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The Meaning of Respect

  • Category(s): Moral Essays
  • Created on : 16 June 2015
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  • Author: Richard Michael Lamb


What matters to us all is dutiful observance of matters temporal and matters supernatural. Keep the two apart as Christ said,

“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”

1. The Start

Of course we give homage to our Sovereign and respect to her Judges: high and low ranking, and her military commanders and all those in authority over us. However, do I respect mankind in all its aspects of creation good and bad? I doubt it as like the American cowboy of old “I respect no man”. Why do I say this? Surely a man may earn respect from his peers? You would think so but this phrase does not bear close examination. If we could “earn respect” it would be down to everyone to do so. God does not work like that. He constantly bestows the grace of salvation on each one of us and we respond in our hearts and our souls throughout our lives maybe unknowingly. This is the process that counts above all other. We therefore respect God alone not man or woman. Yet we love our neighbour as our self – 2nd commandment.

2. The Nub of the Matter!

I have struck to the core in the previous paragraph. Any respect man has for man as opposed to an esteemed office itself will be tantamount to flattery. i.e. not true respect which can only be given to the three Persons of the Holy and indivisible Trinity. We respect our priests of whatever religion as Men of God, not because of their parents and their academic and preaching prowess. Their authority as Priests derives from God the Father in the Christian, Islamic and Jewish religions.

Yes we are told the scribes they called Jesus Rabbi and He of all men, so discerning, did not contradict them. What about affection? I do not deny the virtue of affection, particularly in family life as the proper outpouring of love on those close to us. Without affection we would be in a barren land indeed. But affection is self-sacrificing by the giver – it is not conferring respect. It essentially expresses love: woman or man for child or adult and that affection is designed to create security and comfort and reassurance in the donee of that affection, whether the receiver be adult or child. The woman is the key source of familial affection: natural love.

3. The Office and the Man

Yes this is axiomatic we do not worship our leaders as Hirohito, Hitler and Napoleon were made infamous. They required unswerving obedience, I grant you, and caused many to foolishly go to their deaths in their armies and Air Forces and Navies. They were Emperors and Hitler a dictator and Fuhrer. This is respect gone mad and the positions they held have been destroyed forever in the eyes of mankind. There is no respect for their office as leaders anymore, quite apart from their appalling tyranny.

However, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of England & Wales are highly esteemed offices – this is the respect for the office not the person of the office holder. Let no one bring disrespect down on that President and Prime Minister. The very offices I speak of have a powerful effect on the holders of those high level offices. Those men in these offices, of such renown, are miniscule themselves compared to the greatness being cast upon them. May no one forget that lesson of history and political morality.

4. The Catholic Priesthood

This goes back to the time of Christ and the Roman Empire, centred on the eternal City itself. The priesthood, now celibate, is based on the concept the Priest as man is a vehicle for the administration of the sacraments, regardless of his own goodness or turpitude. Thus we respect the priest as priest not the man under the vestments. The same applies to the Bishop of Rome whose authority derives from his priestly ordination in to Holy Orders like any other Roman Catholic priest – one of the seven sacraments of our Catholic Church.

This Bishop is no Caesar, but he is Pontifex Maximus like Caesar was in Roman times and Commander-in-Chief and Emperor. We do not adulate the Holy Father nor do we take him for granted. It is the Vicar of Christ who counts not the Papal coat of arms or the musings of this High Priest. When he speaks ex Cathedra we had better take note or without doubt we will suffer. In that vein he will be teaching the world in the name of Christ the King, and we do not refuse to heed Christ the Great Teacher’s message. We come back to Christ – He is the one we should respect in the Holy Trinity not our fellow men and women.

5. Do We Say We Consider Some Will Bitterly Regret Their Conduct?

In society yes I say we should pronounce such a warning where correct, but on no account should we give that warning to those above us. If we did so we would not respect their offices, be it psychiatrist, Judge, employer, police officer or even parent. I believe the father still has authority over the son although in the modern world egalitarian ways have come to the fore. It is Honour your father and mother, not respect them in our Bible. Christ endorsed those words and He Himself honoured his father Joseph and Mary His mother the Virgin. He understood the distinction and the Biblical translations are unanimous on the point. We will bitterly regret dishonouring our parents mark my words, and I am sure the lesson is well applied and learned.

The respect for the offices of those above us would have no meaning if we visited the vengeance of God upon them in their sins. I so believe this respect for the office of these officeholders is fundamental to the stability and proper working of our Country and World. I am no hypocrite. I do respect those above me make no error, and I will always defend their offices from attack.

6. Man and Woman

We love the spouse to our dying day in Holy Matrimony – to love and to cherish – to have and to hold for better and worse – richer and poorer – in sickness and in health until death us do part. This is the ultimate prayer of self-giving love based on Christ’s mystical union with His Church. Christ loves the Bride – His Church. His respect however goes to His Father – God the creator Himself. We should follow the Son’s example. Man is in love with his wife as he is commanded by these marital vows.

The husband does not respect his wife surprising though that may sound – such respect would reduce marriage to a lottery and parlour game. Marriage matters most for man and woman. Each spouse will lay down his or her life for the other and their offspring. That is not respect it is overwhelming generosity with self restraint and the Christian virtue of resignation. Do not get married if you may not sign and agree to this massive blank cheque which will leave you with nothing but God Himself from whom both spouses come. Respect is not for spouses – the marriage bond is far greater than living under temporal authority.

7. Conclusion

We are not in this world for ourselves. We are here for the God who made us and who sustains us through life to the unseen world when we die. Shakespeare spoke of coveting honour and if it be a sin Henry V says he is, “the worst offending soul of all.” Yes we all desire honour in our heart of hearts. We must also concede this honour is not respect, but the particular colours we have won on the date. Men of honour yes, but respect on Earth is only due to those who hold these offices by reason of the offices themselves. I refer especially to the Holy Father – the High Priest.

Honour and respect may go hand in hand I concede. Is that the end of the story? I have written my Catholic Church essay on 23 June 2013 and bolstered it in early November 2014. I have staked a claim to be the Senior Officier under Christ Himself in his Earthly army in that June 2013 essay. I still make out my case to be the present holder of that Senior Officier’s position as I write two years later. I desire no respect for myself. I simply work for God. The World does not recognise this rank, post and command I claim granted by the Almighty Father in the Holy Trinity.

I am alone on this Earth before Heaven. The World apparently considers my essays are piffle. I will give the warning: Do not denigrate this first Catholic Church essay of mine in any respect, or you may live to bitterly regret your rude conduct in the face of God Himself who rules over us all. He knows the secrets of all hearts, even His Saints in Heaven and on Earth - whether canonised or not. His mother Mary is always at our side as the mild, the loyal and ever prayerful friend and advocate. Yet even here our love for her is expressed not in wordy respect, but in the ancient words of the “Hail Mary” I am obliged to state:

“Full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou” among women. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Where do I stand? For Christ and I do respect no man but Him: the Man of sorrows. He is my talisman and superior officer. He has taught me all I have written and spoken and I know. Let no one disrespect Him or they will have me, not as an enemy, but to contend with sur la terre: His Senior Officier. Christ does not make enemies. He inspires true respect. Let no one be mistaken: I carry out His commands, He told his eleven disciples on the mountainside to teach the nations his commands after His Resurrection.

They did not fail him thank God.