Monday, August 29, 2005

And now, for something completely different...

Sal and I attended a wedding last night.

The bride was Filipina, the groom Chinese, so the event combined the customs of both.

An altar was set up front, with a ceremonial urn (most likely carrying the remains of family ancestors) flanked by two red candles. The ceremony began (over an hour late) with the lighting of incense at the altar, and repeated bowing, most likely in tribute to the groom's forefathers. Later on, the couple was covered with a veil and tied together with a cord, a Filipino practice to symbolize the unity of their household. Also on the altar was a silver crucifix with two white candles. And while it was a civil ceremony conducted in a hotel, I'm pretty sure the officiant was not a judge, but an Episcopal priestess stationed nearby. On top of that, there was a Catholic priest, dressed in a clerical suit, who was on hand to bless the rings, and the couple. He appeared to depart from the traditional formula for both. This is just as well, considering his presence was probably -- shall we say? -- "under the radar."

There were a lot of pictures taken while we all sat around looking for something to do. So each table, one by one, started popping the champagne. An announcer asked us to refrain and wait for the wedding toast, but we politely ignored him. All in all, a rather, uh, spontaneous affair.

But certainly not dull. Also on hand were the couple's three children, the oldest a boy of about about eight or nine. (I guess their families have been working on this one for awhile, huh?) Not only that, but a tall and fashionably dressed woman with long beautiful hair came walking in later in the evening and took her seat. Sal identified her as... a "him." Yep, a fellow with, uh, gender issues, I guess. On two occasions, one of the bridesmaids chose to escort "her" outside. "She" didn't look too happy. I didn't get it.

Fortunately, Sal is a terrific dancer, and makes me look a lot more dashing than I really am. It probably also helped that I was the only guy there who paid attention to the "black tie" requirement (other than a four-month old who was chewing on his tie). Between that and the champagne, I'd say these people don't take direction too well.

I still can't get over the role of the priest. I never saw him before, and his name didn't sound familiar. But he was about in his sixties, which tells me he's one of those aging liberal throwbacks, probably from a religious order, who pretty much does whatever the hell he wants when nobody with a bigger title than his is looking.

(Gee, when you get enough of them like that in one church, what could possibly go wrong?)

Most people did not dance. And of course, Sal is usually too chicken to get out there with me until one other couple does it first. Fortunately, everybody got up the nerve by the time we left, in time for that universal favorite -- the Electric Slide.

I should say that the dinner was great too. I should have gone back for seconds and snuck in a Tupperware container to stuff it in. And we each got a little Chinese party favor to take home. It was a lovely little box, tied with a pair of chopsticks by a white ribbon. Inside the box was -- a fortune cookie? Close. It was a lottery ticket.

We'll find out tomorrow who got lucky.


Todd said...

David, I'm curious about a double standard. The Episcopalian cleric is a "priestess," (a sexist term I doubt any self-respecting educated person would apply to herself in such an instance) and Msgr. Fellay is a Bishop (capital B no less). Any thoughts on that?

David L Alexander said...


Thank you for visiting my weblog.

Let me get this straight. I use the term "mankind" to apply to both male and female, and I'm sexist. I use the term "priestess," which is specifically female, to apply to someone who IS female, and I'm sexist. Further, it is implied, that by using such terminology, I cannot be identified with "any self-respecting educated person," inasmuch as they would never use such terms to describe themselves.

Go ahead. Read my thoughts.

(By the way, Bishop Fellay was ordained validly, but illicitly. That is to say, his ordination was outside the law, but the essential conditions were there, so it happened.)

Todd said...

David, when "priestess" is used in regard to Christian churches, it is usually as a perjorative. Feminists long ago gave up on the "separate but equal" terminology of hostess, waitress, or as Walter Matthau's character so cutely put it, Supreme Court Justess.

I just wonder why you used what was clearly a perjorative, and likely not what any Episcopal woman priest would want to be called. However, you would call an SSPX episcopal ordinand a "bishop," which he clearly would have wanted (but which the Vatican was mostly careful not to use).

Women, by the way, are validly ordained "priests" in the Episcopal tradition. Clearly, their understanding of sacramental priesthood is not congruent to the Roman, but it's likely the woman had something on Fellay: liceity within the larger tradition. In other words, the state and the ECUSA would recognize the marriage in question as validly witnessed.

David L Alexander said...


We've got two issues here.

First, regarding the reference to the "priestess." As a Catholic, I do not answer to the Anglican tradition regarding validity of orders. How I would address them in their own setting is another matter. But even then, I know of many "Anglo-Catholics" who would take issue with how you describe "the Episcopal tradition," if you can call it a tradition at all. (By the way, I still hear the terms "waitress" and "hostess" quite regularly. Further, you didn't answer my challenge in the first paragraph of my previous reply. Please explain the inconsistency.)

Nor do I answer to radical feminists who would re-write the English language on an annual basis, and forget to send the memo out to the rest of us. (Not that it would matter; see above.)

Second, regarding the status of Bishop Fellay. The conditions for vaildity were met. As with all sacraments, they involve form, matter, and intent. The ordination was valid, and Rome concedes this. The Church did not institute the sacraments; Christ did. Therefore, Her role with respect to them is interpretive, not creative. That being said, the 1988 ordinations conducted by Archbishop Levebvre were not licit. Fellay is a bishop, as Catholic teaching would define it. However, like the Eastern Orthodox, who have valid Orders and Sacraments, he is currently not in communion with Rome.

As to the CIVIL status of the marriage I described, I did not dispute that in my essay, and I do not dispute it now. The state and the ECUSA (if indeed she is who I believe she is) have their criteria; I have mine. My concern, if any, was confined to the participation of the Catholic priest in the affair, which I have reason to believe was irregular -- particularly if it was strictly a civil affair.

Again, thank you for visiting my weblog. Disagreeing is allowed here, and I answer all serious questions to the best of my ability.

Stay tuned, and stay in touch.