A couple of weeks ago, Joy and I were at an O-Antiphons Advent Party at the home of Muffin Armstrong (her blog is Theology of the Body). We were playing Balderdash after supper and a great word came up:
What does “papicolist” mean? Some said, “A person who plays the papicolo instrument.” Clever, but not quite. The true definition is as follows:
papicolist. noun, 1633-1810
one who worships the pope; a papist
Hah! What a great word. Of course, we don’t worship the Pope with the cult of adoration of latria, but we do give him high honors as our universal pastor on earth – the pastor of pastors and the servants of servants.
Today is the perfect day for this word since it is the feast day of Saint Thomas Becket – a true papicolist (in the good way) if there every was one. Many people don’t know this, but this blog is actually named after Saint Thomas Becket, who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral–hence the name “Canterbury Tales.” Today, then, is the feast of this blog.
Our fifth child is also named “Becket” in honor of this great witness of Christ. Becket, you might remember, stood up against King Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Pope in England. Henry II wanted clergy tried in secular criminal courts and the Pope resisted this since clergy were to be tried in church courts under the direction of the Pope. Tradition relates that the king said the following about Becket: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”
As a favor to the king, some cronies of Henry murdered papicolent Becket in his Cathedral in Canterbury. T. S. Eliot’s famous play “Murder in the Cathedral” is based on this story. Why not order a copy of the play.
Saint Thomas Becket died valiantly for the Pope’s prerogatives. If only his successor Archbishop Thomas Cranmer had served so under the rascal King Henry VIII! Thomas Becket reminds us that it is worth shedding blood for the papacy. Loving, serving, and submitting to the Pope is not something incidental to being a Christian – Becket teaches us that submission to Pope is absolutely essential. This, by the way, is why you will notice from time to time that I have very little patience for the Greeks and Russians who enter our comment box and fight against the Popes and their infallible teachings.
As an aside, I usually don’t refer to the non-papal Easterns as “Orthodox” because they deny at least four Apostolic doctrines: original sin and concupiscence, the Immaculate Conception, universal papal jurisdiction, and papal infallibility. Some even make the silly claim that the Catholic Church is in heresy because we use the papal sanction Filioque in the Creed. It is not “orthodox” to say that the Popes have infallibly defined error. That, rather, is heterodox.
Similarly, Anglicans are not “catholic” until they embrace these doctrines and submit to the successor of Saint Peter in Rome. If a true Catholic denies any of these doctrines, he cannot be saved – so this is all very serious. I’m not interested in playing the niceties of ecumenical flattery. Our Divine Lord said, “And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.” (Matthew 18:17, D-R) If a man won’t listen to Peter and the Church’s magisterium, he is more a “heathen” than he is “Orthodox.”
When I was in Rome, I was standing on a street corner when suddenly a black car rolled up. A bishop opened the back door and Pope Benedict XVI got out. A shouted “Viva Papa!” and he waved at me. That is my spiritual papa and I will love to death by the grace of Christ. As the fourth commandment teaches: “Honor thy Papa” or something like that.
Viva Papa! and may St Thomas Becket pray for us.
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