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“Awesome”, “amazing”, “awful”.  The last was the first to be emptied of its meaning; you can’t speak any more of an “awful sunset”.  Its cousin, “awesome”, has likewise suffered a metamorphosis in meaning of which it is now totally devoid.  It is a little exaggerated to call these transformations, not to say massacres, of the meaning of words … “amazing”.  I am NOT amazed by them, as I once was when I saw a Bishop’s pants slip to his ankles, though I am somewhat surprised and distinctly disappointed to have to point out abuses in language that many people will neither notice nor give a ratz about.

In Catholicism – to remain within the Blog’s orbit and to respect its objective – there is one expression that really bugs me.  When used to address the Dalaï Lama, it just sounds . . . wrong.  He is not the “Holy Father”; the Pope is.  But the title is just as hollow for either of their “Holinesses”.  For two reasons.  Primo : while it is hard not to like the chubby, chummy Argentinian (or even the ever-smiling Tibetan), what on earth do we mean by calling him “holy” ?  He may be a good man, a sincere believer who says his prayers and wants to help the poor and really thinks he is the Vicar of Christ.  But he’s not a Saint.  Maybe if he worked a miracle or two . . .  Cuba was about as close as he’ll get to being a miracle-worker, but that doesn’t make him holy.  I’m sure he’d call himself a sinner rather than a  saint.

Secundo : there is that title Jesus told his followers not to use : “Father”.  In His mind, that’s reserved to His and Our Father who art in Heaven.  Priests and Popes are called “Father” but are vowed to celibacy.  There’s a disconnect here.  Why not just address him as . . . “Francis” ?  After all, he is so attached to my name that he preferred it to the one given him at Baptism.  And he’s so low-key, unassuming, unpretentious – an Archbishop who went to work in a bus and now drives a Ford Focus like me – a Pope, as we say Down Under, who has no tickets on himself, so humble that he could make history by insisting we call him by his first name.  We won’t call him “Frank”.  I like the short form, but when it comes to God’s representative on Earth, there are limits.

RIDENDA      RELIGIO

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