The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Monday, November 10, 2003
Inclusive Language

Steve, one of the seminarians in the house who gives me a bad time about my blogging, has suddenly found an opportunity to give me a bad time about not blogging. So I thought I would start with a topic about which I am sure that he will have an opinion.

It seems that some fellow bloggers have started a conversation about one of my favorite topics: Inclusive Language

You might want to read them first:

Flos Carmeli
Two Sleepy Mommies
Catholicism, Holiness and Spirituality
Fructus Ventris

Personally, I have grown to hate inclusive language. It is part of the arrogance of our culture and the narcissism of our age that has led us to believe we can with a few words find a better way to address God or express who God is.

In my own personal experience I have witnessed how clearly inclusive language can exclude some people.

Jesus, in his human flesh, has broken down the wall that divides us from one another. He has revealed that the Father wishes to have a personal and intimate relationship with us, his people. How else are we as English speaking humans supposed to describe the personal with a total exclusion of personal pronouns? We know of no other categories for person than male or female. God is not defined by the limits of our abilty to articulate his presence. Changing a few words will not broaden the limits of our ability to reach the very presence of the Holy One.

But often inclusive language has accented the divisions and separated us into different camps. Often I am made to feel as if I am the odd one simply because I desire that we pray with the church and not make up our own local rites and translations simply because we think we know better. What would Gasparian humility call me to in this situation? I am supposed to be changed by my immersion in the liturgy and in the paschal mystery. If I spend my time tinkering with and changing the Church's liturgy I am arrogating to myself a power and ability that even the Church does not grant me. In that case who would I be accountable to if not only myself. That would then exclude the entire Church. How is that inclusive? Isn't it a bit unreasonable to require ancient texts in every circumstance to live up to the requirements of the present day?

Language does change. "All Men" does not adequately express the mystery, and it is not even an adequate translation. Certain changes have been made by the Church, but some have not. I choose to pray with the Church, to struggle with the Church, to serve the Church. I long for the days of a new Sacramentary, but it will not satisfy the desires of many and what shall we do then?

I have a hunch that it will remain, "It is right to give Him thanks and Praise" and the ones who insist on using the title rather that the personal pronoun will continue to provide the witness that we cannot pray together in one voice, no matter how limited our language might be. I would hope that the Church would provide us with a better translation, "It is right and Just." But until they do, I will continue to pray with the Church, with the Church's text, and invite others to do so as well.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 2:36 PM link
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