Modern Catholic Dictionary
Guide to the Use of the Dictionary
In order to help the reader derive full benefit from this dictionary, it is worth noting certain features that the author had in mind when doing the research and assembling the data. The years of planning that went into the composition of the present volume were mainly directed to accuracy of content, conciseness of treatment, and facility of use. The following information is offered especially to facilitate the use of this dictionary.
Key To Sources
Most of the sources of quotations in the dictionary are self-explanatory. Some, however, call for further comment:
Many of the entries are given short etymologies. Their purpose is to bring out more clearly the meaning of a term by placing it in historical context. Biblical names often symbolize the person named; Greek derivatives relate the word to its scriptural or first-century origin; and the many Latin sources indicate the role of the Church in standardizing the language of Catholicism.
Although this work is not an encyclopedia, every effort was made to make it as complete as limitations of space would allow. One method to achieve this was to correlate the entries. Where another entry is more or less synonymous, this is indicated by See after a single term. When further information is elsewhere available in the dictionary, this appears as See also after the entry.
The only biographies, as such, are those of biblical personages. This was not for lack of appreciation of the many important characters of Catholic Church history but because of the intended purpose of the volume: to concentrate on the objective faith and data of the Churchs faith and practice and not enter the vast arena of her life and biographical activity.
On the other hand, biblical persons are treated at some length. Both Old and New Testament characters are given entries. In the light of the Catholic Churchs new emphasis on the Scriptures, this was considered an essential part of this dictionary. Supporting these biblical figures are also a number of important places that belong to historic and contemporary Palestine.
Organizations and Societies
It was clearly impossible to include more than a fraction of the thousands of archaic and present-day societies within Catholic Christianity. There are, for example, some four thousand religious institutes of men and women in the Church today. Included are separate entries for those institutes of Christian perfection that are of historic importance and that fairly set the pattern for similar religious communities throughout the world.
Even more limited is the number of other Catholic organizations that are given special entries. The relatively few given are those of an international character or that have particular significance for the Catholic Church in modern times.
Scholastic Philosophy and Theology
Special attention was paid to certain basic terms from scholastic philosophy and theology. These terms are the backbone, as it were, of the Churchs official teaching of faith and morals. It is impossible to understand the Catholic church in her own deepest understanding of herself without some familiarity with this language of scholastic thought.
Modern Catholic Dictionary - John A. Hardon, S.J.
Abridged Edition of the Modern Catholic Dictionary
Copyright © 2003 Inter Mirifica
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