“Ineffable” sighting!

I have not seen yet a copy of the YouCat, the catechism prepared for young people.  That said, I was amused by an excerpt, a paragraph from the same, a reader sent today:

183. Why is there music at liturgies, and what kind of music must it be to be suitable for liturgy?

Where words are not enough to praise God, music comes to our aid. [1156–1158, 1191]

When we turn to God, there is always something ineffable and unsaid left over. Then music can help out. In rejoicing, language becomes song—that is why the angels sing. Music in a worship service should make prayer more beautiful and more fervent, move more deeply the hearts of all in attendance and bring them closer to God, and prepare for God a feast of melody.

Someone thought young people are smart enough to understand “ineffable”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. contrarian says:

    Ineffable…does that mean really emotional and in needing of guitars and drums?

  2. flyfree432 says:

    As a CYM I have a copy and have read most of it. It is very well written – not in the language of the CCC, but in the language of young people without sacrificing the deep truths of the faith. Just as the Church was surprised by the popularity of the CCC among adults, I believe this will be just as popular among teens. It will be in the hands of all of our teens this fall.

  3. isnowhere says:

    Hmm… I have not heard anything about the newest youth catechism. Is it expected to be worthwhile?

  4. prolifejoan says:

    Yes, Father Z., young people DO understand the meaning of “ineffable”. Especially because it expresses something that is a complete mystery. Young people get this. Here is what Fr. John Hardon, in his “Modern Catholic Dictionary” writes:
    INEFFABLE — That which is inexpressible. Only God is ultimately ineffable because only he cannot be fully comprehended by the finite mind. Since knowledge determines expression, the divine ineffability is a result of the divine incomprehensibility. In the words of St. Augustine, “More true than our speech about God is our thinking of Him, and more true than our thinking is His Being”. (De Trinitate, VII, 4, 7). The people who wrote YouCat have more confidence in the intellects of the young than you seem to, dear Fr. Z.

  5. TNCath says:

    YouCat is excellent! The question remains whether or not Catholic dioceses throughout the U.S. will actually use it.

  6. Pachomius says:

    This reminds me of one my favourite uses of “ineffable”, from Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: “We shall grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

  7. wanda says:

    Gasp! Oh the humanity! Whatever will the young folks do? Big words? It’s toooo hard! There may be ‘gales of laughter’ after all, the bitter pill lady said so!

  8. Pachomius says:

    … Come to think of it, another great use of “ineffable” is in the (protestant) hymn “O Worship the King”: “O measureless might, ineffable love”, which begins one of the (inexhaustibly numerous) verses.

  9. digdigby says:

    It is difficult to describe what ‘ineffable’ means. The music of the ‘St. Louis Jesuits’. Now that is

  10. MJ says:

    Slightly off-topic, but I don’t care for the name much…reminds me of “YouTube”…it’s all about “you”…

  11. donantebello says:

    IMHO…. efforts such as this will do little to nothing. Real youth work is teaching young people Latin, Chant, Sacred Art, History, the Classics….give them Western Civilization!!!!! I’ve worked in youth apostolate for years and have seen these same ideas and concepts be recycled over and over again. The kids don’t care and they don’t really get excited about it. What they do get excited about is Tradition, Devotion, and Beauty! Why re-create the wheel of education and the “handing on of the faith” in a banal and pandering way. Give them Tradition!!!! Give them the Faith in all it’s treasures and majesty!!!! Give them a challenge!!

  12. ikseret says:

    Fr. Z,
    Could you please make this known:

    Saturday, July 9, 2011
    Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
    Washington, DC
    2:00 p.m. Mass Our Lady of Czestochowa Chapel
    Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kium, SDB
    Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong

  13. Dan says:

    Just wanted to note my agreement with flyfree432. The youth catechism is a great resource, and one that speaks in a more accesible way than the CCC without dumbing down the content of the faith.

  14. missd_625 says:

    For those with good things to say about YouCat, any thoughts on the inclusion of quotes from Martin Luther (and other non-Catholics)? I have not seen the YouCat myself and have only read one person’s blog about it.


  15. Elizabeth D says:

    As a child I learned the word ineffable (though I don’t think I immediately knew what it meant) from “The Naming of Cats” from the musical Cats, which is directly from TS Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” This is the wonderful last stanza:

    When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

  16. cjcanniff says:

    I am a Boston College student, and I will be attending World Youth Day next month with a group from BC. I hear that this catechism will be given to all who participate in WYD. I look forward to reading through it.

  17. Charles E Flynn says:

    The moment I saw this posting, I thought, “SAT buzzword”:

    SAT Preparation – ineffable – sample word for SAT prep

  18. colospgs says:

    I wish there was a “like” option as there is on facebook.

  19. Sixupman says:

    That is how children were taught to use dictionaries! Consubstantial!

    Such is education, but our prelates do not believe in such and work on the basis that thir flocks are incapable of understanding.

  20. frscott says:

    I’m a young priest and bought this out of excitement. But then it came in. While it has good information in it, why does it (and every book for teens) have to designed to give you sensory overload? It looks like it is written for someone with ADD! Why are textbooks written like that these days? It’s annoying!

  21. brent says:

    I received a copy a week ago while I was in St. Louis from Monsignor Pins, the rector of the basilica. He was very excited about it. I’ll be writing a review in the not so distant future, but at first/second/third glance, I think it is a very important project for the proliferation of the faith and, given that it will go to everyone at WYD, a source for conversion of mind and heart.

  22. Revixit says:

    If you’re saying that “ineffable” is a word that young people are not smart enough to understand, how do you expect the Church to survive?

    Kids learn new words in many ways. As was already said,
    they can use dictionaries to look up a new word. Or someone can explain a new word to them. Someone like a parents, a CCD teacher, or a priest.

  23. Revixit says:

    OK, not “a parents” but “a parent” or “their parents” or someone in loco parentis.

    Must get coffee…

  24. Patti Day says:

    Elizabeth D: I love that. His ineffable effable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

    I consulted with my cat, whose effanineffable name is Kitty, and she says that what Father Z was alluding to is that if words like ‘ineffable’ can be used in a catechism for youth, why is it assumed that their parents need to have everything brought down to the LCD?

  25. Martial Artist says:

    Someone thought young people are smart enough to understand “ineffable”.

    Might we conclude from your observation that neither His Excellency, the Bishop of Erie, nor the Pastor of the Cathedral of St. James in Seattle, were likely contributors to, or editors of, paragraph 183?
    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  26. PostCatholic says:

    The late great Douglas Adams covered ineffability in Mostly Harmless, the fifth and final book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.

    The villagers had watched in consternation as the woman had marched boldly to the hut of the Sandwich Maker. The Sandwich Maker had been sent to them by Almighty Bob in a burning fiery chariot. This, at least, was what Thrashbarg said, and Thrashbarg was the authority on these things. So, at least, Thrashbarg claimed, and Thrashbarg was… and so on and so on. It was hardly worth arguing about.

    A few villagers wondered why Almighty Bob would send his only begotten Sandwich Maker in a burning fiery chariot rather than perhaps in one that might have landed quietly without destroying half the forest, filling it with ghosts and also injuring the Sandwich Maker quite badly. Old Thrashbarg said that it was the ineffable will of Bob, and when they asked him what ineffable meant he said look it up.

    This was a problem because Old Thrashbarg had the only dictionary and he wouldn’t let them borrow it. They asked him why not and he said that it was not for them to know the will of Almighty Bob, and when they asked him why not again he said because he said so. Anyway, somebody sneaked into Old Thrashbarg’s hut one day while he was out having a swim and looked up ‘ineffable’. ‘Ineffable’ apparently meant ‘unknowable, indescribable, unutterable, not to be known or spoken about’. So that cleared that up.

    At least they had got the sandwiches.

    One day Old Thrashbarg said that Almighty Bob had decreed that he, Thrashbarg, was to have first pick of the sandwiches. The villagers asked him when this had happened, exactly, and Thrashbarg said it had happened yesterday, when they weren’t looking. ‘Have faith,’ Old Thrashbarg said, ‘or burn!’ They let him have first pick of the sandwiches. It seemed easiest.

    And now this woman had just arrived out of nowhere, and gone straight for the Sandwich Maker’s hut. His fame had obviously spread, though it was hard to know where to since, according to Old Thrashbarg, there wasn’t anywhere else. Anyway, wherever it was she had come from, presumably somewhere ineffable, she was here now and was in the Sandwich Maker’s hut. Who was she? And who was the strange girl who was hanging around outside the hut moodily and kicking at stones and showing every sign of not wanting to be there? It seemed odd that someone should come all the way from somewhere ineffable in a chariot that was obviously a vast improvement on the burning fiery one which had brought them the Sandwich Maker, if she didn’t even want to be here?

    They all looked to Thrashbarg, but he was on his knees mumbling and looking very firmly up into the sky and not catching anybody else’s eye until he’d thought of something.

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