07 November 2008

Four Top Ten Lists

Top Ten Most Irritating English Phrases compiled by Oxford University, including one I've used just recently: "with all due respect"!

My Top Ten List Catholic Weasel Phrases:

1). one-issue Catholic voter (of the course this only applies to pro-life advocates)
2). complex moral problem (as cover for dissenting from Church teaching)
3). in good conscience (voodoo incantation that magically turns Evil into Good)
4). social justice issue (left-liberal social engineering meddling)
5). creative fidelity (imaginative dissent that on issues settled in the 4th century)
6). democratic ecclesiology (Protestantism by any other name)
7). missioned/missioning (Nun-word, means "to commission")
8). in the proper context (the context here always seems to trump the truth)
9). pro-choice Catholic (have no idea what this is supposed to mean)
10). preferential option for the poor (see #4)

My Top Ten Liturgical Acts That Should Be Punished by Public Beating:

1). holding hands during the Our Father (not a real liturgical gesture)
2). improvised Eucharistic prayers ("Say the black, do the red, Father!")
3). omitting the Gloria on Sundays and other solemnities (pure laziness)
4). pronoun shuffle to avoid using male pronouns (forced participation in a political experiment)
5). editing the Creed to make it politically correct, theologically dodgy (ditto)
6). using the homily to ask for money (throw hymnals at pastors who do this)
7). saying "Good morning, everyone!" after the "Lord be with you" (doesn't trust the liturgy)
8). making imperatives into statements: "The Lord IS with you" (pretentious theology)
9). universalizing prayers, e.g. as in "Blessed are WE who are called to THIS supper"
10). funky priestly gestures, e.g. waving the host around at the consecration (stop that!)

My Top Ten Bad Excuses for Missing Sunday Mass

1). "I went to a wedding on Saturday."
2). "I couldn't find a convenient time to go."
3). "The family Mass is annoying."
4). "My pastor is a heretic."
5). "The vestments are ugly, the music is bad, and the deacon can't preach."
6). "Sr. Moonbat always gets up and tells us about her eco-retreat center."
7). "Father is always begging for money."
8). "I went for a walk in the park. . .that's the same as Mass!"
9). "Father said it was OK to miss Mass once in a while as a treat to myself."
10). "I had out of town guests who aren't Catholic."


  1. now then, this was downright illuminating.

    Item number 6 in list number 2 is particularly on my mind this week.....but then there's Item number 7 in list number 3.....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  2. In my top 10 liturgical acts that should be punished: "Look not on our sins, but on the faith of the people gathered here today."

    I hear that several times a week.

  3. Fr. Philip, regarding item #9 on list #2, mucking with those words both universalizes and localizes that prayer! From my recent blog post on the Ecce Agnus Dei:

    In the present translation, the priest does not say "Happy are we who are called to this supper." There is great significance in saying "those" (instead of "we") and "his" (instead of "this"). First, saying "we" is over-inclusive: it presumes that everyone present at Mass is going to receive (which might not be the case). Second, saying "we" and "this" is over-exclusive: it emphasizes the local congregation and celebration, neglecting the universal character of Holy Communion, whereby all those who receive Holy Communion are partaking of the same "marriage supper of the Lamb". It's not just this supper, it's his supper, the Lamb's supper. Instead of being focused on the local present moment, our attention should be drawn to the heavenly eternal moment.

  4. Japhy, sorry...I messed up the line...I was trying to quote the usual improvised line...instead I mixed in the correct version too!

    I will fix it.

  5. Anonymous7:29 AM

    But I like a few of those, properly understood. There ARE complex moral issues that do have pretty intricate problems to be addressed. None of that changes the moral status of a given act, but it's still useful in sin prevention (ie. "if I don't have alcohol, I don't get myself into positions where I could cheat on my wife.") Preferential option for the poor can be understood properly, too.

    Always sad when people take legitimate theological ideas and turn them into buzzwords for their own purposes.

  6. Fun, the complexity in moral deliberation comes in when you to make subjective judgments about whether or not this or that is morally good or bad. Generally, though the phrase "complex moral issue" is used as a cover by people who don't want you to deliberate morally on any issue. They want you to do what you want to do and they are giving you cover for doing exactly that by patting you on the head and telling you, "Poor thing, it's really very complex...just do what feels right." Eight times out of ten they know the right thing to do but somehow feel no obligation to share their findings.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  7. Fr. Philip, I hadn't even realized you'd slipped in a "blessed" instead of a "happy"! :)

    I do GREATLY prefer the new translation which we'll hear when the Holy Spirit takes our bishops out behind the woodshed. ;)

  8. Regarding the 'pronoun shuffle':

    I'm a lector. I'm able to fight back against the pronoun shuffle.

    For example: in the American lectionary, most of St. Paul's readings are introduced with the phrase, "Brothers and sisters," which doesn't appear in the Pauline text. I drop the phrase entirely and go right into St. Paul's words.

    Also, if I can catch it on the fly, I will restore "man," "men," etc. where the NAB has inserted castrated terms. I don't always make the catch, but I do what I can.

    Larger philosophical point: To accept 'gender inclusive' language is to accept the philosophical underpinnings of babykilling. For we Catholics, our answer must be, "Not now, not ever."

    Perhaps, Friar Philosopher, you could chime in on this last point?

  9. Good lists, Fr. #11 for Liturgical Acts could be shaking hands and greeting those around you prior to the entrance hymn. Ick ack ptouuie

    On an entirely unrelated note, what's your take on this: Letter From A Young Seminarian In Rome---to the WOC Since you're in Rome, it'd be interesting to know first hand if the Crones are truly still "the talk of the town" after the Bishop's synod. I personally think the letter is a hoax or a seminarian's clever idea of a funny prank. Thanks!

  10. Larry, this letter is a gag. If it's not a gag, then this "seminarian" is either not a seminarian or he's clueless.

    His claim that it is the younger priests who approve of women's ordination and the older ones who disapprove is exactly backwards.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  11. Patrick, there are certainly historical links btw the pro-abortion movement and the urge to cleanse our language of "sexism." I'll have to think a bit more on any underlying philosophical connections.

  12. Thanks for the answer. I personally think it's a seminarian playing a prank on the WOC, and if so, it's pretty hilarious.

  13. Anonymous3:04 PM


    I am also a lector. It's not appropriate to make any changes in the reading. It is not the place of the lector to try to correct the translation as they see fit! If the pronouns bother you, you should offer it up and pray for an improved translation. If it still bothers you too much to read it as presented, then you should consider withdrawing from the ministry of lector, because it has become an occasion for the sin of pride.

    By the way, the Latin "homo" (plural "hominibus") is not a gender specific term. "Vir" means man. Where the Vulgate uses the term "homo," an English term that is gender-neutral is appropriate. Only where it says "vir" must it be translated as "man."

  14. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Dear Fr. Philip,

    I already know that. :-)


    You know, blog title in homage to the Cat in the Hat who can balance on a ball with a fish and a cake and a rake because "it's fun to have fun, but you have to know how!" at least until all the things fall!


  15. Anonymous5:23 PM

    I don't know that using gender inclusive language in some situations is such a bad thing (Liturgy aside of course). Not all feminists want the death of the unborn.

  16. ..yes, well there are a few spots in the breviary where the operative assumption is that all those praying it are male. I'll buy "men" being a reasonable tranlation of the Latin "homo".

    I don't find "brothers" to be an acceptable general term. The troublesome spots are the intercessions, where some address the assembly as "brothers". I don't find anything problematic in saying "brothers and sisters" (or "sisters" if the assembly is entirely female).

  17. I am not a Lector, but I'd tend to agree with Ginkgo w.r.t. the readings. "Say the black, do the red" should apply to everyone, shouldn't it?

  18. Ben, Ginkgo...you guys are correct. If the parish is using the lectionary authorized by the USCCB, the the reader (technically, not a lector unless he is installed) should read the text as written.

    I can only think of one instance where I have knowingly change the text of the Mass...there's one utterly banal closing prayer sometime in the early part of O.T. that reads, "Lord, may this Eucharist be effective in our lives." Simply the dumbest prayer in the book.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  19. Anonymous12:06 AM


    I wasn't going to comment at all on this thread, but your post made me change my mind.

    I don't think I understand: HOW does gender inclusive language connect with abortion?? I want to hope that this is just a faulty cultural over-generalization. However, I obscurely fear that what is at play is some sort of arch-sexism that assumes women who desire to be included in the language are somehow so emotionally immature, so eager to remove themselves from their "place," that they will murder their own infants to do so unless restrained by enlightened males?

    Please reassure me that this is just a labyrinthine and farfetched pigeon-hole and not a despicably chauvinist argument in favor of literally revising the documents of the church to fall more in line with fringe views of gender.

    Also, as a Latinist, there is no question about Ginkgo100's point. It's just a fact of the language. Need we outdo St. Jerome?

    Robert Hamilton

  20. In my Parish, especially in spanish masses I don't know why the priest never tells the people anything, but after the gospel proclamation ( and every reading actually), everybody starts clapping! just clapping as if it had been a great performance, and the response to the gospel is not even heard, silenced in clappings! I told my priest why he didn't say anything, and he was jut like "oh yeah, they clap you know" [...]
    Father, what am I supposed to tell him?

  21. Adolfo, I've never heard that one before!

    Honestly, you've done your job. Hope and pray the pastor does his. If he doesn't, there's really noting you can do except avoid the Spanish Masses...

  22. 1 4 8 and 9 of list 2 still make me flinch by reading them.

    God save us from those who think they are higher than God. And God save us from the NAB. DR forever!