At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people. Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible ‘to fish’ for God in the deep waters of his Mystery. (Pope Francis address to Bishops of Brazil)
As a reader and a writer, I have great respect for those who show an economy of words. The same is true in speaking. We all know persons who will hog a conversation or take any opportunity to lecture others with their expertise. It is also seen on blogs, commentaries and discussion boards. I often find myself seeking the brief responses that pack a punch in a couple of lines. I’m easily turned off by bloviating souls who inflate their own egos with a verbosity that revels in weaving an aura of linguistic superiority. (oops! :-))
A grammar of simplicity is not about ‘dumbing down’ the message, though some seem to fear it is. EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo wrote in The National Catholic Register, “This papal style is so different from the piercing intelligence of Benedict XVI or the philosophical theatricality of John Paul II that is almost jarring. The new Pope is at once blunt and simple — much like those receiving his message.”
I, for one, love the ‘blunt and simple’ approach of Pope Francis. It doesn’t mean I am blunt or simple; or even a simpleton!
There is a time and place for dense, theological ponderings. I find them intellectually stimulating, but seldom spiritually uplifting.
There is a time and place for lengthy homilies, but I am more likely to go home with a keeper line to ponder further when the message is clear, concise, and on the mark.
The new evangelization calls us all to not only embrace more fully our own faith, but to work on spreading that faith in words and action. It’s a real challenge to share our beliefs in a simple yet clear way; to find the right words that express the truth in ways that entice others to learn more.
And, of course, here’s hoping that the grammar of simplicity can find its way back into our liturgical language…