Friday, October 21, 2011

A Modern Seminarians’ Dictionary

H/t to Carol, from Domenico Bettinelli at

"I saw this once back when I was in college and have regretted not keeping a copy ever since. I have sought it high and low and have finally had it come across my desk again. It is both hilarious and stunningly accurate. Read them all, you’ll recognize some of them especially if you’re a frequent visitor here."


Published in “Fidelity”, September 1987, pp. 23-25.

Brother seminarians!  Are you troubled by the non‑judgmental expectations of the seminary?  Are you confused by their concerns? Fear not.  Before your eyes you have the key to ordination in this person’s seminary.  Add these terms to your theological lexicon and believe me, you could well be ordained one or two years early!                   

PASTORAL:  Effeminate; an attribute lacking in a man who demonstrates overt masculine attributes of clarity, decisiveness, and orthodoxy: G.K. Chesterton was not pastoral.

RIGID: Your view is not my view; normally, the rigid person has a simplistic view of Catholic doctrine (see SIMPLISTIC); for example, a rigid person holds that the ordination of women is not possible; a flexible person holds that to fail to ordain women is an example of sexism.  Evelyn Waugh was rigid: “It is better to be narrow‑minded than to have no mind, to hold limited and rigid principles than to have none at all.  That is the danger which faces so many people today ‚ to have no considered opinions on any subject, to put up with what is wasteful and harmful with the excuse that there ‘is good in everything’ ‚ which in most cases means an inability to distinguish between good and bad.”

VISION:  The quality of agreeing with me. 
JUDGMENTAL: A person who judges the sin but not the sinner.  A non‑judgmental person utters not a word on the morality of the usual sexual sins, but tries to determine “where a person’s at” so that the person’s motives can be judged accordingly; a non‑judgmental person judges the sinner but not the sin. 

SIMPLISTIC:  Having to do with common sense. 
CATHOLIC FUNDAMENTALIST:  A simplistic person who tries to live the Faith in a docile and pious way; also a Catholic who frequently prays the Rosary.

FLEXIBLE:  You agree with me; a flexible person is open and dialogues on any issue, smiles knowingly and does precisely what he started out to do.

CHALLENGE:  To recognize that my views are better than your views.
GROWTH:  For you to assimilate my way of thinking into your life.

ENABLE:  An essential attribute of a priest whereby he is able to convince others to do things his way without parishioners catching on to the deception.

NETWORKING:  Allowing nuns to run parishes.

I HEAR YOU:  A clever way of telling you that I don’t agree with you but I don’t want to sound dogmatic, rigid or inflexible. 

WE HAVE NO RIGHT ANSWERS/WE DON’T HAVE MANY ANSWERS:  Except this one (cf. Archbishop Rembert Weakland on homosexuality:  “...I would like to state that I do not have all the answers on this highly complex issue…”  (The Catholic Herald, July19, 1980.) 
YOU’RE NOT LISTENING: The way a flexible, non‑judgmental person expresses disappointment that a rigid, dogmatic person doesn’t agree with him; example:  the Pope is “not listening” to the American Church.  

OPEN AND HONEST:  Telling religious superiors what they want to hear.           

WOUNDED HEALER:  The term used to convince a person who doesn’t “feel good about himself” to feel good about himself without Confession.           

WHERE YOU’RE AT:  Your psychological condition when you’re in the state of mortal sin calling for acceptance and a non‑judgmental attitude.
WHERE ARE THOSE TEARS COMING FROM?:  The standard question to ask troubled or sick persons when you have nothing else to fill up the unnerving silence.
COMPLEX TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD:  The reason for resisting one’s conscience when opposing the teaching of the Catholic Church; also, the standard response a flexible person uses when a rigid person seems to be winning an argument.
VALUING YOUR SEXUALITY:  Obsession with the usual adolescent preoccupations.           

WE ARE ALL SEXUAL BEINGS:  The reason to overlook sexual misbehavior in seminaries.

CELIBACY: Refraining from heterosexual genital activity.           

PROCESS: The spontaneous movement in the dialogue of group therapy sessions never to be disrupted by thinking.

FEELING:  The highest faculty of the human person left fully untouched by original sin.

ORIGINAL SIN:  See SEXISM.           

LOVE:  A nice feeling.
THINKING:  The most dangerous activity in a seminary; cause for psychological counseling; those who think “disrupt the process”; see PROCESS.

TOUCH, MINISTRY OF:  Physical contact to demonstrate that one has the capacity of intimacy; does not necessarily involve an exchange of bodily fluids.     
IN TOUCH WITH FEELINGS:  Using the intellect to explicitly identify what one is feeling so that speech patterns can be altered to communicate one’s sensitivity and compassion; not to be confused with “intellectualizing your feelings”.


COMPASSION:  The warm feeling one has for oneself at any given time; one who has compassion needs to tell others he/she has compassion, otherwise compassion isn’t present; see also IN TOUCH WITH FEELINGS.

COMPASSION BURNOUT: The loss of the warm feeling one has for oneself when charitable works become wearisome or otherwise costly.

SENSITIVITY:  The ability to identify and agree with the conventional wisdom of left‑wing political issues such as feminism, gay rights, dissent,etc.  Tim Unsworth of the National Catholic Reporter describes a sensitive priest: “But Vince Connery also cries a lot.  He cries openly and unashamedly in private conversation and in public.  He doesn’t cover his face or hide it in the crook of his elbow. He simply stands there and cries, letting the tears flow and the voice break; and if someone reaches out even slightly, Connery will share an embrace while he cries some more.  It soon becomes clear that this is an emotionally healthy priest in an emotionally unhealthy church” (NCR April, 1987).         

TOTAL COMMITMENT:  The intensity of involvement in charitable works until one finds that one “doesn’t feel good” about oneself; total commitments usually last six months to a year.           

LEGALISM:  Accepting at face value and obediently implementing what a document, law, or guideline reads.

OBEDIENCE: A word which doesn’t exist.

RULES: A word that once was operative but was done away with by the Second Vatican Council.

EXPECTATIONS:  Flexible guidelines which change as frequently as the feelings of the Rector; not to be confused with RULES or LEGALISM.           

REPRESSED ANGER: If detected, a cause for dismissal from the seminary; probable cause of both world wars, the Holocaust, and the election of Ronald Reagan [and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush]; a technique absolutely essential for an orthodox seminarian to get ordained.           

FORMATION:  Kindergarten.           
AFFIRMATION:  The flattery due to someone who is in a position of authority.           

AUTHORITY:  Cannot exist or be invoked unless vested in a sensitive, flexible, non‑judgmental and compassionate person (see SENSITIVE, FLEXIBLE, and JUDGMENTAL).           
SEXISM:  The sin associated with being male.           

MALE DOMINATION: The irritating interest men have in sports, cigars, and male‑bondingƒespecially in the hierarchy of the Church; the only mortal personal sin.     
FEMININITY:  A word created by a sexist, male‑dominated society to subjugate women in the maternal role;  the presence of femininity in women religious is a cause to recommend psychological counseling.

GETTING IN TOUCH WITH ONE’S FEMININE SIDE:  An essential requirement for ordination to the priesthood.

NEGATIVE:  The bad attitude having to do with the recognition of personal sin;  also, any disposition which is not happy with the policies and views of sensitive, flexible and non-judgmental people.           

CHANGE:  Mandated by the Second Vatican Council; must be open to all change unless instituted recently; see WE HAVE NO RIGHT ANSWERS.

CONCERN: The response that a sensitive, flexible, non-judgmental and compassionate people in authority have when someone doesn’t agree with them.

HUMANKIND:  The human race free of sexism (see SEXISM).           

PARENTING:  The activity of humankind in begetting children (see HUMANKIND).
SPIRIT OF VATICAN II:  Church activities and programs which have absolutely no relationship to the letter of the documents of Vatican II.

ONGOING:  The period of time between the Second Vatican Council and the implementation of the Spirit of Vatican II (see SPIRIT OF VATICAN II).             
RELEVANT: Anything to do with dissent from Church teaching.           

PAIN:  The focus of Church dissent; felt by the editors of the National Catholic Reporter and inflicted by the editors of The Wanderer.

REDEFINING THE CHURCH:  Defining the Church according to the Spirit of Vatican II (see SPIRIT OF VATICAN II).           

LIBERATION: The replacement of existing structures of constraint with new and improved structures of constraint.             

CONSCIENCE:  The final arbiter of the correctness of one’s action always to be guided by the latest in Church dissent.

PRE‑VATICAN II:  A person who accepts at face value the teaching of the Church and who reads the documents of the Second Vatican Council without reference to a commentary.

CHURCH:  Me.           

MACROCHURCH:  The male-dominated, sexist, oppressive, authoritarian hierarchical Church.

MICROCHURCH:  The pastoral, flexible, open and honest, compassionate, open-to-change, local Christian community.           

COLLEGIALITY:  The doctrine defined by the Spirit of Vatican II stating that bishops have exactly the same authority as the Bishop of Rome.           

BISHOP OF ROME:  The local ordinary of an obscure diocese in Italy.

RADICALLY CONSERVATIVE:  Reason to ignore the current discipline of the Church.           

THE FUTURE:  The last and enduring hope of Church dissenters.

WE CAN’T GO BACK:  An absolutely efficacious and disarming argument.
HUMANAE VITAE:  The biggest mistake the Church has made since the Council of Trent.
COUNCIL OF TRENT:  A convenient summary of medieval myths and superstitions.

ECUMENISM:  The process of transforming the liturgical rites of the mainline Christian denominations into a single rite of coffee, donuts and dialogue.           

TRADITION:  A practice established before the Middle Ages or after the Second Vatican Council.           

THE LAITY:  The future of the Church; cannot be ignored unless associated with ultra-conservative groups.

ULTRA‑CONSERVATIVE:  Anyone who disagrees with the National Catholic Reporter.

TRADITIONAL NUN: Irrelevant; an embarrassment to women religious.           
WOMEN RELIGIOUS: Feminist nun; an oxymoron.           

SOCIAL JUSTICE:  The realignment of social structures according to the platform of the Democratic Party.  

PROGRESSIVE:  Pouring the wine of old heresies into new wineskins.           

CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING:  The method of argumentation used by radical feminists moving adult males to action: “Better to live in a corner of the house‑top than have a nagging wife and a brawling household” (Prov.21:9).         

EXPERIENCE: The only valid way to substantiate one’s opinions and beliefs; there’s no such thing as a"bad experience”.

SPEAKOUT:  The activity springing from the virtue of Social Justice whereby sensitive and compassionate persons, with great emotion, promote the platform of the Democratic Party.

SHRILL:  The nasty habit rigid and judgmental people have when they dare to disagree with the demands of Social Justice (see SOCIAL JUSTICE).         

PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR:  Socialism.             

MINISTRY:  All human activity.           

COMFORT, COMFORTABLE: The final cause and proper object of ministry.             

PLURALISM:  The acceptance of all points of view except those with a point of view which doesn’t accept all points of view.

CLERICALISM:  The attitude of priests who knowingly and willingly practice the sacramental aspects of the priesthood with diligence, reverence and joy.

HOMOPHOBIC: The psychological condition of those who witness and report acts of homosexuality to seminary authorities.           

GAY:  Deeply sensitive person who naturally possesses the skills for effective pastoral ministry; oppressed minority; in no way connected with pederasty:  cf. Fr. James L. Arimond: “Don’t confuse homosexual orientation with other sexual minorities:  transexual; pederasty; bafoonery; etc.” from an Archdiocese of Milwaukee workshop in Gay Ministry.           

SEXUAL PREFERENCE:  Feeling good about some or all objects of desire whether animal, vegetable or mineral.

MISSION STATEMENT: A written objective or goal of a pastoral program upon which the success of the Gospel of Jesus Christ depends.

INTERFACE: A term, borrowed from computer technology, where sensitive and compassionate people dialogue among themselves; similar to the dialogue that the farmers and pigs engaged in in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.           

ORDINATION:  An archaic celebration in the Church still useful to mark the beginning of full-time ministry.

SEMINARY:  School where men and women are prepared for full-time ministry.

OUTREACH: Any program for whatever reasons; also known as reach out; usually involves fundraising.

VOCATIONS CRISIS: Refers to the Church’s failure to relax the rules on celibacy and failure to ordain women.

SHARE:  The practice of discussing the deepest intimacies of one’s life in front of complete strangers.           

WORKSHOP:  A church-sponsored meeting to ensure that the issues of optional celibacy, women’s ordination, the Sandinistas and leisure suits are still being addressed.           

SELF‑ACTUALIZATION: Salvation; no longer a mortal sin.           

DIALOGUE:  The deft use of banal clichés in conversation.

PROPHETIC/PROPHET: One who has the courage to speak out on one’s behalf; e.g., Charlie Curran.

CURRAN, CHARLIE:  Twentieth century saint; went into debt defending his faith.           

EMPOWER:  To encourage others to think for themselves; cf., Evelyn Waugh:  “Every effort was made to encourage the children at the public schools to „think for themselves.”  When they should have been whipped and taught Greek paradigms, they were set arguing about birth control and nationalization.  Their crude little opinions were treated with respect.  Preachers in the school chapel week after week entrusted the future to their hands.  It is hardly surprising that they were Bolshevik at 18 and bored at 20.”

POWERFUL:  A spontaneous exclamation from hearing one’s own views restated in a more banal fashion.    

LITURGISTS:  “A society of men among us, bred from their youth in the art of proving by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid” (Swift, Gulliver’s Travels).

EASTER DUTY:  Annual sacrilege.           

PSYCHOLOGIST:  Infallible teaching authority in the Church.           

OFFICIAL CHURCH TEACHING:  “I don’t expect it to change anybody’s mind one way or another.  Catholics today have learned what it means to be selectively obedient to the Church’s teaching” (Father Richard McBrien, Washington Post, December16,1981).                               

CHASTITY: Safe sex.                                                     

SAFE SEX:  Taking appropriate precautions during high risk sexual activity; not to be confused with responsible love.           

RESPONSIBLE LOVE:  Sexual relations only within marriage with a spouse; an ideal impossible to sustain in a complex technological world.

HIGH RISK SEXUAL ACTIVITY:  Sodomy; the term neo‑Victorian Catholics use when referring to the kinds of sexual activity St. Paul warned against.

CLOWN MASS:  Liturgical innovation comparable to the innovation of Gregorian chant; relevant:  “A clown liturgy may sound sacrilegious but those who attended a special Mass at St. Agnes Church described it as moving, uplifting, spirited and colorful” (Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, February 16, 1984).

LITURGICAL DANCE:  Liturgical innovation comparable to the innovation of Gregorian chant:  “Today’s procession into the altar by the priest and some members of the laity was a dance in the early church”  (Sister Baraba Link); relevant: “‘For me, my body is my instrument; it’s my way of expressing myself,’ she said, gesturing frequently with hand to convey her thoughts.  ‘I feel free when I dance; it’s a natural expression.’” (Sister Barbara Linke, quoted in the Milwaukee Sentinel, August 3, 1985).