5 July 2010

More Deaconing

I need your moral advice, Did I, on the occasion of my own deaconing, sin?

Let me explain. In the days of the old rites, a man was ordained to an order at that point of the rite that enabled him to go on to exercise his new ministry, immediately, for the first time. So one was deaconed before the Gospel, which was then sung by one of the newly ordained deacons. The man selected to do this was the one whom the Examining Chaplain certified had written the best Deacon's Papers.

I thought it would be rather nice for my Mummy if I were assigned that role. I knew that the Examining Chaplain that time round was a clergyman with evangelical leanings who was also completely sold on a rather strange movement called Moral Rearmament - MRA ("You can always tell a homosexual because they wear green"). So, in my Deacon's Papers I wrote with elaborate respect of the XXXIX Articles (without actually saying anything that I could not assert with a good conscience) and dropped, deftly, some of the catch-phrases beloved by that daft movement (rather like giving a masonic handshake).

As I knew I would, I was duly given the honour of singing the Gospel. Was this suggestio falsi? If so, was the motive of Pleasing the Parent a sufficiently just cause for using this trick?

It has been on my conscience for 43 years.

9 comments:

Steve Cavanaugh said...

Despite hearing all my life of "Catholic Guilt" (particularly the Irish Catholic variety) I seem to have escaped that particular species of scrupulosity. Were I in your shoes, then being able to say "without actually saying anything that I could not assert with a good conscience" as you did would clinch it for me. True, any reason other than writing the most excellent exposition possible is a lesser motive for writing, I would still essay that you had other motives; that you were able to begin your clerical career with a hint of the same twinkle-in-the-eye wit as to hoist the examining chap on his own petard, while at the same time beating the boundaries of Catholic thinking in an articles-bound environment on which you've no doubt drawn since, was also a true service, hence a good start to a deaconing career.

Fr LR said...

+Bless you my son, this is a sin common to man: to make advantage of another's vanity for one's own profit. Think of our Lord in Harod's presence, what if he had told that wicked earthly king what he had desired to hear; or if Christ had made any less of a confession than "Thou sayest it" to Pilot? The unraveling of our salvation would have been the price of such compromise. Nevertheless, it seems to me that your motivation was not to do an evil deed to others so much as to gain a vain personal advantage. I am reminded of Augustine begetting a child, Adeodatus, in fornication to grant a certain pleasure to his own parents - who though Christians would not confront him in his sin.

For your penance, please say three Hail Marys and if you are still felling guilty after that read chapters 1 thru 9 of First Chronicles. That should git 'er done.

GOR said...

Well Father, if that’s the worst peccadillo you have on your conscience I would say that your experience of Purgatory would be of the ‘fly-over’ kind – if at all!

That said, Our Lord commended the industry of the servant who looked to his future when dealing with his master’s debtors. And there was that something about being “wise as serpents” and knowing the ways of the world… And of course: "Honor Thy Father and Mother".

I agree with Fr LR, three Hail Marys should suffice…

Little Black Sambo said...

Deeply wicked, of course - what else should we expect?

Michael said...

Sin or no, it made me laugh with some degree of satisfaction.

I am interested by the custom of ordination immediately prior to the exercise of the ministry of the order to which one is ordained. The same happens in the Byzantine Rite, with deacons ordained just prior to communion so that they are able to assist, priest just before the transfer of the Gifts to the Holy Table and the Anaphora so that they may concelebrate, and bishops immediately before the point where the clergy ascend to the presbyterium so that they may preside with their brother bishops.

animadversor said...

I am not sure that it was a sin, but I think it likely that it was not an occasion of merit.

animadversor said...

In any case, I think that you will not be satisfied until it is determined that you did sin.

Joshua said...

As Fr Faber would have said, intending to please Mamma - that is, the Blessed Virgin - was a very pious and meritorious intention.

Fr Tom Mendel said...

Were your tactics not those of the Apostle seeking to proclaim the Gospel on the Areopagus; and was the difference between you not that you hooked your fish whereas his swam away to ponder another day?

Seems to me that what was sauce for the Apostlic Goose might fairly have been thought to be sauce for the Diaconal Gander.