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Catholic Terms - F to J

Abbreviated Dictionary by Category

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Full Unabbreviated Catholic Dictionary

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- F -

Faculties: The right a priest has to exercise his priestly office within the diocese
Faith:
 Ultimately, trust in God and his Son as the Divine Savor. The act of spiritual and intellectual assent to a revealed truth of God with the assistance of divine grace.
Faithful:
 Those persons who profess their faith; all those who are members of the Church by baptism and profession of faith.
Falda: A white silk garment having a train, worn by the Pope over his cassock at solemn occasions.
False Decretals:
 A collection of documents anonymously compiled under the name of Isidorus Mercator, containing Apostolic canons and letters of the popes and pronouncements of the councils, and which was published in the ninth century. This collection is in great part a forgery.
Fasting : Fasting is the activity whereby a person restricts the amount of food eaten to only one full meat per day. It can be in the context of a special time in that person's life, perhaps a retreat or an intense period of prayer. The Church requires all adult members in good health to fast on Good Friday as a penitential action and invites this fasting to continue into the day on Holy Saturday as a joyful preparation for the celebration of Easter. The "Communion Fast" is when Catholics also Fast before receiving Communion by abstaining from food or drink one hour before receiving Holy Communion.
Fear of God: To be in awe of God.
Feast Day:A day of special solemnity within the Church.
Ferial: Pertaining to weekdays.
Fire, blessing of: The first ceremony of Holy Saturday which is the blessing of fire, from which the paschal candle and sanctuary lights are lit.
First Friday: See "Sacred Heart".
Flagellants: Certain fanatical groups who made a practice of scourging themselves in common; the group of those practicing the lashing of their bodies in penance. They became heretical and as such last appeared about the fifteenth century. Public penance or in common, is against the wish and will of the Church.
Focolare: A lay movement started in Trent, Italy by Chiara Lubich in 1943, now claiming more than a million followers. Its aim is world unity though the living witness of Christian love and holiness in the family and in small communities.
Font:A basin or bowl in a Church used for the Baptismal water.
Forty Hours Devotion: A devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for a forty hours duration. Also referred to as "Forty Hours Prayer" or "Forty Hours Adoration."
Fra: A title of address for a friar or monk, a shortened form of frate, brother.
Franciscans: The religious order following the rule of St. Francis of Assisi, established by him in the thirteenth century; friars minors; sometimes referred to as the Seraphic Order. The followers were divided into two groups, conventuals and observantines; at a later date the Capuchins, the recollects, and Alcantarines were also formed as branches. Among the sisters, the Order of Poor Clares follow the rule which was given to St. Clare by St. Francis as the Second Order. A third order of Franciscans whose membership is composed of the laity or diocesan clergy who wish to dedicate their lives to observances of penance and religious practice was formed; these are known as tertiaries.
Frankincense: One of the three gifts offered to the Christ Child by the Magi. A resin used in making incense; an incense of fine quality. Frankincense is the main ingredient, boswellia carteri, of the incense used in today's liturgies. A resin produced by a family of desert trees that grow in southern Arabia, it is derived from a sap that dries, forming crystalline lumps of an amber/gold color. For Christians, it has a rich prayer and purification symbolism. From earliest Christian days, it has been associated with Christ, beginning with the magi gift (Mt 2.10-11). Even before that, the Jews regarded its rich spicey scent as a pure offering, pleasing to God. Even beyond Judeo-Christian circles, frankincense has been prized for centuries in Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Rome not only as a way to honor gods, but as a medicine, and as a base for perfume.
Free Will: The faculty or capability of making a reasonable choice from among several alternatives.
Friar: A member of the so called mendicant religious orders. The chief mendicant orders are: the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians.
Friary: A residence for friars.
Friday Penance :In commemoration of the sufferings of Christ, Catholics may perform some act of self-denial every Friday. This used to take the form of abstaining from meat, but now Catholics may choose one of several forms of self-denial.
Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Twelve virtues related to the work of the Holy Spirit in People. They are: charity, faith, joy, peace, goodness, patience, benignity, longanimity, mildness, modesty, continence, and chastity.
Funeral: The last rites (Liturgy / Mass) as prescribed in the Roman ritual for the soul of a departed person and the internment of the body. The Mass is properly called The Mass of the Resurrection.
Fundamentalists: Generally refers to those who adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Fundamental Option: The life choice a person makes toward or away from God; this life choice is reinforced by a pattern of behavior.

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- G -

Gabbatha: the place wherein Pilate tried and condemned Christ.
Gabriel:
 The archangel who announced to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the mother of God; he also announced the birth of St. John the Baptist to Zachariah.
Gaudete Sunday : Relatively obsolete term for the third Sunday of Advent, so named because of the first word of the introit which is the Latin imperative of the verb "rejoice."
Gehenna: The name applied to hell, taken from the desolate valley of Hinnon in Jerusalem. This was the trash heap where fires burned regularly --the place of refuse where things were discarded, that is, all relationship with the object was ended. In Hell our relationship with God, with Love is ended.
General Absolution: The form of Sacramental forgiveness of sins given when individual confession by a large number of people is not possible. This is only in extreme circumstances, and the penitent should make an individual act of reconciliation as soon as possible.
General Intercessions: Prayer of intercession for all of humankind; for the Church, civil authorities, those with various needs, for all peoples, and for the salvation of the world. The celebrant invites all to pray, another minister proclaims the prayers of petition and the assembly responds by asking God to hear and to grant their requests. See Prayers of the Faithful and Biding prayers.
Genuflection:Kneeling on one knee as a sign of honor and worship to Jesus Christ and an expression of faith in his presence in the tabernacle under the form of bread. Catholics genuflect when entering and leaving a Church.
Gethsemane: The garden to the east of the city of Jerusalem beyond the brook of Cedron and at the foot of the Mount of Olives where Jesus suffered His agony and was apprehended. Here he asked some apostles to pray with him for at least one hour, and so in the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, we "stay" with the resurrected Jesus for one hour, Matthew 26:40.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Seven virtues related to the work of the Holy Spirit in people: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
Gloria: Ancient hymn of praise in which the Church glorifies God. It is used on all Sundays (outside of Advent and Lent), and at solemn celebrations. The text originates from the Christmas narrative in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:14).

Glory : 1) The splendor which attends or accompanies the revelation of the power of God to us. (2) The cloud over the ark of the covenant which represented the presence of God; the 'shekinah'. (3) The state of happy existence which the soul enjoys in the presence of the beatific vision.
God: The Supreme Being who owes His existence to no other, who is absolutely and infinitely perfect and who has created all things; the eternal Spirit who created and rules the universe and in whom is every perfection, The one God subsists in three equal Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Godparent: Someone who undertakes to ensure that a child who is baptized will be brought up in the Catholic faith. One Godparent must be Catholic, although he or she may be assisted by a Godparent who is a member of another Christian Church.
Golgotha: The "place of the skull" in Aramaic; the mount of Calvary where Christ was crucified.
Good Friday: The Friday of Holy Week on which the Church commemorates the Passion and death of Christ.
Gospel: A word meaning "Good News". The proclamation of the "Good News" of salvation won for humanity by Jesus Christ. The word is also used of the four books of Matthew, Mark,Luke and John; books that tell of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Gospel of John: Proclaims the Good News to the people of Ephesus. Gospel of Luke: Proclaims the Good News to the people of Antioch. Gospel of Mark: Proclaims the Good News to the people of Rome (?). Gospel of Matthew: Proclaims the Good News to the People of Jerusalem.
Grace: A free gift from God to human beings, grace is a created sharing in the life of God. Grace is God's revelation of Himself. It is given through the merits of Christ and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. Grace is necessary for salvation. We cannot earn Grace. It is freely given by God.
Grace at Meals:A short prayer before and after meals thanking God for the food we eat and asking his blessing on those who prepare it.
Grail, the Holy: The sacred vessel which according to legend was used by Christ at the Last Supper. The legend has been immortalized by famous writers but has never been given credence by the Church.
Greek Church: An independent unit of the Orthodox Eastern Church; the Church which has been separated from the jurisdiction of the Pope and is governed by a synod of nine men of which the archbishop of Athens is the head.
Gregorian calendar: The most recent in the attempts to make the calendar year correspond to the natural year. The Gregorian calendar (instituted in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII) corrected for the loss of one day every 128 years by dropping three leap years every 400 years. Century years were leap years only if evenly divisible by 400.
Gregorian chant: Church music dating back to at least the sixth century; one voice, vocal plainsong - sung without organ.
Gremial: A rectangular piece of cloth placed upon the lap of the bishop when he sits during the celebration of the ceremony of Ordination during the time he anoints the Hands of the Priest. Its original use was as a means of keeping vestments from becoming soiled; also called gremial veil.
Gray Friars: The name by which the Franciscan Friars Minor formerly were known in England because their habit was slate gray in color.
Guadeloupe: A place now part of Mexico City, celebrated for the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to the local, uneducated Indian Juan Diego, in 1531. A beautiful Basilica was erected, then a second one. The Feast of our Lady of Guadeloupe is on December 12.
Guardian Angel: The angel, one appointed to every human being, whose duty it is to aid us to avoid evil, to pray, and to help us guard our thoughts at all times, and who presents our soul to God if we are saved.

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- H -

Habit:The distinctive form of dress worn by members of religious communities.
Hagiography: The writing of the lives or biographies of the saints.
Hagiology: Study and research leading to knowledge of the lives of the saints.
Hail Mary:The most popular prayer Catholics address to Our Lady. It derives from the angels greeting (Luke 1:28) and the greeting of Mary's cousin, Elizabeth (Luke 1:42) adding to these a request to Mary to pray for us. The full prayer is; Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Harmony: A term used in exegesis to denote the study of the Gospels from the standpoint of explaining the similarities and differences found in the four accounts, developing the continuous narrative, and arranging them in chronological sequence or historical order.
Hell: The state of eternal rejection of God. It is we who will reject God. God will not reject us. See Gehenna.
Heresy: A teaching which deviates from the accepted beliefs of the Catholic Church.
Heretic: One who consistently and obstinately professes a false doctrine and continues to do so once one is properly informed of the heretical nature of that doctrine.
Hermeneutics: The science forming the principles upon which the correct interpretation of the Bible is based. Sometimes the study of general Introduction to Sacred Scripture.
Hermit: One who lives alone and apart from the world and practices works of prayer and fasting in living in close union with God.
Hierarchy: In general, the term refers to the ordered body of clergy, divided into bishops, priests, and deacons. In Catholic practice, the term refers to the bishops of the world or of a particular region.
Holiness: 1) State of being holy; having grace. (2) A mark of the Church. The Church is essentially holy because of its Founder, its doctrine, and its end in the direction and salvation of humanity (3) A title given to the Holy Father; the title of the Pope denoting his holiness as Vicar of Christ.
Holocaust: Burnt offering, a sacrifice wherein the victim is entirely consumed by fire, in use among the Jews and some pagan nations of the early ages.
Holy Days of Obligation: Days on which Catholic are required to participate in the celebration of Mass; in addition to all Sundays there are six in the United States: Christmas, The Solemnity of Mary (January 1), Ascension (in many U.S. Dioceses this is now celebrated on Sunday) otherwise it is 40 days after Easter, Assumption of Mary (August 15)., All Saints (November 1), and Immaculate Conception (December 8).
Holy Hour: A service in which Jesus is venerated in the blessed sacrament. See Gethsemane.
Holy Orders: The sacrament by which a bishop, priest, or deacon is ordained.
Holy Oils: The oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick, and chrism consecrated by the bishop at services during Holy Week and given to the priests of the parishes.
Holy See: 1) The diocese of the Pope, Rome. 2) The Pope himself or the various officials and bodies of the ChurchÍs central administration? the Roman Curia ? which act in the name and by authority of the Pope.
Holy Saturday:The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Holy Spirit: The third person of the Holy Trinity proceeding from the Father and the Son, truly God given to us during the feast of Pentecost.
Holy Thursday: The Thursday of Holy week, the week preceding Easter Sunday. The day before Good Friday. On this day Catholics commemorate the supper Jesus held with his disciples on the night before he died.
Holy Water:Water which has been blessed by a Priest. Catholics sprinkle themselves with Holy Water as they make they make the sign of the cross upon entering a Church as a reminder of their baptism. Holy Water is also used for blessings.
Holy Week:The final week of Lent, leading up to Easter Sunday. The last three days of Holy Week, (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday), are days of special solemnity.
Homily: A talk during the Mass after the Gospel reading in which the Word of God is explained and made applicable to the lives of those in attendance. Only people commissioned by the Bishop are allowed to give Homilies, usually Priests or Deacons.
Hope :A gift bestowed by God through which one trusts that God will grant eternal life and the means of obtaining it providing one cooperates.
Hospitallers: Knights who dedicated their lives to the care of the sick, taking the three major vows of religion; they arose in the eleventh century and had as members laymen who were of noble birth, chaplains or clergy, and brothers who need not be of noble birth. Host: The bread under whose appearance Christ is and remains present in a unique manner after the consecration of the Mass. It is usually disc-shaped and thin for convenience and there are two sizes; the larger is used by the Priest at the altar. Technically, in the Roman Rite, the host or altar bread should be made of only flour and water with no yeast. The Eastern rite Churches use a different type of altar bread or host.
Humeral Veil: An oblong scarf worn over the shoulders of the priest when he elevates the Host at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, or when he carries the monstrance and Blessed Sacrament in procession. See Benediction.
Humility: A moral virtue --the reasonable evaluation of ourselves and recognition of our dependence upon God.
Hussites: The name given to the followers of John Huss, a heretic of the fifteenth century.
Hymn: A song of praise or honor, sung to give glory to God; psalms and canticles are the most notable. Often applied to any poem of a religious nature adapted for singing.
Hyssop: A branch or leafy twig used for sprinkling water.

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- I -

ICHTHYS: An acronym meaning "fish" in Greek. From the many titles of Jesus, three emerged as the favorites of believers: Christ (Gk: "anointed"), Son of God, and Savior. These three would easily combine, becoming a creed and a prayer (see the Jesus Prayer). In Greek, the holy name of Jesus, plus these three titles, would read: Iesous Christos Theou Yos Soter (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior).
Icon:A picture of Christ, Mary or the saints, painted in the style of the Eastern Church. Often on wood and adorned with precious stones.
Iconoclasm: The heresy which condemned any use of statues or other representations of Christ, Mary, the angels, or saints.
Iconostasis: Large, wooden screen painted with icons which separates the nave from the sanctuary in most Eastern Rite churches.
IHS or IHC: In Greek, the first three letters of the name of Jesus Christ in Greek capital letters: IHCOUC (the older form of the Greek sigma, S, resembling our C). In art, St. Ignatius Loyola is sometimes pictured with this monogram, alluding to his fabled miraculous knowledge of the Trinity.
Immaculate Conception: Catholic dogma concerning Mary and the name of a feast in her honor celebrated Dec. 8. It refers to the belief that Mary was without sin from the moment she was conceived.
Impediments to Marriage:Something which prevents a person entering into a Church marriage. For example, certain degrees of blood-relationship between partners, or where one partner is not baptized. A dispensation can be obtained from some impediments.
Incarnation:A theological term for the Son of God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ.
Incense: Incense (material used to produce a fragrant odor when burned) is used as a symbol of the Church’s offering; the rising smoke represents the prayers of the assembly rising to God. Symbolic in its burning (zeal, fervor), its fragrance (virtue) and its rising smoke (acceptable prayer, as noted in Psalm 141.2). See frankincense.
Index of Forbidden Books: A now defunct catalog of books which the Church forbade Catholics to read or own.
Indulgences:Remission of the punishment of penance due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven. By virtue of the authority given it by Christ, the Church may grant those who have received forgiveness of their sins a share in the merits of Christ and the saints so that the burden of punishment their sins deserve may be removed or lightened. To gain an indulgence Catholics must be free from serious sin and must carry out prescribed good works, or recite certain prayers
Infallibility: The ability of the pope or the bishops in union with the pope to speak officially without error in specific circumstances concerning morals and faith.
Inquirer: Describes a person in the first stage of the process of Christian initiation.
Inquisition: An institution of the Church charged with the eradication of heresies.
INRI: Latin abbreviation of Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews) over Jesus' cross (Jn 19.19). (A slightly-curved horizontal line over the letters indicates abbreviation.)
Intercession:The prayers the saints in heaven offer to God on behalf of the people on earth who request their help
Intercommunion: The agreement or practice of two Ecclesial communities by which each admits members of the other communion to its sacraments.
Israelites: The Jewish people; commonly used term in the Old Testament

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- J -

Jehovah: A non-word; a linguistic mistake. Appeared for the first time in 1530. Since written Hebrew did not use vowels until quite late, the ancient manuscripts read simply YHWH (as it would be in English) for "God". Through the centuries, the name of God came to be considered so sacred that it was not to be pronounced. So wherever YHWH appeared in the ancient text, the scribes added vowel marks signaling the reader to say "Adonai" instead of "Yahweh." 71 bese marks, "vowel pointings," were not separate letters, but smaller symbols usually below a consonant to indicate its vowel sound. When one adds the vowels for Yahweh YHWH-the result, if you're not aware that it is intended that adonai is to be read, comes out sounding like "Yahowah" (Jehovah).
Jeremiah: Old Testament prophet of Judah who preached the love of God; a major prophet.
Jesuits: 
The popular name for the monastic order called the Society of Jesus. The order was founded by Ignatius de Loyola in 1534, and was recognized by the pope in 1540. The mission of the Jesuits was in three areas: teaching, service to the nobility, and missionary work in foreign lands. Their greatest mark was made in education, and the Collegio Romano was their primary seminary.
Jesus: 
The name of Jesus, meaning Savior in Christian usage, derived from the Aramaic and Hebrew Yeshua and Joshua, meaning Yahweh is salvation. There are a number of symbols for the name Jesus which you may see in Churches or works of art. These are some of them: IHS:three letters from the Greek name, Jesus.INRI:the initial letters form the Latin inscription written on the cross: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). PX:a monogram of the first two Greek letters for 'Christus'.
Jesus Prayer: A common Eastern Rite prayer: Lord Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner.
Joseph:Husband of Mary, venerated as a saint. His feast day is celebrated on March 19.
Judith: Hebrew Scriptures and part of the catholic editions of the Bible, but not part of the Protestant versions. See Deuterocanonical

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