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Questions on Manners & Etiquette

When to Be Courteous to Others
& When to Shun Them?

Dear TIA,

I have been contemplating something that I cannot seem to resolve, and I am seeking your wisdom in the matter. As a result of being told by some radical sede-vacantists that the Faithful are to shun all non-Catholics, no matter where, as they pointed out with quotes by numerous pre-concilliar popes, I became very concerned about what my behavior should be toward all non-Catholics. The recommendation to shun them seemed contrary to what I had always been taught (i.e., "We must treat all - and I do mean ALL -- with courtesy and respect").

As I have read a number of articles posted in your website, my confusion has not abated, despite my understanding that Catholics are to be refined in all behavior toward each other, in particular, but Catholics are also to present refined behavior in the public sphere. Thus, several questions remain:

How are we to treat non-Catholics, in general, but also those with whom we may repeatedly encounter in the commercial domain (e.g., purchasing products or securing services), in specific?

Regarding those non-Catholics with whom we had previously become familiar, but now realize we should not be so familiar, is there something we should say to them regarding our recent change in perspective toward a relationship with them?

Regarding family members who do not share our view(s) (i.e., Novus Ordo Catholics, Protestants and heathens), how should we behave toward them?

If there is an article or articles that address(es) this issue, please refer me to them, as I would like to resolve this issue soon. For the most part, I have become much more quiet in my dealings with most of those in the aforementioned groups, mostly because I don't know how to address some of their statements (e.g., "I don't' think God wants us to suffer …"), but I don't' know if this is the accurate position. I also seem to bear much more concern about the salvation of many I know that are in these groups, and I pray for their conversion daily, but I don't know if there is something more I should be doing, or saying to them.

Thank you very much for your assistance with this matter. Trust that you are in our daily prayers as you continue your vital mission.

Sincerely,

E.M.S., Ph.D.

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TIA responds:


Dear Dr. E.M.S.,

Thank you for your consideration in asking these questions.

When we admit the presupposition that there should be a hierarchy of treatments in our relationships with different people, it seems that most of the problems you raised can be resolved.

Indeed, there are not just two ways of treating people: with or without courtesy. There are many nuanced manners that were distilled in Catholic Civilization, which we, as traditionalists, should know, appreciate and use in our day-to-day life. We list for you some landmarks of this interesting hierarchy of varied treatments.

Urbanity

Urbanity - Two ladies purchase flowers from a girl, exchanging a few urbane words
1. Urbanity - There is a standard civil treatment that we owe to any person who lives around us. Urbanity comes from urbe, which in Latin means city. It refers to that decent treatment that all the persons who live in the same city or neighborhood are expected to give to one another in order to make the day-to-day life livable. We treat all with dignity, but maintain our distance.

This is the treatment a teacher uses with his students, a doctor with his patients, the public functionary with persons who come to pay bills, etc. This is also the treatment used with others in stores, theaters, restaurants etc.

2. Cordiality - To those we know more closely because we are in the same neighborhood, social class or profession we owe a more amiable treatment. We open some of our natural barriers and show them a companionship that implies cordiality.

Cordiality

The common cordiality of colleagues at a formal dinner
This is the treatment of colleagues in the same department, engineers in the same factory, doctors in the same hospital, etc. When we meet one of these acquaintances in an airport or a theater, we distinguish him/her with an amiable greeting and we talk a little about common points of work or study; if we are with a friend or relative, we present the person: “This is my colleague at the university. We are working together on an important project.” It is a cordial treatment without too much proximity.

It implies a polite smile, the exchange of small talk and useful favors. If your fellow-engineer gave you a good hint about a restaurant in downtown Paris, when you come back from your tour in Paris, you thank him for the good find, and give him a small souvenir from your trip. If your next door neighbor gave you a bottle of wine as a Christmas gift, you repay the favor and give him a jar of preserves, even if he is a Protestant.

Courtey

A mother teaches her daughter courtesy, bringing a gift to her aunt
3. Courtesy - To those who are our friends, we owe courtesy. We should select our friends according to our religious convictions and social conveniences so that we do not draw into our own orbit or our family circle persons who can spread bad influences or lower our social status.

This friendship is based on mutual trust, respect and admiration. It implies a noble relationship that is translated by good manners and a constant exchange of favors and gifts.

So, to friends we send Christmas cards and birthday gifts, we visit them when they are sick, we help them when they are in need.

We also owe courtesy to our superiors or those who are our benefactors. Thus, you send a box of cigars to your General after he received a medal for his action at war; a good fountain-pen to your Professor to commemorate his discovery of a new planet in the cosmos; a case of wine to the doctor who helped your wife in a difficult child birth.

4. Familiarity - The type of relation that we have with our family and relatives supposes and transcends courtesy. A father and a mother have a strong familiarity with their children, and vice-versa. A husband has a warm familiarity with his wife. Familiarity is also present among brothers and sisters. This relationship is the closest human relationship, naturally speaking. We may also have a special friend, who is very close to us, and we treat him as a brother or sister; we also have a familiarity with him.

Family intimacy

Familiarity is enjoyed on a fishing outing
There is also a supernatural familiarity between the founder of a religious institution and his/her disciples.

This relationship implies giving and doing everything for the good of the other.

Here is an overview of the hierarchy of relations. Now let us see how these distinctions can help you resolve the questions you sent us:

First question: “How are we to treat non-Catholics, in general, but also those with whom we may repeatedly encounter in the commercial domain (e.g., purchasing products or securing services), in specific?”

Answer: Treat them with urbanity or cordiality, depending on each case.

Second question: “Regarding those non-Catholics with whom we had previously become familiar, but now realize we should not be so familiar, is there something we should say to them regarding our recent change in perspective toward a relationship with them?”

Answer: To say something will not resolve the matter. The best thing is to simply make a shift down on the hierarchical scale in your way of dealing with them, which means be cordial with them without bringing them close to you and your family.

Third question: “Regarding family members who do not share our view(s) (i.e., Novus Ordo Catholics, Protestants, and heathens), how should we behave toward them?”

Answer: Try to convince them that their position is wrong. If after three attempts you do not succeed, put some distance between you and them. Continue to be courteous or cordial with them, but reduce the familiarity you had with them.

We hope this may help you by giving the basic criteria to resolve these and other problems that may arise.

    Cordially,

    TIA correspondence desk

Posted September 13, 2012

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