By Their Vocabulary, You Shall Know Them

By their vocabulary, you shall know them? Well, to a considerable degree. And in these early November days, when the Church celebrates all the saints in glory and prays for those who yearn to join them in the Father’s House, it’s instructive to ponder the vocabulary that dominated the just-completed first assembly of the Synod on Synodality for a “Synodal Church of Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

One eminent Synod father was jotting down vocabulary notes during his small-group “Conversations in the Spirit” and was struck by which words were used and which weren’t. He satirized both in the form of a two-part mock memo from the Synod general secretariat to the Synod membership.

First, The Words That Must Be Used in Every Intervention and Statement:

Synodality. Harmony. Symphony. Women. LGBTQIA+. Working together. Those excluded. Those on the margins. Spirit as protagonist. Women. LGBTQIA+. Insensitive parish priests. Backward seminarians. Sensitive, nice pope. Women. LGBTQIA+. Bleeding Earth. All are welcome. Listening. Discerning. Women. LGBTQIA+. Divorced and remarried. Poisoned seas.

Then there was the Non-Acceptable Vocabulary:

Salvation. Sin. Conversion of heart. Holiness. Unborn babies. Vocations. Marriage and family. Eucharistic renewal. Penance and fasting. Persecuted Christians. Religious freedom. Sunday Mass. Sacrament of Penance. Virtue. Parishes. Intellectual life. Sanctifying grace. Fatherhood. Heaven. Pope St. John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI. One holy, catholic, apostolic Church.

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