Word of the Week: Sacerdotal

Film poster for The Age of Innocence (film) - ...

So, avuncular (unclelike), saturnine (sluggish), sybaritic (pleasure-loving), antediluvian (primitive), concomitant (accompanying), uxorious (fawning), lucubrate (laborious studying), vulpine (foxlike), fissiparous (fractious), skeuomorph (look it up yourself), obdurate (stubborn), syllepsis (zeugma), parlous (perilous), crepuscular (twilightlike), concupiscent (lustful), cromlech (formation of megaliths) and how about… sacerdotal?

Why sacerdotal? Mostly because it gives me a chance to digress into small talk about Edith Wharton’s spectacular “The Age of Innocence.” It is a great example of Ms. Wharton’s nimble and lively style.

First things first, however.

Sacerdotal is defined by Webster’s Fourth as “of priests or the office of priest; priestly” and “characterized by belief in the divine authority of the priesthood.”

Which reminds me of one of my favorite types of jokes: Do you know what the Spanish word for sacerdotal is? Sacerdotal.

Anyway. The word comes up in Wharton in Part VII of Book I, Page 73 in the Scribner paperback edition of 1998, when the book’s protagonist, Newland Archer, is endeavoring to persuade the patriarch of New York society, Henry van der Luyden, to intercede on behalf of a woman who, whether Mr. Archer knows it or not, is (not really a spoiler!) his love interest.

Mr. Archer first consults with the patriarch’s wife, and after hearing him out, she says “I should like Henry to hear what you have told me.” She calls for a footman and says, “If Mr. van der Lyden has finished reading the newspaper, please ask him to be kind enough to come.”

She said “reading the newspaper” in the tone in which a Minister’s wife might have said: “Presiding at a Cabinet meeting” — not from any arrogance of mind, but because the habit of a life-time, and the attitude of her friends and relations, had led her to consider Mr. van der Luyden’s least gesture as having an almost sacerdotal importance.

(Some day, should this tone be adopted on my behalf when I am reading a newspaper, I will consider myself a success.)

Anyway, awesome, right?

Thence to the Web!

But a genius like Shakespeare might still imbue his works with repeated words or situations that would call to mind their sacerdotal origins. via Shakespeare’s Common Prayers – Washington Post.

These are sentiments to nauseate a republican, but I, for one, find them stirring in their almost sacerdotal sense of purpose. via Book Review: Counting Ones Blessings – WSJ.com.

For LeMoine to ignore them at the intersection of his sacerdotal and social media practice is profoundly disturbing to the equilibrium for which Pope Benedict argued. via Church Uses Facebook for Sacramental Scrutiny at its Peril | Politics | Religion Dispatches.

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2 thoughts on “Word of the Week: Sacerdotal

  1. Pingback: Word of the Week: Assize « Patos Papa

  2. Pingback: Word of the Week: Puissant « Patos Papa

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