8 October 2017

Holy Father?

I have occasionally been criticised for the lack of respect with which I sometimes refer to the current occupant of the Roman See. I don't think that is really quite just. It is infelicitous constantly to refer to someone in the same way. The graces of literary convention demand Variety. But I have decided to avoid controversy by following the usage of people who resort to "PF" or "the HF". I do so regretfully. You see, surely those initials could have multiple and disrespectful references, for which I would not wish to be held responsible. "Poor Fellow". Or "the Horrible Fantasy". You name it. I mean, readers might like to take time off from finishing the Times Crossword and devise some referenda for those initials.

Be fair to me. I have habitually refered to the Sovereign Pontiff as anything between "Bergoglio" and, er, "the Sovereign Pontiff". My own preferences would be for those elegant first millennium terms domnus apostolicus and Vicarius Petri, but some newer readers might be mystified.

It can be amusing to use honorifics which are perversely and delightfully apposite. For example, if it were ever to occur (please God, make this happen!) that we had a Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster of profoundly diminutive proportions, how satisfying it would be always to refer to him as "His Eminence"!

By the way: in yesteryear, the Church was commonly referred to as "Our Holy Mother the Church". The University of Oxford still does that when conferring Masters' Degrees, but otherwise not many people seem to do so nowadays. I don't thnk I've ever yet been criticised for failure consistently to do this.

3 comments:

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

Father, I increasingly come across "Holy Mother Church" omitting the "the" that I grew up with. It reminds me of another shortening I also see a lot of. "From a sudden and unprovided death,". Surely that should be "From a sudden and unprovided-for death,".

Liam Ronan said...

I am of the opinion that, on occasion, contemporary usage of the title "Servus servorum Dei" is often intended to subtly convey irony. Perhaps it was so in former times.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Whether warranted or not, it can not be denied Our Pope is beleaguered and, as ecclesiastical tradition teaches us, we have a duty to pray for the Pope and those of us who are the hardest on him and make the most demands of him, in justice, owe him our prayers and here is a prayer for the Pope that is good, true, and beautiful.

Prayer for the Pope by Pope Leo XIII

O Lord, we are millions of believers, humbly kneeling at They feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every day, he is praying for us, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace.

Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself towards us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and praying above all for him. Do thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee on this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.

Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of They great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind in the hour he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in his hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that They sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. Amen.