunday. At the moment, it's Good Friday. You guys know I'm Catholic, right?

People try to pin me down, ask me if I made it to mass. I'm like, my body is a walking celebration of mass. People ask me if I'm a Practicing Catholic. Well practice makes perfect, right? Draw your own assumptions.

I say I'm not a perfectionist. Or maybe I've just practiced enough to love practice for its own sake, and not for perfection's. Because I do go to mass, and on plenty of days when I technically don't have to. It is hushed and holy and cool and we are all in there, in communion with each other, and something amazing is happening even if I don't take the wafer (and you're not supposed to, if you haven't been to confession lately. Observances!). But my attendance on the days of obligation is not exemplary. I am exemplary in attendance! When I'm there, when I am in attendance, I'm exemplary. I'm there for all the right reasons, and when I'm gone I'm gone for the wrong ones. Well, mostly the wrong ones: I'm lazy, basically. I am a lax catholic.

I tell you, if I make it to mass this weekend, God will probably be amazed. But then I do love to amaze that weird, off-puttingly omnipotent and inexplicably personal and loving infinite alien being I so dote upon like a totem in the deluded recesses of my mind's IMMORTAL SOUL. God's all "why's he arguing AGAINST miracles - AGAIN? Does this guy believe in me or NOT, for Christ's sake?"

Yes, God. Yes. God knows.

I tell you people, I really did try last weekend. Not even try for mass - any fool can show up for that! I was trying to get to confession. I drove all the way to the one by the ocean, on Saturday - ended up being just five minutes too late. That's alright, I really hate to do that to the poor priest. Show up with five minutes left and ten years worth of sins! Weak. My sins don't take much telling, though, unless it's one of those priests who likes to hear all the details. That's on him, that's his problem. Some of these priests, I question their motives on wanting to hear the details but that's on them. Glad I could put a thrill in your day, father.

When I go to confession, the priest says the Hail Marys. Sorry. I've used that line before, but it's a pretty sweet line! In reality, my sins are pretty spicy - if vanilla is a spice, which I think it technically might be.

I emphasize, when I was trying to get to confession last week, I wasn't even recognizing it was a week before Easter! Some of these Lapsed Catholics, they go in for the once or twice yearly observance, so there can be a big rush of confessers (confessees? Confessants?) the week or two (or day) before. They want to confess so they can hold their head high up at Easter Service, take the wafer in a state of grace, having fulfilled the thing. Which is kind of cool, to have a ritual to fulfill but - that's just not me, man. Don't get me wrong! I love ritual, and I do it in accordance. But I don't to it for accordance. I love the doing more than the having done. When I do it I tend to go in for it.

I'm not proud of being such a lax catholic. Though I do like the phrase. It's got a ring to it! Lax Catholic. I'm not proud of it, any more than I'm proud of missing all that school in fifth grade. I was supposed to be there, too. I'm sure the class missed out on me, and I missed out on them.

The thing I want to stress is: being lazy is nothing to brag about. I love going to mass. I should show up more often. I'm stinting myself, and depriving the community as a whole.

I don't love having to wake up in the morning, or having to get some place at a certain time. I have bad skills in those areas. I'm a bad example of a Catholic - a poor example, perhaps I should say. Catholics are very wrapped up in that Good Catholic/Bad Catholic routine, and I know in the eyes of a Good Catholic, I know which role I'm being cast as. I'm okay with it. That's a good judgment call for any good Catholic. There's nothing in my sloth that I care to defend. Heck, I am a bad example of a lot of things that I'm way better than that person at. "Exemplary" is one of my favorite compliments, and it can mean a very high thing (depending on what's being exemplified) but I rarely have been able to pull off much in the way of me being exemplary.

I love Catholicism, though.

And that's why I don't talk about it much - though I do if I'm asked, if it's a grown-up who wants to talk. I'll tell that grown-up: "Hey, everything you do is your problem and yours to answer for! It doesn't matter where you heard it, or who made it look or sound good to you. Your life is on you. That's my whole take. And that's MINE! If you steal my take, if you start going around telling people, 'hay, my life is ON ME!' - don't go taking that take and blaming me when it backfires!" An adult, you can have these kinds of conversations with.

But I try to limit my bad example, because I know I am not exemplary. I don't like to lead the little ones astray. I am very much not an authority. I'm no priest. I can't answer your questions with my authority.

But I would say I'm a celebrant.

Because even though I never push it (we Catholics don't, don't you know - the classic Catholic attitude towards proselytizing is "Are you nuts?! The parking lot is CRAZY ENOUGH on Sundays!"), I am well able to hold forth and take what's given back, when the other grown adult brings it to discussion. It's a pleasurable discussion, always - because I not only love Catholicism, I like it. I know where it is strong, so I have no fear of where it is weak. As a theology, it is coherent and rigorous. As a belief structure it is vigorously and humbly self-amending. As a church it is flawed in the worst, and most pervasive way: by being pervasively filled with flawed human beings. But we are human beings who believe in a literal transformation. And we are practical human beings as well, who are capable of subscribing to the occasional homely maxims. We are what we eat.

The Body of Christ.

1 comment:

dogimo said...

You know, I just want to point out I got a couple sweet-ass, heartfelt e-mails off of this one that, if I had gotten them AS COMMENTS, I could totally have posted my EQUALLY SWEET-ASS REPLIES RIGHT HERE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE!

But there's no way for me to those unprovoked comments.