Monday, 1 June 2009

How Not to Meet Your Bishop

Your Diocesan Bishop is approaching you with your parish priest. He is dressed as an ordinary priest. You know that he is largely informal with Priests and Laity. So what do you do?

Step 1: You remove your sunglasses and your hat. Good work! For deference, reverence for his holy office and respect in general - top marks! You are doing well.

Step 2: He moves to shake your hand politely and says, 'Nice to meet you.' Overwhelmed by his humility and your profound eagerness to show respect for his office, you near refuse his handshake and bend over to kiss a hand, the wrong hand, while he quickly tries to get his Bishop's ring out of his pocket, because he's realised you think you are 'doing the right thing'. You don't give him time to put it on and you kiss his hand anyway. He is embarrassed. You are even more so.

Step 3: In a painful attempt at reverence, respect for holy tradition and protocol you have made a t*t out of yourself. Still, don't worry, there is time to recover a sense of dignity and a modicum self-respect. So you say, "It is nice to meet you, Your Grace!" Great recovery...Except for the fact that later on you are told by another Priest he is not an Archbishop and his title and the title which is his as Bishop, should be, 'My Lord', for he is known as 'His Lordship'.

Yes. That happened today. Mental note for future reference. When you meet someone in authority in the Church, be yourself and don't force reverential traditional gestures to those who do not wish for it. So...What do I do when I meet the Holy Father again? Advice in comments box please, because one day, you never know, I might just need it.


pelerin said...

I fully understand your nervousness!
Several years ago I met Cardinal Lustiger in Paris. He shook hands with several people outside a church after Mass saying simply 'Bonjour Monsieur' to each of them. I was standing on the end and when he came to me he repeated 'Bonjour Monsieur' automatically and then apologised profusely when he realised that I was not a Monsieur but a Madame!

I remember muttering that it was quite alright and that I was English which seems ludicrous now when I think of it! He carried on chatting for a short while. Looking back I realise that I had had the opportunity of saying to a cardinal that I forgave him - and missed it!

Cardinal Lustiger was always very informal - on entering Notre-Dame to celebrate Mass he always used to wave endearingly at the congregation and used to shake hands with as many people as he could with those at the end of the pews. The present archbishop of Paris is more formal.

gemoftheocean said...

:-D I suggest that if and when you meet the pope you do NOT say: "How ya hangin' Benny?" It would most likey be considered gauche. Unless you are his brother, and the meeting is in private. But even to kiss the ring after saying it.

wl weber said...

You should genuflect whilst kissing the bishop´s ring. This is only done when one would otherwise shake hands. Keep smiling and talking normally when you´re genuflecting and don't look self-conscious. Call him My Lord once and therafter Bishop. If his secretary is with him (don't refer to his secretary as a chaplain, that's gauche) ask the secretary to say grace if you´re having lunch or dinner (no grace in a restaurant or club or at breakfast). It´s not done to bow when kissing the ring; either genuflect properly or just shake hands. Kissing a bishop´s ring used to gain an indulgence. william weber

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