Working for the Church means I get to use words like "absolution," "seminary," "liturgical," and "Divine Providence" on a routine basis. I write them, edit them, add them, and speak them all the time.
While helping a co-worker draft a letter meant for a parish, I began editing things in a way that surprised her. I capitalized the words "body" and "blood," for example, because in the letter, they pertained to the Body and Blood of Christ. I also capitalized any "he" referring to Jesus. I definitely added "Divine Providence" in lieu of a sentence that implied it but somehow stopped short of just saying it, and I suggested that she adjust her language to embrace Catholicism rather than hide it.
She was confused by what I meant. I explained:
It just seems like you're writing a Catholic letter to a Catholic population while trying not to sound like a Catholic.
She laughed and said that was exactly what she was trying to do. I huffed in frustration because I knew precisely why she was practicing self-censorship. I pushed again saying:
Catholics sound different because we ARE different. We have different vestments, different rituals, different social action and yes, even different language and grammar because we are called to be different.
Just like the Jews were instructed to do things differently from the rest of the world in the Old Testament, Catholics were tasked with setting themselves apart as well so that we could easily be identified as followers of Christ. Our differences are what highlight our unique call to others that there is, in fact, a different way - THE Way - Jesus Christ.
So it follows that Catholic-speak is and should be different. That's okay!!!
I hate that there are Catholics who run around trying to dumb down their Catholic language in an effort to broaden the appeal of their message to those who aren't as entrenched in the Faith.
A hungry person isn't going to turn away from a banquet table because there are too many items to choose from! He's not going to turn away because he's not sure what a turkducken is! He's going to be drawn in by the delicious smells, the savory sight and, ultimately, the satisfaction of tasting the sumptuous spread before him.
Use your language as a sumptuous feast, Catholics! Do not be afraid to use words that convey the richness of our Faith! Don't scrub the Catholicity from your speech as if that will somehow draw more people to your message.
Your message IS your Catholicity. Proclaim it with everything you have - glorious diction included! If language is a staff, Catholic words are the gems and gilding that turn it into a crozier. People aren't going to be put off by that which is beautiful, even if they don't wholly understand it! Allow the language of Mother Church to draw Her children in. Don't shirk them in the hopes that, eventually, lost and hungry souls somehow stumble upon Her wisdom. Don't worry that you will turn people away with words that hint at deeper spiritual truths.
The Holy Spirit will gently call out to those willing to hear; allow Him to reach into their souls with the poetic patois of Catholic Faith.
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