Perhaps in the era of information and shortcuts the internet language conventions appear to be something absolutely necessary, while the attention given to the choice of words falls into the background. It’s a shame that we ignore or even despise the delicacy of shades that the Romanian language is capable of, the language about which the poet Grigore Vieru poetizes ‘In the treasure of languages / There always will remain / The language of golden doinas / Our Romanian language’.
And the Romanian language is not rich by itself, but because it has sprung from the heart of the Romanian people, that heart which is Orthodoxy. And it is due to Orthodoxy that we can express godly things so clearly and brightly in comparison to the worldly ones.
Thus, when we discuss the human being, we speak of conception and not of fertilization, we speak of infant and not of product of conception, we speak of the people’s visage and not of their faces, we speak of the dormition of a dear person and not of their decease.
And when we bring into discussion the Mysteries of the Church, we speak of communion with the Holy Gifts and not of their administration, we speak of participating in the Holy Unction and not of assisting to it, we speak of absolution of sins and not of effacement of vices.
And finally when we learn about inward feelings we don’t speak of achievements but of fulfillments, we don’t speak of sadness but of despair, we don’t speak of apologizing but of asking for forgiveness.
All these special words are of crucial importance to our spiritual life because they express the profound meanings of persons, actions and inward feelings. Without these carefully chosen words, everything would gain a superficial strictly materialistic meaning. The very essence of the message would be lost and we’d be left only with the form. That is why the Tradition of the Church abounds with words which faithfully express the complete reality of the world, interlacing the natural meaning with the spiritual one.
That is why we the Orthodox call the Mother of God ‘Fecioara’ – ‘pure’ and not a virgin as She is called by the desecrated West. The term ‘virgo’ has a bodily meaning, as first of all it makes one think of the body and barely of the soul. Whereas ‘fecioara’ is a word which makes one think not only of a state of bodily integrity but firstly of spiritual integrity, a lack of any evil thought. That is why we Christians keep our chastity until we get married, not only our virginity, as we may as well be virgins and have a heart full of lust.
And we make these spiritual efforts in order to raise a family and therefore in order to be a family constantly, not a couple. Because a couple can also be made up of two lovers inflamed with the passion of fornication, but a family is only made up of a man and a woman before the altar and the society.
Furthermore, as I said above, we Christians don’t apologize one to another but we ask for forgiveness. Apologies are used for insignificant involuntary mistakes, such as stepping over one’s foot by accident or slamming a door in haste. But when it comes to mistakes which result from our passions and our lack of love, we ask for forgiveness. We don’t apologize to someone for having lied to them, for having cursed them or having disappointed them, but we ask for forgiveness as through this word we show our very humility and deep regret, depending on the gravity of the mistake made.
Likewise, we Christians don’t have fun but we rejoice. Fun is a state of exaltation, an euphoria which results from a noisy atmosphere of agitation, typical for clubs and entourages where speaking in vain and telling vulgar jokes is common. Whilst joy is a state that comes from sincere and emotional communion with the people near us. The Scripture itself bears witness with tens of confirmations that God speaks to us about eternal joy, not in the least about endless fun.
And the truth is that the church language, which many laicized Christians accuse of being archaic, out of fashion, but is not behind the times, is the only one that stands above all times. Because this language springs from the relationship with the Eternal God and it expresses spiritual finesses which the brazen-faced and the ‘stiff-necked’ are incapable of sensing and perceiving, in the same way that broken or old radios can’t pick up high frequencies. The very uttering of words specific to liturgical language have a sanctifying power, in the same way that vulgar words have the power to lead us into temptation and to besmear our souls, even when we utter them for didactic or informative purposes.
That is why the more we dwell on the secularized language, the more our soul will deplete, will roughen and eventually will become presumptuous. And on the contrary when we get accustomed to using spiritual words, the more delicate, careful and profound we shall be towards everyone, towards everything.