What’s a “Word of the Day”?

Every day I will use one word as a key to comprehending and remembering the message of the daily reading. I call it the “Word of the Day.” One word? How can one reduce a whole passage to one term? Well, I don’t intend to use that word to reduce or simplify the message. I will use it as a keyword, a tool to organize the thoughts of a passage so that we can comprehend and remember it.

Some educators say that keywords are more than ways to search for information on the Internet. They have an essential role in understanding and memory. This learning theory holds that we do not learn in isolated and individual units of information or ideas. We learn in clusters of associations. Using keywords is a way to form and center what we might call clusters of understanding. Thus, keywords are conceptual tools to comprehend the information and ideas of a message as a cluster and to remember them.

To simplify, suppose you make a grocery list: two pounds of cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and two packages of ready-to-use pie shells. When you get to the store, you cannot find your list. But you remember that you wanted to get two packages of ready-to-use pie shells for two cherry pies. You know that to make a pie, you need cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and butter. You want to make two pies, so you need two pounds of cherries, sugar, and cornstarch. You also know that you already have butter. You make your purchases and have what you need to make your cherry pies. You might have forgotten something essential, but the keyword reminded you of what otherwise would have been isolated and easily overlooked things.

The purpose of the “word of the day” is to help us organize our thoughts in response to the daily readings. To do this, we will look at the passage as a cluster of ideas and information that revolve around this fundamental idea. By doing this, I hope that we can grasp the meaning of the readings and hold on to it long enough to make a difference in the way that we think and live. But there is one more thing that this method promises. If we develop a habit of reading the scriptures in this way day after day, we will get a sense of the continuity of the message as we track the thoughts of the writer by these keywords.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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