One evening when I came home from the office, my 12-year-old daughter was busily attending to her homework. Working on a lesson in suffixes, she asked me about the word “revitalize.”
I don’t claim to know much about grammar, but I do remember an insight on the suffix “-ize” from Dr. David Fagerberg, then a professor of liturgical theology at Mundelein’s Liturgical Institute. His lesson was short and to the point: “Whenever you see ‘ize’ at the end of a word,” he suggested, “it means ‘to make.’” For example, “trivialize” means “to make trivial.” “Familiarize” means “to make familiar.” “Minimize” means “to make minimal or small.”
It wasn’t grammar studied for its own sake in Dr. Fagerberg’s class, but the application of this “rule” to liturgical studies. If “ize” means “to make,” how ought we to understand liturgical words such as “symbolize,” “sacramentalize,” and “ritualize”? Applying the principle to these words, we see that the realities of faith—grace, salvation, redemption, the Mystical Body, the Paschal Mystery, and even Jesus himself—are “made” available to us via symbols, sacraments, and rituals.
The Sacrament of Matrimony is one such timely example. The unseen reality of marriage is ritualized and sacramentalized, thus made present to us here and now so that we can participate in it and conform ourselves to it. So if we wish to understand the newly promulgated Second edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony and participate in it fruitfully, we need to familiarize (make familiar) ourselves with its reality, substance, and mystery.