Friday, April 8, 2016

Even Catholic Reporters Get It WRONG

Friday greetings from the very cold Midwest.

We just had some kind of emergency in the same building where we are located. Fire alarm went off and we all found ourselves standing out in the cold as some snow pellets began to fall. Glad to be back in the warmth of the building.

I just read a neat story about a Catholic astronaut who was on the International Space Station and, through an arrangement with his diocese and parish, he was able to take consecrated hosts to the station, which he consumed while there. Then came this sentence, as reported by Catholic News Service:

"It was extremely important to me," said Hopkins, now 47, who grew up on a farm outside of Richland, Missouri, in a United Methodist family but completed the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes and became Catholic just before going into space."

Touching story, but why would the major Roman Catholic media outlet in the United States use the term "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes?" This is a classic example of the bastardization of the RCIA. In the sentence, as constructed, "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" becomes the modifier, the adjective modifying the word "classes."

We have, by and large, missed the boat, don't you think? This kind of misrepresentation of the Church's teaching about Christian initiation and preparation for the sacraments really grates on me, can you tell?

Let's all agree to banish the term "classes" from any description of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Agreed?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Maureen Grisanti Larison said...

Amen! We have been saying this for decades and yet the inaccuracy persists. It baffles me. Why are folks (outside of academia)so enchanted by the idea of classes?! You are not alone in your frustration with such language.

Liam said...

C.S. Lewis commented on a problem in the moral/cognitive plane that also applies, without the necessary implication of evil, into the plane of language and usage:

“He [the evil one] always sends errors into the world in pairs--pairs of opposites...He relies on your extra dislike of one to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled."

In this case, it's the fleeing away from "converted" that leads to a credentialing mindset that is otherwise pervasive in our culture. We understand conversion as a thing (recovery is related to this), and credentialing arising from training or learning or experience.

So, tell me, which linguistic error is worse: the credentialing model or the conversion model? Why?

I would suggest we'll need a handy non-jargon term that is immediately graspable like convert but without its baggage. (Receive is not working .)