Monday, December 22, 2008

Gaining wisdom of heart

From Psalm 90, the first Psalm of Morning Prayer this Fourth Monday of Advent:

"Our life is over like a sigh. Our span is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong. And most of these are emptiness and pain. They pass swiftly and we are gone. Who understands the power of your anger and fears the strength of your fury? Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart."
Indeed, may we know the passing nature of this life and turn to Christ, who is the wisdom of God and who endured God's wrath on our behalf, and live.

After initially posting this, I read an item posted by Deacon Greg over on The Deacon's Bench about the death last week of Paul Weyrich, a fellow Catholic deacon, albeit not a Roman Catholic deacon. May his memory be eternal.

As to the issue of addressing deacons in the Eastern churches brought up by Deacon Keith Fournier in his remembrance of Weyrich, my Syriac priest friend calls me Father Deacon Scott. While this may grate on the ears of Latins, it is an ancient and venerable greeting for deacons in the East, where the diaconate as permanent order, while it certainly declined over time, never completely disappeared, as it did in the West. I am in no way arguing for the importation of this form of address into the Western church. I just think it is something that shows what is demonstrated well by James Monroe Barnett in his book The Diaconate: A Full and Equal Order, namely that the diaconate is a full and equal order, arguably older than the presbyterate.

3 comments:

  1. Father Deacon? I like it. It's not so hard once you recall that father is a title of honor and affection and not something juridically conferred.

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  2. I hadn't thought of what you write in your second sentence. Spiritual fatherhood is also lost concept in the West, we retain the honorific. I suppose, however, at least for those who knew him, Don Giussani was a spiritual father. Maybe that's why the Movement is in Russia and other former Soviet Republics.

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  3. The honorific "Fr. Deacon" is used among Eastern Christians (Orthodox & Catholic alike) to delineate various ranks of clergy. For example, "Fr. Christopher" is a priest, "Fr. Deacon Christopher" is a deacon.

    The honorific "Fr." simply means a member of the clergy.

    The terms are used not only in casual conversation, but also during Communion.

    I've been enjoying reading your blog, Deacon Scott - I actually grew up in Utah myself, but now live in Nebraska.

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