10 Catholic Cliches (And What They Really Mean)


1. When a Catholic says: “I’ll pray about it.”

She might mean, “I will bring this important decision before God.”

… But often, she means: “My answer is No, but I want you to blame God, not me.”

2. When a priest says in a homily: “Let me share a little about the parish from the pastor’s perspective.”

He means: “We need more money.”

3. When a spouse says, “Honey, I think we should go on a marriage retreat.”

She means: “I am either going to strangle you or return you to your mother unless grace intervenes.”

4. When a Catholic says: “We need to pray for Frank. Let me tell you why.”

He really means: “I have awesome gossip about Frank, so let’s pretend it’s okay to gossip.”

5. When a single Catholic says, “I am discerning a religious vocation.”

He or she often means: “I have discerned that my vocation is not going to involve dating you.”

6. When a Catholic says, “Remember, it’s a sin to waste food.”

He means: “If you’re not going to eat that, can I?”

7. In youth ministry circles, when a Catholic says, “Be in the world, but not of it …”

She means “Be fashionable, but not immodest.”

8. When a Catholic says, “And also with you!”

She means, “I haven’t been to Mass for so long, I didn’t know they changed the words.”


“Change takes a looong time for me.”

9. In a parish classroom setting, when a young Catholic says, “Jesus? I mean … God?”

He means: “I haven’t been following what you are saying and I think pious words are interchangeable.”

 10. When a Catholic says, “I was thinking of you during Mass yesterday.”

She probably means: “Yesterday’s liturgy led me to reach out.”

But she might mean: “The priest’s message was so convicting yesterday, I decided to apply it to you instead of to me.”

(Special thanks to Dr. Edward Mulholland who also wanted to add: “When a Catholic says, ‘I’m worried about Pope Francis,” he really means “I haven’t been reading The Gregorian.”)

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and edits The Gregorian, a Catholic identity speech digest. He was previously editor of the National Catholic Register for 10 years and with his wife, April, of Faith & Family magazine for five. A frequent contributor to Catholic publications, he began his career as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area and as press secretary for U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer. He lives in Atchison with his wife and those of his nine children still at home. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

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