The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page
The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page
The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association Home Page

Pocket Catholic Thesaurus


Thesaurus of Terms - Introduction

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 

1. Overview

The Thesaurus consists of two sections : "Orientation" - - and, "Alphabetical List" - of "Descriptors and Subsumed Terms." The "Orientation" is a catchall. It is partially:

  • introduction;
  • perspective on information classification, filing, and retrieval;
  • strategy for improvement of Catholic information-processing;
  • introduction to Thesaurus' purposes and design-specifications;
  • "how-to-do-it-manual."

2. Contents

  1. Overview

  2. Contents

  3. Thesaurus

  4. Contents-Scope

  5. Need For Thesaurus

  6. Purposes For Thesaurus

    1. Information-Processing
    2. Broadness Of Application
    3. Clarification Of Catholic Communication

      1. Communication
      2. Need For Clarification of Catholic Communication
      3. "Controlled Vocabulary" and "Common Language"

    4. Holiness-Nurturing
    5. Research-Enhancement

  7. Design-Specification

    1. Authority For Descriptors
    2. Expandability
    3. Flexibility
    4. Efficiency
    5. Longevity
    6. Glossary/Conventions

  8. References

3. Thesaurus

A thesaurus is "a list of subject headings or descriptors, usually with a cross-reference system, for use in the organization of a collection of documents for reference and retrieval"  [1].

At the outset, a critical distinction must be made, between a "thesaurus" - - as interpreted in this document - - and an "index," as generally characterized in library science.

A thesaurus establishes a language of Descriptors, for the management and processing of "actual information."

Contrariwise, an "index" is a "cross-reference-to-actual information," which is stored in books, and other documents on bookshelves, in file drawers, etc. An "index" contains such specifications as: subject, author's name, publication title, edition-date, and coding for location of the physical storage of the "actual information."

An analogy might be helpful. A thesaurus' "Descriptor" can be likened to the box-holder's name for mail pick-up at a rural, post office. An "index," on the other hand, can be typified by the card-catalog-index at a local, public library.

4. Contents-Scope

This Thesaurus includes Descriptors on: * all aspects, or the totality, of Roman Catholicism - - * selected secular topics.

5. Need for Thesaurus

Over a decade's, diligent research was devoted to a professional search for an existing thesaurus - - to facilitate the classification, and processing, of all essential information on Roman Catholicism.

Personal visits were made to Catholic Universities; many librarians and scholars were interviewed; extensive correspondence was exchanged with religious orders; specialized institutes were contacted; all applicable library science, and data-processing literature was analyzed.

Two consistent responses emerged from the preponderance of respondents. First, "There is no existing, broad-scope, professional-quality, Catholic-information, classification system!" Second, "We sure need a practical, classification system to: * promptly and efficiently process the overwhelming flood of incoming information; * facilitate its entrance into the electronic era!"

"If there were such a thing as a general purpose, flexible, completely defined language that everybody could understand, it would simplify tremendously our various problems in information storage and retrieval, but there does not seem to be such a thing in existence. Probably the closest to it is the thoroughly standardized version of Latin that has been used for internal communication by the Catholic Church for something over 1,500 years … we may have to borrow it yet.
"Do you see what you're up against? You either adapt a long-form natural language and cross-index yourself crazy, or make sure that you've included the total pattern and then invent your own short-form coding within it"  [2].

This author has designed this Thesaurus to satisfy the existing necessity of finding a method to reliably process information on Catholicism. In view of the ongoing "information-explosion" - - filling this vacuum quickly - - seems to be both critical and needed immediately.

"The information explosion is the most compelling reason to go to work on communications. Indeed, the frightening communications gap all around us … between faculty and students … and so on - - may well reflect in some measure the tremendous increase in information, without a commensurate increase in communication"  [3].

For a long time, specialized, narrow-scope thesauruses have been developed, to satisfy the practical needs of processing technical information. For example, in 1963 (ten years after its first edition), the National Association of Educational Secretaries republished its booklet, "File It Right And Find It" - - as a "recommended educational, subject classification, designed to give uniformity in filing" (p. 1).

The secretaries' publication uses the identical format that has been adopted for this Thesaurus' "Alphabetical List." The secretaries' "Alphabetical Index…Reference Subjects are listed in the left-hand column, and the appropriate descriptor-heading is suggested in the right-hand column….

"In some cases, several descriptor-headings are suggested - so that you may select the one best suited to your system. The references are those most frequently used in educational offices

"(Left Column)

(Right Column)

Abilities and aptitudes

Students: testing

Above-average child

Special services:

     Exceptional Child Program" (p. 18).

The secretaries' "Alphabetical Index" occupied 70-pages, and includes about 1,500, left-column Descriptors. It states, "Many schools are installing data-processing equipment to handle the number of records necessitated by an ever-increasing student body. Basically, data-processing equipment should not alter filing procedures. Its primary purpose is to process data more rapidly and accurately than manual methods can" (p. 10).

Another forceful - - yet not generally known - - need for the Thesaurus is its potential to preserve the information that is now rapidly-disappearing - - due to the physical deterioration of many vital, classic books on Catholicism. The pages of these old books are crumbling into dust at an alarming rate - - due to the disintegration of the "acid-paper-pages" that were used in these older publications.

The Thesaurus can help classify and preserve this priceless, informational heritage by having the contents of these books electronically copied into computerized files, or onto CD-ROMs.

6. Purposes for Thesaurus

The reasons for the research and gradual development of the Thesaurus are discussed under five sub-headings:

  1. Information-Processing,

  2. Broadness Of Application,

  3. Clarification of Catholic Communication,

  4. Holiness-Nurturing,

  5. Research-Enhancement.

A. Information-Processing

The primary purpose for creation of this Thesaurus, is satisfaction of the need for efficient processing of information on Catholicism. The key instrument required to achieve excellence, in processing such data, is the precisely defined "Descriptor" (Classification-Title, Index-Term, or Subject-Heading).

The usual sequence of steps in information processing are:

  • classifying the desired data, under its proper Descriptor;
  • copying this information by means of handwriting, typing, or keyboarding;
  • filing (or storing) this data in a physical or electronic depository (e.g., manila-folder, electronic file);
  • retrieval, as needed, of the searched-for information from its depository, via the identification of its previously-assigned Descriptor.

Some of the benefits to be derived from a truly-functional, information-processing system include:

  • Gaining access to the hope, logic, and wisdom, of Catholicism, that is based upon: Revelation, 2,000-years of experience and tradition, authentic teaching of the Church.
  • Nurturing of personal, spiritual growth in faith, hope, and love, for the achievement of holiness.
  • Supporting the awareness of God's, unceasing and unconditional love for us in the midst of our daily living - - through His Providential governance of all creation, including His understanding of our most-private thoughts.
  • Promoting human peace, despite the sometimes-confusing, and oftentimes-painful, trials of daily living.
  • Strengthening of our hope - - for the reward of heaven - - by faithfully serving God's Divine Will, here on earth.
  • Discerning supernatural guidance and support for each person's, unique, spiritual journey toward eternal, heavenly bliss.
  • Developing electronic databases, and CD-ROMs, to permit easy access to the mountains of orthodox, literature on Catholicism.
  • Assisting Catholic education and evangelization, through the organization of the vast quantities of available information.

For perspective, it's well to bear in mind that the Thesaurus' purpose is the processing of "actual information" - - NOT just furnishing "cross-references-to-actual-information," which is the task of an "index."

B. Broadness of Application

For this Thesaurus to be valuable, It must perform well, manually and electronically, for a diverse universe of users, in a wide spectrum of applications. Some of the potential users, with individual, information processing needs, are:

  • students (from elementary-schooler through post-graduate-collegians);
  • parishioners;
  • brothers, priests, and sisters - - for their training and personal, spiritual growth;
  • *librarians (for modest-sized, book collections);
  • religious orders - - for their formation, spiritual charisma, and archives;
  • personal-computer users;
  • operators of computerized, remote-access databases;
  • publishers of CD-ROMs - - for encyclopedias, etc.;
  • developers of artificial-intelligence systems.

For perspective, it's well to bear in mind that the purpose of the Thesaurus is to process "actual information" - - NOT just furnish a "cross reference to actual information," which is the function of an "index."

The following tabulation attempts to crudely reflect some typical, information-processing applications.





Catechism Facts



Class Notes

Ring Binders



Manila Folders



File Drawers



Personal Computer

Religious Order

Training in “Rule”

Personal Computer


Database On Religion

Mainframe Computer

Info. Company

Remote-Access Database

Mainframe Computer


Artificial Intelligence

P.C. / Mainframe Computer

Info. Company

Encyclopedia on CD-ROM

P.C. / Mainframe Computer

The Thesaurus' multi-faceted versatility is solidly verified by its fidelity of operation, regardless of the number of Descriptors employed in the actual classification, filing/storage, and retrieval.

Accordingly, the number of activated Descriptors can range from: four for a high-schooler; to four hundred for a scholar; and perhaps one-thousand-plus, for the operator of an electronic database (concurrently, the number of "non-descriptor" "see," and "see-also," cross-reference terms - - in a large database system - - can number in multiples of thousands).

And, the unused or non-activated Descriptors will remain available, in reserve, for implementation, as required. The integrity of the entire, information-processing system is thereby always preserved intact.

It's helpful to realize, too, that additional Descriptors can be readily added to the information-system at any future time - - without any, ensuing burden to reclassify and refile previously-collected-and-stored information.

Thus, the Thesaurus' broad applicability offers these three advantages:

  • An ongoing ability to: effectively handle different types of user-designed applications, or the needs of various information-processing systems.
  • The versatility to periodically include additional, Thesaurus-Listed Descriptors, as required by new operational demands - - without disturbing, or losing control over, the previously-accumulated information.
  • The facility to easily absorb entirely new Descriptors (i.e., not already included in the original "Alphabetical List"), for the solution of special informational-processing requirements.

C. Clarification of Catholic Communication

The third purpose for the Thesaurus - - beyond its functionality for "Information-Processing," and "Broadness Of Application" - - is its potential for "Clarification Of Catholic Communication."

Clarity of communication can be discussed from two, overlapping viewpoints: first, the Church's, assigned mission to truthfully evangelize and teach; second, the essential need for accuracy and proficiency in processing information.

The mandate for productive evangelization and teaching is unambiguous. "Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, `Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations… and teach them to observe all the commandments I gave you'" (Mt. 28:18-20).

"Computers are the newest way for Christians to communicate their message. I imagine that the great evangelist, St. Paul, would be pleased to see the Good News flash from computer to computer at 2,400 baud"  [4].

For at least two decades, computerized databases and electronic communication ("networking") have been used in countries around the world.

"France's telephone-database-network, `Minitel,' which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, has become as much a household staple as French bread. More than five million computer terminals - - nearly one screen for every eleven inhabitants - - link farmhouses and Paris ateliers alike, in a network that boasts 12,000 different services…. Students use `Minitel' to file their university applications"  [5].

One explanatory observation might be helpful, here. France's essentially "one-and-only," national telephone company greatly facilitated the development of "12,000 different services" (i.e., specialized databases). How? Through national, standardized, telecommunications-protocols; economies of scale; uniform specifications for communication's hardware and software.

The prime focus of this "Orientation," however, is upon the combination of manual and electronic information processing. Hence, this sub-section on "Clarification Of Catholic Communication" will be discussed in three parts; first, "Communication;" second, "Need For Clarification Of Catholic Communication;" third, "Controlled Vocabulary," or "Common Language."

(1). Communication

Communication is "a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior… the technology of the transmission of information (as by the printed word, telecommunication, or the computer)"  [14].

Communication is a most sensitive and complicated art. Yet, its crucial significance, for successful information processing, is seldom recognized or provided for.

Communication, in the real world, is far removed from being an exact science. The projection or transfer of an explicit, intellectual concept, or mental image - - from the intellect of the "transmitter" (e.g., speaker, teacher, writer) into the awareness and full, "two-way" understanding of the "receiver" (i.e., listener, student, reader) - - is an exceedingly difficult task.

Why is there so much confusion in communication? The difficulty lies in the existence of numerous, often unrecognized, and delicate VARIABLES IN BOTH the "transmitting" and "receiving" exchanges.

The "transmitter" structures, and then describes, the concept of the information-message in very-personal, unique variables - - consisting of ethnic background, formal education, understanding of Catholicism, personality-blind-spots, etc.

In turn, the "receiver" processes the transmitted message, through a quite different, unique interpretation filter; which, in all likelihood, will have its own, specialized array of such variables as: ethnic background, formal education, understanding of Catholicism, personality blind spots, etc.

Under these "very-usual" conditions, the odds favor less than perfect, two-way communication - - in terms of mutual awareness, transfer of ideas, and synchronization of understanding.

Though quite surprising, when initially considered, precise "through-put" of written-communication must begin with the "receiver" (reader), NOT, the "transmitter" (writer). Crazy? No - it's true! Unless the reader's awareness and understanding of the written-message is perceived, as intended by the writer, the communication effort has failed - - to a lesser-or-greater degree.

  • "The realization that communications have to be upward - - or rather that they have to start with the recipient (listener), rather than the emitter (speaker), which underlies the concept of listening - - is absolutely sound and vital"  [15].

Accordingly, a writer confronts an arduous challenge in the attempt to clearly communicate information - - especially so, with the stumbling block of abstraction, inherent in religious concepts.

There even seems to be some justification for the premise that written-communication is a more difficult challenge than spoken-communication.

Here's why! A speaker possesses several communication's subtleties, or advantages, that are not available to a writer; e.g., tone of voice, facial expression, eyes-open or squinting, lips pulled tense or relaxed, speed of delivery, "body-language," calmness or agitation.

  • "Writing itself is easy, of course, the hard part is to write a sentence that a thousand different people can read, and come up with the same sense…. But, when I try to write about what interests you, the problem is, I don't know who you are"  [16].
  • "What they find is that each person comes with a particular culture - - rural or inner city, only one child or one of many siblings, a morning or night person, introvert or extrovert"  [17].

The essential purpose of this Thesaurus is to foster the Descriptors' explicit, two-way communication, or interchange of clear-cut ideas - - between writers and readers.

(2). Need for Clarification of Catholic Communication

Accurate, mutually understood, religious communication is one of the most difficult undertakings to participate in. Why? Very simply - - such religious concepts, as doctrine and morality, by their very nature are abstract and profound. Contrariwise, it's quite easy for us to understand a concrete or physical object - - such as an automobile - - because we can see, touch, and drive it.

We do not have to exert our imagination, or conceptualization power, to comprehend what an automobile appears like in the real world, or what its function is. Contrast the ease of understanding what an automobile is - - versus, an accurate perception of the Descriptors: "Hope," and "Sin."

Accordingly, if we are to intelligently read about Catholicism, we need the utilitarian instrument of the "Descriptor," to clearly communicate between "transmitters" and "receivers." In other word's, the precise concept in the writer's intellect, must be distinctly projected to, and understood by, the reader's intellect.

The Thesaurus is designed to satisfy the need for clarification of Catholic communication, through its prime tool, the "Descriptor." Consistent and accurate use of these "Descriptors" (and the continuous "maintenance" of the Thesaurus' protocols) will assure clarity and precision in transmitting "intellectual images," from writers to readers. The processing of the information, controlled by these same "Descriptors," will facilitate the classification, filing and retrieving of the vast treasures of written, Catholic wisdom that are currently available.

It is beyond the scope of this Thesaurus to identify, and then discuss, all the possible applications that could benefit from the manual, or electronic, use of its "Descriptors." Some typical, potential beneficiaries can include:



Catholic Education

Authentic Teaching

Catholic Database Operation

Standardization of information processing



Diocesan Administration




High-School Library


Individual Persons

Spiritual growth





Religious Order

Religious charisma

(3). "Controlled Vocabulary" or "Common Language"

In the context of this "Orientation," all three expressions - - "Thesaurus, Controlled Vocabulary, and Common Language" are synonymous. They are based upon the consistent use of a universe of standardized, defined words - - i.e., "Descriptor - a word or phrase (as an index term) used to identify an item (as a subject or document), especially in an information retrieval system"  [8].

For a Descriptor to be universally meaningful, it must be explicitly defined by an authoritative source.

The Thesaurus' comprehensive array of religious Descriptors is defined by the authentic (i.e., "Imprimatured"), technically-accurate, internationally-recognized, published book, "Modern Catholic Dictionary;" authored by Rev. J. A. Hardon, S. J.; published by Doubleday & Company, Garden City, N. Y.; 1980.

The Thesaurus' secular Descriptors are defined by: "Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary;" published by G. C. Merriam, Springfield, MA; 1974.

In a broader, or supplementary sense, the "Subsumed Terms" further "define," or prescribe, the scope of Descriptors.

In perspective, three practical points summarize the benefits that can be derived from the consistent use of a "Thesaurus, Controlled Vocabulary, or Common Language:"

  • Consistent usage of the Descriptors will assure correct and expeditious information processing (i.e., classification, filing and retrieval) for a decade or more.
  • The most reliable backbone for a high-quality Thesaurus is an already-existing, widely-accepted, universe of Descriptors. Fr. Hardon's, earlier-mentioned dictionary constitutes the backbone for almost-all religious Descriptors in the Thesaurus.
  • The premise is suggested, here, that the consistent use of the Thesaurus' Descriptors - - as a "Controlled Vocabulary," or "Common Language" - - will provide many, broad-scope benefits.

However, no claim of "perfection" is vouched. The reason is simple. Every modern vocabulary, or language, is in a constant state of flux. New ideas and technologies create an ever-ongoing flood of additional, new descriptors, and "look-up-non-descriptor" words, for inclusion as "see" references.

Nonetheless, in the overall area of processing "knowledge-or-information," there are many examples of how "less-than-perfect" systems that have proved to be highly successful. The following, wide-ranging examples may be helpful:

  • "But the fact is our culture really hasn't supplied us with a language of precision to describe a religious experience. Few metaphors exist, except for those derived from the Bible, and they often are phrases we don't use outside church. Would you use the term `repent' outside church? How about `worship?' Try `grace' or `revelation' or `discern'"  [9].
  • In the 1852 Preface to "Roget's International Thesaurus," he wrote, "Notwithstanding all the pains I have bestowed on its (ed., his Thesaurus') execution, I am fully aware of its numerous deficiencies and imperfections, and of its falling far short of the degree of excellence that might be attained.

    "But, in a work of this nature, where perfection is placed at so great a distance, I have thought it best to limit my ambition to that moderate share of merit, which it may claim in its present form; trusting to the indulgence of those for whose benefit it is intended, and to the cadour of critics who, while they find it easy to detect faults, can at the same time duly appreciate difficulties"  [10].
  • The United States' Constitution can be offered in evidence, as incontrovertible proof that a "less-than-perfect," "knowledge-or-information" system - - WHICH IS CONSISTENTLY APPLIED - - can remain immensely successful, even after many, many decades. Benjamin Franklin declared: "I shall confess that there are several parts of the Constitution which I do not approve, but I doubt if any other convention may be able to make a better Constitution.

    "For when you assemble men to have advantages of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? I consent to the Constitution because I expect no better, and I am not sure it is not the best"  [11].

    Our "Democracy" probably would not exist today, if absolute "perfection," of ideas and "Descriptors," was strictly mandated. We can only shutter to imagine what our Country would be like today without its "still-partially-imperfect" Constitution.
  • The initial diagnosis and pursuant, medical treatment of Parkinson's Disease are exceedingly complex, due to a myriad of variables; e.g., appearance and location of physical symptoms, facial expression, severity of movements, inconsistency of behavior, degree of rigidity, etc. Despite these difficulties, a simple "thesaurus of defined descriptors (scales, steps, or grades for symptoms)" was devised as a practical, patient-classification-system.

    "… the `Hoehn and Yahr Scale' used through the world to classify patients participating in research studies… was published in 1967. The original definitions of the five Stages of severity are…

    "This method of grading severity is rather a potpourri, combining the symptoms of the patient, the physical signs as observed by the physician, and the patient's functional ability….

    "These scales give numerical grades to a multitude of individual aspects of parkinsonism; these grades are added to give a total score….

    "In spite of these drawbacks, this method of grading severity has proved PRACTICAL (this writer's emphasis) over many years. It is a simple method, allowing for easily reproducible assessments of the general status, and functional level of the patient by independent examiners.

    "Because the definitions of the Stages are very precise, the scale obviates the confusion arising from such poorly defined terms as mild, moderate or severe disease"  [12].

Thus, the key to the success of this medical diagnosis, by physicians worldwide, is the general acceptance of the "descriptors in the "Hoehn and Yahr Scale," as a defined methodology. Its thesaurus, or "controlled vocabulary/common language," of five, well-defined stages, permits all doctors to consistently employ the same diagnostic, and communicatory information.

In the same general sense, the undeviating and correct employment of the Thesaurus' Descriptors can produce above-average, "knowledge-or-information" processing-results for decades into the future.

Some Thesaurus attributes can be evaluated as "less-than-perfect," or "partially subjective" - - hence, open to fair-minded "give-and-take" debate; for example:

  • the ideal, total number of Descriptors to constitute a "perfect" universe;
  • some Descriptors may unavoidably overlap others, to some degree;
  • different senses, in which certain Descriptors can be interpreted;
  • additional terms can be subsumed under their appropriate Descriptors - (observations:
    1. the cited, Subsumed Terms were selected to help "define" the overall scope of the Descriptor;
    1. users are encouraged to write in, or add all desired, Subsumed Terms, that will further define some Descriptors for special requirements - - thus, each Descriptor can become an ideal depository for specific informational needs;
    1. recommendation - immediately record all changes on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," to provide an "audit-trail");
  • a Subsumed Term may be preferred to replace a "Descriptor-Parent;" i.e., have it replace the published Descriptor - - (recommendations: a. make all desired changes; b. promptly record these changes on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," to furnish an "audit-trail");
  • an inverted Descriptor may initially cause some confusion; and, possibly necessitate a circuitous look-up or search; e.g., "Trinity-Holy." However, the Thesaurus minimizes this problem through the use of cross-references: e.g., "Holy Trinity …See… Trinity-Holy"); - - (observations:
    1. for consistency, the keyword or root, of a hyphenated expression is generally positioned as the prefix;
    1. the non-inverted expression is usually cross-referenced in its alphabetical order;
    1. "general usage" can also dictate the adoption of the non-inverted expression as the Descriptor; e.g., "Holy Family;"
    1. recommendation - promptly record all changes on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," to furnish an accurate "audit-trail");
  • Hyphenated-Descriptors may initially seem awkward; e.g., "Divine-Governance-Creation" - - (observations:
    1. hyphens are used to link multi-word components into a simulated, "one-word-entity;"
    1. this simulated "one-word-entity" will probably assist both accuracy in filing, and quickness of identification, in looking-up the Thesaurus' "Alphabetical List;"
    1. after a little practice, these "one-word-entity" Descriptors will be "seen," or interpreted, as a single "word," or expression;
    1. if too confusing or complicated, users can rearrange the wording of a Descriptor to suit special conditions;
    1. recommendation - promptly write down all changes on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" to assure an accurate "audit-trail");
  • some Descriptors embrace an unusually-large number of Subsumed Terms; e.g., "Being, Catholic Education, Mass, Methodology;" - - (observations:

    1. some technically-oriented Descriptors subsume many terms, to initially limit the total number of Descriptors in the Thesaurus;

    2. technically-oriented users can readily convert selected, Subsumed Terms into additional "full-status" Descriptors;

    3. recommendation - quickly record all changes on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," to furnish an "audit-trail");
  • sometimes a Descriptor subsumes both its antonyms and synonyms; in other instances, a Descriptor's well-recognized antonym can merit the status of a separate Descriptor, or in special situations, even be subsumed under a closely-related Descriptor; e.g., "Humility" and "Pride" are individual Descriptors; - - (observation:
    1. the "Alphabetical List" provides sure-footed cross-references during look-up);
  • "See Also" cross-references vary considerably as to: total number of cited Descriptors, types of information being referred to, etc. - - (observation:
    1. no rigid rule is applicable here; the goal is simply to stimulate users' perspective, and creative thinking about other, relevant subject-areas that may merit further research);
  • "semantics - the historical and psychological study, and the classification of changes in the signification of words or forms, viewed as factors in linguistic development"  [13]; - - (observations:
    1. without any question whatsoever, each user can justifiably quarrel with some part of the Thesaurus; e.g., preference for the use of some, non-cited Descriptors; dislike of Hyphenated Descriptors; varying assortments of Subsumed Terms under certain Descriptors; decision to convert some Subsumed-Terms into full-status Descriptors; addition or deletion of some "See" and "See Also" citations; etc.;
    1. no user, however, is frozen into an impossibly rigid situation; i.e., the expandability, flexibility, and efficiency of the Thesaurus furnish practical, and easy to apply, alternate procedures to facilitate a seemingly endless array of feasible solutions for special needs;
    1. patient users can accept, and "grow into a comfortable use" of the Thesaurus, as published; and, through consistent application of the Descriptors - - "as they are" - - develop an excellent, information-processing system on spirituality, that will retain its top-quality performance beyond the next decade);
  • "consistency" is a cardinal requirement for the effective utilization of any information-processing procedure; the key discipline, of "consistency," guarantees the capability to retrieve - within one-to-ten-years - ALL the "same," or "specific-type" data, that has been accurately classified, and filed in the system; - - (observations:
    1. if a piece of specific information is properly classified, and then filed under its assigned Descriptor, it can be readily looked-up and retrieved from its "one-and-only" storage-depository, a decade from now; this same efficiency applies equally to the second, or fiftieth piece of the same, specific information -- IF consistency is maintained;
    1. the most powerful technique to guarantee "consistency" is never-ending diligence in maintaining an up-to-date "Thesaurus-Master-Copy;" - - especially so, when several copies of the Thesaurus are being used simultaneously in the same installation;
    1. "consistency" is also safeguarded by the practice of "grossly" classifying, and filing all related information under one, "start-up" Descriptor;
    1. when the user decides that the filed pool of data is too bulky for expedient serviceability; one likely course of action is the establishment of one or more Subsumed Terms as discrete, intellectual "subdivisions;" thus, these new, "full-status" Descriptors can actually function as "informational subdivisions" of the original "Descriptor-Parent;" - - at this point, the original "bulk" information, in the original Descriptor's file, can be readily subdivided into the domains of the newly-created Descriptors; RESULT: the intellectual integrity and consistency of the total, or "bulk," information is not violated;
    1. the "audit trail" can perform a valuable, future mission, when confusion arises as to "what" is filed "where;" it will provide the wherewithal to carefully retrace one's steps, to discover WHEN a change was made; WHAT the alteration was; and the RESULTANT STATUS; thus, the "audit-trail" will help in quickly identifying classification and/or filing errors; BENEFIT: a great deal of unnecessary, "hit-or-miss," "backward-looking" research - - reclassification - - and refiling - - can be avoided.

D. Holiness-Nurturing

A frequently-repeated craving, despite our highly secularized culture, is expressed as, a "thirst for holiness" (or its equivalent: "yearning for God, reason for living, desire for heaven, or, worthwhile philosophy of life").

Many good-living persons are disadvantaged, in two ways, by their unfamiliarity with the authentic Descriptors of Catholic spirituality. First, they're likely to form only vague, or even incorrect interpretations of the abstractions cited in spiritual literature. Second, they'll lack the technical understanding to correctly identify their own spiritual ideas and affections - - a situation that can stunt their potential for mature self-understanding, spiritual growth, and self-esteem.

"The immense influence that is exercised by language in promoting the development of ideas, in fixing them in mind, and in detaining them for steady contemplation. Into every process of reasoning, language enters as an essential element. Words are the instruments by which we form all our abstractions, by which we fashion and embody our ideas"  [6].

For emphasis, one key clause of the above quotation is repeated, "Words are the instruments by which we form our abstractions…"  [6].

It seems evident that the popular use of the Thesaurus' "words," or Descriptors, can become a boom for personal, spiritual growth. The ready availability of the "Alphabetical List," with its wide range of Descriptors, can provide serious-minded people with a broad perspective of Catholicism. Additionally, the Subsumed Terms, listed under Descriptors of special interest - - as well as the "See Also" cross-references - -can inspire typical persons to read further about authentic, Catholic holiness.

Then, as a person grows in holiness, there will likely develop a yearning to activate a personal information-processing system to: collect, classify, and file such data as: anecdotes, pertinent articles, pamphlets, "flyers" from seminars, and personal notes taken at homilies, and small-group discussions.

The Thesaurus, via its Descriptors, can become an effective educational instrument, by encouraging readers to develop their own, personal, information-processing systems. Again, "To learn to classify is in itself an education"  [7].

E. Research-Enhancement

For perspective, this sub-section is addressed in two parts: "Intellectual Sophistication," and "Information-Processing Sophistication."

1.  Intellectual Sophistication

An intended purpose, during the development of the Thesaurus, was the inclusion of a "designed-in" facility to encourage, and assist intellectual/faith-filled, authentic research on Catholicism. It was also fully realized, that many levels of intellectual sophistication would have to be served simultaneously.

To promote research, or "reading," by a wide range of persons, the "Subsumed Terms" are visualized as stimulating aids, for expanded "definitions" of Descriptors. A beginning foundation for authentic, Catholic knowledge is the technical definition of the Descriptors, themselves. Fr. Hardon's, aforementioned dictionary provides this foundational-information. The Subsumed Terms build, or expand upon, the foundational definitions of the Descriptors.

A theoretical example may be helpful. Let's suppose that a high-school student is given an assignment to write a theme, or even a term paper, on "Saints." The Thesaurus will function as a "research-coach." The student can "look up" the following Descriptors for "raw-material-ideas" to consider:


No.: “Subsumed Terms”

No.: “See Also”










(As an overview for information-processing, the above cited student (or a professor), may wish to convert 12 of the 38 subsumed terms under "Saints," into "full-status" Descriptors. This will not present any real problem. The 12 "Previously-Subsumed-Terms" are inserted, in alphabetical order, on the "Alphabetical List," and deleted as Subsumed Terms from under the "Saints'" Descriptor.)

The following listing suggests some ordinary ways in which the Thesaurus can enhance research on Catholicism:




Devout Person

Spiritual Growth

Broadening of Perspective


Term Paper

Scope & Terminology



Scope & Analysis



Clear Communication

Information Co.


Overview & Descriptors

During the normal use of the Thesaurus, there will be frequent need to "look up," or search through, the "Alphabetical List" to ascertain if a particular word is a "Descriptor," or a "Subsumed Term." This exercise is simple and straightforward. The "Alphabetical List" specifies an "*" symbol to designate Descriptors; or, alternately, a "See" cross-reference to its "Descriptor-Parents."

To render the Thesaurus easy-to-use, most "familiar" or "popular" words, and expressions are listed in their proper, alphabetical order. Reason: the backgrounds of potential Thesaurus-users will vary considerably, and "more," rather than "fewer," "look-up" words is desirable.

Moreover, the inclusion of a large number of "look-up" terms, in the "Alphabetical List," will not overwhelm, or inconvenience, typical searchers. It's normal for a person to focus or concentrate upon just one "search-word" - - and simply ignore all other terms.

Proof: when an individual "looks up" a person's telephone number in an 800-page, telephone book, the searcher immediately turns to the page, where the first letter of the target's surname is listed. By quickly "fingering" down the column, the proper telephone number is quickly located. The numerous listings on the other 799-pages are completely ignored.

Large databases demand a huge array of "look-up," or "query," terms to expedite quick searches. Grolier's "American-Encyclopedia" CD-Rom has 67,000 "look-up" words.

2.  Information-Processing Sophistication

From the viewpoint of sophistication, the Thesaurus is designed as a wide-ranging instrument to efficiently handle the entire spectrum of information-processing systems. For illustration:


Type of Processing

Filing/Storage Medium



Labeled Shoebox






Manila Folders



Personal Computer



Mainframe Computer

Time-Sharing Subscriber


Remote Database

Theology Professor



Spiritual Director


Artificial-Intelligence System

A few sketchy, technical observations - - which are very far from a fully-detailed exposition - - may assist perspective:

  • The best beginning for an information-processing system - - that will remain masterful for twenty-years-or-more - - is a thesaurus that covers the entire subject-area from "A-to-Z;" i.e., it possesses comprehensiveness, or universality.

    Thus, any new piece of information (discovered in the first-, or fifth-, or 15th-year of operation) can be immediately and accurately classified under its proper descriptor - - and remain undisturbed for future retrieval.

    Because this Thesaurus embraces the "A-to-Z" content of Catholicism, it can satisfy - - via its "Expandability, Flexibility, and Efficiency" - - the "Longevity" requirement for a worthwhile, information-processing system.
  • At this juncture, it seems advisable to repeat the technical distinction between a "thesaurus," which handles "actual information" (e.g., documents, personal notes) - - versus, a pure "index," which simply guides a searcher (via a numerical code) to where the "actual information" (on the pages of books) is stored (i.e., on library shelves).
  • Some electronic information-processing systems do not use a thesaurus as the primary "search tool." Rather, they rely upon computerized-search techniques - - which are generally characterized as: "keyword-in-context," or "free-text-search."

    In such operations (of which, there are several varieties), entire documents, or ponderous masses of "actual information" are copied into electronic databases (i.e., computer memory). A searcher launches a query for pinpointed information, by means of one-or-more, selected, "free-choice" terms, or combinations of words.

    The computer then searches for the "target-words" in its database. When a "hit," or match, for the sought-after "keywords" is made, the computer prints out all the applicable sentences (or paragraphs). The inquiry sophistication can be further upgraded, to the use of Boolean search (e.g., "either-or," "both"), or "linkage-of-concepts" protocols.
  • Remote-access-time-sharing databases can be designed in diverse ways. For example, this Thesaurus' "Alphabetical List" can efficiently manage a database of Descriptors that embraces such additional information as: definitions of the Descriptors, extracts for Catholic encyclopedias, complete copies of critical encyclicals, etc.

    A subscriber, in a distant state, could "call up" the computerized database (via a modem) - - to examine all its stored information under one, or several, of the descriptors listed on the database's alphabetical list. When connected, the subscriber could then read the selected, stored information, on a personal-computer monitor (cathode-ray-tube), and choose to have a "hard copy" printed out locally.
  • CD-ROMs can be employed in several ways. For illustration, this Thesaurus can be easily adapted to manage the vast quantities of "actual information," that can be stored in the 300,000-page-capacity, typical CD-ROM.

    Such, stored "actual information" could include: a comprehensive dictionary of Catholic Descriptors; a full-text, authentic, electronic version of the Bible; an authoritative encyclopedia; an array of important encyclicals, etc.

    A non-sophisticated computer-user - - with CD-ROM-equipped hardware - - can readily access the desired "actual information," stored under the various Descriptors of a CD-ROM - - that has been designed, according to the Thesaurus' "Alphabetical List." Here again, the "actual information" can be viewed on the personal computer's screen (monitor) and/or printed out.

7. Design-Specification

Someone has said that, "The highest type of technological elegance is simplicity."

The "ways-of-the-Thesaurus" have been purposely designed to constitute an "elegantly-productive," yet simple, Catholic information processing system. The Thesaurus' functions include: classification (indexing), filing (storage), and retrieval. It is planned to be: practical, easy-to-use, and guarantee that, "accuracy in," will invariably produce "accuracy out," for a decade or more.

The reliable workhorse of the Thesaurus is the "Descriptor" which identifies and defines a specific subject, or type of information that is to be individually classified then, filed in its own exclusive, physical, or electronic depositor for later, dependable retrieval.

The "A-to-Z" universe of Catholic information - - or the totality of all Descriptor - - can be labeled a "Thesaurus," "Controlled Vocabulary," or "Common Language."

This subsection discusses some of the key design specifications, or built-in features, of the Thesaurus - - namely, "Authority For Descriptors, Expandability, Flexibility, Efficiency, and Longevity."

A. Authority for Descriptors

The Catholic Church has always been exceedingly careful in explicitly defining what information is deemed to be orthodox or authentic. To comply with this tradition, the Thesaurus has been officially examined, and granted an "Imprimatur." (This Imprimatur will be sought when the text has been finalized.)

A brief background may assist overall perspective. This author has made more than a dozen, stumbling attempts, over the past, several decades to research and develop a "Thesaurus" on the Catholic religion. Purpose: to efficiently classify, and file "actual information," for subsequent retrieval and study.

All this personal, diligent, professional effort, however, failed to achieve: adequate, definitional discernment; technical coherence; and comprehensiveness of terminology. There were too many unresolved conflicts of Descriptors, overlapping-of-concepts - - too much "fog" and ambiguity persisted.

Then finally, the "light went on!" The wisdom of the old adage was proven once again - - "Too soon, we get old; and too late, we get smart!" The idea emerged, "Why not design the Thesaurus on the basis of an already-existing, authoritative, universe of Catholic Descriptors?"

The answer then became immediately obvious. This author had been very familiar with Fr. Hardon's "Modern Catholic Dictionary" - - and readily selected it to furnish the supporting backbone for the Thesaurus.

This dictionary's universe of Descriptors, or classification-titles, is:

  • authentic (the text carries an "Imprimatur"),
  • comprehensive,
  • clearly written,
  • easy-to-use,
  • technically accurate,
  • readily available as a published book.

Thesaurus users can conveniently "look up" the precise definitions of religious Descriptors in this internationally recognized resource book. This is a most-significant benefit, which can assure accurate and consistent classification of Catholic information - - worldwide - - for a long time into the future.

The "Introduction" of Father Hardon's dictionary states: "The main focus of the dictionary, and the bulk of its contents are definably, even exclusively, Roman Catholic. An effort was made to include every significant concept of the Church's doctrine in faith and morals, ritual and devotion, canon law and liturgy, mysticism and spirituality, ecclesiastical history and organization" (p. ix).

Two additional Catholic books were used as resource references: Rev. A. Tanquerey's, "The Spiritual Life" (The Newman Press, 1930); and Rev. B. J. Groeschel's, "Spiritual Passages" (Crossroad, 1983).

The dominant thrust of this Thesaurus is focused upon the terminology of authentic Catholicism. However, in an effort to adapt it to the requirements of such applications as: large, remote-access databases; electronic encyclopedias; CR-ROMs; and artificial-intelligence systems - - the Thesaurus also encompasses some allied, secular (or non-religious) terminology.

Two examples of secular Descriptors are "Economics," and "Methodology." Both embrace large numbers of Subsumed Terms - - a strategy to minimize the number of "start-up," or initially-published Descriptors.

Also, from an overall perspective, it's probable that many Thesaurus-users will NOT be seriously interested in collecting secular-information - - e.g., busy parish priests; parishioners; over-extended, teaching religious-brothers and sisters; seminary librarians; sisters' library custodians.

On the other hand, it's also recognized that some Thesaurus-users will likely require specialized, secular terminology for their information processing needs; e.g., collegians, lay business persons, researchers, teachers, theologians. As necessitated, such individuals can readily convert some of the Subsumed Terms under "Economics," and "Methodology" into "full-status" Descriptors.

To maintain consistency - - the secular "definitional authority" - - of "Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary;" G. C. Merriam Co.; 1974 - - was employed as the preferred reference-source.

B. Expandability

A fundamental necessity for a professional quality thesaurus is the availability of potential "Expandability" - - as a survival mechanism for the information processing system's continuous integrity, and full operational power for a decade or more. Users are, thereby, freed of the threat, or risk, of needing a major, time-consuming, expensive, reclassification/refiling overhaul every few years.

This Thesaurus' "Expandability" is a designed-in feature that's always-available, easy-to-apply, and non-disruptive in ongoing, information-processing operations. Later-on, Section 7 F, "Glossary/Conventions," reviews the use of the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," to maintain control during times of expansion.

"Expandability" can be implemented in numerous ways:

  • As a general principle, it's best to "start small;" - - implement only the minimum number of Descriptors required to classify and file the information currently on hand.

    Then, as needs grow, conservatively increase the the number of active Descriptors in the system - - but only to the extent, of "spelled-out" requirements - - for both classification and filing.
  • "Expandability" into "new-subject-areas" can be readily accomplished, at any time, by the activation of additional, essential, "full-status" Descriptors.
  • For clarification and speedy lookup, users will be wise to add numerous, "favorite," or technically-needed Subsumed Terms to their "Alphabetical List," with "See" cross-references to their applicable, existing Descriptors.
  • Subsumed Terms can be converted into additional, "full-status" Descriptors, at any time, to cope with the ballooning of information under the original "Descriptor-Parent." (Please refer to Section 7 F, "Glossary/ Conventions.")
  • Descriptors, existing in the Thesaurus, can be renamed; and still retain their existing Subsumed Terms. Or conversely, Subsumed Terms can also be shifted to new locations, under other Descriptors - - as Subsumed Terms.
  • If found advantageous, to suit special requirements, the function of the "See," and "See Also" cross-references may be altered.
  • A valuable practice - - to expedite search for, and retrieval of, specific information - - is to have numerous "pet words" included in the Alphabetical List," with "See" cross-references to their proper Descriptors.
  • A periodic, "actual-use-of-information" survey can yield rich dividends, particularly for an institution that has a diverse user-population.

    To upgrade serviceability, for example, a large collection of information, under one broad-scope Descriptor, may merit several subdivisions under newly-created, "full-status" Descriptors (via the conversion of Previously-Subsumed-Terms, or the selection of entirely-new terminology).

The Thesaurus employs four tactics to foster ease of "Expandability."

Tactic #1. The published Thesaurus sometimes consolidates a large number of related, Subsumed Terms under one Descriptor. Purpose: minimize the total number of Descriptors initially published in the "Alphabetical List."

However, "Expandability" is readily available through the conversion of selected Subsumed Terms into "full-status" Descriptors.

This procedure is particularly applicable to "technically-oriented" Descriptors, with numerous Subsumed Terms. Such, broad-scope Descriptors will likely require future subdivisions for the periodic, expanded coverage of its subject-area.

Accordingly - - to remain abreast of technical developments - - rather-frequent "Expandability" could be critically important for: graduate students, scholars, theologians, and operators of large databases.

Some representative, broad-scope Descriptors are: "Atheism, Dissent-Doctrinal, Liberalism, Mass, Media, Methodology, Penance-Sacrament, Psychotherapy, Secularism." Some Thesaurus-users, however, may find this depth, consolidation of numerous Subsumed Terms, under a single Descriptor, as satisfactory for their circumstances.

However, more-technically-oriented persons could require an expanded number of Descriptors. This task can be easily accomplished by the conversion of some Subsumed Terms into "full-status" Descriptors - - or, the introduction of entirely-new Descriptors..

Tactic #2. This type of "Expandability"-potential is the direct opposite of "Tactic #1." Deliberately, only a minimum of Subsumed Terms is included under certain Descriptors. Yet, there is an almost-certain probability that many users will desire the broadening of "Descriptor-coverage," by the activation of precisely-selected, additional Descriptors.

As readily realizable, this tactic helps restrict the total number of Descriptors included in the initial "Alphabetical List." Besides, it's just about impossible to guess at the ideal number of Subsumed Terms to designate for certain Descriptors.

Two "minimal-Subsumed-Term" Descriptors are: "Old Testament" and "New Testament." For example, "Old Testament" does not subsume the names of "Books," nor well-known persons; nor does "New Testament" subsume the names of Gospel-authors, nor frequently-mentioned, Biblical characters. Each user will probably desire a different selection of Subsumed Terms under each of these, two Descriptors.

Besides, some users may prefer Descriptors, based on the identification of "Book"- or "Gospel"-authors' names. Alternately, the titles of "Books" or "Gospels" - - themselves - - may be preferred as Descriptors. In all these cases, the Thesaurus' "Expandability" feature, can implement whatever choices that individual users prefer.

Tactic # 3. To guarantee easy "Expandability" from "any angle," or "in any new direction," the Thesaurus does not have any rigidly-structured, internal framework, or "table of organization." Consequently, in an oversimplified sense, each Descriptor "does its own thing" - - it is an "only-one-of-its-kind" classification-identity, and filing-depository.

There are no rigid rules or specifically-spelled-out relationships between Descriptors. Accordingly, the Thesaurus does not constitute a "hierarchy… graded or ranked series"  [18].

The avoidance of a hierarchical design for Descriptors permits unlimited "Expandability." There are no preconditions, that must be satisfied, before new Descriptors, or converted Subsumed Terms, can be activated. Descriptors can be imagined to be individual, free-flying "space-ships" - - unconnected, from any other word in the system. Thus, users can face the "unknowable future" - - with full confidence in their unrestricted ability to "expand, or not expand."

Nonetheless, the Descriptors - - just as they're published, or with minor adjustments - - can provide a practical, and versatile, information-processing system, for many users to cope with their future, information-processing needs.

Tactic # 4. The Thesaurus' "Expandability" allows the start-up of a system, without any specified number of Descriptors. Each user can select only those Descriptors that are deemed essential "to get going." Subsumed Terms can be added, deleted, even converted into additional "full-status" Descriptors. "See," and "See Also" cross-references are "wide open" for additions, or deletions.

The overall benefit of these four tactics - - to handle minutely-controlled "Expandability" - - assures the peace-of-mind that the "unknowable future," with its "inevitable twists and turns," can be easily dealt with.

For illustration, any "new" words, introduced by the 1993, "Catechism of the Catholic Church," can be handled in at least three, different ways: * "folded-into," or embraced, as Subsumed Terms by one of the Descriptors, in the "Alphabetical List;" * elevation of some Presently-Subsumed-Terms into "full-status" Descriptors; * creation of entirely-new Descriptors, with their own arrays of Subsumed Terms.

All changes, of course, must be promptly added to the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" to insure the maintenance of an up-to-date "Audit Trail." For further details, please review Section, 7 F, "Glossary/Conventions."

The Thesaurus can contribute importantly to the healthy growth of an information-processing system - - with the assurance of Its: "Authority For Descriptors, Expandability, Flexibility, Efficiency, and Longevity" - - for a wide range of individuals and commercial entrepreneurs. Some potential beneficiaries can include:

  • high-schoolers and collegians, who want to save clippings and course-notes;
  • individual, religious brothers, clergy, and sisters, who need a "quick way" to "save" religious information - - "on the run," due to their extra-busy schedules of apostolic work;
  • laity, who are researching special, religious topics;
  • theologians, whose particular research-specialty, and writing, may span a thirty-year period;
  • librarians, who face such bewildering circumstances as "lack of an adequate budget," "no staffers for assistance," shortage of available time, diversity of responsibilities;
  • personal-computer users, who can collect and file their own quotations from religious literature, as well as "download" selected extracts from online databases, or CD-ROMs;
  • courageous and religiously-motivated entrepreneurs, who can utilize the Thesaurus' Descriptors to classify (or index): commercial, remote-access databases; computerized artificial-intelligence systems; CD-ROMs of religious encyclopedias.

In actual practice, the potential to accommodate smooth "Expandability," will overlap the Thesaurus' other attributes of "Flexibility, Efficiency, and Longevity."

A hypothetical illustration can indicate some of the ways in which these Thesaurus-properties interlace.

An imaginary couple, in their early thirties, rearing two grade-school children, have their "hands full" in coping daily with the multi-faceted duties of earning a living, and being good parents to their children. There is not enough spare time to develop a systematic study of "spirituality."

Both husband and wife are grateful to God for their multiple blessings. They are also motivated by a deep, reverent conviction to, at least, collect the "stray," or "random pieces" of information on "spirituality," that they "stumble across."

While their children were still young, they perused the Thesaurus to select a maximum of five Descriptors to start-up a "life-long," personal, religious-information-classification, and filing system. They selected, and labeled five manila folders with these Descriptors:

  • Christ's-(Suffixes),

  • Church-(Suffixes),

  • Divine-(Suffixes),

  • God's-(Suffixes),

  • `Statistical Monstrosity' (Mathematical Improbability).

For the next 35 years, they simply collected, and filed into one of the five, labeled folders, such information on "spirituality" as: noteworthy copies of the Parish Sunday-Bulletin; magazine articles; small-group-discussion handouts; daily-newspaper stories; notes from week-end retreats; beautiful, holy pictures; a documentation of the miracles, that occurred at Lourdes; some of their children's compositions, that were written for religious classes; small pamphlets, picked up from the Church rack; an especially-touching letter from a family friend upon the death of the husband's mother, etc.

Upon retirement, at age 65, the husband discovers enough leisure time to take a second look at their accumulated information on spirituality. Their five manila folders were bulging over. With a sense of curiosity, and a keen desire to learn more about spirituality, the couple decided to subdivide their accumulated collection of information into more-manageable "bundles," or files.

And, after more than a three-decades' lapse, they dusted off their original copy of the Thesaurus. They were intent on selecting additional Descriptors to develop a more finely focused information system on "spirituality." They discovered this wide-array of Candidate-Descriptors, still readily available in their 30-plus-year-old copy of the Thesaurus:




















(Please see “Observations” below


- - (Observations about "Statistical Monstrosity:"

  • it subsumes "Extraordinary Occurrence, Little Miracle, Mathematical Improbability, Unbelievable Occurrence;"
  • this expression was coined by Archbishop F. J. Sheen to indicate Providentially-influenced events; i.e., occurrences far beyond the possibility of pure "accident," or sheer random-events;
  • out-of-the-ordinary occurrences in life can be classified, and filed under this Descriptor; e.g., real-life accounts from newspapers and magazines;
  • objective of this Descriptor: demonstrate or prove "God's Presence" in the midst of our daily affairs;
  • some "Related Descriptors" include: "Cheerfulness, Divine Work, Faith, God's-Love-Humanity, Grace, Hope, Love, Miracle, Mysticism, Optimism, Providence, Trust-Providence."

These supplementary comments about "Expandability" may be helpful:

  • No minimum or maximum number of Descriptors is required for the start-up of an information-processing system.
  • "Descriptors-Hyphenated" offer the unique advantage of consolidating related Descriptors "into one continuous series," in the "Alphabetical List," when they share a common prefix or keyword.

    Benefit: the user is enabled to survey the associated facets of the same subject, and thereby, obtain an overview of the total subject-area being researched; e.g., "God's Attributes, God's Authority, God's Existence," etc.; accordingly, the root-word of "Descriptors-Hyphenated" is usually positioned as the prefix.
  • Recently-discovered information can be classified under newly-activated Descriptors, without disturbing previously-classified, and filed "non-related" data.
  • When the quantity of classified-and-filed information becomes unwieldy under its original, "wide-scope" or "gross" Descriptor, one-or-more Subsumed Terms can be converted into "full-status" Descriptors. Then, the previously-accumulated data can be reclassified, and refiled under the various, "sub-divisional," newly-created Descriptors.
  • As a user becomes more precise, or "more technical" about the classification of certain subjects, it's quite normal to periodically reclassify the collected information into more-technically-precise subdivisions.

    For example, the "grossness" of the Descriptor, "Psychotherapy," will probably require conversion of several Subsumed Terms into newly-activated, "full-status" Descriptors - - as a user's interest in the emotional, and/or psychological, aspects of religion increases.
  • As a final thought on "Expandability," a thesis can be developed that an ideal Thesaurus is never completely finished. Why? As a user's knowledge of, and interest in, holiness grows, the surveyed area of information expands wider and wider. Thus, there is a never-ending need to: -- activate additional Descriptors for classification, and filing, of newly-acquired information; -- increase the number of Subsumed Terms, "See," and "See Also" cross-references, to speed up search-sessions.

On the point that the "Thesaurus will never be entirely completed," Fr. Hardon comments in his dictionary, "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 (p., viii)."

C. Flexibility

"Flexibility" means, "capable of responding or conforming to changing or new situations"  [19].

In planning the design of an information system, it's wise to build-in the technical feature of "Flexibility." Why? To enable the system to cope successfully with the "sure-to-come," but as yet unknown, cultural, technological, and religious concepts.

It's interesting to speculate, nonetheless, that most of the required alterations, over the next decade, will emerge primarily from users' shifts in focus and priority - - rather than from any significant revamping of culture, technology, or religion.

The authentic tenets of Catholicism stretch back for thousands of years. So, it's most unlikely that any radically-new changes will occur soon. However, as a person grows in holiness, the continuous operation of divine guidance and grace will definitely deepen one's understanding of the various aspects of religion.

Consequently, some of the previously-used, broad-scope Descriptors, in the information-processing endeavor, will no longer adequately satisfy the yearning to know more, and still more, about God, and the appropriate ways to conscientiously serve His will.

Herein lies the continuous, driving force to periodically upgrade precision in classification - - e.g., to employ more, technically-precise Descriptors to assist one's grasping the nuances of the "Illuminative Way."

"Flexibility" is therefore required, to permit the ongoing selection of the most-fitting Descriptors, to keep pace with one's growth in holiness, and other religious subjects.

The "Flexibility" of the Thesaurus is such that all previously-classified and stored information will remain intact, while newly-activated Descriptors (- - as taken from the Thesaurus' "Alphabetical List," or converted from Previously-Subsumed Terms, or even entirely-new words - -) can readily classify, and facilitate filing of newly-acquired data.

In some situations, the fundamental assignment of an information-processing procedure can change significantly over a five-year span. For illustration, a database, to serve the training needs of novices in a religious order (or school of spirituality), was initially designed as a teaching-tool for the basics of the "rule." Then, after several years' success with the system, supplementary information can be integrated into the database, for tutoring users in spiritual growth; e.g., the "Three Ways."

The Thesaurus' Flexibility is also enhanced by the absence of any hierarchical constraints. As additional Descriptors are implemented, it is unnecessary to be concerned about "higher-level," or "lower-level," word-relationships, for the Descriptors already implemented.

Flexibility is further demonstrated by the lack of any mandated, minimum number of Descriptors to start-up a viable, information-processing system. A grade-school youngster may have a successful, Two-Descriptor system, with just two shoeboxes, labeled: "God," and "Reward-Heaven."

Then, as this youngster proceeds through high school, and perhaps college, the number of required Descriptors will undoubtedly increase. And, the shoeboxes can be replaced, in turn, by: * a scrap book, * manila folders, * some file drawers, * possibly a personal computer.

The important feature is that the Thesaurus' "Flexibility" will permit continuous, and non-conflicting classification, and filing, of all desired information, from grade-school into retirement.

It's also conceivable that the Thesaurus could be implemented as an adjunct, religious-library "card catalog," or "subject index." With some degree of innovation, the "library-card-catalog" could be entirely computerized - - i.e., lookup of the catalog could be delegated to a computer terminal.

A hybrid system could also be designed, whereby the manually-maintained "Alphabetical List" could be transferred physically to 3" x 5" cards; along with such, additional information as: author's names, publication title and date, subject classifications, library coding, etc.

D. Efficiency

"Efficiency" is "effective operation, as measured by a comparison of production with cost (as in energy, time, and money)"  [20].

The design-specification of "Efficiency" can, in an overall sense, describe the sum-total of all the advantages, or benefits, offered by the Thesaurus, for Catholic information-processing. "Efficiency" portends accuracy in performance, and agility in a broad range of applications, involving the classification, storage, and retrieval of information.

The Thesaurus' "Efficiency" is demonstrated by such features as:

  • Classification (or indexing) is straightforward. Descriptors are listed alphabetically, along with their "Subsumed Terms," and "See Also" cross-references. The "Alphabetical List" also cites all "lookup" words, and their "See" cross-references to assigned Descriptors.
  • New Descriptors can be added to the information processing system in various ways:

    • selecting the most appropriate Descriptors from the "Alphabetical List;"

    • converting some Subsumed Terms into Descriptors;

    • introducing entirely-new Descriptors.
  • The technical definition of most religious Descriptors can be obtained from Fr. Hardon's published dictionary.
  • Subsumed Terms perform the important, by-product function of helping to further "define," the overall scope of information, to be classified under their respective Descriptors.
  • Faultless retrieval will be guaranteed for decades - - IF there is accurate/consistent classification, and filing of all incoming information, into each Descriptor's, discrete, manual-or-electronic depository.
  • A significant contribution to overall "Efficiency" (coherence, precision, and utility) of the information processing system, will be the patient and exacting research to select the ideal Descriptors from those cited: in the "Alphabetical List;" or, in an alternate source of authoritative, technically-correct words.
  • In all probabilities, additional Descriptors will be required, as a user's information-collection grows. For illustration, an increased awareness and understanding of Catholicism, will usually necessitate that some of the original, broad-scope, "grossly" classified, and filed data, be refined, or subdivided, under "more-specific" Descriptors;
  • Looking-up one's favorite word in the "Alphabetical List" will normally identify it either as a Descriptor, or a Subsumed Term, that is cross-referenced to its "Descriptor-Parent."
  • When one's "pet" word is not listed as a Descriptor, or cross-referenced to a "Descriptor-Parent," searching for its antonym or synonym can usually identify its correct classification.
  • Failure to find one's favorite-and-needed word - - after several attempts, using different query-strategies - - will justify the creation of an "entirely-new" Descriptor, along with its Subsumed Terms, for classification, and filing of this "new" information.

    This "new" Descriptor should then be added, in its proper order on the "Alphabetical List," and on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" - - to function as an "Audit-Trail" reference.
  • Lookup- or, search-technology, can be readily upgraded to more-efficient levels of both manual, and computerized sophistication. A broad assortment of computer programs is available for: "query," "search engines," "Boolean-logic strategies," relational-database-lookup, etc.
  • The prime purpose for "See-Also" references is to broaden the research-perspective of Thesaurus-users, whose imaginations may be stimulated into further inquiry byby the citation of related Descriptors.
  • The Thesaurus' Descriptors foster simplicity in filing (or storage), whether employing manual or electronic methods. The degree of filing-sophistication includes: shoeboxes, manila folders, file drawers, floppy disks, hard disks, disk packs, large databases, CD-ROMs, and artificial-intelligence systems.
  • Regardless of storage medium, all the information on each Descriptor resides in its "one-and-only," discrete, physical or electronic depository. This policy prevents the storage of identical-subject material in two-or-more, different files.
  • Periodically, it's advisable to scrutinize the information on hand to assess its current value - - with such strategies as:
    1. elimination of obsolete, and redundant material;
    1. implementation of a summary format, to digest the main issues; and, if advisable, discard the original, bulky documents;
    1. development of a more-astute understanding of the subject, via the process of abstracting the important information in the files.

The Thesaurus can thereby become an efficient and powerful medium to assist personal growth in holiness. The following illustrations cite some additional possibilities for consideration:

  • Devoting research-time to become familiar with the Thesaurus' Descriptors - - and their definitions - - can assist users in properly interpreting the sometimes-ambiguous wording, encountered in reading some spiritual literature.
  • Writers' consistent usage of the Thesaurus' Descriptors will clarify the focus of their reasoning, thereby, improving their communication's effectiveness; or, intellectual/affective throughput to readers.
  • Personal spirituality will be nurtured through application of the correct, technical Descriptors to grasp ages-old concepts about holiness, e.g.

    • Emotion, Intellect, Soul, Will;

    • Conscience, Depression, Guilt, Sin;

    • Justice, Morality, Punishment-Hell, Reward-Heaven;

    • Commandments-Ten, Duty, Peace-Human, Virtuous Life.
  • Through the prayerful classification of, and filing of, information about the Almighty's "Divine Work" - - in both the "Spiritual Order" and "Temporal Order" - - Thesaurus users will probably benefit from the by-product of sensing personal peace, despite the ongoing trials of everyday living.
  • A dedicated analysis of the Thesaurus' Descriptors and their Subsumed Terms - - guided by the definitions in Fr. Hardon's dictionary - - will gradually produce a pervading conviction about the logical "common sense" of Catholicism; e.g., its insights into: human nature, intellectual acuity, and guidance toward a beneficial, philosophy-of-life.

    After thousands of years, day-to-day, practical experience in many cultures, and under diverse world conditions, the Church's authentic tenets teach us to convincingly analyze, clearly define, and address every phase of living a "Virtuous Life."

    • the rules of logic;

    • many of the causes for emotional illness;

    • peace obtainable from forgiveness, and love of an enemy;

    • the intellectual, emotional, and religious advantages of a good marriage;

    • the inspired dedication of serving God's will in "Vowed Spirituality;"

    • the bodily, psychological, and spiritual illnesses that emanate from "Behavior-Evil, Lust, and Capital Sins."
  • The Thesaurus augments the now-pervasive use of the personal computer - - by many persons, ranging from grade-school children, through adulthood; and by now, retired folks, as well. All aspects of information-processing have been simplified and empowered by the ready-availability of a comprehensive assortment of relatively-easy-to-use software-programs.

    With patience and dedicated study, the mechanics of computer-usage can be adequately-mastered for personal applications. What's imperative is to consciously set aside "adult-to-middle-age" fears; and, the potential embarrassment of "losing-face." Just "start from scratch" in imitation of the grade-school youngsters.

    Many types of entirely-private, computer-tutoring programs - - some operable on personal computers - - are available for individual coaching on "how to get started." Also, some "adult-learning-classes" provide training, and "hands-on" practice in personal-computer operation.
  • Here is a generalized pattern for the computerized utilization of the Thesaurus' Descriptors.

    • Select several Descriptors, from the "Alphabetical List," to start-up a simple, information-processing system.

    • Enter (keyboard) several, short, informational extracts from classical literature, into the database of Descriptor-files.

    • Periodically, lookup individual Descriptors, and study the filed information, by reading the text on the computer's monitor (or cathode ray tube).

    • A wide range of database-software is commercially available for more sophisticated applications.
  • Studying the Bible, via a personal computer, is now a doable undertaking, through the medium of easily obtainable software.

    Some commercially-available programs include the entire text of various translations of the Bible, along with specialized "Bible-Utility" software, such as: thesaurus, word-processing for copying Biblical text, cross-references to over 50,000 links, or chains for locating specified words/ passages, etc. Surprisingly, the purchase price for this "sophisticated-Bible-software" is relatively modest.

    For accuracy, authenticity, and comprehensiveness in studying the "Computerized Bible," the Thesaurus' Descriptors can function as the "authorized," or controlling overview.

    Users can select a group of Thesaurus-Descriptors to make a start. But, in all probabilities, many more "new" descriptors will be required for a worthwhile, personal study of the Bible. Reason: the Thesaurus' Descriptors - - "Old Testament" and "New Testament" - - purposely, have very few Subsumed Terms. Hence, they are presently inadequate for the creation of a worthwhile, Bible study-program. Fortunately, many, commercially available, computerized Bible-study programs are available for guidance.
  • Personal computers can utilize the Thesaurus' Descriptors to interface smoothly with the rapidly emerging technology of CD-ROMs. Selected Descriptors can be employed to function as "files." And, as desired, extracts from the CD-ROMs immense storage capacity (i.e., 300,000 pages of text) can be readily copied into the Descriptors' files.

    In the intermediate-term future, it's entirely feasible for the Thesaurus' Descriptors to be utilized in the classification (or indexing) of Catholic information on CD-ROMs; and large, remote-access, computerized databases.
  • Theoretically, a computerized, "artificial-intelligence" ( AI, or "expert") system on "Spiritual Growth," could be researched, developed, and commercially sold on: floppy disks, or CD-ROMs.

    One, possible design for an AI system could function with two, semi-discrete databases:

    • a foundational, or "lower-level" database of the "basics" of Catholic spirituality, classified by the Thesaurus' Descriptors;

    • an "upper-level" database of specialized, technical information on "professional counseling" for "Spiritual Growth." Undoubtedly, a number of additional, technical Descriptors, would be required to expand upon such Thesaurus-Descriptors as: "Divine Inspiration, Holiness, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Spiritual Direction."

    • In computerized practice, the user of the "artificial-intelligence" system would follow the promptings of the "upper-level," "machine-to-user" dialog on the computer's monitor (or screen).

    • then, as coached by the "artificial-intelligence" software-program, the user would "call up" the specific information, stored under various Descriptors, in both the "lower-level's" basic information, and the "upper-level's," specialized or professional data.

      • the potential efficiency of the Thesaurus' Descriptors for usage with advanced, computerized technology;

      • the vast potential for authentic application of the Descriptors;

      • the challenge for sincere, qualified persons to research, and develop "artificial-intelligence" systems on the various aspects of Catholicism.
  • The following, real-life, practical applications prove that "artificial-intelligence" systems have been successfully designed, and profitably employed for the past decade or more:

    • repair of electric locomotives;

    • specialized, medical diagnosis;

    • portfolio-management in a bank's, trust department;

    • process control in the manufacture of chemicals;

    • "Grolier's," electronic "Academic American Encyclopedia" can be considered an "artificial-intelligence" system, in the sense that it is structured into two levels, or inter-related databases:

      • a "lower-level" database of 33,000 articles;

      • an "upper-level" index (technically, not a thesaurus) of 67,000 Subject-Descriptors, and cross references. (Please see "CD-Rom" in Section 7-F, "Glossary/Conventions," for further details.)

E. Longevity

A critical requirement for any "evergreen" Thesaurus is "Longevity - long duration of individual life… or long continuance" (21).

Premise: users will exercise persistent diligence in: careful classification of all collected information, judicious expansion, accurate filing, and attentive maintenance. In a nutshell, the Thesaurus has been designed to "keep up with the times" - for a long time into the future.

Some of the envisioned benefits of the Thesaurus' "Longevity" - - i.e., its efficient usability for a decade or more - - include:

  • The uninterrupted availability, and quick retrieval of all filed information.
  • Unlimited expansion-feasibility to either: subdivide some of the information already collected; or, to create entirely new Descriptors for the classification, filing, and retrieval of "new-subject" material.
  • Avoidance of the waste of time and expense required to continuously reinvent new, "home-made" Descriptors, and then be forced to reclassify and refile previously-collected information.

    • The Descriptor, "Divine-Governance-Creation," can illustrate the potential "Longevity" of the Thesaurus' recommended procedures:

      • Initially, this Descriptor's three-word-combination may seem somewhat strange, but its concept is readily understandable, when each of its terms is individually reflected upon.

      • Its comprehensive scope can be a great advantage to many Thesaurus users, who do not desire any further informational subdivision in an early-stage of developing a processing system.

      • To assist the immediate recognition of important, allied subject-areas, the number of "See-Also" Descriptors can be increased.

      • Additional terms can be subsumed under It, at any time.

      • Its Descriptor-Name can be changed to some other expression, and include all or some of its Presently-Subsumed Terms.
  • As a general rule, the initial selection of a broad-scope, or very-inclusive Descriptor - - such as "Divine-Governance-Creation" - - is advisable for several reasons:
    1. The ease and simplicity of starting up an important Descriptor, with a very-broad or encompassing scope (i.e., this strategy eliminates the immediate need for extensive research on the structuring of "subdivisions of information," during the throes of implementing a new system).
    1. The assurance of knowing that all related information is classified and filed in one depository.
    1. As additional information is collected, experience can guide the required subdivision of data into "narrower-scope," or more-precise, Descriptors.
    1. The Descriptor, "Divine-Governance-Creation," might serve satisfactorily for a number of years, until the bulkiness of Its stored-information becomes unwieldy. Then, some of Its Subsumed Terms (e.g., "Control-Universe, Design-Creation, God's Economy") can be established as new, individual Descriptors, for the classification and filing of their respective portions of the total, collected information.
    1. It's critical, of course, that all changes in terminology be quickly and accurately registered on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy." Reason: all the information removed from the original, "Divine-Governance-Creation" file can be traced to their reassigned Descriptors.
  • A most-helpful practice - - in the context of "Longevity" - - is promptness and decisiveness in making all necessary changes in reclassification and refiling.

    This management-principle will prevent confusion, as to where specific information is classified and filed. Contrariwise, procrastination - - in deciding upon clean-cut delineations in classification - - will soon generate: frustration, waste of time and expense, and ambiguous or duplicated classification.

    Result: eventually a great deal of time and expense will be required for clarification, reclassification, and refiling of collected information.

    The key principle is to insist that "each specific piece of information" is accurately classified under just one Descriptor, and filed correctly.

Experience indicates that many information processing systems start off: on shaky premises, and without clearly defined goals; with too many imprecisely selected Descriptors; implementation of ambiguous procedures; limited research on the required amount of time, cost, and work, to get the operation "up to speed;" etc.

A sound, start-up, management procedure can be:

  • start small;
  • be careful and consistent in classification and filing;
  • prefer smallness and accuracy to premature overextension, with its inevitable ambiguity, confusion, and frustration;
  • continuously analyze the experience that has been gained; and carefully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of contemplated changes, before final decisions are made and implemented;
  • after adequate research, design all changes "cleanly" and "sharply;" do not permit "gray," or "in-between," areas, that are certain to generate ambiguity;
  • promptly make necessary decisions to implement essential changes;
  • strive for precision at all times - - "slowly and accurately" is to be vastly preferred over "fast and sloppy" (i.e., "GIGO: garbage in, generates garbage out").

In essence, it's wise to adopt the old carpenter's motto: "It's best to MEASURE TWICE, but saw ONLY ONCE." The big advantage of this type of operating policy is that the "ways of the Thesaurus" will provide above-average proficiency, in the management of information processing.

In perspective, then, it's more-usual-than-not, for an information processing system to start, in the realm of uncertainty. However, after a few years of actual experience in carefully adhering to the Thesaurus' conventions, an accurate and practical system will gradually emerge.

It's prudent to plan for the 10-year life span of an information-processing system on Catholicism. A Thesaurus-user can be assured that its features - - of "Expandability, Flexibility, Efficiency, and Longevity" - - offer the assurance, that the "unknowable future," can be faced with confidence.

It's wise, too, that during the information-processing system's start-up, and early-development to:

  • Initially adopt the Thesaurus' "gross" or "broad-scope" Descriptors for start-up classification and filing.
  • Gradually develop some "rules" for:

    • A prescribed-limitation on the maximum amount of collected information that will be permitted under any one Descriptor.

    • A mandate to periodically subdivide "over-sized" depositories of information, under existing "Broad-Scope-Descriptors," into more manageable sized, "narrow-scope," new Descriptors. These new Descriptors - - which are entirely discrete - - are nonetheless related to the logic and definition of the originating Descriptor.

    • An ideal way to solve the "bulging-over," Descriptor file (which has become too "gross" for precision in classification and storage) is to elevate some of its Subsumed Terms" into "full-status" Descriptors - - that permit subdivisional classification and filing.

      This "rule" will beget two benefits.

      1. More-manageable classification/filing;

      2. The overall, purpose of the Thesaurus is to classify all Catholic information under one, integrated universe of individual Descriptors. This ideal is assisted by converting some Subsumed Terms into "full-status," new Descriptors - - when the filing, or storage, of information under the original "Descriptor-Parent" becomes unwieldy.

      Reasoning: the overall content, of the originating "Descriptor-Parent," will be supplemented by the subsidiary, additional information that has been classified and filed under new Descriptors. In other words, the overview definition and logic of the "Descriptor-Parent" is maintained and extended into the new, discrete Descriptors (i.e., which were previously Subsumed Terms).

In sum, the Thesaurus' "Longevity-Benefit" offers the prospect, that accurate classification, and correct filing, will assure the quick and accurate retrieval of all collected information for decades into the future.

Finally, the prospect, of the Thesaurus' "Longevity," is an exceedingly powerful incentive for its correct and consistent use - - by "small" and "large" collectors of Catholic information. On at least a few occasions, just about every information collector has sadly wailed, "I definitely remember reading and filing that critical `piece of information,' I'd give `a million dollars' right now, if I could just lay my hands on it!"

F. Glossary / Conventions

This section is a potpourri of glossary, conventions, and "left-over" items. In designing the Thesaurus, the guiding principles were: authentic Catholicism, simplicity, practicality, ease-of-use, and technical accuracy. The Thesaurus has adopted these conventions, which are cited in alphabetical order.



Alphabetical List

The single, alphabetized listing of all words cited in the Thesaurus: Descriptors, Subsumed Terms, "look up" or search words.

The published "Alphabetical List" becomes the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," when new Descriptors are added to it.


See: Descriptor-Grammatical-Article.


An accurate, prompt, and complete record of every CHANGE that is made on the original published Thesaurus. All the notations are written on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy:"

  1. Date of alteration.
  2. Alteration made.
  3. Brief description of revised status.

Example - - using the Descriptor, "Being:"

  1. Date: xx/xx/xx;
  2. "Life" has been established as a "full-status" Descriptor; and has also been deleted from under "Being."
  3. All collected information on "Life" has been transferred from "Being" to: the Descriptor and file, "Life."

The purpose of the "Audit-Trail" is to facilitate retracing all alterations back to the "definition," of the original Descriptor, as initially published in the "Alphabetical List."

Benefit: quick and factual resolution of all questions about ambiguity, or misfiling of the same type of "defined" information, under two, separate Descriptors, etc.


A "compact disk - - read-only-memory;" which is an electronic medium, somewhat similar to an audio-compact-disk. An estimated 300,000 pages of text can be filed, or stored, on a typical 4 3/4"-diameter disk.

One such application is Grolier's, "Academic American Encyclopedia," electronic disk, which contains 33,000 articles, and over 67,000 cross-references; as well as computer, printout-capability.

Classify (Index)

"To arrange in classes… to assign (as a document to a category)"  [22].

“Controlled Vocabulary” and “Common Language”

Both of these phrases are synonymous with "Thesaurus." They represent a technically chosen universe of autonomous Descriptors, that are designed to precisely define, and prescribe, the entire breadth of a particular subject; e.g., "Catholicism."


"A discrete body of information in computer storage"  [23]. More generally, "Database" embraces any collection of classified information that is stored either physically in shoeboxes, folders, drawers; or, electronically in a computer, or CD-ROM, file.


Please refer to "Modern Catholic Dictionary;" Rev. J. A. Hardon, S. J.; Doubleday & Co.; 1980.


Please refer to "Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary;" G. & C. Merriam Co.; 1974.


"A word or phrase (as an index term) used to identify an item (as a subject or document), especially in an information, retrieval system"  [24].

The authentic definitions of essentially all religious Descriptors can be found in Fr. Hardon's dictionary. Secular Descriptors are essentially "common-everyday-words," as defined in Webster's dictionary. Obscure jargon has been avoided.

Descriptor- Activated

A Descriptor, that has been selected from the "Alphabetical List," and activated to function as a physical or electronic file (i.e., depository) for the storage, of "actual information" on the Descriptor's subject.

When a "Published-Thesaurus Descriptor" is activated, place the symbol "(F)" in the left margin of the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," beside the Descriptor, to specify that a file has been activated or implemented.

When a new (non-published) word, or a "Published-Subsumed-Term" is activated as a full-status Descriptor:

  • enter it on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" in alphabetical order;
  • cite the date of implementation;
  • give a brief explanation of the alteration;
  • add this new Descriptor, in alphabetical order, to the "Descriptor-Activated-List," which is discussed next.

Descriptor- Activated- List

This is a separate-and-distinct, alphabetical listing of all "Descriptors-Activated." It is designed to function as a quick reference to all Activated Descriptors and files that are in actual use. It can also provide help with "Audit-Trail" research.

Descriptor- Grammatical- Article

All articles (e.g., a, an, the) are deleted from Descriptors for two reasons:

  • save unnecessarily-wasted space;
  • assist quick, "one-glance" recognition of the entire Descriptor, during a lookup or search session.

Descriptor- Hyphenated

A word's "key," "base," or "root" of a multi-word Descriptor is generally featured as the prefix; i.e., listed first, or left-most. Accordingly, adjectives and other modifiers are positioned as suffixes, to the right of the "keyword;" and connected by a hyphen. Illustration, "Peace-Human."

Hyphens link separate words into a single Multi-Word-Descriptor to facilitate quick, visual recognition, and conceptualization as "one-word." This feature is especially valuable for simplicity and speed, during lookup, especially when using a computer. After a little practice, the intellect "sees" Multi-Word-Descriptors as "single" words.

However, the proper names of persons, countries, locations, etc. are not hyphenated.


In most instances, the keyword is featured as the prefix, with its adjective or companion word, being treated as a suffix;

Reasons for this convention:

  1. consolidate related Descriptors, into "series," in the "Alphabetical List," to facilitate research during "lookup-sessions;"
  2. avoid the miscellaneousness of hordes of Descriptors being placed behind such adjectives as "Holy;"
  3. minimize look-up time, as users become familiar with the Thesaurus' Descriptors; e.g., "Trinity-Holy."


A Descriptor, when identified as the "parent," or "owner," of its assigned, Subsumed Terms.


"To arrange in order for preservation and reference; … a device (as a folder, case, or cabinet) by means of which papers are kept in order"  [25]. In this Thesaurus, "file" is employed in the sense of both a verb and noun. "Store and storage" are considered synonymous with "file."

"File" or "storage" includes both physical and electronic media - - shoebox, manila folder, file drawer; - - file on a disk (floppy, hard, CD-Rom).

In computer usage: - - an electronic "file" can represent several different concepts; e.g., an individual piece of correspondence, a chapter in a book, a "file" of accounts-receivable records, a specified portion of a database - - "memory" and "storage" usually designate the composite of all activated "files."

In this Thesaurus, a physical or electronic "file" has a "one-on-one," direct relationship with just ONE Descriptor. A single "file" on ONE Descriptor, however, can include a large volume of information; e.g., hundreds of articles, individual pamphlets, course notes, clipped pages from religious books, handwritten comments, etc.

File List

See: "Descriptor-Activated-List"

See Also: Thesaurus', published "Alphabetical List," which identifies all potential Descriptor-Files by the symbol, "*."


"Lookup," and "search," are deemed to be synonymous.

There are two general types of "lookup:"

  1. The most-common, users' purpose for "lookup," in an established information-processing system, is the identification and/or retrieval of information.

    This lookup procedure can be greatly speeded up by referral to the "Descriptor-Activated-List" of implemented, or currently used, Descriptors. These activated Descriptors contain "actual information," that has already been classified and filed.

    -- Many words, that are "looked-up," in the "Alphabetical List," will actually be Subsumed Terms, which cite a "See" cross-reference to their applicable "Descriptor-Parents."
  1. A less-frequent type of "lookup" is a perusal of the Thesaurus', published "Alphabetical List" of Descriptors to select one-or-more, additional Descriptors for activation.

Master Copy

See: "Thesaurus-Master-Copy"


The first section of the Thesaurus, which provides: an overview, Its purposes, design-specification, etc.


See: Lookup


During a "Lookup," "See" cites a cross-reference to one or more specific Descriptors.

As needed, "favorite," "lookup" words can be liberally inserted, alphabetically, into the "Alphabetical List" of the Thesaurus. This practice will yield handsome, time-saving dividends, until such time, as users become more familiar with the "names" of the actual Descriptors employed by the Thesaurus.

All such additions of "favorite" words should undertake a two-step procedure:

  1. When warranted, elevate the selected, "favorite" word to the full-status of a Descriptor; enter it alphabetically on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy;" cite all its: "Subsumed Terms," and "See Also" references.
  1. When the "favorite" word does NOT merit becoming a "full-status" Descriptor, the user can subsume it under its most-applicable proper "Descriptor-Parent."

Some, broad-scope words possess such encompassing meaning, that the Thesaurus subsumes them under several, different Descriptors. For example, the "See" citation, for "Bias-Of-Secularism," cross-references a host of different Descriptors.

Users can also adapt the "See" operation to other, specialized functions.

See Also

It designates cross-references to one-or-more Descriptors. Purpose: encourage broader research, during a "lookup" session. There is no rigid rule for the selection of the specific "See-Also" Descriptors, cited in the Thesaurus.

Antonyms and synonyms are frequently listed, along with a variety of other Descriptors, designed to stimulate further investigation.

Users are encouraged to insert additional "See Also" terms wherever they wish. Of course, all changes should be recorded on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy."


See: Symbol: "…-(Suffixes)"

Symbol: “Sub”

Abbreviation for terms that are "subsumed" - - i.e., "to classify within a larger category or under a general principle"  [26].

Subsumed Terms are regarded as subsidiary to, or included under, the "broad definition" of their "Descriptor-Parents."

For special circumstances, users can select one or both, of the following procedures for the alteration of Subsumed Terms:

  1. Generously add Subsumed Terms to fully "spell-out" the overall, unique "definition" of each Descriptor-Parent," as interpreted by the user;
  1. Delete selected Subsumed Terms, from under one "Descriptor-Parent," and subsume then under another "Descriptor-Parent."

An important realization to bear in mind, is that, any additions or deletions of Subsumed Terms, will modify the overall intellectual "definition" of the "Descriptor-Parent," as originally published in the Thesaurus. Of course, all changes are to be promptly recorded on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy."

Symbol: "*"

Designates a Descriptor that can become a physical or electronic "file"-depository.

When a Descriptor is activated to become a "working file," two procedural steps are recommended:

  1. enter the three-part "identification-information" - - cited under "Audit-Trail" - - onto the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy;"
  1. post the newly-activated Descriptor to the "Descriptor-Activated-List;" as well as to the "Alphabetical List," if not already there.

Symbol: "…"

The quotation marks indicate an informal, or non-standard phrase; e.g., "Statistical Monstrosity."

Symbol: (…)

These "non-quotation" parenthesis: * enclose an explanatory clarification; * or cite a Subsumed Term, that is embraced by a specific Descriptor; e.g., Reverence (Honor).

Symbol: “…-(Suffixes)"

Identifies a series of "Descriptors-Hyphenated," all of which have the same prefix-word; e.g., "Christ's-(Suffixes)" includes "Christ's Ascension, Christ's Death," etc. This symbol appears in "See," and "See Also" cross-references.

Also - - please review the above: "Descriptor-Hyphenated," and "Descriptor-Inverted"

Symbol: “(F)”

Designates an "activated," physical, or electronic file of stored information.

To assist in the "Audit-Trail" function, an "(F)" symbol is written in the left-hand margin of the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," beside its applicable Descriptor.

Also - - please review the above: "Audit-Trail," and "Thesaurus-Master-Copy"

Thesaurus- Master-Copy

This is the most important, "central-management-control" for the "Expandability, Flexibility, Efficiency, and Longevity" of the Thesaurus - - especially so, in those circumstances, where several copies of the Thesaurus are used simultaneously by different persons.

There are two vital requirements for a 100%-successful-operation of all Thesaurus-guided, information-processing systems:

  1. Meticulously and promptly record every alteration, whatsoever, on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" - - A SPECIFICALLY-DESIGNATED, AND CLEARLY-IDENTIFIED COPY OF THE ORIGINAL, PUBLISHED THESAURUS (i.e., "ORIENTATION AND ALPHABETICAL LIST").
  1. For EVERY ALTERATION, enter these three citations on the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" - - beside the applicable Descriptor:

    1. date of alteration;

    2. what alteration was made;

    3. a brief description of the alteration's effect on the total, information-processing system.

Some typical changes can include:

  • renaming a published Descriptor;
  • inserting additional Subsumed Terms under various Descriptors;
  • conversion of a Subsumed Term into a "full-status" Descriptor;
  • activation of an entirely-new Descriptor;
  • reclassification, and refiling of the "old" information, from under one "Descriptor-Activated," into newly-implemented, "subdivisional" Descriptors - - with the "old" data being verified and resorted, accordingly.
  • As a "Descriptor-Activated" is started-up, the symbol "(F)" should be written, beside Its name, in the left-hand margin of the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy." Also, the Descriptor, itself, must be entered on the "Descriptor-Activated-List."

Thus, the symbol, "(F)," certifies that the applicable "full-status" Descriptor has been "activated," as a "working file" for the actual classification and storage of "new" "actual information."

The invaluable benefit, of an accurate, always-up-to-date "Thesaurus-Master-Copy," is its ready availability to become a superb, research assistant.

It can quickly shed light on the resolution of all processing inaccuracies and uncertainties, before they become huge, incapacitating problems - - that could demand heavy investments of energy, time, and expense, to rectify.

The instant readiness - - in the "Thesaurus-Master-Copy" - - of all, precisely-recorded alterations ( 1. date, 2. alteration, 3. revised status of the information system) will provide the wherewithal for a results-oriented "Audit-Trail," as the instrument to clarify all areas of confusion. Please review "Audit-Trail," above.


8. References

  1. "Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary;" Publisher, G. & C. Merriam; Springfield, MA; 1974; p. 1211.

  2. Worthington, W. B.; in "Total Systems;" Editors: Meacham, A. D., and Thompson, V. B.; Publisher, American Data Processing, Inc.; Detroit, MI; 1962; p. 46.

  3. Ducker, P. F.; "Management;" Publisher, Harper & Row; New York; 1974; p.491.

  4. Ball, Ann; Catholic Digest; November, 1991.

  5. Tompkins, Mimi; in U. S. News & World Report; per Reader's Digest; January, 1991.

  6. "Roget's International Thesaurus;" Editor: C.O.S. Mawson; Publisher, T. Y. Crowell, New York; 1944; p. "x".

  7. Bain, Alex.; "Abridged Decimal Classification - Dewey;" Publisher, Forest Press, Lake Placid, N. Y.; 1936.

  8. Webster's; p. 307.

  9. Thompson, C.; Catholic Digest; May, 1990.

  10. Roget's; p. v.

  11. Franklin, Benjamin; 1706-1790; statesman, scientist, and author; statement made at age, 81.

  12. United Parkinson's Foundation; Newsletter #1; Part I, 1991.

  13. Webster's; p. 1052.

  14. Ibid., p. 228.

  15. Drucker; p. 491.

  16. Fehrenbach, T. R.; San Antonio Express News; June 23, l991.

  17. Tracey, Rev. B. T.; Catholic Digest; October, 1991.

  18. Webster's; p. 539.

  19. Ibid., p. 439.

  20. Ibid., p. 362.

  21. Ibid., p. 678.

  22. Ibid., p. 206.

  23. "Chicago Manual Of Style;" Publisher, University of Chicago Press; Chicago; 1982; p. 653.

  24. Webster's; p. 307.

  25. Ibid., p. 428.

  26. Ibid., p. 1162.

Catholic Classification Thesaurus, Edition #9, 10/93

All Rights Reserved
Used with Permission

search tips advanced search

What's New    Site Index

Home | Directory | Eucharist | Divine Training | Testimonials | Visit Chapel | Hardon Archives

Adorers Society | PEA Manual | Essentials of Faith | Dictionary | Thesaurus | Catalog | Newsletters

Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
718 Liberty Lane
Lombard, IL 60148
Phone: 815-254-4420
Contact Us

Copyright © 2000 by
All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of