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Catholic Terms

Abbreviated Dictionary by Category

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Full Unabbreviated Catholic Dictionary

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- A -

Abbe: Title given to an abbot, but generally to a secular ecclesiastic in France; often used colloquially to refer to any cleric.
Abbess: The nun who is the superior of a community of nuns in those religious orders which have abbots as superiors of male communities. An abbess has domestic or temporal authority but no spiritual jurisdiction..
Abbey:
 Properly a monastery or convent governed by an abbot or abbess; also the community of monks or nuns numbering at least twelve in a canonically erected monastery or convent. Generally refers to the entire group of buildings, but sometimes only to the church building.
Abbot: The superior of a community of men in an abbey or monastery. The one directing a group of men in an abbey who live under religious vows according to a rule or laws for the community. The abbot is elected for life. His authority is the administration of the property of the abbey, the enforcing of the rule, and the exercise of quasi-episcopal powers. The term was used from the 5th century.
Ablegate: An envoy of the Papal service who bears the red biretta to a new cardinal who is not residing in Rome; a legate from the Holy Father with this mission.
Absolution:Part of the sacrament of penance. It is the formal declaration by the priest that a penitent's sins are forgiven.
Abstinence:Refraining from certain kinds of food or drink as an act of self-denial. Usually refraining from eating meat. Official days of abstinence from meat for Catholics are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
A.D.: Abbreviation for the Latin words Anno Domini meaning literally "in the year of the Lord," and denoting the years after the Incarnation of the Son of God from which time we now configure our calendar.
Administrator: He who is in charge of a diocese when the bishop is lawfully absent or when the diocese is vacant by resignation or removal of the bishop, or during the interim between the death of the bishop and the arrival of his successor. Also applied to a priest who directs and governs a parish temporarily but is himself not the permanent rector or pastor.
Adoration: Refers to the external acts of reverent admiration or honor given to a thing or person.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: Prayer to Christ, who is recognized as being truly present in the Sacrament. During Adoration, the Blessed Sacrament is displayed for the people.
Advent: The time of preparation for the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord. Consisting of four weeks between the First Advent Sunday, and Christmas eve. The first liturgical season of the Church calendar. The period of spiritual preparation for Christmas.
Advocate: A representative in an ecclesiastical court, either cleric or lay, who pleads a case.
Agape: An obsolete feast or meal, sometimes called brotherly or love feast, taken in common following an early practice of the Greeks. It was in commemoration of the Last Supper and was probably taken before the celebration of Mass.
Agnus Dei: The prayer in the Mass, shortly before the Communion, beginning with these words, in English, "Lamb of God." (2) Name given to disks of wax on which are impressed the figure of a lamb and which are blessed at regular seasons by the Pope; they may be oblong, round or oval in shape and vary in size; the figure of the lamb usually has a banner or cross accompanying it.
All Saints Day:The day on which Catholics remember all the saints of the Church, whether officially canonized or not. It is celebrated on November 11.
All Souls Day:The day on which Catholics remember the dead and pray for them recognizing that they may still need to be brought to perfection. It is observed on November 2.
Alms: Originally any temporal or spiritual work of mercy; now any material gift or aid given in Christian charity to one in need.
Almsgiving: is the religious practice of giving from one's financial resources in order to assist or help those who are poorer and in need. This is commended by Jesus (Luke 18:22). St. Paul exhorts members of the Christian community at Corinth to give alms that they might be enriched by their very generous giving (2 Corinthians 9: 11). On Ash Wednesday we Catholics hear from Matthew's gospel-where Jesus teaches us to fast, pray, and give alms (Matthew 6:1-6,16-18). Almsgiving is considered one of the three central penitential activities of Lent and a work of mercy. (The seven corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit prisoners, to give shelter to the homeless, to visit the sick and to bury the dead). The word "alms" derives from the Greek, eleos, or "pity."
Altar:The table on which the sacrifice of Mass is celebrated.
Alpha and Omega: The beginning and the end. A biblical reference to a divine title being actually the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. (Rv 1.8)
Amen: Hebrew word meaning truly, it is true. As concluding word of prayers it expresses assent to and acceptance of GodÍs will.
Altar breads: Round wafers baked of fine, wheaten, unleavened flour and used in the consecration at Mass. There are two sizes, the smaller for the Communion of the faithful, the larger for the priest's Communion of the Mass and for exposition. Also called hosts. See Host.
Ambo: A raised platform or pulpit approached by steps. It was placed in the nave of early churches from which pronouncements were made or where certain parts of the sacred liturgy, as the Epistle and Gospel of High Mass, were, and sometimes still are, sung. There may be two, one on each side.
Ambry: A closet or chest wherein the holy oils are kept on church property, usually attached to the wall of the sanctuary.
Amen: Literally, "So be it!"
Anamnesis: A remembering, literally "a calling to mind." The words in the prayer of the Mass which declare that the consecration is fulfilled in memory of Christ; in the Roman rite the first of three prayers after the Consecration of the Mass.
Anaphora (a~naf'ora): The Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass, including the Preface in Eastern rites.
Anathema: Pronouncement by which the Church declares a person to be out of her communion, particularly because of the denial of a truth of faith; an excommunication.
Anchor: The symbol of hope. In the days of early persecutions it was used to represent the cross.
Anchorite: Man or woman who has given up the world and lives alone, dedicating his life to God. A hermit, especially one of the Eastern Church.
Angel: Meaning "Messenger". In the Bible they are described as carrying messages from God to Humans. A pure spirit, a being that cannot be perceived by the senses because it has no body but which is a person since it possesses intellect and free will. Angels are innumerable in number. Medieval theology enumerated nine orders, or classifications of angels, three in each hierarchy: (I) Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; (2) Dominations, Principalities, Powers; (3) Virtues, Archangels, Angels: This enumeration is not an article of faith's also Guardian Angel.
Angelus: A prayer devotion honoring the Incarnation of God into the flesh of Jesus and venerating the Blessed Virgin at morning (6 o'clock), noon, and evening (6 o'clock) by the recitation of three Hail Marys, with which is said after the consecration words spoken by the Blessed Virgin. Also referred to the angelus bell which is rung at the three times of the day.
Annulment: Declaration of the invalidity of a marriage by an ecclesiastical courts.
Annunciation:The "announcement" by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she was to become the Mother of the Savior. The feast day is March 25.
Anointing: Term applied to the act of tracing a mark in the form of a cross, with a holy oil, on a person or thing. Referring to the sick, it usually means the administration of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The Anointing of the Sick can only be performed by a priest. It is the Sacrament of anointing a person in danger of death from sickness, injury, or old age; accompanied by prayers from the ritual; Healing is asked for in the manner in which God understands the person to need it most, body, mind, or spirit, or all three. Generally Anointing is the coating, covering or touching of a person or object with oil to convey a religious significance. The Old Testament refers to Moses' action in anointing the meeting tent, the ark of the covenant and related religious objects with a special mixture of oil indicating the sacred status of these objects. Aaron and his sons were also anointed as priests (Exodus 30:2730). Prophets and kings of Israel were anointed. The word "Christ" comes from the term "anointed" and is the title bestowed upon Jesus in the New Testament letters of Paul indicating his role as priestly, prophetic and kingly Messiah, the Lord's Anointed One who saves us (Isaiah 6 1: 1). In contemporary liturgical usage, the Oil of Catechumens is used to anoint prior to baptism and has its roots in ancient times when athletes were anointed before wrestling competitions. Sacred Chrism, a mixture of oil and perfume consecrated by the bishop, is used to anoint after Baptism, at Confirmation and at the Ordination of priests and bishops. The Oil of the Sick is used to anoint sick persons and is specifically referenced in the New Testament (James 5). Chrism is also used to anoint altars and churches when they are dedicated.
Antimension: A combination corporal and altar stone used in the Byzantine Catholic Rite. It is an 8-in. square piece of linen doubled, in which are sewn up relics anointed with chrism. It is generally ornamented with a design, representing the entombment of our Lord, with the four Evangelists and the instruments of the passion, printed in black ink. It corresponds somewhat to a portable altar. Also called the "Greek corporal."
Antiphon: Words or verses prefixed to and following a psalm or psalms containing thoughts on the mystery considered by the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours. (2) In the Mass, some prayers are also called antiphons, entrance antiphon, etc.
Apollinarianism: The heretical doctrine taught by Apollinaris, bishop of Alexandria in the fourth century, denying the human intelligence of our Lord. It denied that Christ had a human rational soul but affirmed that He had a human sensitive soul, and that the Divine Word took the place of the rational soul. Therefore it denied the true humanity of Christ.
Apologetics: The science of defending and explaining the Christian religion and in particular Catholic doctrine.
Apology: A written or oral defense of the Church against attacks.
Apostalate:The work of an Apostle, either ministry or service on behalf of the Church.
Apostasy: The total repudiation of the Christian faith after the reception of baptism. (Can. 751)
Apostle - Apostolic - Disciple: 1) Literally ñone sent.î Normally this refers to the 12 men chosen by Jesus to be the bearers of his teachings to the world. The term ñapostolicî generally refers back to the 12 apostles. Saints Peter, John, James the son of Zebedee, Matthew, Mark, Thomas, Philip, Bartholomew, James the son of Alpheus, Andrew, Simon the Cananean, Mathias, later chosen to replace Judas, and later St. Paul and Barnabas. 2) In the Church it characterizes certain documents, appointments or structures initiated by the Pope or the Holy See. 3) The name often given to the first missionary to a country. The term ñdiscipleî literally means "learner." It refers to one who follows the teachings of Jesus.
Apostles' Creed: A prayer embodying the fundamental Christian teachings and a Profession of belief in them; a liturgical prayer of the Catholic beliefs of faith. It is called Apostles' because it embodies a summary of Apostolic teachings.
Apostolic Fathers: Early Christian writers who wrote on doctrinal subjects and whose writings were not done later than the opening of the third century.
Apostolic Nunciature: The offices of the Holy FatherÍs representative to a country or to the Church in that country .
Apostolicity: That one of the four marks of the Catholic Church by which it stems from the Apostles in its doctrine, authority, and organization.
Apostasy: Defection from God through entire rejection of either one or more of the following after it had been previously accepted: (1) the Christian faith; (2) ecclesiastical obedience; (3) the religious or clerical state.
Apparition: The visible presence of a supernatural being; a vision in human form.
Archbishop: Title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses. He has limited authority over the other bishops of his province. As head of an ecclesiastical province the archbishop is called the metropolitan, the other bishops are called suffragans. The title archbishop is sometimes given honoris causa to the bishop of an archdiocese which has no suffragan sees.
Archdeacon: In early days of the Church the deacon selected by the bishop to assist him in his work, now obsolete. The vicar-general today corresponds to this early office.
Archdiocese: A diocese or jurisdiction of an archbishop; usually it is the metropolitan see or chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province.
Archives: The repository of the official records of a diocese or other moral person in the Church; it contains all necessary accounts of ecclesiastical affairs pertaining to the diocese or other moral personality. A parish may also have a small archive.
Archivist: One in charge of the archives.
Arcosolium: A decorated arch-shaped recess in the wall of the catacombs used as a burying place.
Arianism: The heresy originated by Arius (d. 336) denying the consubstantiality of God the Son with God the Father, consequently a denial of the true and eternal Godhead of Christ.
Ark: 1) The boat built and used by Noah at the time of the flood. (2) Ark of the covenant was the chest, carried by the Israelites in their wanderings, containing the Tablets of the Law, Arron's Staff, and Manna from the desert. (3) Title of the Blessed Virgin because she is the instrument of the new covenant between God and man through Christ.
Ascension:The taking up of Jesus into Heaven forty days after the resurrection and witnessed by the Apostles. Ascension Thursday is celebrated forty days after Easter. By approval of the Holy See it is Celebrated in many dioceses on Sunday so that it may have a proper and fitting celebration.
Ash Wednesday: The first day of Lent. It derives its name from the custom of placing blessed ashes of burnt palms on the foreheads of the faithful in the form of a cross to remind them of death and the necessity of penance. Catholics also fast and abstain from eating meat on this day.
Asperges: (1) The ceremony of sprinkling the altar, clergy, and people with holy water, performed by the celebrant before the principal Mass. (2) The first word of the psalm verse recited by the celebrant and choir at this ceremony.
Aspergillum or Aspergill: An instrument for sprinkling holy water; usually a rod with a perforated metal bulb at the end, from which holy water is shaken.
Aspersorium or Aspersory: A portable vessel to hold holy water and into which the Aspergillum is dipped.
Associate Pastor: Priest who assist the pastor in the pastoral ministry of a parish also called a Parochial Vicar or Curate.
Assumption:The taking up of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, into Heaven. Celebrated on August 15.
Atonement: The reconciliation of man with God by Jesus Christ, the Son, through His sacrificial death on the Cross. The Redemption
Ave Maria:Latin words meaning; "Hail Mary". The first words of a popular prayer that Catholics address to Mary.
Auxiliary Bishop: A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese, to assist a residential bishop.

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B -

B.C.: Abbreviation for the words "before Christ" meaning the years before the Incarnation of the Son of God from which event the present calendar is configured.
B.V.M. Abbreviation for The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Baptism: A Sacrament administered by immersion in water or the pouring of water on the head and saying, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and through which one enters into the Church of Christ. There are three means of Baptism for gaining salvation: (a) Baptism of water which is performed by the act of pouring water. (b) Baptism of desire is the act of perfect love of God which suffices for adults in good faith if the formal baptism with water is impossible. (c) Baptism of blood, i.e., martyrdom which also forgives the effects of sin and remits the temporal penalties of sin. Baptism is a necessary sacrament. It remits all sins, may be given to all human beings, is ordinarily performed by a priest but in a case of necessity may be given by any person who has attained the age of reason. The matter of the sacrament is the washing with water; the form is the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Baptistery: A small separate building or part of the church containing the font and set apart as the place for the administration of Baptism.

Basilica: A church to which special privileges are attached. It is a title of honor given to various kinds of churches. There are thirteen basilicas in Rome, five major and eight minor.
Beatific Vision: The act of seeing God face to face which forms the essential happiness of angels and people in heaven. This "seeing of God" is through direct knowledge whereas the knowledge of God on earth is merely by reflection through created things and revealed images.
Beatification:The first step in the process by which a deceased person is officially declared to be a Saint. The declaration is made by the Church after due process of determining the sanctity of a deceased person. It bestows the title of "blessed" on the one beatified.
Beatitudes: The eight blessings spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matt. 5:3-10.) They are: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth; blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted; blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied; blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God; blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God; blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Beelzebub: Satan. The name applied to the "prince of devils" in the New Testament.
Belief: 1) To say "I believe," literally means "I hold dear." 2) The acceptance by the mind of Catholic teaching, because it comes from divine revelation; 3) a single truth of Christian doctrine.
Benedictine Order: The Order of Saint Benedict is a confederation of congregations of monks and nuns, not a centralized religious order. Each monastery is an autonomous community following the rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia.
Benediction :A short service in which the consecrated Host is placed in a monstrance where it can be seen and venerated by the people.Incense is often used during the service, hymns may be sung, and the divine praises recited. The act of Benediction is the blessing of the people with the Sacred Host in the form of a cross by the priest. The Host is then removed from the monstrance and replaced in the tabernacle.
Benedictus: The canticle of Zachariah recited daily in the holy office. It is found in Luke 1 :68-79.
Bible: Sacred Scriptures which have been pronounced authentic by the infallible authority of the Church. The writings are both of Jewish and Christian origin. The Bible records the revelation of God to man. There are 73 books contained in the Bible; 46 in the Old Testament; 27 in the New Testament. The name is taken from the Greek and literally means "the Book." In actuality is is a library of books. See Deuterocanonical Books.
Bidding Prayers: In the United States most often called The Prayers of the Faithful, Prayers which are said at Mass after the Creed for the needs of the world and the Church. See Prayers of the Faithful and General Intercessions.
Bilocation: The act of being in two places at one time; used in reference to the presence of Christ in heaven and in the Blessed Sacrament. Also refers to saints who have appeared in two places simultaneously as in the appearance of St. Anthony at the same time in the pulpit and in a distant friary choir.
Biretta: Also berretta. A square cap of cloth with three or four leaves or projecting corners rising from the top. In the center of the crown there is a pom-pom or tassel. It used to be worn by priests and other clerics.
Biritualism: The use, in case of necessity, by a priest belonging to the Roman rite of a rite other than his own. This is the practice of missionaries of the Roman rite who work among the Eastern Churches and use an Eastern rite or that of the people among whom they work.
Bishop: The chief priest of a diocese. A member of the hierarchy of the Church. An ecclesiastic who has received the highest of the sacred orders and who has jurisdiction over a diocese; the ordinary. (I) Auxiliary-one raised to the dignity of the hierarchy and named a titular bishop and placed as an assistant to another ruling bishop. He does not enjoy jurisdiction by reason of his consecration, but receives it from the bishop whom he assists in the duties of the episcopal office. (2) Coadjutor-one raised to the dignity of a bishop and given jurisdiction in part to govern the diocese of a bishop who is partly incapacitated. He usually has the right of succession. (3) An Administrator-a bishop given complete jurisdiction to govern the diocese of a bishop who is wholly incapacitated. (4) Sufragan- diocesan bishop in an ecclesiastical province of a metropolitan who is subject to an archbishop. (5) Titular-one consecrated to a diocese or see which existed at one time but which now, because the faith has died out in that place, no longer exists. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. In addition, bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the Church.
Blessed: One who has been beatified; a soul enjoying the happiness of heaven. See Beatification.
Blessed Sacrament:A term Catholics use when referring to the consecrated Host-especially when it is reserved in the Tabernacle. This is the Body of the Risen Christ in the form of bread.
Blessing: Blessing is the ritual expression of God's goodness and love. The action has traditionally communicated either the blessings of divine gifts bestowed upon us or our thankfulness for those gifts. Blessings are liturgical signs which call down God's holiness upon people or things. The Book of Blessings is a ritual book of the Church which lists several hundred prayer texts that express various types of blessings for individuals, groups and objects. Types range from blessings of pregnant mothers, to catechists, to stained glass windows. The act of blessing is usually accomplished through certain prayers spoken asking God's favor on persons or objects and raising hands in benediction over the person or object, including making the Sign of the Cross.
Boat: The boat shaped dish or vessel which holds the raw incense to be burned in the censer (Thurible).
Book of Gospels: The book which contains the Gospel texts, from which the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel of the day.
Bread and Wine: The elements used in the celebration of Eucharist (unleavened bread and natural pure wine). NOTE: After the Eucharistic Prayer the bread and wine is referred to as: “the consecrated bread and wine” or “the Body and Blood of Christ.” Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine are mere symbols; they believe the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Breaking of the Bread: The celebrant recreates gestures of Christ at the Last Supper when He broke the bread to give to His disciples. The action signifies that in communion the many are made one in the one Bread of Life which is Christ.
Breviary :A book containing the scriptures, prayers, hymns, psalms and readings which make up the Liturgy of the Hours or sometimes called the Divine Office, (a form of prayer said by the Clergy).
Brief: Also breve. A papal letter of the court of Rome signed by the Pope's secretary of briefs and sealed with the Pope's signet ring, called the fisherman's ring.
Brother: A man who is a member of a religious order, but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. They live a religious community life and devote themselves to various works of a religious nature.
Bull: (Papal Bull) An official papal document or writing receiving its name from the lead or gold seal, called the bulla, bearing a representation of SS. Peter and Paul and the name of the reigning pontiff. Bulls are of strong parchment and are signed by the Pope and the chief members of the papal chancery. The bull is more formal than the brief and is used for more weighty pronouncements of the papal chancery. Today they are used only for very important and solemn occasions. Sometimes called a bulla.
Byzantine Rite: The celebrating of Mass, the administering of the Sacraments, and the performing of other liturgical functions after the manner now used by the Eastern Church. Its ordinary language is Greek, but it is used in several other languages. Like the Roman Catholics The Byzantine Catholics recognize the Pope as the head of the church on earth.

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C -

Calvary: The small hill to the west of Jerusalem where Christ was crucified.
Cana Conference: A Catholic family movement, originally designed to aid married couples and families in their spiritual and interpersonal relationships. The program is now divided into Pre-Cana, for couples engaged to be married, and Cana Conferences, programs for married people.
Candidate: Candidate in the Catechumenate refers to a person who is baptized in another faith and who will be completing Christian initiation by being formally received into the Catholic Church. This term is also used in referring to a baptized Catholic who is seeking to complete Christian initiation through the celebration of Confirmation and Eucharist. Anyone seeking a sacrament may be referred to as a candidate.
Canon: 1) Greek for rule, norm, standard, measure. 1) Designates the Canon of Sacred Scripture, the list of books recognized by the Church as inspired by the Holy Spirit. 2) A rule of belief or conduct. A formal law of the Church. 3) One of a body of dignitaries attached to a cathedral or a collegiate church, or a member of certain religious orders.
Canon Law:The law of the Church. The name attached to that body of rules or laws for the direction of all faithful in matters of faith and conduct. It is that group of laws prescribed to Christians, i.e., baptized persons, by the authority of the Church regarding faith, morals, and discipline. Today we follow the New Code (Codex Iuris Canonici) promulgated by Pope John Paul II on Jan 25, 1983. The New Code is divided into seven books: General Norms; The People of God; The Teaching Office of the Church; The Sanctifying Office of the Church; The Temporal Goods of the Church; Sanctions in the Church; Processes.
Canonist: One who is skilled or learned in Canon Law; usually refers to one who has received the degree of Doctor of Canon Law. It also is used loosely to refer to a judge or official of an ecclesiastical court who is generally well trained in Canon Law.
Canonization: A declaration by the Pope that a person who died a martyr or practiced Christian virtue to a heroic degree is in heaven and is worthy of honor and imitation by the faithful. Verification of miracles is required for canonization (except for martyrs).
Canticle: Sacred song or poem found in the Bible; e.g., one from the Old Testament as recorded in Daniel 3:52-57; or one from the New Testament as found in Luke 1:40-55.
Cantor: One who leads the singing during the liturgy (i.e., the responsorial psalm).
Capital: (sins) The so-called "deadly sins,' seven in number, called "capital" because they are the source of most other sins; called "deadly" because they easily lead to mortal sins. They need not be separate acts but can exist as habits or vices. The seven capital sins are: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.
Capuchin: A religious order following the Franciscan rule whose name is derived from the cowl worn on the habit, or religious garb. The order was instituted in 1525 by Matteo da Bassi as a reform or return to the original observance of the rule of St. Francis. Its abbreviation is: O.F.M. Cap.
Cardinal: The name given to the members of the Sacred College appointed by the Pope; the number of these members should not exceed seventy. They govern in the Church and advise the Holy Father in council; upon the death of the Pope they gather to elect a successor. In the College of Cardinals there are three ranks of dignity ranging in order: Cardinal bishops, Cardinal priests, cardinal deacons. (I) Cardinal Protector is one of the Cardinals of the Sacred College appointed to watch over the interests of a particular religious order, congregation, or nation but who has no jurisdiction over it. (2) Cardinal Vicar is the vicar general of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome who administers the spiritual affairs of the diocese; he is always a cardinal.
Cardinal Virtues: The four great moral virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, so named because of their importance since all other moral virtues are connected with one or other of these.
Carmelite Order: The Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is one of the mendicant orders originating on Mount Carmel in Israel. They were founded in the twelfth century and took their name from Mount Carmel, the place of their first monastery. Carmelite nuns were instituted in the fifteenth century.
Carthusian: An order of monks founded by St. Bruno in the eleventh century.
Cassock: A tunic shaped garment reaching from the neck to the heels worn as an outside garment by priests or clerics.
Castel Gandolfo: The summer residence of the Pope near Rome.
Catacomb: An underground place of burial of the early Christians which became a place of refuge during the persecutions, and where public services might be held. They were dug in the tufa granolare, a soft strata of earth adaptable to excavation. When used in the plural, they usually refer to those outside of Rome, but there are also catacombs at Syracuse, Palermo, Tuscany, Etruria and Paris France.
Catechesis: Religious instruction and formation for persons preparing for baptism (catechumens) and for the faithful in various stages of spiritual development.
Catechetical: Referring to catechesis.
Catechetics: From the Greek meaning ñto sound forth,î it is the procedure for teaching religion.
Catechism: A written summary of Christian teaching based on Scripture and Tradition, often in question and answer form.
Catechist: Someone who teaches Christian doctrine, especially in Parish or School. In most dioceses today a Catechist must be certified by the local diocese to be called a catechist.
Catechumen: One who is preparing to receive Baptism. In the early ages of the Church a period of two years or more was usually required before the instruction was considered complete and the sincerity of the person was proven. The typical time for preparation in the United States is about 9 months.
Cathedra: (1) The chair in which the bishop sits; also termed throne. (2) A symbol of the authority of the bishop; also a symbol of authoritative teaching. (3) ex cathedra, a term used to denote the Pope's supreme and infallible authority when he teaches the faithful regarding matters pertaining to faith and morals
Cathedral: The home church of the bishop in his diocese; the church in which the chair of the bishop is located and from which it derives its name.
Catholic: Greek word for universal. First used in the title Catholic Church in a letter written by St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians of Smyrna about 107 A.D.
Catholic Relief Services CRS: Overseas charitable aid agency established by Catholics in the United States.
Catholic Sharing Appeal / Catholic Campaign for Human Development: The US Catholic bishopsÍ domestic anti-poverty program. Started in 1970, it is funded through an annual collection in Catholic parishes.
Celibacy: The state of being unmarried. A law in the western Church forbidding under pain of nullity the marriage of men in Holy Orders.
Celebrant:The priest or bishop who celebrates a Mass or conducts any other church service as distinguished from his assistants in the service..
Celebrator: Used only to describe a participant in a nonreligious celebration.
Cell: A small unit of a monastery. (2) The room or separate dwelling of a monk; his living quarters.
Cemetery: burial ground; a place set aside for burying; a graveyard. Land consecrated and set apart for the burying of Christians; each lot may be consecrated individually.
Cenacle: The upper room where Christ and His Apostles ate the Last Supper. Also a religious order.
Censer: The vessel in which incense is burned at certain liturgical functions. Also called thurible. See thurible.
Cenobite: (or Coenobite) In the early eastern Church, one who lived in a community, religious in nature; a word equivalent in the Eastern Church to monk.
Censor: person appointed by the bishop to pass judgment regarding correct doctrine of faith or morals contained in a book or other writing previous to publication. Usually a priest known for his learning.
Censure: A spiritual and reforming penalty imposed by the Church on a baptized person for the correction of an offense. The censure deprives that one of spiritual advantages or benefits connected with spiritual matters. Absolution from censures is governed in accordance with the offense and the penalty attached; thus it may be reserved to one in authority, to the bishop, or to the Pope. In danger of death, any priest can absolve from all censures.
Chalice:The cup used at Mass to hold the wine. These are referred to as Sacred Vessels.
Chancellor: The chief archivist of the official records of a diocese. Also a notary and secretary of the diocesan curia.
Chancery: (1) The business office from which all documents pertaining to the exercise of the bishop's jurisdiction proceed; a place of retaining all legal papers in all matters pertaining to the jurisdiction of the bishop sometimes called the Pastoral Center (2) An office of the Roman Curia which expedites letters providing for the erection of new provinces and dioceses, and for other matters of greater importance.
Chapel: A building, smaller than a church, for divine worship; private or semipublic; also a portion of a church set aside for celebrating Mass or for a particular devotion.
Chapter House or Room: The meeting place of monks or religious within their monastery.
Chaplain: Literally, a priest given charge of a chapel; a priest appointed to exercise the sacred ministry in an institution such as a convent or hospital; one appointed to serve in a particular way, as, e.g., an army chaplain.
Character: In theological usage, a spiritual mark imprinted upon the soul by the reception of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Literally an indelible stamp or seal.
Charismatic Renewal:A movement within the Church which aims for renewal by being attuned to the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of individuals and communities.
Charisms: Gifts or graces given by God to persons for the good of others and the Church.
Chastity: All Catholics are called to live a chaste life whether married or single. The virtue excluding all voluntary pleasure or indulgence in acts arising from the sexual impulse in unmarried persons, and moderating within the bounds of right reason acts pertaining to sexual relations in the married.
Chasuble: The external garment or vestment worn by the priest in celebrating Mass, worn as a mantle over his shoulders and covering the body, front and rear, and descending to the knees. The Roman style of chasuble is more squarely shaped, while the Greek style is more circular in shape and hangs down on the upper parts of the arms.
Chor bishop: In the Maronite rite and the Greek Orthodox Church an auxiliary bishop may be called a chor bishop. When used in other Eastern Catholic rites it is an honorary term for a close assistant of a bishop, usually the equivalent of a vicar general.
Chrism:A mixture of olive oil and balsam which is blessed by the Bishop during Holy Week and is used in the administration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. Chrism may also be used in the consecration of bishops, of churches, altar stones, and in other solemn blessings things.
Christ: The title of Jesus, derived from Greek translation Kyrios of the Hebrew term Messiah, meaning the Anointed of God.
Christ the King:A feast celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church's year acclaiming Christ as King of the World.
Christening: Formerly a term applied to the Sacrament of Baptism. The act of naming in the ceremony of administering Baptism.
Christian: In earliest times the name applied to a follower of Christ. Later used as (1) a term designating one who possessed a belief in Christ; (2) a Catholic; (3) a baptized person. In the first century Christians may have been called "The People of the Way."
Christmas:The feast of the birth of Jesus celebrated on December 25; the Feast of the Nativity.
Christology: The formal study of Jesus Christ; scientific study of the doctrine and theory of Christ's natures and person.
Church: (1) The People of God, i.e., the universal Church that is spread throughout the world; the local Church is that of a particular locality, such as a diocese. The Church embraces all its members„on earth, in heaven and in purgatory. (2) A place where Christians assemble. A building devoted to divine worship for use of the faithful in a group.
Ciborium: A bowl or chalice-shaped vessel to hold the consecrated Hosts for the distribution of Holy Communion. After distribution The consecrated Hosts are kept in a ciborium or ciboria (pl) with a cover in the Tabernacle. The early meaning was that of a canopy over the altar.
Cincture: A woven cord used as a belt about the waist to hold the alb.
Cistercians: Monks of the Order of Citeaux begun by St. Robert in the eleventh century for a more strict observance of the rule of St. Benedict. There are two Observances, the Common and the Strict, or the Trappists. There are also Cistercian nuns who are always cloistered and live contemplative lives.
Clergy:A term applied to men who have been Ordained for ministry within the Church. Bishops, Priests and Deacons are members of the Clergy. Sometimes the use of the word includes all religious, even Sisters and lay brothers.
Cleric: One belonging to the clergy, one in the clerical state.
Cloister: Part of a convent or monastery reserved for use by members of the order that live in that facility.
Coadjutor: One who helps a bishop in performing the duties of the diocese. An administrator bishop. Also see bishop.
Coats of arms: The hierarchy of the Church, that is, the Pope, cardinals, archbishops, and bishops have coats of arms. These are heraldic emblems, usually consisting of a shield surmounted by the tiara or ecclesiastical hat, from which cords with tassels descend. Usually a motto is also attached. The coat of arms of a cardinal is distinguished by a scarlet ecclesiastical hat from which drop two cords, each having fifteen tassels; the archbishop's has a green hat and ten tassels on each descending cord; the bishops has a green hat also, but only six tassels on each cord. The right (from the viewpoint of the bearer) side of the shield represents the diocese; the left side the family arms of the prelate.
Collarium: The name sometimes applied to the large, stiffly starched linen collar worn by the members of some religious orders of sisters or nuns.
College of Cardinals: The College of Cardinals is made up of the cardinals of the Church, who advise the Pope, assist in the central administration of the Church, head the various curial offices and congregations, administer the Holy See during a vacancy, and elect a new Pope.
Collegiality: The shared responsibility and authority that the whole college of bishops, headed by the Pope, has for the teaching, sanctification and government of the Church.
Collegio Romano: The main Jesuit seminary, founded by Ignatius de Loyola in 1551. It received the right to grant doctorates along with other privileges enjoyed by other universities through papal bulls in 1552 and 1556.
Colors: (liturgical) The colors which may be used in the vestments of the Church. They are: white, red, green, purple, and old rose for use on the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent. Sometimes sky blue is permitted for feasts of Our Lady. Cloth of gold may be substituted for white, red, or green; silver for white only. See also Liturgical.
Common: (1) The ordinary of the Mass, especially the sung parts. (2) The part of the Missal or Breviary wherein are found the Masses and offices of all saints who are not assigned special Masses or offices.
Communion under both species (kinds):Receiving Holy Communion under both of the forms of bread and wine. It is becoming increasingly common for Catholics to receive Holy Communion in this way, particularly on special occasions.
Communion: (1) A word often applied to the Eucharist, derived from the time of the Mass when the Eucharist is received; the name designating the Sacred Host and Wine in which the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ are present. (2) The reception of the Sacred Species of wine and bread by the priest in Mass. (3) The Sacred Species received by one communicating. (4) The antiphon said or sung before distributing communion at Mass. (5) Spiritual Communion: the earnest desire to communicate and the spiritual uniting of oneself with our Lord in the Eucharist through appropriate prayers or acts of Love and Thanksgiving.
Communion of Saints: The union binding together in charity all members of the Church, living and deceased. The Mystical Body of Christ.
Compline: Night Prayer, the final prayer for the day in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Concelebration:The celebration of Mass by several Priests together.
Conclave:The meeting of the Cardinals in complete seclusion, when they assemble to elect a new Pope; also the assembly itself.
Concordance: An alphabetical index to the Bible, arranged according to the principal words in each text.
Concupiscence: The appetite tending to the gratification of the senses; in itself it may be either good or bad, depending on whether or not its object is conformable to right reason.
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM): Organization of major superiors representing communities of men religious in the United States.
Confession: Part of the sacrament of penance or reconciliation, not a term for the sacrament itself although it the sacrament is popularly called confession.
Confirmation: One of the three sacraments of initiation, along with Baptism and Eucharist. It strengthens a person and enables him or her to resist sin. It is usually done during teenage years. The ordinary minister of this sacrament is the Bishop. The Bishop dips his right thumb in Chrism and anoints the person on the forehead by making the sign of the cross and says, "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Confessor:A Priest who hears the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Congregation: (1) A group of Catholics, usually members of a parish, assembled in church. (2) Religious- a religious institute, whether diocesan or papal, bound by a common rule with only simple vows, whether perpetual or temporary. (3) Papal - departments of the Roman curia organized to carry on the business and ecclesiastical affairs of the Holy See; groups to give counsel and advice to the Pope.
Congress: A mass gathering of the Catholic faithful and clergy for the advancement of spiritual, social, and intellectual activities, like a Eucharistic Congress.
Conscience: The innate capacity to do good and avoid evil. Judgment of reason concerning the goodness or badness of an act, which one is contemplating performing, according to the principles of moral law. A person is bound to follow his conscience even though it be inculpably erroneous and, also, one is bound to form a right conscience.
Consecration:Making something sacred. It describes the moment during Mass when the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ.
Consubstantial: Of the same substance --The term used to denote the oneness of the nature of Christ with that of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are at one with each other.
Contemplation: describes a particular prayer form which relies less on thinking and systematic thought processes and more on the direct experience of God's presence. While systematic meditation* may lead to contemplative prayer, this form is generally considered a gift from God and not the result of what one is doing in praying. Contemplation is described by many spiritual writers as the deepest type of prayer that involves the core of a person's being.
Contemplative: A religious man or woman who devotes his/her entire life in the cloister to prayer and reflection.
Contrition:The acknowledgment of sin and sorrow for it. It is perfect contrition if it is based on love of God, imperfect contrition if based on a lower motive like fear of punishment.
Convalidation: A legal remedy by which a couple's marriage consent which was invalid is subsequently made valid. (Can. 1156)
Convent: In the United States, the place where a community of Nuns live. Elsewhere: the community living quarters of sisters or brothers. It may include all the accessory buildings which form a part of the community property. Likened to a monastery.
Conversion: Literally, to turn toward --to turn toward Christ. Conversion is a life-long process whereby we are continuously challenged to keep turning to Christ.
Convert: A person who has not been baptized and becomes a Catholic by reception of Baptism or by profession of faith. One who has already been baptized in another faith and becomes Catholic is not properly called a convert; They are those who have "come into full communion."
Cope: A cape-like vestment reaching from the shoulders to the feet. It is fastened with a clasp in front called the morse and usually has a smaller cape resting on the shoulders. It is the external vestment worn for liturgical services as Exposition or Processions. It is not a vestment limited to the use of priests alone but may be worn by a deacon, a cantor, or a layman
Copts: (I) The Christian Egyptians who adhered to Monophysism and are governed by the Patriarch of Alexandria. (2) Catholic Copts, using the Coptic rite, who were purged of doctrinal error and had restored to them their Patriarch of Alexandria by Pope Leo XIII.
Corporal: The square linen cloth which placed on the altar and on which the chalice and paten is placed; it symbolizes the winding sheet in which the body of Christ was buried.
Corporal Works of Mercy: Seven forms of charity or mercy directed to the physical well-being of a needy person; the seven works of mercy are: to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give drink to the thirsty, to visit the sick, to visit prisoners, to give shelter to strangers, and to bury the dead.
Corpus Christi:A Latin phrase meaning; "The Body of Christ". The feast of Corpus Christi commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR): Organization of major superiors approved by the Holy See for the purpose of assisting the individual institutes of the members, transacting common business, and fostering suitable coordination and cooperation with the conferences of bishops and also with individual bishops.
Counter Reformation: As dissenting groups split off from the Catholic Church in what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church began a series of reform measures of her own. These reform measures aimed at defining just what Catholics did believe, aimed at keeping Catholic Church members from becoming Protestants, and were known as the Catholic Reformation or Counter Reformation.
Covetousness: Excessive love of temporal things, usually riches; overt desire for things of the world.
Creed: from the Latin, credo, "I believe," a pithy, official formulation of the tenets of the faith. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are the two best-known examples of Christian creeds (either is mandated for use at Sunday Mass when the Church confesses its faith liturgically). In the course of Christian history, there have come down to us other creeds, such as the Athanasian Creed and the Creed of Hippolytus.
Crosier (pastoral staff): The staff which a bishop carries when he presides at the liturgy.
Cross/Crucifix: An object is a crucifix only if it depicts Christ on a cross, otherwise it is a cross.
Crucifix:A cross with the figure of the crucified Jesus upon it. Used by Catholics to bring to mind the sufferings of Christ.
Curia Romana: The body of congregations, offices, permanent commissions, and such that assist the pope in the government and administration of the church.
CWL:Catholic Women's League: An organization promoting religious, education and social welfare and represents Catholic women's interests on national and international bodies.

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Dalmatic:The vestment the deacon wears over the alb on solemn occasions.
Deacons/Diaconate: The diaconate is the first order or grade in ordained ministry. Any man who is to be ordained to the priesthood must first be ordained as a transitional deacon. Deacons serve in the ministry of liturgy, of the word, and of charity. The Permanent Diaconate is for men who do not plan to become ordained priests. The program is open to both married and unmarried men.
Dean/Vicar: The title of a priest appointed by the bishop to aid him in administering the parishes in a certain vicinity, called a ñdeanery.î The function of a dean involves promotion, coordination, and supervision of the common pastoral activity within the deanery or vicariate.
Deanery:Several parishes form a Deanery. This unit is administered by one of the Priests' of the Deanery who has the title; 'Dean'.
Decade: One part of a rosary consisting of an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory be to the Father; one mystery or the meditation on one mystery while saying the above prayers.
Decalogue: A common term meaning the Ten Commandments of God.
Decretal: A letter containing a pontifical decision; the formal reply of the pope concerning a question of discipline. Collection of such laws or decisions.
Dedication of a Church: The act whereby a church is solemnly declared to be set apart for the worship of God. Today, it is often said that a church is dedicated to some particular saint, but this is incorrect. The misconception arises from a popular devotion to the saint carried on in that church or the name given to the particular church.
Demon: Evil spirit; an angel who was cast out of heaven with Lucifer; an inhabitant of hell.
Demoniac: One possessed by a devil or evil spirit.
Denudation: A term applied to the stripping of the altar on Holy Thursday; removal of coverings.
Deposit of Faith: The combination of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition make up the one deposit of faith. The sum total of revealed truths given by Christ to His Church; truths guarded by the Church and taught by the Church through the magisterium. See Tradition.
Desecration: The act by which a thing which has been consecrated is made unfit for sacred use; after desecration a thing must be consecrated again. This may also be taken in the sense of the degrading or insulting use of something sacred.
Despair: The contrary of hope; the state of being hopeless; deliberate act of the will by which one turns away from salvation, considering it as impossible of attainment.
Determinism: The denial of free will; the assertion that the acts of man are determined by a set rule or formula over which he has no power of choice.
Deuterocanonical Books: Books of the Bible which are not found in the Hebrew Bible but which are found in the Septuagint Greek translation; later their canonicity was established by the Church. The Old Testament collection in "Catholic Bibles" contains the Deuterocanonical Books because it was compiled from the Septuagint Greek translation. This is the basic reason why there are more books in the "Catholic Version" of the Bible.
Deuteronomy: The fifth book of the Old Testament of the Bible. 35. Development (of Doctrine) n.; L., Fr. The more clear or more explicit formulation or expression of a belief contained in the deposit of faith; a clarification or defining of some tenet of belief.
Devil:The biblical name for the evil one. A creature who rebelled against God and causes evil.
Devil's Advocate: The official whose duty it is to bring objections against the beatification and canonization of a saint. Also called Promotor Fidei.
Devotion: (1) A manner of reverence and piety; devoutness. (2) A formula of prayer or a pious exercise.
Diocese: A particular church area; a fully organized ecclesiastical jurisdiction under the pastoral direction of a bishop as local Ordinary.
Diocesan Curia: The personnel and offices assisting the bishop in directing the pastoral activity, administration and exercise of judicial power of the diocese.
Diaconate: The order of deaconship. See Deacon.
Diaspora: The dispersion of the Jews by their conquerors; the places to which they were dispersed.
Didache: Literally " the teaching." Popularly known as "The Teaching of the Apostles." A writing of the first century, very valuable because of its testimony of the doctrine and teaching of the early Church.
Dirge: In its literary sense, a poem dedicated to a departed person or referring to death; sometimes applied to an antiphon read in the Office of the Dead. Sometimes applied to the Office of the Dead.
Discalced: Barefooted; refers to those branches of religious orders who observe the austerity of not wearing shoes, e.g., the Discalced Carmelites.
Discernment: describes the attempt to sift through an individual's or a group's experience to determine the call of the divine and where the Holy Spirit may be leading. It has also been called "Christian decision-making." It should be understood that discernment is on-going in the life of the follower of Jesus and relies on private and liturgical prayer, the use of Scripture and sometimes also the assistance of a Spiritual Director.
Dispensation:Exemption from a Church law in a particular case for a special reason.
Disciple: Literally "a learner." A learner of the way of Christ. See Apostle
Divorce: The legal unbinding of the marriage bond with permission to marry again. In the ecclesiastical law no one may dissolve the marriage bond consummated between baptized persons; the only grant of a separation with permission to marry between baptized persons is a declaration of nullity (annulment), which is a declaration that no marriage existed validly in the first instance. The Pauline privilege grants the unbaptized permission to remarry under proper conditions. See Pauline Privilege.
Doctrines:The beliefs of Catholics, expressed in the Creed and other official documents.
Dogma:Doctrines put forward by the Church which are to be accepted by Catholics as true and clear statements of belief.
Dogmatic Theology: The systematic teaching of the doctrines of faith; the application of philosophy to religious tenets.
Domicile: A person's legal residence in virtue of which he becomes subject to authority (bishop, pastor) and is entitled to certain rights. It can be acquired either by taking up residence in a place with the intention of remaining there, or by actual residence in a place for the period of ten years without any specified intention. Quasi-domicile, which is similar to domicile, is acquired by actual residence in a place with the intention of remaining there for the greater part of the year, or by actually remaining there for more than six months without any intention.
Dominican Order: The popular name for the Order of Friars Preachers. The order was founded by Saint Domingo de Guzman (known as Saint Dominic) between 1215 and 1221. Like the Franciscans, the Dominicans are mendicant friars.
Dormition: A name given to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven, derived from the Latin word 'dormire', to sleep. Literally it is a 'sleeping'. The word is used today by the Greek Church.
Douay Bible: An old Bible translation which was the norm for Catholics in the United States before the New American Bible was published. The translation was begun at Douay, France, and a part of it was published there, hence its name.
Dove: A symbol of the Holy Spirit also a symbol of peace.
Doxology: A prayer of glory: (1) the greater doxology is the Gloria in Excelsis which is recited during the Mass. (2) The lesser doxology is the prayer beginning "Glory be to the Father."

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Easter:The day on which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In the western Church the Feast is celebrated on the Sunday following the first new moon after the vernal equinox, which is March 21.
Easter Triduum: A three day festival of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. See Triduum.
Eastern Orthodox Church: Church of the East more or less centered in Constantinople, not in union with Rome.
Eastern-Rite (Oriental) Church / Eastern Church: Term used to describe the Catholic churches which developed in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. They have their own distinctive liturgical and organizational systems. Eastern Church is the official name used at Rome for Catholics of Eastern rites considered collectively. In the plural it refers to the Eastern rites. These may be either Catholic, that is, united with and under the authority of the Pope, or dissident, that is, non-Catholic. There are 23 different Catholic Churches that recognize the Pope as the head. The others would be schismatical or heretical, separated from the Holy See and having other errors. They all teach the real Presence, the Mass, Reconciliation, veneration of the Blessed Virgin and the saints, etc., and so must be distinguished from Protestant churches.
Ebionites: Those who became Christians and wished to retain Jewish custom and ceremony and held that the Jewish law was binding on Christians.
Ecclesial: Having to do with the Church in general or the life of the Church.
Ecclesiastical: Refers to official structures or legal and organizational aspects of the Church.
Ecclesiasticus: Also called Sirach: A deuterocanonical book of the Old Testament; it is rejected in Protestant versions of the Bible but contained in their Apocryphal.
Ecstasy: A state of trance or rapture in which one is not in one's usual mental state; the suspension of the activity of the senses while the mind is absorbed in God
Ecumenical Council: A council for the universal Church to which all bishops and others entitled to vote are called from the entire world to gather under the Pope or his legates to determine the interpretation of doctrines or laws for the Church. The decrees of such a council, after papal sanction, apply to the universal Church and bind in conscience. The latest one was Vatican II which closed in 1965.
Ecumenism: A movement for spiritual understanding and unity among Christians and their churches. The term also is extended to apply to efforts toward greater understanding and cooperation between Christians and members of other faiths.
Ejaculation: An obsolete term referring to a short prayer; a few prayerlike words or pious aspirations which one can make at any time or in any place.
Elect/Election: The term applied to those catechumens who have been called by the Church to the celebration of the initiation sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) at Easter. The local Bishop gives voice to this call at the celebration of the Rite of Election. In this sense, election does not describe the result of a political process or voting, but the action of God through the agency of the Church. In Sacred Scripture the elect are those freely chosen by God to receive the gift of salvation and to bear witness to God.
Elevation: The raising of the consecrated species of bread and wine after the Consecration of the Mass.
Ember Days: Obsolete days of fast and abstinence which coincided with the change of seasons. They were nature feasts spiritualized from pagan practices at the changes of the seasons (A.S. ymbren, running about, revolution)-three days of prayer, fasting for spiritual renewal and blessings on the seasons, four times a year: the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the weeks which would include: St. Lucia's Day, Dec. 13 (the third Sunday of Advent); the First Sunday in Lent; Pentecost; and Holy Cross Day, Sept. 14. (Ember Days and Ember Weeks were fixed by the Council of Placentia, 1095).
Embolism: An added prayer. It usually refers to the prayer appended to the last clause of the Lord's Prayer in the Mass, beginning with "deliver us Lord from every evil. . ."
Eminence: Title of address given to Cardinals of the Church. This is the official title of a Cardinal since 1630 and thus a Cardinal should be addressed as "Most Eminent" or "Your Eminence."
Emmanuel: Hebrew name given to the Messiah in prophecy, which means "God with us."
Enclosure:That part of a convent or monastery to which outsiders are not permitted.
Encyclical:A letter from the Pope to the whole Church addressed to bishops, usually dealing with matters of faith and the Christian life.
Eparchy: A diocese in the Eastern and Russian Churches.
Epiclesis : The invocation of the Holy Spirit which takes place twice during The Eucharistc Liturgy in the midst of the Eucharistic Prayer. The first time the Holy Spirit is invoked to come upon the Bread and Wine so that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ. The second time Holy Spirit is invoked to come upon the entire assembly and make them one Body in Christ.
Epikeia: An interpretation of a law whereby it is considered not to bind in a particular case because of some special circumstances; an interpretation of the law in a particular instance against the letter of the law but in keeping with its spirit; an interpretation of the mind of the lawmaker which reasons that he, knowing the conditions, would not wish his law to bind in this particular case.
Epiphany: Literally "manifestation." Christ is made manifest first, to the Magi .The feast which commemorates the visit of the Wise Men(Magi) to the stable in Bethlehem where Christ was born. It is celebrated on January 6.
Episcopacy: The office of bishop; the body of the bishops collectively.
Episcopal: Refers to a bishop or groups of bishops as a form of Church government, in which bishops have authority
Epistle: The Scripture read during the Mass before the Gospel. These are usually taken from epistles or letters of the Apostles which are writings of scripture addressed to the early Church as instructions. .
Eschatology: Doctrine concerning the last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell, and the final state of perfection of the people and the kingdom of God at the end of the world.
Esther: (1) The Jewish wife of the Persian King Assuerus (Xerxes I, 485-465 B.C.). (2) An historical book of the Old Testament.
Eternity: No beginning or end. That attribute of God by which He is without beginning or end and without succession or change of any kind.
Eucharist: 1) Literally Thanksgiving. 2) The Liturgy of the Mass. 3) The Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ truly present under the species of bread or wine; the Sacrament of the real presence (Communion).
Eucharistic Adoration: See Holy Hour and Gethsemane.
Eucharistic Presence: Term denoting the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament under the appearances of bread and wine.
Eucharistic Congress: A large diocesan, national or international gathering of the faithful to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Eucharistic Minister: Or Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. A person who distributes Communion at mass or who takes Communion to the homebound, or those in hospitals, or nursing homes.
Evangelical: Refers to Christians who emphasize the need for a definite commitment to faith in Christ and a duty by believers to persuade others to accept Christ.
Evangelist: A preacher or revivalist who seeks conversions by preaching to groups.
Evangelists: The authors of the four Gospels, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Evangelization: Spreading the "Good News." The process of proclaiming and helping to bring about the kingdom of God.
Evening Prayer: Evening Prayer, most commonly known as Vespers, is the official prayer that marks the end of the day. It consists primarily of sung psalms and other readings from Scripture.
Examination of conscience: The recalling to mind of past sins so that they may be confessed, repented of, and forgiven.
Exarch/Exarchy: A church jurisdiction, similar to a diocese, established for Eastern-rite Catholics living outside their native land. The head of an Exarchy, usually a bishop, is an Exarch.
Excardination: The act of transferring a person in Holy Orders from the jurisdiction of one bishop to another; the going out from a diocese of a cleric to take up service in another diocese.
Ex Cathedra: Literally, "from the chair." The expression used to denote an official teaching of the pope which is infallible.
Exclaustration: Permission granted to a professed religious to live in the world temporarily while still retaining the obligation of the vows.
Excommunication:Cutting someone off from the community of the Church because of serious offenses against her law or teaching. It is resorted to only rarely.
Exegesis: The study and expounding of the meaning of the Scriptures; the scientific interpretation of the sense of Sacred Scripture.
Exegete: One who studies the Sacred Scriptures; one proficient in exegesis
Exodus: The going out of the Israelites from Egypt. (2) Title of the second book of the Old Testament.
Exorcism: Exorcism is the Church's prayer which seeks to free persons from the power of evil. The New Testament reports that Jesus and his disciples engaged in such liberating actions. In the history of the Church two forms of exorcism have evolved. Major (or solemn) exorcisms seek to free a person from a persistent spiritual condition. Today these forms of exorcism are restricted to bishops or those priests whom they specially delegate. The other type of exorcism is found in the process of Christian initiation and consist of prayers and gestures expressing the Church's desire that those to be baptized be delivered from temptation and the power of evil. These "Minor Exorcisms" may be celebrated during the stage of the catechumenate. The "Scrutinies," which contain exorcism prayers, are celebrated on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent with the elect. The ritual used for the baptism of infants also contains a prayer of exorcism.
Exorcist: One performing the act of exorcism; one having received the sacramental of Exorcist by which he has the power, to be exercised only with permission, of expelling devils.
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: The placing of the Eucharist before the faithful for veneration. A public act of adoring the Eucharist.
Extreme Unction: Former name for the Anointing of the Sick. See Anointing of the Sick.
Exultet: The name applied to a hymn of praise sung at the blessing of the paschal candle on Holy Saturday.
Ezekiel: A book of the Old Testament named after its author, a prophet of the sixth century B.C.
Ezra: A priest of early Israel; a book of the Old Testament some of which was written by Ezra.

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