Someone was telling the story the other day on how they are being asked to talk to a group of artists on behalf of the sponsoring organization. “They refuse to listen to us,” the organizers said.
“Are you speaking Musician?” asked the person telling the story.
It is true, we may all use the same language but we don’t necessarily speak the same language. For example, I was using a quote from an article in a homily recently. One of the sentences in the article, in talking about the Mass, said something along the lines of, “Sometimes Mass is said in Latin, sometimes in the vulgar tongue.” Now I know what they meant by that. You know what they meant by that. But there was a good chance some people would hear the world vulgar and interpret it negatively and so I changed the word to “vernacular.” The point is to get someone to understand what I am trying to say instead of hearing something else.
Early in my time here at this parish there was some misunderstandings between the diocese and what was happening at the parish. It was largely due to using two different English sets of words to describe the same thing; one was ecclesial, one was business – both meant the same thing and after that was cleared up, progress could be made.
SO . . . when presenting the faith to someone, bear in mind the person to whom you are speaking, where they are, from where they are coming, and try to discern their language. Presbyter, priest, minister, pastor, parochial vicar, associate pastor, elder, persona Christi, clergy, reverend, father, preacher, righteous dude may all refer more or less to the same person in someone’s understanding. (Silly example, I know.) But speaking to someone in their own language may help understanding go more quickly and so give the Holy Spirit a running start in converting hearts.