Breaking open the Word

I must confess that I love words. I love to learn what words mean, how they are spelled, and how to use them in everyday conversation or upon the written page. I suppose I developed my love affair with language from my mother, who was a writer and a journalist with a passion for the written word.

The Holy Bible

The Holy Bible

I also must admit that I have been accused of being at times over zealous in correcting spelling and grammatical errors in others. I can spot a misspelled word instantly while fanning a 1000 page tome. Believe me, it is a curse, because my mind instantly ceases to comprehend what I am reading and focuses on the singular error while lowering my esteem for the misguided author significantly. Unfortunately, no one can ever attain perfection which means that me, myself, and I also make mistakes when writing. To my credit I always punish myself severely; after all it is only fair to those for whom I have found wanting.

So where is this going? Within the past year or so I have observed on a number of occasions people reading or even using words that they obviously had no idea what they meant. On several occasions someone would tentatively raise their hand and ask for an explanation. In one instance, a single word is used practically every day and I suspect that fewer than 1 in 100 people—perhaps fewer—have any notion of its meaning. And this gave me the idea that I would, over some period of weeks, offer some explanation for some commonly used, but seldom understood words; words that we all hear or use concerning our faith, our beliefs, the Church, and even God Himself.

I love to teach and preach and I have discovered that in teaching the teacher often learns more than the students. I fervently hope and pray that, in this instance, we can all learn equally as much, together.

So what words will we be discussing? The first word is one that we all say when we recite the Nicene Creed, our statement of faith, “consubstantial.” Fourteen letters, five syllables, a big word that is the English version of and even larger sixteen letter, six syllable Latin word, “consubstantialem.”

The Roman Missal, Third Edition returned the word to the Creed. But what does it mean and why do we use it? I’ll explain next week. In the meantime, as my mother would often tell my siblings and me, find a dictionary and look it up.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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