In much the same way teenagers use “textspeak,” Catholics use acronyms and abbreviations. For both groups, a coded language of abbreviations and acronyms is practical – it allows users to substitute timesaving shortcuts for long phrases.
A shared dialect also serves to strengthen the group’s sense of community and shared identity, while, unfortunately, leaving those not in on the lingo feeling a bit perplexed and, in the words of Pope Francis, “on the periphery.”
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For those new and perplexed Catholics, or those considering joining the Church, , here’s a handy guide to some commonly used Catholic abbreviations to take the mystery out of the alphabet soup of Catholic jargon:
AMDG = Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (For the greater glory of God). The motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
B16 = Pope Benedict XVI
BVM = Blessed Virgin Mary
CCC = Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCD = Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, religious education for children not enrolled in Catholic schools (see also PSR)
CIC = Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici)
CDF = Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican body responsible for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine.
EF = Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass, celebrated in Latin according to the Missal of 1962, or the Traditional Latin Mass
EMHC = Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, lay ministers authorized to take Communion to the homebound and to help distribute Communion at Mass
GIRM = General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the last word on how to celebrate the Mass
ICHTHUS = Greek acronym for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior (spells “fish” in Greek)
IHS= A monogram symbolizing Jesus Christ. The letters denote the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.
INRI = Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus Christ, King of the Jews, from the Latin inscription on Jesus’ Cross)
JPII = Pope John Paul II
OF = Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass, the liturgy most often celebrated in the vernacular (the language of the people) according to the Missal of 1970, or Novus Ordo Missae
PSR = Parish School of Religion, for those who don’t use the term CCD
RCIA = Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the order of preparation (including study and the celebration of preparatory rites) for adults who wish to be baptized or already-baptized Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church
STD = Doctor of Sacred Theology (Latin: Sacrae Theologiae Doctor), seen after a priest’s name who has received the highest Roman Catholic ecclesiastical degree in advanced theological study
TLM = Traditional Latin Mass, also known as EF
USCCB = United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the body of bishops who serve in US and US Virgin Islands dioceses; the conference carries out certain common pastoral initiatives, and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
WYD = World Youth Day. Initiated by Pope St. John Paul II in 1985, it is held every 2-3 years at different locations around the world. WYD19 (actually a multi-day event) will be held in Panama starting on January 22, 2019.