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Modern Catholic Dictionary



Intro   Guide   Terms   Credo   Popes   Calendar 
A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z 

The need for a modern Catholic dictionary seems obvious. Much has happened in the Catholic Church since the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. The council itself was a historic event whose sixteen documents, confirmed by Pope Paul VI, have deeply influenced the thinking of all the faithful. As a result new words and expressions have entered the Catholic vocabulary and old terms have taken on a fresh and more profound meaning.

Moreover, the world in which the faithful live has undergone major changes, some would say among the most profound in Christianity since the apostolic age. Marxism is a stark reality. Secularism is no longer a mere theory; it is the chosen way of life of large segments of Western society. Marriage and the family are on trial for their existence; abortion and now euthanasia are being legalized in one country after another. This has placed a grave strain on Catholicism, and the effects are showing across a wide spectrum of thought and practice, again with corresponding impact on the language of people who “instead of the spirit of the world,” as St. Paul says, “have received the Spirit that comes from God.”

No dictionary is ever complete, and the present one makes no claim to comprehensiveness. There are too many terms in what may be called the Catholic vocabulary to even cover them all, let alone give an extensive treatment of each one. This is plainly to be a dictionary and not an encyclopedia. Yet, otherwise than in other lexicons, a Catholic dictionary should be more than a mere listing of definitions. It cannot, in the name of objectivity, remain neutral on things on which the Catholic Church has an established position. Otherwise it would not merit being called Catholic.

Wherever feasible exact Scripture references or even citations have been given, to enable the reader to go back to the Bible to see the defined term in its full biblical context. So, too, precise references,  often with quotations, are given for the Church’s doctrines, which may then be traced to their original sources, mainly in papal documents or the canons and decrees of ecumenical councils.

Equivalent terms have not been multiplied beyond measure, but enough of them are available to help the reader find what is sought, perhaps defined under a heading different from the one that first comes to mind.

Special attention was given to Catholic shrines and prayers. They reflect one side of the Church’s existence that may be overlooked, namely the people’s sentiment and affections, with particular emphasis on their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Likewise the praying side of Catholicism has been highlighted with many of the better known prayers and hymns. They appear with a brief history and, in most cases, the full text of the prayer or song in question.

There are really two parts to this edition of the dictionary, of unequal length. The first and major part is the lexicon of terms, with close to two thousand, directly or indirectly dealing with Catholic faith, worship, morals, history, canon law, and spirituality.

The second part is the Appendix, which contains the Credo of the People of God, a listing of popes from Peter to John Paul II, and an updated ecclesiastical calendar, of the Roman rite with saints for each day of the year.

Priests and teachers, whether in the pulpit, classroom, or in the home, will find in the dictionary an invaluable aid to communicating the riches and beauty of the Catholic religion. It is the author’s hope that this book will bring everyone who reads it closer to the One who is beyond all definition, and for whose honor and glory it was written.

Modern Catholic Dictionary - John A. Hardon, S.J.
Abridged Edition of the Modern Catholic Dictionary
Copyright © 2003 Inter Mirifica

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