“The Anchoress,” Elizabeth Scalia skillfully reminds us that the First Commandment is just as relevant as ever.
I’ll confess, it took me sometime to want to read this book. I wanted to read it, sort of. Maybe. But sometimes Catholic self-help books start to all sound alike, so I usually prefer to pick up my Pocket St. Thomas and have it done with. Its more to the point that way. It must have been on a whim, then, when I added Scalia’s book to my library “hold” request a few weeks back. I wish I had read it sooner.
Any trepidation I had for “just another Catholic spiritual book” faded with the Introduction. Literally, I couldn’t put it down. Chapter One reminds us of the First Commandment. Really. She reminds us that it exists and that we “modern,” “post-modern,” and “post-post-moderns” needn’t laugh at the silliness of the Israelites erecting a golden calf while we punch “how we are feeling” into our phone at the beckoning of a cartoon bird. Tweet tweet. Oh the irony. If only it was coincidence.
Scalia goes on, chapter by chapter and with reference to the remaining Commandments, to outline the ways we continually and unintentionally erect idols in our everyday life. Of course, we read and we say “but of course, I am a sinner and I do such things, and you aren’t telling me anything new.” But that’s the rub. She is telling us something new. She has reached out, and held up the mirror. And after we are done checking our teeth and hair and makeup, we realize that what we see in these pages is us. And that it’s not enough to acknowledge the various ways we might not “put God first,” but that we must actively engage in dismantling the idols.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough.