DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     May 27, 1999     vol. 10, no. 103


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat treats a subject we are all too familiar with and yet do very little to change, accepting the aberrations of the language as we allow truths to be watered down through interpretation and political correctness that opens the door wide for satan to slither through as Pat illustrates in a number of examples that should cause us to take stock of what is happening in our Church and not be afraid to stand up and say, "enough's enough!"

When language confuses

          We communicate with words, words we all agree on. For example, if I were to speak of a red rose, you would immediately visualize a red flower with a thorny stem. However, if in my mind, I'm calling a lily a rose, then all I'm going to do is confuse you. I couldn't say "Well, that's 'your' definition of a rose, not mine." In short, we may sound like we're speaking the same language, but in reality, we aren't.

          There was an old brain teaser that went something like "What you think I said is not what I meant." Sometimes these misunderstandings can come about by our 'listening to the headlines'. For example, the Church teaching "Outside the Church there is no salvation", on the surface, seems elitist and exclusionary. Yet, if one reads past the title, they see how the Church has always deemed those who follow God as they were taught about Him, as members of the Church. But we also have the problem of hedging on words, making them fit what we want. A child may say that he won't play with matches. But when caught with matches say that he wasn't playing, but was trying to light the candle. Language is a tool we use to convey our thoughts and feelings. But as any con man knows, language can also be used to confuse, mislead and distort.

          A recent study said that boys in school are ten times more likely to receive special attention than girls. However, what the study failed to mention was that the boys were ten times more likely to be disruptive and THAT was the cause of the special attention. Not an anti-female bias.

          This confusion in language seems to be more prevalent today than ever before and all sorts of things are affected by it, even Church teaching and the Scriptures. For example, St. John writes "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Yet, in the Jehovah Witness scriptures we read it as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." A simple word, yet the difference is from night and day. That Christ is not God, but rather 'A' god.

          Even well intentioned translations can cause great changes and errors. Martin Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception, writing in 1527, "The infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin…From the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin." (Sermon "On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God.") Yet, he felt that the angelic greeting to Mary was better translated as "highly favored" rather than, '"full of grace". Yet, from his translation came the error that Mary was 'only' highly favored and not full of grace. That she was made sinless at the moment of the angel's greeting or was never sinless.

          And then there is the normal word changes that are used to confuse. In the King James version, the commission added 'firkins' to John 2:6. Today, one would be hard pressed to know a firkin was an English unit of measure, about a quart or a barrel. It may have clarified things to the British in the 17th century, but we'd have no idea what they meant.

          In the Douay-Rheims Bible St. Paul is quoted as saying "Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor exhortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10).

          Today it reads: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God."

          Many will use the fact that the term homosexual was not used until the 1800's as an excuse that St. Paul never condemned homosexual activity. Though words may change, it doesn't take a lot of work to see what is meant.

          But today, we seem to be seeing language that is so vague and ambigious as to be left open to all sorts of interpretaions. For example, in the Mass, at the offertory, we say, "May the Lord accept the sacrifice from your hands, for the praise and glory of His name. For our welfare and that of His church." But we once said, "May the Lord receive this sacrifice at Thy hands, to the praise and glory of His name, to our own benefit, and to that of all His holy Church." Is the implication that the Church is no longer holy? We know that the people IN the Church may not be holy, but the Church is. What change in teaching can this be used to promote? That the Catholic Church is NOT the Church founded by Christ? That there is no difference between the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations or other religions? Coupled with definition of the word catholic to imply that ALL things are universally accepted, does imply the Church must accept all things, beliefs, etc?

          "We are Church" is another. Is it, "We are A Church", "We are THE Church", or what? Does it mean that the people are the teaching authority of the Church (the slant of the "We Are Church" campaign of Call To Action)? All sorts of things can be inferred from this phrase.

          Many may also hear this before a Mass. "Today's Presider is Fr…………" Presider? According to the dictionary a presider is one who acts as a chairman of a meeting, who directs or controls a meeting. Is that what the priest is at the Mass? Is he presiding over a meeting of the community? A prayer meeting? Sure, Protestant pastors and ministers can be called presiders, but not Catholic priests. Since they 'celebrate' the sacrifice of the Mass, they are more Celebrant than Presider. Even the dictionary acknowledges this. "One who celebrates, esp. the officiating priest in the celebration of the Eucharist." Does one have to be a priest to 'preside' at a meeting of the faithful? Any one can 'preside' but only a priest can 'celebrate' the Mass.

          More and more, one may hear this in the Mass. "Lamb of God, who takes away the SIN of the world….." Sin? Singular? Which sin specifically did He take away? I've heard it said that SIN can be used as a singular as well as plural. I can't find any justification of that view. But it seems odd that such a broad sweep would seem to be acceptable when, at the same time, we have to be specific in view of gender.

          We can't say we are brethren (denoting a spiritual brotherhood, among men and women), no, we have to specify sisters and brothers. We can't say Christ came to redeem all mankind, but all humankind. We can't say God the Father, but we must couch it in vague generalities, such as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, etc.

          Many of these may not be 'wrong', but without a solid understanding, they can, and will, lead off into error, just as Luther's "highly favored" led many to deny Mary's Immaculate Conception and her unique position in THE Church.

      Pax Christi, Pat

May 27, 1999       volume 10, no. 103


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