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Anna DeSalvo
Professor Polk
ENC 1102
18 September 2015

Catholic Church Discourse Community


It is something that has always been a routine for me and my family, and it is
something that has brought my family together. Going to Mass every Sunday morning is
a ritual for the DeSalvo family, so much of a ritual that my family has a designated pew
that the whole church knows that my family sits there. Sometimes when things are such a
routine, we forget the components that make it up. As Andrea Fishman states, yet there
are things easily overlooked by a casual observer but central to the life of the family and
to their definition of literacy (Fishman 31). This quote is true to my family. In this essay,
I will focus on the Catholic Church as a discourse community and the literate activities
that make it up. Specifically I will analyze the literate activities that we view as a routine
but are essential to this discourse community, because the literate activities are what help
Catholics get the most out of the Mass, and make the Catholic Church discourse
community from other Christian discourse community, such as lexis, genres, and specific
types of prayers..
Every Sunday when I walk into Mass I am greeted by an usher and handed a
bulletin, which relays important information from the clergy, ministries, and other
important information to the congregation. I read through the bulletin to see what the
prayer requests are throughout the parish, when the weekly Bible study dates are, and if

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there are any new important meetings that I needed to attend. All throughout my
childhood I was so used to seeing the weekly bulletin on the refrigerator in our kitchen
and I never learned the value of the three pages or so newsletter until I went to college.
Once I started going to Church by myself in college I realized that I was now in control
of my own faith.
When I was about three years old, I started going to Sunday school while my
family would go to church. At Sunday school I would participate in arts and crafts that
would deal with the Scripture readings for that Sunday, such as drawing a picture for
Noah and the flood, or making an apple for the first book of Genesis. At a young age I
would start to learn how to read simple Bible stories, sing praise and worship songs, and
learn how to pray. As Andrea Fishman states, Because singing requires knowing what is
in the text and because Amish singing, which is unaccompanied and highly stylized,
requires knowing how to interpret the text exactly as everyone else does, the songbook
represent a kind of reading particularly important to the community, a kind that must be
mastered to be considered literate (Fishman 31-32). This text relates my development in
my faith because I learned the basic steps in Sunday school that helped develop my
foundation and learn the literacy activities in order to go to real Mass. Once I learned
these simple literacy activities and graduated from Sunday school, I was able to go to
church with my family and was able to participate in the Mass. My parents and older
brothers taught me what to say when it was time for the congregation to respond, such as
saying Thanks be to God at the end of each reading, And with Your Spirit whenever
the priest would say The Lord be with You, singing the Alleluia and Hosanna, and
respond to the Prayers of the Faithful. This concept is from John Swales article, The

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Concept of Discourse Community This would correlate the concept in addition to
owning genres, a discourse community has acquired some specific lexis. This concept is
from John Swales article, The Concept of Discourse Community (Swales 222). Lexis
are specific and shared terminology that are for a particular group, so the responses and
sayings that Catholics say throughout the mass would be the lexis that are unique to the
Catholic Church. These are traditional literacy activities that are taught at a young age
and that will stay in tact throughout ones journey throughout the Catholic Church.
While the Catholic Church has traditional and permanent literacy activities such
as the Mass parts, such as the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, there
are literacy activities that each individual member can create that are unique to them.
Praying is a literacy activity that anybody can participate in and can adjust to their needs,
format however they want to, and say them whenever they want to. When I pray, it
depends on how I am feeling throughout the day, and I will pray for my needs, other
needs, things that I need to work on, and then talk about what I am uneasy about and ask
for God to give me wisdom and strength throughout the day to help me conquer my
problems and fears. The rosary is a literate activity that is special to the Catholic Church
since only Catholics typically say it. According to EWTN, tThe Rosary is essentially
the decades and their associated mysteries, and only these must be prayed to pray the
rosary, either in satisfaction of Our Ladys requests, or, to gain the indulgences attached
to praying the rosary (EWTNEternal Word Television Network). Praying the Rosary
includes saying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be multiple times sending up our
prayer requests to Mary, who we view as our Mother because she is the mother of Jesus.
This relates to Swales piece on how there are specific and unique things to each

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discourse community, so the Rosary would be something that is unique to the Catholic
Church discourse community (Swales 223). Prayers can be said out loud, quietly inside,
written out, or sung, so no matter how one wants to format their own prayers, it is a
unique literatecy activity to each person.
Literatecy activities do not just have to be something that includes reading and
writing, but can also include singing. A large portion of Mass or any religions church
service involves singing hymns out of hymnals that have been written by musicians. St.
Augustine of Hippo once said, He who sings well prays twice. The majority of the
Catholic songs that are sung at church are Bible verses, such as Psalms or Proverbs,
which were then written down in the Bible and then transformed into songs. When
Catholics sing out of the hymnals they are performing another literate activity by reading
the songs, and composers and musicians who write the songs are performing a literate
activity by transcribing prayers and Bible verses from text to song. All throughout the
country are Christian music stations, such as Z88.3 in Orlando that play uplifting and
positive songs for all to hear. Christian radio stations broadcast these literate activitiesthe
literate activities turned into music and help expand the Christian faith and Catholic
Church discourse community to Orlando.
Throughout the week leading up to Mass on Sunday, priests develop their own
literate activity to give to the congregation, the homily. The homily is a speech given by
the priest or deacon that reiterates the readings and Gospel and shares a message that
gives the members food for thought for the week. This is a literate activity that is
consistently done because the readings, Gospels, and messages are always changing
Members of the Church also write down little notes or reminders from the homily so that

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they can refer back to it throughout the week. Christians are constantly writing down
Scripture verses, song lyrics, and trying to improve their own faith.
When I was assigned to think of a discourse community that I am a part of and the
literate activities that make it up, I immediately thought of things that I was involved,
such as my sorority, sports teams, work, or my classes. I overlooked the thing community
that has built me and shaped me from the beginning of my life. I overlooked it because it
was something that was a routine for me, and because Church is such a routine for me, I
have realized that sometimes I go through the motions with it. When one goes through
the motions, they forget the important parts that make it up. I forgot all of the important
aspects that make up the Church and the things that make the Church continue, because
without these literate activities, there would be no Church. Literate activities are what
make up the discourse communities, and without these activities, we would not have the
groups that we are a part of. It is important that we do not go through the motions, and
that we are always alert of what we are participating in and what makes up the
communities that we are in.
Sometimes we overlook things that we think would not be literate activities when
in actuality they really are. The Catholic Church is a discourse community that is much
more complex than I expected, and I never really viewed something that I routinely do so
much would be considered a discourse community. I also never really thought of the
components of the Mass as literate activities that make up the discourse community. Now
that I have a better sense for what a literate activity really is, I have a better appreciation
and understanding for all the literate activities that make up my life. If it were not for
literate activities that make up the Catholic Church discourse community, Catholics

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would have a difficult time understanding the purpose of the Mass and would struggle
getting the most out of the Mass because the literate activities are what build the
foundation of the Mass., the discourse communities that we are a part of would fail to
exist.

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Works Cited

"EWTN- The Holy Rosary." EWTN- The Holy Rosary. EWTN, n.d. Web. 16 Sept.
2015. <https://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/rosary/>.

Fishman, Andrea. "Becoming Amish." Writing About Writing: A College Reader. 2nd ed.
Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2011. 29-38. Print.

Swales, John. "The Concept of Discourse Community." Writing about Writing: A College
Reader. By Elizabeth A. Wardle and Doug Downs. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins,
2011. 215-27. Print.

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Outline
Plan for the future investigation into literacy activity

How the Catholic Church has developed from other discourse communities
How each literate activity are beneficial to people
How the Catholic Church discourse community has affected people and made

them better, or driven them away


What the Church can do to be a more effective discourse community

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Revision for Task 1
Considering that this was my first task in ENC 1102, I was actually
impressed with how much my writing improved in the transition of 1101 to 1102.
The revisions that I made were to explain the literate activities that make up the
Catholic Church better and to also to state the purpose of these activities. I took
this advice from the Steps to Revising section in the textbook, From Inquiry to
Academic Writing, which states, provide details and textual evidence where
your peers have asked for new or more information (FIAW 14). Where I did this
was to make the thesis statement easier to understand. Before, the thesis statement
said, In this essay, I will focus on the Catholic Church as a discourse community
and the literate activities that make it up. Specifically, I will analyze the literate
activities that we view as a routine but are essential to this discourse community.
I took the comment from my professor that stated, Does your thesis explain the
literate activities in order to prove how useful they are for the discourse
community? Are you saying that without them, the Catholic Church Discourse
Community would cease to exist? and used that as my motivation to better
explain the thesis statement. I expanded the thesis statement by adding that the
literate activities are what makes up the Mass and are what make the Catholic
Church unique to other Christian discourse communities.
What I also worked on in this essay was introducing my sources better
throughout the paper. I tend to just write down a quote and then cite it at the end,
but I realized that I needed to introduce the source before writing down the actual
quote. Overall, the main focus in revising this essay is to make sure that my thesis
statements matches what my content is stating. I believe that the revisions that I

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made, specifically adjusting the thesis statement, benefited my paper. A clearer
thesis statement will help get the argument across the audience better, and without
a clear thesis statement, the body paragraphs supporting the essay will be
pointless because the audience will not understand what I am trying to support.