#5: Fun Words


Grievous. Consubstantial. Incarnate. Unblemished. Chalice. Partake. Hosts. These are just a few of the words that are either new or more prevalent in the upcoming English translation of the Roman Missal.

Come on. Grievous, how fun is that? The word is so fun that in the Star Wars universe, George Lucas named the leader of the Separatist droid armies General Grievous. Sorry, nerd moment.

But, yes, I am seriously a fan of these new words. How often do you get to say words like consubstantial? Incarnate comes from the root carne, as in flesh - as in Carne Asada Fries or Carneval. Hosts does not refer to the hosts of a party, but hosts as in armies; it is where we get the word hostile from.

Seriously, those are some fun words.
However, I am well aware that everyone might not appreciate the words as much as I do. I do know some people who are uncomfortable with these changes.When looking at the New Missal, some critics have expressed concern because they feel some of the words are uncommon or not part of a normal English vocabulary.

Their discomfort often manifests itself in this statement: "Nobody really talks like that."

Quoting Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, my response to them is: "In Church we do."

That's the point. Many of the words we use in Sacred Liturgy aren't used in normal conversation out in the world precisely because the Liturgy is supposed to be different. It's more than a common conversation over coffee. It's supposed to be special. The mass is where the heavens open up and multitudes of angels draw near; where the same sacrifice at Calvary is mystically made present; where the Divine Bridegroom consummates His love with His Bride. At Mass, Heaven kisses earth, and it follows that we would employ special language. Extraordinary moments deserve extraordinary language that is a bit less common, a bit less vulgar.

Let's look at in another way. Consider the works of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare often employed unique words or phrases to be amazingly more expressive in his writing. Rather than use common language, Shakespeare created words or phrases that more fittingly captured the situation. For instance, Shakespeare's use of the word cold-blooded better expresses a state of primal ruthlessness than other more common words like unemotional or indifferent.

The Church acts similarly. In the mass, we are encountering a mystery. Thus, the Church utilizes special words like consubstantial and incarnate to more deeply express this mystery. Just as we praise Shakespeare for using words creatively, we should appreciate the unique words used for the Mass. It could even be argued that we should have an even deeper appreciation for the words of the New Missal, for in comparison to Shakespeare's work, the Mass is infinitely more beautiful.

Ahh, Beauty - another reason to be excited for the New Missal.

In fact, Beauty is what I'll be writing about next week. Look out for it.

That's it for now, brothers and sisters.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below, or drop them in the ask box.