Friday, July 21, 2006

Goodbye, Father Joe and Father Mikey and Father Bob . . . . Redux

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Postscript: A commenter to a post here the other day on the informality that has crept into the use of priests' first names brought me up when he wondered if I had forgotten that some religious orders only use the first names. Well, it wasn't so much that I had forgotten it, I never knew it, although if I had thought about it, my limited contact with religious men would have told me that, and of course the many religious women that I have had contact with over the years all used their first names, that we in English refer to as our "Christian" names.

I still wonder though if there is a "St Tammy", a popular girls name of my late youth. Maybe though, since "Tammy" became popular in the late 1950s, and Blessed John XXIII who convened the Second Vatican Council became Pope in 1958, the proliferation of "Tammies" was a sign of the chaos of what was yet to come in the Church.

I'll stand chastised a bit on the use of the first name, especially for the men in religious orders. But my experience of the use of the Christian name for a priest moves swiftly from "Father Joseph" to "Joseph" to "Joe" to "Joey-boy" pretty quickly. A good friend was talking to an aquaintance the other day about something to do with the local archdiocese and the friend made some reference to "Harry." My friend wondered who "Harry" was and asked. "Flynn", was the reply, "Archbishop Harry Flynn."

And then parents thought it was nice that "Father Joe" would want to take little Bobbie on an overnight trip to the big city. And we all know what happened then.

I love my priests, even when I don't agree with them or they don't meet my (impossibly high) standards. They have given their life for my immortal soul. I prefer to treat them with all the respect that a man who serves "in persona Christi" deserves.

Thank you for your comment, Father Mark!

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