4 July 2010

Deaconing

To the little town of Stoney Stratford, for the deaconing of Fr Daniel Lloyd. An immensely happy occasion in a happy place, which faintly reminded me of my own title parish, Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. It was a typically Ebbsfleet family occasion, with the Apostolic Administrator in highly exuberant form. Just as, when solemnising a wedding, it is difficult to repress an emotional recollection of ones own nuptials, so an ordination brings its own moving memories. Fr Daniel is the best of all good eggs (nothing curateish about him ovally) who has subdeaconed at S Thomas's and has formed and rehearsed a serving team for me on the occasion of Extraordinary Form Sung Masses. You will probably get to see some pictures of his ordination on the blogosphere, because Mr James 'Ubiquitous Camera' Bradley was there. Diaconal grace is due to strike him a little later in the year.

A couple of bits of ad-hoccery in the text of the service. When the Archdeacon presented Daniel, and the text of the rite read "Reverend Father in God ... ", she, instead, said "Bishop Andrew ... ". Not a light matter, I think. The prescribed phrase goes back in the C of E to the Sarum Pontifical, and, of course, the dogma it implies, fundamental to the understanding of episcopacy, is that expressed by S Ignatius of Antioch when he described the Bishop as Tupos tou Patros. Whatever the future may hold and whatever the personal views of Mrs Archdeacon, the present doctrine embedded in the rites of the Church of England is that a bishop is Father in God.

The other modification was by Bishop Andrew. Unless my aging ears and senile, faltering, thought processes deceive me, in the phrase " ... the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it", he omitted "has". Thus a perfect tense became an aorist.

Although philologists now advance more subtle accounts of the functions of tenses, I think there is a lot to be said for the old notion that the Perfect represents a past action with abiding consequences in the present, while the aorist refers to a single punctiliar past action. ("X and Y have got married" implies that they are still married. "X married Y" is compatible with the additional assertion "but the marriage was short-lived".) So the official text implies that the C of E still adheres to that Christian faith which it has received; change the perfect to aorist and you are opening the text to the implication that the C of E did receive it but has now abandoned it.

There were some exotic birettas on display, and 'Patrimony' clerical gossip about which hatshops on the Continent one could buy them in. But I had eyes only for the hat worn by the ordinand's wife Alexandra. Happy the days when every English High Street had a busy milliner's shop.

7 comments:

Little Black Sambo said...

Perfect & aorist: from watching films I have noticed that Americans do not use the perfect as much as we do. "Did you book a room?" where we would say, "Have you booked?" Then to make up for the lack of distinction, they often add "just" or "already". "I already did", "quality at X's just got better" - and naturally these expressions are now favoured by newspaper people in this country. Is the difference between the two countries due to the influence of some other language, or is it old-fashioned, or what? Do you know?

Ian said...

Some argue over the propriety of calling a deacon 'father.' As a newly-minted deacon/curate, I was called 'father' or 'father deacon' in the parish, and in/by like-minded parishes/clergy. But others insisted it was not to be done. So what is the propriety?

Fr LR said...

A lady in Church in a hat is totally tridentine! And, might I add...Patrimony.

AndrewWS said...

I beg to disagree with Fr LR. The Tridentine headgear for ladies is the mantilla. Mrs Lloyd's cloche hat was superb and gave her the air of a character in Evelyn Waugh or the late Queen Mother before she married the Duke of York.

animadversor said...

Little Black Sambo, you are right that the perfect does not seem to be used as much in America, but this failure to use the perfect where appropriate is considered low, if not necessarily wrong; however, the use of such words as just or already with the simple past is assuredly a solecism, not that most would recognize it as such, or even care. Of course, if one obtains one's notions of American idioms from films....

Maurice said...

Well, Father, please give us the benefit of your thoughts on the strangely Anglican (is it?) of calling a Deacon 'Father'.

Kent Community Activist said...

Marvellous material.