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Assuming the title

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Today is the Octave Day of the Assumption and, following the Monastic Breviary, I continue to observe octaves which have largely been abolished in the Roman Church. To be fair, today is observed as the Queenship of Mary in the Roman Church, so octave days seem to be kept vistigially.

I recently had cause to reply to a Protestant who was probing the ACC for it's beliefs with some well-rehearsed versicles about Catholics worshipping Mary. Of course, I therefore gave the appropriate response that we don't worship Mary, but rather the son she bore. I also gave the standard piece of logic:

1) Mary is the mother of Jesus.
2) Jesus is God.
3) Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.
4) Jesus is King of Heaven.
5) The mother of a king is a queen (properly the Queen Mother)
6) Mary is Queen of Heaven but only through being the Queen Mother.

My Protestant replied that my argument created a "strained outlook" and yet did not argue further. I really don't see how he could as this wonderful old argument is logically sound, based on true premises and therefore a completely valid and sound argument. I guess my Protestant correspondent (who exists as a real person unlike Mrs John Bruce's "regular correspondent" who is probably an extension of himself) is a republican desiring to strip Heaven of its noblility in the same way that I would like the Civil List pruned of all but the reigning monarch if the UK must me a monarchy.

As usual, Protestants do make excellent points which must be considered carefully and heard fully. Is Heaven going to be an aristocracy just like Earth in which titles are given to privileged families?

No. I don't think so. Our Lady is indeed Queen by being directly in God's immediate family as we understand the term, yet she also gets there by merit. She does something. She cooperates with the Grace wherewith she is filled and therefore finds herself Queen of Heaven.

As Fr Chadwick and I have been discussing lately about those with purple fever, Titles mean absolutely nothing in themselves. They hold no honour in themselves because they can be held by people who can be completely dishonourable. Think of the title "Pope" and compare your favourite sainted pontiff with your least favourite despotic pontiff. Thus "Pope" confers no moral character on the individual. In honouring the Pope, we are recognising the office and not the person. The same is true for any other position. We cannot own our titles any more than we can own the adjectives that describe us or would want to describe us.

A title confers nothing but reminds the one who holds it of their responsibility. My secular title of "Doctor" is only really of any meaning when I am operating in mathematical education where I have a responsibility to educate a student in the truth of mathematics. My ecclesiastical title of "Father" is only of value when I am actualising the pastoral and sacramental responsibility that God has commanded me in my ordination. 

Should I fail? Then I damage the Church as so many priests have done recently. Those who have abused others in any way have divorced themselves from the title they bear and they will be judged by humanity and God alike. I pray that every single abusive priest may be confronted with the truth and weep for it so that he might stand some chance of forgiveness through true contrition and repentance. Until they do so, may they undergo the punishment of the secular law so that those whom they have abused may know that their complaint has been heard and that their wounds may be healed, but I do pray that they would receive healing from the Divine Father Who truly loves them. 
These abusive priests have damaged the title of "Father" because they have appropriated it for themselves and abused it in order to abuse others.

However we look at it, and this might prove difficult for some Heaven is an aristocracy. Yet the privileged family who have earned the privilege of titles is the family of God. If we are indeed adopted children of God, then that is a title that we bear, not because of us but because of Him. We cannot be a child of God if there is no God, just as God the Father could not exist without God the Son, for how can someone be a father without a child? If we are destined to be in Heaven with God, then we are destined for the title of "Saint" which, again, only takes true meaning from our relationship with God and not of ourselves.

A bishop can only be one who does all that a bishop should do. An Archdeacon only bears the title because he fulfils the requisite actions of the office. Once you pass on, the title passes to your successor and you have no further right to it. We do not possess the title, the title possesses us, or it should do if we're being true to ourselves.

Our Lady bears the title of Queen of Heaven for Eternity because this can never pass from her. Thus the honour and deference that we show her are acts of piety and acknowledgement of the Truth of God's Goodness. And she fulfils her title too, for she prays for all the children of God to the Child she bore.

Hail Holy Queen!

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