Deliberate termination of pregnancy by killing the unborn child. Such direct abortion, willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.

The man of faith and patriarch of Israel with whom God made a covenant which promised him land in which to live and many descendants, a great people for whom the Lord would be their God. Through Abraham God formed the people to whom he would later give the law by revelation to Moses. With the advent of Christ, the people of Israel would serve as the root to which the Gentiles would be grafted by their coming to believe.

Part of the sacrament of penance. It is the formal declaration by the priest that a penitent's sins are forgiven.

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 less common synonym for sloth, one of the seven "capital" sins.

A liturgical minister appointed to assist at liturgical celebrations. Priests and deacons receive this ministry before they are ordained. Lay men may be installed permanently in the ministry of acolyte through a rite of institution and blessing.

According to the creation story in Genesis, the first man. From this story the Church has learned that humanity was originally created in a state of holiness and justice and that the first ancestors of the human race lost this state for themselves and all humanity by their sin, original sin. Christ is called the second or new Adam because he ushered in the new creation by forgiving sin and restoring humanity to the grace of God's friendship lost by original sin.

The acknowledgment of God as God, Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists. Through worship and prayer, the Church and individual persons give to God the adoration which is the first act of the virtue of religion. The first commandment of the law obliges us to adore God.

Marital infidelity, or sexual relations between two partners, at least one of whom is married to another party. The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely.

The liturgical season of four weeks devoted to preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

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 1st.

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 2nd.

Money or goods given to the poor as an act of penance or fraternal charity. Almsgiving, together with prayer and fasting, are traditionally recommended to foster the state of interior penance.

The center and focal point of a Church, where the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is made present under sacramental signs in the Mass. Among the Israelites the altar was the place where sacrifices were offered to God. The Christian altar represents two aspects of the mystery of the Eucharist, as the altar of sacrifice where Christ as the sacrificial victim offers himself for our sins and as the table of the Lord where Christ gives himself to us as food from heaven.

A Hebrew word meaning truly; it is so; let it be done, signifying agreement with what has been said. The prayers of the New Testament and of the Church's liturgy, and the Creeds, conclude with amen. Jesus used the word to introduce solemn assertions, to emphasize their trustworthiness and authority.

Analogy of Faith:
The coherence of the truths of the faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.

The remembrance of God's saving deeds in history in the liturgical action of the Church, which inspires thanksgiving and praise. Every Eucharistic Prayer contains an anamnesis or memorial in which the Church calls to mind the Passion, Resurrection, and glorious return of Christ Jesus.

The Eucharistic Prayer, the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration which is the heart and summit of the celebration of the Mass.

A spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan. Meaning "Messenger". In the Bible they are described as carrying messages from God to Humans.

A form of prayer said 3 times per day; morning, noon and evening.

An emotion which is not controlled by reason or hardens into resentment and hate, becomes one of the seven capital sins. Christ taught that anger is an offense against the fifth commandment.

The visit of the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary to inform her that she was to be the mother of the Savior. After giving her consent to God's word, Mary became the mother of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. The feast day is March 25.

A symbol of the Holy Spirit, whose anointing of Jesus as Messiah fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. Christ in Hebrew - Messiah means the one anointed by the Holy Spirit. Anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called Chrismation in the Churches of the East. Anointings form part of the liturgical rites of the catechumenate, and of the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Orders.

Anointing of the Sick:
One of the seven sacraments, also known as the sacrament of the dying, administered by a priest to a baptized person who begins to be in danger of death because of illness or old age, through prayer and the anointing of the body with the oil of the sick. The proper effects of the sacrament include a special grace of healing and comfort to the Christian who is suffering the infirmities of serious illness or old age, and the forgiving of the perSon's sins.

The deceitful one referred to in the New Testament, associated with the mystery of iniquity which will precede the second coming of Christ, through which people will be led away from the truth to follow a false messianism, by which man glorifies himself and human achievement in place of God and his Messiah come in the flesh, in whom the kingdom will be fulfilled.

The total repudiation of the Christian faith.

One who is sent as Jesus was sent by the Father, and as he sent his chosen disciples to preach the Gospel to the whole world. He called the Twelve to become his Apostles, chosen witnesses of his Resurrection and the foundation on which the Church is built. The apostolic office is permanent in the Church, in order to ensure that the divine mission entrusted to the Apostles by Jesus will continue to the end of time. The bishops receive their office as successors of the Apostles through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Apostles' Creed:
A statement of Christian faith developed from the baptismal Creed or symbol of the ancient Church of Rome, the see of St. Peter, first of the Apostles. The Apostles' Creed is considered to be a faithful summary of the faith of the Apostles.

The activity of the Christian which fulfills the apostolic nature of the whole Church by working to extend the reign of Christ to the entire world.

Apostolic Succession:
The handing on of apostolic preaching and authority from the Apostles to their successors the bishops through the laying on of hands, as a permanent office in the Church.

An appearance to people on earth of a heavenly being Christ, Mary, an angel,or a saint. The apparitions of Jesus in his risen body to his disciples occurred between Easter and his Ascension into heaven.

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.

The practice of penance, mortification, and self-denial to promote greater self-mastery and to foster the way of perfection by embracing the way of the cross.

Ash Wednesday:
The first day of Lent. By tradition Catholics have ashes sprinkled on their foreheads to mark repentance. They also fast and abstain from eating meat.

The taking up of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, into Heaven. Celebrated on August 15.

The denial in theory and/or practice that God exists. Atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion required by the first commandment of the law.

Ave Maria:
Latin words meaning; "Hail Mary". The first words of the most popular prayer that Catholics address to Mary.


The first of the seven sacraments which gives access to the other sacraments. Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification. Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist constitute the sacraments of initiation by which a believer receives the remission of original and personal sin, begins a new life in Christ and the Holy Spirit, and is incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ. The rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water, or pouring water on the head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Baptismal Font:
Large container of water often made of marble and placed at the entrance of the Church. At it, the priest or deacon pours the water that is used in the Baptism of the candidate entering the Church.

Base Communities:
Groups of 10 to 20 people gathered for scripture reading and discussion. Using these discussions to make decisions about conditions in their community.

The first step in the process by which a dead person is officially declared to be a Saint.

Beatific Vision:
The contemplation of God in heavenly glory, a gift of God which is a constitutive element of the happiness of heaven.

Happiness or blessedness, especially the eternal happiness of heaven, which is described as the vision of God, or entering into God's rest by those whom he makes partakers of the divine nature.

The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount on the meaning and way to true happiness. These teachings reflect the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham; they portray the countenance of Christ and describe His charity.

A short service in which the consecrated Host is placed in a monstrance where it can be seen and venerated by the people.

Derived through Latin from the Greek word "biblia" or "books" the diminutive form of "byblos" the word for "papyrus" or "paper", which was exported from the ancient Phoenician port city of Biblos. Sacred Scripture: the books which contain the truth of God's Revelation and were composed by human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible contains both the forty-six books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.

Bible Vigil:
A post-Vatican II liturgical ceremony in which the Bible is prominently displayed on the Church altar and the service consists of readings and reflection on biblical texts.

Biblical Inspiration:
The gift of the Holy Spirit which assisted a human author to write a biblical book so that it has God as its author and teaches faithfully, without error, the saving truth that God has willed to be consigned to us.

Bidding Prayers:
Prayers which are said at Mass after the Creed for the needs of the world and the Church. Also referred to as; "The prayer of the Faithful."

From the Greek word "episcopos" meaning "overseer". A bishop is in charge of the Church in a local area. One who has received the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which makes him a member of the episcopal college and a successor of the Apostles. He is the shepherd of a particular Church entrusted to him.

Speech, thought, or action involving contempt for God or the Church, or persons or things dedicated to God. Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment.

Blessed Sacrament:
A term Catholics use when referring to the consecrated Host-especially when it is reserved in the Tabernacle. A name given to the Holy Eucharist, especially the consecrated elements reserved in the tabernacle for adoration, or for the sick.

A short prayer, usually accompanied by the sign of the cross, asking God's favor on persons or objects. A blessing or benediction is a prayer invoking God's power and care upon some person, place, thing, or undertaking. The prayer of benediction acknowledges God as the source of all blessing. Some blessings confer a permanent status: consecration of persons to God, or setting things apart for liturgical usage.

Body of Christ:
The human body which the Son of God assumed through his conception in the womb of Mary and which is now glorified in heaven. This same Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ are sacramentally present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine. The Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with His disciples; the metaphor of a body, whose head is Christ and whose members are the faithful, provides an image which keeps in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.

A book containing the prayers, hymns, psalms and readings which make up the Divine Office (a form of prayer said by the Clergy.)


A false statement which harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

Canon Law:
The rules, canons or laws, which provide the norms for good order in the visible society of the Church. Those canon laws that apply universally are contained in the Codes of Canon Law. The most recent Code of Canon Law was promulgated in 1983 for the latin Western Church and in 1991 for the Eastern Church.

Canon of the Mass:
The central part of the Mass, also known as the Eucharistic Prayer or "Anaphora," which contains the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration.

Canon of Scripture:
The Church's complete list of sacred books of the Bible.

The solemn declaration by the Pope that a deceased member of the faithful may be proposed as a model and intercessor to the Christian faithful and venerated as a Saint on the basis of the fact that the person lived a life of heroic virtue or remained faithful to God through martyrdom.

From the word for "song," these Scripture selections are poetic hymns which are often sung in the liturgy. These canticles come from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some examples are Daniel 3:52-90; Habakkuk 3:1-19; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 2:6-11; and Colossians 1:15-20.

Capital Sins:
Sins which engender other sins and vices. They are traditionally numbered as seven: pride, covetousness, envy, anger, gluttony, lust, and sloth.

Cardinal Virtues:
Four pivotal human virtues derived from the latin carbo, "pivot": prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The human virtues are stable dispositions of the intellect and will that govern our acts, order our passions, and guide our conduct in accordance with reason and faith.

System of tunnels used by early Catholics as hiding places when they were being persecuted.

An education of children, young people, and adults in the faith of the Church through the teaching of Christian doctrine in an organic and systematic way to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. Those who perform the ministry of catechists in the Church are called "catechists".

A popular summary or compendium of Catholic doctrine about faith and morals and designed for use in catechists.

Someone who teaches Christian doctrine, especially in Parish or School.

A person who is preparing for Baptism. The catechumenate is the formation of these catechumens in preparation for their Christian Initiation, and aims at bringing their conversion and their faith to maturity within the occlusal community. The candidates are anointed with oil of catechumens by which they are strengthened in their conversion from sin and renunciation of Satan.

The official Church of the bishop of a diocese. The Greek word cathedra means chair or throne; the bishop's "Chair" symbolizes his teaching and governing authority, and is located in the principal Church or "cathedral" of the local diocese of which he is the chief pastor.

One of the four marks or notes of the Church, taken from the Nicene Creed. The Church is catholic or universal both because she possesses the fullness of Christ's presence and the means of salvation, and because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race.

Catholic Church:
The Church established by Christ on the foundation of the Apostles, possessing the fullness of the means of salvation which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession.

The one who presides at a religious service. The priest at Mass is referred to as the Celebrant.

The state or condition of those who have chosen to remain unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of heaven in order to give themselves entirely to God and to the service of his people. In the latin Church, celibacy is obligatory for bishops and priests. In some Eastern Churches, celibacy is a prerequisite for the ordination only of bishops; priests may not marry after they have been ordained.

Formal practice or custom established as proper to honor a special occasion.

The cup used at Mass to hold the wine.

Character, Sacramental:
An indelible spiritual mark which is the permanent effect of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, by which a person is given a new permanent configuration to Christ and a specific standing in the Church; the reception of these sacraments is never repeated.

A specific gift or grace of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefits the Church, given in order to help a person live out the Christian life, or to serve the common good in building up the Church.

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.

The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

The moral virtue which, under the cardinal virtue of temperance, provides for the successful integration of sexuality within the person leading to the inner unity of the bodily and spiritual being. Chastity is called one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

A group of persons trained to lead in the singing at liturgical celebrations.

Perfumed oil, consecrated by the bishop, which signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. Chrism is used for consecration in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.

The name used in the Eastern Churches for the sacrament of Confirmation, from the "chrism" or "myron" used in the anointing.

From the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means "Anointed." It became the name proper to Jesus because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission of priest, prophet, and King, signified by his anointing as Messiah, "Christ".

Christ the King:
A feast celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church's year acclaiming Christ as King of the Worlds.

A name derived from that of Christ himself. The name refers to all those who have been anointed through the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism; hence, the followers of Christ, the members of the Christian Church. According to acts 11:26 "it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians".

The feast of the nativity, the birth of Jesus.

The name given the "convocation" or "assembly" of the People God has called together from "the ends of the earth." In christian usage, the word "Church" has three inseparable meanings: the People that God gathers in the whole world; the particular or local Church diocese; and the liturgical assembly. The Church draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ, and so herself becomes Christ's body. In the Creed, the sole Church of Christ is professed to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

A bowl or chalice-shaped vessel to hold the consecrated Hosts for the distribution of Holy Communion.

The rite prescribed in Judaism and other cultures which involves cutting off the foreskin of a male. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and his people Israel and prefigured the rite of Christian initiation in Baptism. Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth in accord with Jewish law.

A term applied to men who have been Ordained for ministry within the Church. Bishops, Priests and Deacons are members of the Clergy.

A place of religious seclusion.

College of Cardinals:
A collection of cardinals that offers counsel to the Pope, elects new popes and governs the Church in between popes.

The principle that all the bishops of the Church with the Pope at their head form a single "college," which succeeds in every generation the "college" of the Twelve Apostles, with Peter at their head, which Christ instituted as the foundation of the Church. This college of bishops together with, but never without, the Pope has supreme and full authority over the universal church.

A norm of moral and/or religious action; above all, the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. Jesus summarized all the commandments in the twofold command of love of God and love of neighbor.

Holy Communion, the reception of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. More generally, our fellowship and union with Jesus and other baptized Christians in the Church, which has its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Communion under both 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 of Saints:
The unity in Christ of all the redeemed, those on earth and those who have died. The communion of saints is professed in the Apostles' Creed, where it has also been interpreted to refer to unity in the "holy things" communio sanctorum, especially the unity of faith and charity achieved through participation in the Eucharist.

The celebration of Mass by several Priests together.

The meeting of the Cardinals in complete seclusion, when they assemble to elect a Pope.

Human appetites or desires which remain disordered due to the temporal consequences of original sin, which remain even after Baptism, and which produce an inclination to sin.

An essential element of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, which consists in telling one's sins to the priestly minister. By extension, the word confession is used to refer to the Sacrament of Penance itself.

A Priest who hears confessions.

One of the ensemble of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Church, together with Baptism and Eucharist. Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism by a special outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which seal or "confirm" the baptized in union with Christ and equip them for active participation in the worship and apostolic life of the Church.

The interior voice of a human being, within whose heart the inner law of God is inscribed. Moral conscience is a judgment of practical reason about the moral quality of a human action. It moves a person at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. An examination of conscience is recommended as a preparation for the reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

Consecrated Life:
A permanent state of life recognized by the Church, entered freely in response to the call of Christ to perfection, and characterized by the profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Consecrated Virgins:
Women who have decided with the Church's approval to cling only to the Lord and to live in a state of virginity "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" and are consecrated in that state by a solemn rite.

The dedication of a thing or person to divine service by a prayer or blessing. The consecration at Mass is that part of the Eucharistic Prayer during which the Lord's words of institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper are recited by the priestly minister, making Christ's Body and Blood his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine.

A form of wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God's greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration; to look on Jesus and the mysteries of his life with faith and love.

Contemplative Prayer:
Form of prayer developed in the monasteries.

Contraception, Artificial:
The use of mechanical, chemical, or medical procedures to prevent conception from taking place as a result of sexual intercourse; contraception offends against the openness to procreation required of marriage and also the inner truth of conjugal love.

Sorrow of the soul and hatred for the sin committed, together with a resolution not to sin again. Contrition is the most important act of the penitent, and is necessary for the reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

The place where a community of Nuns live.

A radical reorientation of the whole life away from sin and evil, and toward God. This change of heart or conversion is a central element of Christ's preaching, of the Church's ministry of evangelization, and of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

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.

An assembly of representatives from the whole Church called together by the Pope to make decisions.

Council, Ecumenical:
A gathering of all the bishops of the world, in the exercise of their collegial authority over the universal Church. an Ecumenical Council is usually called by the successor of St. Peter, the Pope, or at least confirmed or accepted by him.

A solemn agreement between human beings or between God and a human being involving mutual commitments or guarantees. The Bible refers to God's covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses as leader of the chosen people, Israel. In the Old Testament or Covenant, God revealed his law through Moses and prepared his people for salvation through the prophets. In the New Testament or Covenant, Christ established a new and eternal covenant through his own sacrificial death and Resurrection. The Christian economy is the new and definitive covenant which will never pass away, and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A disordered inclination or desire for pleasure or possessions. One of the capital sins, it is proscribed by the ninth and tenth commandments.

The act by which the eternal God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself. Creation also refers to the created universe or totality of what exists, as often expressed by the formula "the heavens and the earth".

A brief, normative summary statement or profession of Christian faith, e.g., the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed. The word "Creed" comes from the latin credo, meaning "I Believe," with which the Creed begins. Creeds are also called symbols of faith.

The instrument of execution on which Christ died; a symbol of the unique sacrifice of Christ as sole mediator between God and man. Jesus invited his disciples to take up their cross and follow him, in order to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. Catholics begin their prayers and actions with the sign of the cross "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." A devotional cross with the figure of Jesus suspended on it is called a "Crucifix". Made of two planks of timber, one placed across the other. Used as the instrument of execution in Roman times.

A cross with the figure of the crucified Jesus upon it. Used by Catholics to bring to mind the sufferings of Christ.

Military expeditions undertaken by the Christians of Europe from the 11th to the 13th centuries to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims.

Catholic Womens League: An organization promoting religious, education and social welfare and represents Catholic women's interests on national and international bodies.


Deacon, Diaconate:
A third degree of the hierarchy of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, after bishop and priest. The deacon is ordained not to priesthood but for ministry and service. Deacons are ordained to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity. While the Churches of the East have always had a functioning order of deacons, in the West the permanent diaconate was reestablished by the Second Vatican Council.

Several parishes form a Deanery. This unit is administered by one of the Priests' of the Deanery who has the title; 'Dean'.

The Ten Commandments (literally, "ten words") given by God to Moses on Sinai. In order to be faithful to the teaching of Jesus, the decalogue must be interpreted in the light of the great commandment of love of God and neighbor.

Definition, Dogmatic:
A solemn declaration by an ecumenical council or by the Pope that a doctrine is revealed by God and must be believed by the Universal Church; such definitions are called infallible, and must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.

Deposit of Faith:
The heritage of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and tradition, handed on in the Church from the time of the Apostles, from which the Magisterium draws all that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed.

Descent into Hell:
An article in the Apostles' Creed referring to the victory over death and sin which Christ won by being "raised from the dead." Jesus, like all people, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead, where he descended as savior, proclaiming the gospel to the spirits imprisoned there in order to free the just ones who had gone before him.

The abandonment of hope in salvation and the forgiveness of sins.

Disclosure of another's faults and sins, without an objectively valid reason, to persons who did not know about them, thus causing unjust injury to that person's reputation.

Deuterocanonical books:
"Deuterocanonical" means "second canon" . This terms refers to the seven additional books in the Old Testament (and the additions to two others) that the Catholic Church believes are part of the canon of Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Development, Doctrinal:
Growth in the understanding of God's revelation, which continues though the contemplation and study of believers, theological research, and the preaching of the Magisterium.

A fallen angel, who sinned against God by refusing to accept His reign. Satan or the devil, the Evil One, and the other demons were at first good angels, created naturally good, who became evil by their own doing.

A "particular Church", a community of the faithful in communion of faith and sacraments whose bishop has been ordained in apostolic succession. A diocese is usually a determined geographic area; sometimes it may be constituted as a group of people of the same rite or language. In Eastern churches, an eparchy.

Those who accepted Jesus' message to follow him are called his disciples. Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the kingdom to the disciples and gave them a share in his mission, His joy, and his sufferings.

Exemption from a Church law in a particular case for a special reason.

Divine Office:
The Liturgy of the Hours, the public prayer of the Church which sanctifies the whole course of the day and night. Christ thus continues his priestly work through the prayer of his priestly people.

The claim that the indissoluble marriage bond validly entered into between a man and a woman is broken. A civil dissolution of the marriage contract divorce does not free persons from a valid marriage before God; remarriage would not be morally licit.

The revealed teachings of Christ which are proclaimed by the fullest extent of the exercise of the authority of the Church's Magisterium. The faithful are obliged to believe the truths or dogmas contained in divine revelation and defined by the Magisterium.

Christian prayer which gives praise and glory to God, often in a special way to the Three Divine Persons of the Trinity. Liturgical Prayers traditionally conclude with the doxology "to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit"; the final doxology of the Lord's Prayer renews the prayer's first three petitions in the form of adoration and praise.


The greatest and oldest Christian feast, which celebrates Christ's Resurrection from the dead. Easter is the "feast of feasts," the solemnity of solemnities, the "Great Sunday." Christians prepare for it during Lent and Holy Week, and catechumens usually receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.

Easter Tridium:
A three day festival of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

Eastern Churches:
Churches of the East in union with Rome, the Western Church, but not of Roman rite, with their own liturgical, theological, and administrative traditions, such as those of the Byzantine, Alexandrian or Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean rites. The variety of particular churches with distinctive traditions witnesses to the catholicity of the one Church of Christ, which takes root in distinct cultures.

Pertaining to or of the Church (Greek/Latin: ecclesia). Hence ecclesiastical government is Church government; an ecclesiastical province is a grouping of Church jurisdictions or dioceses; an ecclesiastic is a Church official.

The structure and organization of productive work or activity in a society, forming the basis for financial support and stability of individuals, families, and society. The morality of economic activity is judged according to the seventh commandment; economic activity is one of the principal points addressed by the Church's social doctrine.

Economy of Salvation (Divine Economy):
From a Greek word oikonomia, literally "management of a household" or "stewardship" which refers to God's revelation and communication of himself to the world in time for the sake of the salvation of all humanity; hence, the economy of salvation. The Fathers of the Church distinguished oikonomia from theologia; the latter term refers to the mystery of the internal life of the trinity. The economy of salvation, on the other hand, refers to God's activity in creating and governing the world, particularly with regard to his plan for the salvation of the world in the person and work of Jesus Christ, a plan which is being accomplished through his Body the Church, in its life and sacraments; hence, the "sacramental economy".

Ecumenical Council:
A gathering of all the bishops of the world, in the exercise of their collegial authority over the universal Church. An Ecumenical Council is usually called by the successor of St. Peter, the Pope, or at least confirmed or accepted by him.

Promotion of the restoration of unity among all Christians, the unity which is a gift of Christ and to which the Church is called by the Holy Spirit. For the Catholic Church, the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council provides a charter for ecumenical efforts.

That part of a convent or monastery to which outsiders are not permitted.

A pastoral letter written by the Pope and sent to the whole Church and even to the whole world, to express Church teaching on some important matter. Encyclicals are expressions of the ordinary papal magisterium.

Resentment or sadness at another's good fortune, and the desire to have it for oneself. One of the seven capital sins, envy is contrary to the tenth commandment.

A "particular Church", a community of the faithful in communion of faith and sacraments whose bishop has been ordained in apostolic succession. A diocese is usually a determined geographic area; sometimes it may be constituted as a group of people of the same rite or language. In Eastern Churches, an eparchy.

The prayer petitioning God to send the Holy Spirit so that the offerings at the Eucharist may become the Body and Blood of Christ and thus the faithful, by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God. In every sacrament, the prayer asking for the sanctifying power of God's Holy Spirit is an "epiclesis".

The feast which celebrates the manifestation to the world of the newborn Christ as Messiah, Son of God, and Savior of the world. The feast of epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men, magi, from the East, together with his Baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee.

Pertaining to the office of bishop Greek: episkopos), hence episcopal consecration, the episcopal college, episcopal conferences. Episcopate is a collective noun referring to all those who have received sacramental ordination as bishops.

From the Greek word meaning "letter," This word refers to the 21 books in the New Testament that were written as letters to instruct and encourage the members of the early Church.

Eremitical Life:
The life of a hermit, separate from the world in praise of God and for the salvation of the world, in the silence of solitude, assiduous prayer, and penance.

From the Greek word eschaton, meaning "last." Eschatology refers to the area of Christian faith which is concerned about "the last things," and the coming of Jesus on "the last day": our human destiny, death, judgment, resurrection of the body, heaven, purgatory, and hell all of which are contained in the final articles of the Creed.

Eternal Life:
Living forever with God in the happiness of heaven, entered after death by the souls of those who die in the grace and friendship of God. In preaching the kingdom of heaven, Jesus called all people to eternal life, which is anticipated in the grace of union with Christ: "This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent".

The ritual, sacramental action of thanksgiving to God which constitutes the principal Christian liturgical celebration of and communion in the paschal mystery of Christ. The liturgical action called the Eucharist is also traditionally known as the holy sacrifice of the Mass. It is one of the seven sacraments of the Church; the Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life.

Eucharistic Ministers:
Unordained parishoners chosen by the parish to assist the priest in the distribution of the elements bread and wine at communion time during Mass.

Eucharistic Prayer:
The central part of the Mass, also known as the Eucharistic Prayer or "Anaphora," which contains the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration.

An action or an omission which, of itself or by intention, causes the death of handicapped, sick, or dying persons sometimes with an attempt to justify the act as a means of eliminating suffering. Euthanasia violates the fifth commandment of the law of God.

Evangelical Counsels:
In general, the teachings of the New Law proposed by Jesus to his disciples which lead to the perfection of Christian life. In the New Law, the precepts are intended to remove whatever is incompatible with charity; the evangelical counsels are to remove whatever might hinder the development of charity, even if not contrary to it. The public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience is a constitutive element of state of consecrated life in the Church.

One of the four authors to whom is ascribed the writing of the Gospels, i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The term is also used for one who works actively to spread and promote the Christian faith.

The proclamation of Christ and his Gospel Greek: evangelion by word and the testimony of life, in fulfillment of Christ's command.

According to the creation story in Genesis, the first woman; wife of Adam. God did not create man a solitary being; from the beginning, "male and female he created them". Because she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, Jesus Christ the "new adam," Mary is called the "new eve," the "mother of the living" in the order of grace.

The opposite or absence of good. One form of evil, physical evil, is a result of the "state of journeying" toward its ultimate perfection in which God created the world, involving the existence of the less perfect alongside the more perfect, the constructive and the destructive forces of nature, the appearance and disappearance of certain beings. Moral evil, however, results from the free choice to sin which angels and men have; it is permitted by God, who knows how to derive good from it, in order to respect the freedom of his creatures. The entire revelation of God's goodness in Christ is a response to the existence of evil. The devil is called the Evil One.

Examination of Conscience:
Prayerful self-reflection on our words and deeds in the light of the Gospel to determine how we may have sinned against God. The reception of the Sacrament of Penance ought to be prepared for by such an examination of conscience.

A severe ecclesiastical penalty, resulting from grave crimes against the Catholic religion, imposed by ecclesiastical authority or incurred as a direct result of the commission of an offense. Excommunication excludes the offender from taking part in the Eucharist or other sacraments and from the exercise of any ecclesiastical office, ministry, or function.

God's saving intervention in history by which he liberated the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, made a covenant with them, and brought them into the Promised Land. The Book of Exodus, the second of the Old Testament., narrates this saving history. The exodus is commemorated by the Jewish people at Passover, which for Christians is a foreshadowing of the "passover" of Jesus Christ from death to life and is celebrated in the memorial of the Eucharist.

The public and authoritative act of the Church to protect or liberate a person or object from the power of the devil (e.g., demonic possession) in the name of Christ. A simple exorcism prayer in preparation for Baptism invokes God's help in overcoming the power of Satan and the spirit of evil.

The act of redemption and atonement for sin which Christ won for us by the pouring out of his Blood on the cross, by His obedient love "even to the end". The expiation of sins continues in the mystical Body of Christ and the communion of saints by joining our human acts of atonement to the redemptive action of Christ, both in this life and in Purgatory.

Extreme Unction:
One of the seven sacraments, also known as the sacrament of the dying, administered by a priest to a baptized person who begins to be in danger of death because of illness or old age, through prayer and the anointing of the body with the oil of the sick. The proper effects of the sacrament include a special grace of healing and comfort to the Christian who is suffering the infirmities of serious illness or old age, and the forgiving of the person's sins.


Both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed. It is this revelation of God which the Church proposes for our belief, and which we profess in the Creed, celebrate in the sacraments, live by right conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity as specified in the ten commandments, and respond to in our prayer of faith. Faith is both a theological virtue given by God as grace, and an obligation which flows from the first commandment of God.

Faithful, The Christian:
Those who have been incorporated into Christ in Baptism and constituted as the people of God, the Church. The term "lay faithful" refers to the laity, all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church.

Biblical revelation about the reality of sin in human history. The Biblical story begins with the original sin freely committed by the first human beings. This primeval event is narrated in figurative language in the Book of Genesis, which describes this sin as a "fall" from God's friendship and grace, which they had received from God not only for themselves but for the whole human race. In the "fall" of angels, Scripture and Church tradition see the emergence of Satan and the "devil"; the "fall" of these angelic spirits was due to their freely chosen rejection of God and His reign.

Refraining from food and drink as an expression of interior penance, in imitation of the fast of Jesus for forty days in the desert. Fasting is an ascetical practice recommended in Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers; it is sometimes prescribed by a precept of the Church, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.

Father, God:
God, the first Person of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus revealed that God is Father in a unique way: not only as Creator, the origin of all things, but also as eternal Father in his relationship to his only Son, who is eternally begotten of the Father and consubstantial with the Father.

Fathers of The Church:
Church teachers and writers of the early centuries whose teachings are a witness to the Tradition of the Church.

Fear of the Lord:
One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which ensures our awe and reverence before God.

Feast Days:
The annual cycle of liturgical celebrations commemorating the saving mysteries of Christ's life, as a participation in the Paschal Mystery, which is celebrated annually at Easter, the "Feast of feasts." Feast days commemorating Mary, the Mother of God, and the saints are also celebrated, providing the faithful with examples of those who have been glorified with Christ.

A word meaning "and from the Son," added to the Latin version of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, by which the Latin tradition of the Creed confesses that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son".

First Communion:
Reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time.

First Friday:
See "Sacred Heart".

A basin or bowl in a Church used for the Baptismal water.

Sexual intercourse between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. Fornication is a serious violation of the sixth commandment of God.

One of the four cardinal moral virtues which ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in doing the good. Fortitude sometimes called strength, courage, or might is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Free Will:
Human experience which governs our actions and gives us the freedom to make choices regarding our full expression of God's love.

Friday Penance:
In commemoration of the sufferings of Christ, Catholics 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:
The perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the "first fruits" of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church identifies twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.


General Confession and Absolution:
A communal form of the Sacrament of Penance in which, in a case of grave necessity, a priest may give absolution to all persons present at one time, after they have made a general, but not individual, confession of their sins. For the absolution to be valid, the faithful must have the intention of individually confessing their sins in their next individual reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

The first book of Bible, which describes God's creation of the world and humanity, and the drama of sin and the hope for salvation.

A reverence made by bending the knee, especially to express adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Permanent dispositions that make us docile to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The traditional list of seven gifts of the Spirit is derived from Isaiah 11:1-3: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord.

Overindulgence in food or drink. Gluttony is one of the seven capital sins.

The infinite divine being, one in being yet three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has revealed himself as the "One who is," as truth and love, as creator of all that is, as the author of divine revelation, and as the source of salvation.

The sponsor of one who is baptized, who assumes a responsibility to assist the newly baptized child or adult on the road of Christian life.

Good Friday:
The day on which the crucifixion of Jesus is commemorated.

The "good news" of God's mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is this Gospel or good news that the Apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the entire world. The Gospel is handed on in the apostolic tradition of the Church as the source of all-saving truth and moral discipline. The four Gospels are the books written by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which have for their central object Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son: his life, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church's beginnings under the Spirit's guidance.

Gospel, Law of the:
The New Law, prepared for by the Old Law in the time of the Old Covenant, is the perfection here on earth of the divine law, natural and revealed. It is the work of Christ, expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, and of the Holy Spirit, by whose grace it becomes for us the interior law of charity.

The free and undeserved gift that God gives us to respond to our vocation to become his adopted children. As sanctifying grace, God shares his divine life and friendship with us in a habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that enables the soul to live with God, to act by his love. As actual grace, God gives us the help to conform our lives to his will. Sacramental grace and special graces (charisms, the grace of one's state of life) are gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us live out our Christian vocation.

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.

Guardian Angels:
Angels assigned to protect and intercede for each person.


The distinctive form of dress worn by members of religious communities.

Hail Mary:
The prayer known in Latin as the Ave Maria. The first part of the prayer praises God for the gifts he gave to Mary as Mother of the Redeemer; the second part seeks her maternal intercession for the members of the Body of Christ, the Church, of which she is the Mother.

Joy and beatitude over receiving the fulfillment of our vocation as creatures: a sharing in the divine nature and the vision of God. God put us into the world to know, love, and serve him, and so come to the happiness of paradise.

Eternal life with God; communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the blessed. Heaven is the state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longings of humanity.

The state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed, reserved for those who refuse by their own free choice to believe and be converted from sin, even to the end of their lives.

The obstinate denial after Baptism of a truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith.

One who lives the eremitical life. Through silence and solitude, in prayer and penance, the hermit or anchorite vows, although not necessarily publicly, to follow the evangelical counsels out of love for God and desire for the salvation of the world.

The Apostles and their successors, the college of bishops, to whom Christ gave the authority to teach, sanctify, and rule the Church in his name.

Hierarchy of Truths:
The order hierarchy of the truths in Catholic doctrine, insofar as they vary in their relation to the central mystery and foundation of Christian faith, the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Holy Days of Obligation:
Principal feast days on which, in addition to Sundays, Catholics are obliged by Church law to participate in the Eucharist; a precept of the Church.

Holy Hour:
A service in which Jesus is venerated in the blessed sacrament.

Holy Orders:
See Orders, Holy.

Holy Saturday:
The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Holy See:
The seat of the central administration of the worldwide Catholic Church; the name is taken from the seat or diocese of the Pope, Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the universal Church.

Holy Spirit:
The third divine Person of the Blessed Trinity, the personal love of Father and Son for each other. Also called the Paraclete Advocate and Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the divine plan for our salvation.

Holy Thursday:
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:
Blessed water, a sacramental whose sprinkling or use is a reminder of Baptism and a means of sanctification.

Holy Week:
The week preceding Easter, beginning with Palm Passion Sunday, called the "Great Week" in the liturgies of the Eastern Churches. It marks the Church's annual celebration of the events of Christ's Passion, death, and Resurrection, culminating in the Paschal Mystery.

Preaching by an ordained minister to explain the Scriptures proclaimed in the liturgy and to exhort the people to accept them as the Word of God.

Sexual attraction or orientation toward persons of the same sex and/or sexual acts between persons of the same sex. Homosexual acts are morally wrong because they violate God's purpose for human sexual activity.

The theological virtue by which we desire and expect from God both eternal life and the grace we need to attain it.

The wafer of consecrated bread which Catholics receive at Holy Communion. It is usually disc-shaped and thin for convenience and there are two sizes; the larger is used by the Priest at the altar.

The virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. Humility avoids inordinate ambition or pride, and provides the foundation for turning to God in prayer. Voluntary humility can be described as "poverty of spirit".

Sacred poetry set to music and meant to raise the hearts of Christian people to God, especially during liturgical services.

Hypostatic Union:
The union of the divine and human natures in the one divine Person (Greek: hypostasis) of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.


Religious painting traditional among many Eastern Christians. Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words.

A heresy which aintained that veneration of religious images is unlawful. Iconoclasm was condemned as unfaithful to Christian tradition at the Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 787 A.D.

The divinization of a creature in place of God; the substitution of some one (or thing) for God; worshiping a creature (even money, pleasure, or power) instead of the Creator.

Immaculate Conception:
The dogma proclaimed in Christian Tradition and defined in 1854, that from the first moment of her conception, Mary by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ was preserved immune from original sin.

Belief that God exists throughout all of creation and that humans can experience God's presence on earth.

The quality of the spiritual human soul whereby it survives the death of the body and remains in existence without end, to be reunited with the body at the final resurrection.

An obstacle that makes a person ineligible for performing an act or receiving a sacrament, e.g., Holy Orders or Matrimony.

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.

The fact that the Son of God assumed human nature and became man in order to accomplish our salvation in that same human nature. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, is both true God and true man, not part God and part man.

From the Latin word meaning "to begin," this word refers to the words added at the beginning of a Scripture reading in the Lectionary. These introductions provide a smooth entrance to a reading and context for the listeners.

The willful refusal to assent to revealed truth, or even the neglect of this truth.

The remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven. A properly disposed member of the Christian faithful can obtain an indulgence under prescribed conditions through the help of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.

The attribute of the books of Scripture whereby they faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to have confided through the Sacred Scriptures.

The gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church whereby the pastors of the Church, the pope and bishops in union with him, can definitively proclaim a doctrine of faith or morals for the belief of the faithful. This gift is related to the inability of the whole body of the faithful to err in matters of faith and morals.

Initiation, Christian:
The foundations of every Christian life laid by the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. The process by which a non-baptized person is prepared to become a full member of the Church is called the catechumenate, which was restored in the Latin Church by the Second Vatican Council, and whose distinct stages and rites are found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Official investigations by the Church of suspected heresies.

See Biblical Inspiration.

Institute, Religious:
A society whose members, in accord with Church law, live a life consecrated to Christ and shared with one another by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Institute, Secular:
A form of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within.

A form of prayer of petition on behalf of others. The prayer of intercession leads us to pray as Christ, our unique Intercessor, prayed.

Participation or sharing in the reception of the Eucharist or Holy Communion by Christians who are not fully united to or in full communion with the Catholic Church.

A vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion. Irreligion directs us away from rendering to God what we as creatures owe him in justice.

The Jewish people, chosen by God to be his people and named after Israel (Jacob), from whose twelve sons the tribes of Israel descend. God formed Israel into his priestly people in their exodus from the slavery of Egypt, when he made the first or Old Covenant with them and gave them his Law through Moses.


Common name for a religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. The official name is the Society of Jesus and the initials after a members name is "S.J.".

Jesus Christ:
The eternal Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered crucifixion and death, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. "Jesus," which means "God saves" in Hebrew, was the name given to him at the Annunciation; "Christ" is a title which comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah and means "anointed". 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:

John the Baptist:
The immediate precursor or herald of Jesus. John identified Jesus as the Messianic Lamb of God and baptized him in the Jordan River. With prophetic power, John gave witness to Jesus by his preaching, by the baptism of conversion he announced, and finally by his martyrdom.

Husband of Mary, venerated as a saint. His feast day is celebrated on March 19.

The eternal retribution received by each soul at the moment of death, in accordance with that person's faith and works "the particular judgment". The "Last Judgment" is God's triumph over the revolt of evil, after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. Preceded by the resurrection of the dead, it will coincide with the second coming of Christ in glory at the end of time, disclose good and evil, and reveal the meaning of salvation history and the providence of God by which justice has triumphed over evil.

Judgment, Rash:
A fault against the eighth commandment committed by one who assumes the moral fault of the neighbor to be true without sufficient foundation.

The cardinal moral virtue which consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and to neighbor. Original justice refers to the state of holiness in which God created our first parents. Commutative justice, which obliges respect for the rights of the other, is required by the seventh commandment; it is distinguished from legal justice, which concerns what the citizen owes to the community, and distributive justice, which regulates what the community owes its citizens in proportion to their contributions and needs.

The gracious action of God which frees us from sin and communicates "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" (Rom 3:22). Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.


Kingdom of God:
The reign or rule of God: "the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). The Kingdom of God draws near in the coming of the Incarnate Word; it is announced in the Gospel; it is the messianic Kingdom, present in the person of Jesus, the Messiah; it remains in our midst in the Eucharist. Christ gave to his Apostles the work of proclaiming the Kingdom, and through the Holy Spirit forms his people into a priestly kingdom, the Church, in which the Kingdom of God is mysteriously present, for she is the seed and beginning of the Kingdom on earth. In the Lord's Prayer "Thy Kingdom come" we pray for its final glorious appearance, when Christ will hand over the Kingdom to his Father.

Kyrie EleiSon:
Greek words meaning; "Lord have mercy". Sometimes said or sung in Greek during the penitential rite of the Mass.


The faithful who, having been incorporated into Christ through Baptism, are made part of the people of God, the Church. The laity participate in their own way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions of Christ. Laity are distinguished from clergy (who have received Holy Orders) and those in consecrated life.

Last Judgment:
See Judgment.

Last Supper:
The last meal, a Passover supper, which Jesus ate with his disciples the night before he died. Jesus' passing over to his Father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Last Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom. Hence the Eucharist is called "the Lord's Supper".

Latin Rite:
The traditions of liturgy, laws, and practice in the Church in the West, as distinct from the rites and practices of the churches of the East.

Law, Moral:
A rule of conduct established by competent authority for the common good. In biblical terms, the moral law is the fatherly instruction of God, setting forth the ways which lead to happiness and proscribing those which lead to evil. The divine or eternal law can be either natural or revealed positive. Natural moral law is inscribed in the heart, and known by human reason. Revealed law is found in the ancient law (Old Testament), notably the ten commandments, and in the new law (Law of the Gospel), the teaching of Christ, notably the Sermon on the Mount, which perfects the ancient law.

Church members who are not ordained.

Lay Apostolate:
Work done on behalf of the Church by Lay people.

The stand from which the Scriptures are read in Church.

The official, liturgical book ,lectionary, from which the reader ,lector, proclaims the Scripture readings used in the Liturgy of the Word.

Lectionary Cycle:
The Scripture readings used in Mass are set in a 3-year Sunday cycle and 2-year weekday cycle.

The liturgical season of forty days which begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery (Easter Triduum). Lent is the primary penitential season in the Church's liturgical year, reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer.

Liberation Theology:
Theology that attempts to articulate the faith from the perspective of a group's experience of its struggle to overcome oppression.

Both God's gift of created human life and His divine life given to us as sanctifying grace. Beyond its ordinary meaning of human life, Jesus used "life" to signify a share in his own divine Trinitarian existence, which becomes possible for those who respond to his invitation to turn away from sin and open their hearts to God's abiding love. Eternal life signifies that this gift will last forever in the blessedness of heaven. This gift of God begins with the "life" of faith and "new life" of Baptism, is communicated in sanctifying grace, and reaches perfection in the communion of life and love with the Holy Trinity in heaven.

A form of prayer in which the Priest recites a series of petitions to God, or calls on the help of Saints. These petitions are followed by a set response said or sung by the congregation.

Describes Church practices such as hymns, prayers and services.

Liturgical Rituals:
Refers to all Church services and ceremonies.

Liturgical Year:
The celebration throughout the year of the mysteries of the Lord's birth, life, death, and Resurrection in such a way that the entire year becomes a "year of the Lord's grace." Thus the cycle of the liturgical year and the great feasts constitute the basic rhythm of the Christian's life of prayer, with its focal point at Easter.

In its original meaning, a "public work" or service done in the name of or on behalf of the people. Through the liturgy Christ our High Priest continues the work of our redemption through the Church's celebration of the Paschal Mystery by which he accomplished our salvation.

The Old Testament title for God that in speaking or reading aloud was always substituted for the name that was revealed to Moses and that was too holy to be pronounced: Yahweh. The New Testament uses this title both of God the Father and in a new way of Jesus, the incarnate Word.

Lord's Prayer:
The title early Christians gave to the prayer which Jesus entrusted to his disciples and to the Church (Mt 6:9-13). This fundamental Christian prayer is also called the "Our Father," which are its first words.

See Charity.


The wise men who came from the East to pay homage to the newborn Savior.

The living, teaching office of the Church, whose task it is to give as authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form (Sacred Scripture), or in the form of Tradition. The Magisterium ensures the Church's fidelity to the teaching of the Apostles in matters of faith and morals.

Marks Notes of the Church:
The four attributes (marks or notes) of the Church mentioned in the Nicene Constantinopolitan creed: "We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church".

A covenant or partnership of life between a man and woman, which is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children. When validly contracted between two baptized people, marriage is a sacrament (Matrimony).

A witness to the truth of the faith, in which the martyr endures even death to be faithful to Christ. Those who die for the faith before having received Baptism are said to have received a "baptism of blood," by which their sins are forgiven and they share in the death and Resurrection of Christ.

The mother of Jesus. Because she is the mother of Jesus Son of God and second Person of the Blessed Trinity according to the flesh, she is rightly called the Mother of God (Theotokos). Mary is also called "full of grace," and "Mother of the Church," and in Christian prayer and devotion, "Our Lady," the "Blessed Virgin Mary," and the "New Eve". See Virgin Mary.

The Eucharist or principal sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished. The Mass renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church. It is called "Mass" (from the Latin missa) because of the "mission" or "sending" with which the liturgical celebration concludes (Latin: "Ite, Missa est."). See Eucharist; Paschal Mystery/Sacrifice.

See Marriage.

Maundy Thursday:
See "Holy Thursday".

May Devotions:
Special services held during the month of May to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus.

One who links or reconciles separate or opposing parties. Thus Jesus Christ is the "one mediator between God and the human race". Through his sacrificial offering he has become high priest and unique mediator who has gained for us access to God's saving grace for humanity. Moreover, Mary too is sometimes called Mediatrix in virtue of her cooperation in the saving mission of Christ, who alone is the unique mediator between God and humanity.

An exercise and a form of prayer in which we try to understand God's revelation of the truths of faith and the purpose of the Christian life, and how it should be lived, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.

The loving kindness, compassion, or forbearance shown to one who offends (e.g., the mercy of God to us sinners). See Works of Mercy.

The reward which God promises and gives to those who love him and by his grace perform good works. One cannot "merit" justification or eternal life, which are the free gift of God; the source of any merit we have before God is due to the grace of Christ in us.

A Hebrew word meaning "anointed". See Christ; Jesus Christ.

The service or work of sanctification performed by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments by those in Holy Orders, or in determined circumstances, by laity. The New Testament speaks of a variety of ministries in the Church; Christ himself is the source of ministry in the Church. Bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained ministers in the Church.

A sign or wonder, such as a healing or the control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine power. The miracles of Jesus were messianic signs of the presence of God's kingdom.

A book containing the prayers of Mass.

Trinitarian missions: To accomplish the divine plan of the triune God for the redemption of humanity, the Son and the Holy Spirit were "sent" into the world: hence the Trinitarian "missions" (Latin missus means "sent").Apostolic mission: Just as he was sent by the Father, Jesus sent his Apostles into the world to continue his own saving mission. Church as mission: Thus the Church is missionary by its very nature, continuing the mission or work of Christ through the Holy Spirit, according to the plan of God. This apostolic mission of the Church is fulfilled according to their different states of life by the clergy, laity, and religious. Missionary activity is sometimes given in a more specific sense as the work of initial evangelization and establishment of the Church in non-Christian lands.

Mixed Missionaries:
Christians who proclaim the Gospel to non-Christians in a foreign country.

A heresy condemned by the Pope in 1907. The term refers to the Church's condemnation of modern scientific thinking that said truth changed.

Monastic Life:
Consecrated life marked by the public profession of religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and by a stable community life in a monastery with the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in choir.

Tradition of taking yourself away from the mainstream of society for the purpose of developing your spirtual practice.

An ornate receptacle in which a consecrated host is placed so that Jesus in the form of bread, can be seen and venerated by the people.

Referring to the goodness or evil of human acts. Human freedom makes a person a "moral subject" or agent, able to judge the morality, goodness or evil, of the acts which are chosen. The morality of human acts depends on the object or nature of the action, the intention or end foreseen, and the circumstances of the action.

Mortal Sin:
A grave infraction of the law of God that destroys the divine life in the soul of the sinner sanctifying grace, constituting a turn away from God. For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be present: grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act, and full consent of the will.

The leader chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of their exile in Egypt. To him God revealed the divine name, Yahweh, and the law on Mount Sinai including the Decalogue, by which he sealed the covenant with his people Israel. As lawgiver, Moses was a type of Christ, the lawgiver of the New Law.

Mother of God:
A title given to Mary because she is the mother of Jesus who is both God and man.

A liturgical catechesis which aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ. In a more specific sense, the catechetical period following immediately after the reception of Baptism by adults.

A truth which cannot be grasped by human reason.

Greek word meaning mystery. Describes a person whose prayer life includes meditation from which they gain spirtual understanding.

The process of being contemplative when you meditate and go within yourself to a quiet place where it is possible to experience God.

A myth is neither historically true or false. Myths transmit truth that cannot be understood apart from the story.


National Parish:
Parish not based on geographical boundries, comprised of an ethnic group.

Natural Law:
Describes the nature of creation. It represents a common-sense understanding of the world.

The created order. Human nature, though wounded and weakened by the effects of original sin, continues to participate in the goodness of God's creative work. Through the Incarnation the second Person of the Trinity assumed our human nature, taking flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The divine nature refers to the one divine substance or essence; each of the three distinct Persons of the Trinity is entirely God, who is one by the divine nature.

New Covenant:
The new "dispensation," order or Covenant, established by God in Jesus Christ, to succeed and perfect the Old Covenant. The New Law or Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law, natural and revealed; this law of the New Covenant is called a law of love, grace, and freedom.

New Testament:
The twenty-seven books of the Bible written by the sacred authors in apostolic times, which have Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, his life, teachings, Passion and glorification, and the beginnings of his Church as their central theme. The promises and mighty deeds of God in the old alliance or covenant, reported in the Old Testament, prefigure and are fulfilled in the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ, reported in the sacred writings of the New Testament.

Nicene Creed:
The profession of faith, common to the churches of East and West, which came from the first two ecumenical councils, Nicaea and Constantinople: 325 and 381 a.d..

Nine days of prayer. It has its origins in the nine days the disciples spent in prayer awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit between the Ascension and the Pentecost.

A person who has been accepted into a religious order and who is undergoing a period of training and formation before taking vows.

The period a novice spends in training.

A member of an enclosed religious order of women. Members of orders which are not enclosed are usually referred to as religious sisters.

Nuptial Blessing:
Prayers for the blessing of a couple being married, especially of the bride.

Nuptial Mass:
A Mass which includes the Wedding Service. Not all Weddings in the Catholic Church are accompanied by Mass. There is no rule regarding This, it is up to the Bride and Groom.


The submission to the authority of God which requires everyone to obey the divine law. Obedience to the Church is required in those things which pertain to our salvation; and obedience is due to legitimate civil authority, which has its origin in God for the sake of the common good and the order of society. The fourth commandment obliges children to obey their parents. Obedience of faith: The first obedience is that of faith: to listen and freely submit to the word of God. Obedience of Christ: Jesus Christ substituted his obedience to the will of his Father, even unto death, for the disobedience of sin, in order to bring us the grace of justification and to satisfy for our sins. Vow of obedience: In imitation of this obedience of Jesus, as an evangelical counsel, the faithful may profess a vow of obedience; a public vow of obedience, accepted by Church authority, is one element that characterizes the consecrated life.

See Economy.

Old Covenant:
The old dispensation or order, which God established with his chosen people Israel, through the revelation of the Law to Moses. See Covenant.

Old Testament:
The forty-six books of the Bible, which record the history of salvation from creation through the old alliance or covenant with Israel, in preparation for the appearance of Christ as Savior of the world. See Bible; Covenant.

That God is everywhere.

Orders, Holy:
The Sacrament of Apostolic Ministry by which the mission entrusted by Christ to his Apostles continues to be exercised in the Church through the laying on of hands. This sacrament has three distinct degrees or orders: deacon, priest, and bishop. All three confer a permanent, sacramental character.

Orders, Religious:
See Consecrated Life; Institute, Religious.

The rite of the Sacrament of Holy Orders by which the bishop, through the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, confers the order of bishop, priest, or deacon to exercise a sacred power which comes from Christ on behalf of the Church.

Original Sin:
The sin by which the first human beings disobeyed the commandment of God, choosing to follow their own will rather than God's will. As a consequence they lost the grace of original holiness, and became subject to the law of death; sin became universally present in the world. Besides the personal sin of Adam and Eve, original sin describes the fallen state of human nature which affects every person born into the world, and from which Christ, the new Adam, came to redeem us.

Orthodox Churches:
Eastern Churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church. Christians of the Orthodox Churches are separated from the Catholic Church, schism, yet are in an imperfect but deep communion with the Catholic Church by reason of our common Baptism, the profession of the Creed, and the possession of true sacraments by reason of the apostolic succession of their priesthood.

Our Father:
See Lord's Prayer.

Our Lady:
See Mary.


A collective term meaning; "Unbelievers"

Palm Sunday:
The Sunday before Easter. It commemorates the occasion when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people waved palm branches in his honor. In the Catholic Church This Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday.

The supreme jurisdiction and ministry of the pope as shepherd of the whole Church. As successor of St. Peter, and therefore Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ, the pope is the perpetual and visible principle of unity in faith and communion in the Church. See Pope.

A characteristic feature of the teaching of Jesus. Parables are simple images or comparisons which confront the hearer or reader with a radical choice about his invitation to enter the Kingdom of God.

A name for the Holy Spirit. The term was used by Jesus in the New Testament to indicate the promised gift of the Spirit as another consoler and advocate, who would continue his own mission among the disciples.

The symbolic description of the condition of our first parents before the Fall, who lived in a state of friendship with God in the happiness of original justice and holiness. Paradise also signifies heaven, the state of those who live with Christ forever in the friendship and presence of God.

A stable community of the faithful within a particular church or diocese, whose pastoral care is confided by the bishop to a priest as pastor.

Parish Council:
A group of people elected by the Parish who, together with the Parish Priest, look after the various needs of the Parish.

Parish Mission:
A period of spiritual renewal within the Parish, usually conducted by one or more visiting Priests over the period of a week or a fortnight.

Parochial Schools:
Private schools run by the parish Church.

The glorious return and appearance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as judge of the living and the dead, at the end of time; the second coming of Christ, when history and all creation will achieve their fulfillment.

Particular Church:
See Diocese.

Pasch/Paschal Lamb:
Jesus' saving death and its memorial in the Eucharist, associated with the Jewish feast of Passover or Pasch commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people from death by the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts in Egypt, which the angel of death saw and "passed over." Hence Jesus is acknowledged in the New Testament as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; he is the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel's redemption at the first Passover. The Eucharist celebrates the new Passover, in which Jesus "passes over" to his Father by his death and resurrection, thus anticipating the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the Kingdom.

Paschal Mystery/Sacrifice:
Christ's work of redemption accomplished principally by his Passion, death, Resurrection, and glorious Ascension, whereby "dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life". The Paschal Mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy of the Church, and its saving effects are communicated through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church.

The suffering and death of Jesus. Passion or Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, during which the annual liturgical celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ takes place.

Passion Sunday:
See Palm Sunday

Passions, Moral:
The emotions or dispositions which incline us to good or evil actions, such as love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sadness, and anger.

See Pasch/Paschal Lamb.

Pastor/Pastoral Office:
The ministry of shepherding the faithful in the name of Christ. The Pope and bishops receive the pastoral office which they are to exercise with Christ the Good Shepherd as their model; they share their pastoral ministry with priests, to whom they give responsibility over a portion of the flock as pastors of parishes.

Pastoral Care:
The caring work of the Church, particularly that exercised by Ordained Ministers. Pastor means "shepherd"

Pastoral Letter:
A letter sent from a Bishop to his diocese on a number of occasions during the year and read out to people at Mass.

Pastoral Ministers:
Used since Vatican II to describe Church workers who have taken on various roles that once were filled by priests.

A title given to the venerable ancestors or fathers of the Semitic peoples, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who received God's promise of election. In the Church hierarchy, and especially among the Churches of the East, a patriarch is a senior bishop with jurisdiction over a larger unit of particular churches, patriarchate, of a certain rite or region or liturgical tradition.

Pertaining to the writings of the holy Fathers of the Church, who are privileged witnesses of the apostolic tradition. See Fathers of the Church.

Pax Christi:
Literally means; "The peace of Christ". It is the name of an international Catholic movement for peace.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galations 5:22-23. Peace is a goal of Christian living, as indicated by Jesus who said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God". The Fifth Commandment requires us to preserve and work for peace, which was defined by St. Augustine as "the tranquility of order," and which is the work of justice and the effect of charity.

Interior penance: a conversion of heart toward God and away from sin, which implies the intention to change one's life because of hope in divine mercy. External acts of penance include fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. The observance of certain penitential practices is obliged by the fourth precept of the Church.

Penance, Sacrament of:
The liturgical celebration of God's forgiveness of the sins of the penitent, who is thus reconciled with God and with the Church. The acts of the penitent contrition, the confession of sins, and satisfaction or reparation together with the prayer of absolution by the priest, constitute the essential elements of the Sacrament of Penance.

The sinner who repents of sin and seeks forgiveness. In the early Church, public sinners belonged to an "order of penitents," who did public penance for their sins, often for years. Penitential acts or practices refer to those which dispose one for or flows from interior penance or conversion; such acts lead to and follow upon the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. See Satisfaction (for sin).

The first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

The "fiftieth" day at the end of the seven weeks following Passover, Easter in the Christian dispensation. At the first Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was manifested, given and communicated as a divine Person to the Church, fulfilling the paschal mystery of Christ according to his promise. Annually the Church celebrates the memory of the Pentecost event as the beginning of the new age of the Church, when Christ lives and acts in and with his Church.

People of God:
A synonym for the Church, taken from the Old Testament people whom God chose, Israel. Christ instituted the new and eternal covenant by which a new priestly, prophetic, and royal People of God, the Church, participates in these offices of Christ and in the mission and service which flow from them.

From the Greek word meaning "cutting" or "section," a pericope describes the Scripture readings at Mass which are sections of books of the Bible.

Giving one's word under oath falsely, or making a promise under oath without intending to keep it. Perjury violates the second and eighth commandments.

Person, Divine:
Hypostasis in Greek; the term used to describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their real relation to and distinction from one another within the unity of the Blessed Trinity. Each of the three divine Persons is God. See Trinity.

Person, Human:
The human individual, made in the image of God; not some thing but some one, a unity of spirit and matter, soul and body, capable of knowledge, self-possession, and freedom, who can enter into communion with other persons and with God. The human person needs to live in society, which is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them.

Peter, Saint:
Simon, whom Jesus called Peter or Rock, upon whom he would build his Church (Mt 16:16-19). He was the first to confess Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. He was the first among the Apostles, and their head; the pope is his successor as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the universal Church.

Asking God for our needs in prayer.

One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which leads one to devotion to God. Filial piety connotes an attitude of reverence and respect by children toward their parents. Piety also refers to the religious sense of a people, and its expression in popular devotions.

A journey to a holy place. For example, the Holy Land, Rome and Lourdes.

The practice of having more than one wife at the same time, which is contrary to the unity of marriage between one man and one woman, and which offends against the dignity of woman.

The successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the universal Catholic Church. The pope exercises a primacy of authority as Vicar of Christ and shepherd of the whole Church; he receives the divine assistance promised by Christ to the Church when he defines infallibly a doctrine of faith or morals. See Papacy.

A person who has applied to join a religious order and is waiting to be admitted.

The condition of want experienced by those who are poor, whom Christ called "blessed," and for whom he had a special love. In imitation of Christ, the Church expresses her concern for the poor by working for justice and solidarity. Poverty is one of the three evangelical counsels whose public profession in the Church is a constitutive element of consecrated life. Poverty of spirit signifies detachment from worldly things and voluntary humility.

The form of prayer which focuses on giving recognition to God for his own sake, giving glory to Him for who he is. In the liturgy of the Eucharist, the whole Church joins with Christ in giving praise and thanksgiving to the Father. See Doxology.

The elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise of his glory; a petition made to God for some desired good, or in thanksgiving for a good received, or in intercession for others before God. Through prayer the Christian experiences a communion with God through Christ in the Church.

Prayer of the Faithful:
See "Bidding Prayers"

The proclamation of the Gospel challenging the listener to make a commitment. It also means to deliver a sermon.

Precepts of the Church:
Positive laws sometimes called commandments made by Church authorities to guarantee for the faithful the indispensable minimum in prayer and moral effort, for the sake of their growth in love of God and neighbor.

An elder or priest, a member of the order of priesthood; the presbyterate is one of the three degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Presbyters or priests are co-workers with their bishops and form a unique sacerdotal college or presbyterium dedicated to assist their bishops in priestly service to the People of God. Through the ministry of priests, the unique sacrifice of Christ on the cross is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. See Priesthood.

The presentation and dedication of Jesus to God by Mary and Joseph in the Temple (Lk 2:22-39), in accord with Mosaic Law concerning the first born. At the Presentation, Simeon and Anna sum up the expectation of Israel for the long awaited Messiah, the light of the nations and the glory of Israel, but also as a sign of contradiction. The presentation of the gifts, especially of bread and wine, is a preparatory rite for the liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass.

An act or attitude opposed to the theological virtue of hope. Presumption can take the form of trust in self without recognizing that salvation comes from God, or of an over confidence in divine mercy.

One of the seven capital sins. Pride is undue self esteem or self love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God.

Someone who is ordained to minister within the Church. The main duties of the Priest are; preaching, celebrating Mass, administering the other sacraments and exercising a role of leadership within the Church.

Of the faithful: The priestly people of God. Christ has made of his Church a "kingdom of priests," and gives the faithful a share in his priesthood through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Ministerial: The ministerial priesthood received in the Sacrament of Holy Orders differs in essence from this common priesthood of all the faithful. It has as its purpose to serve the priesthood of all the faithful by building up and guiding the Church in the name of Christ, who is Head of the Body. See Priesthood of Christ; Presbyter.

Priesthood of Christ:
The unique high priest, according to the order of Melchizedek. Christ fulfilled everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured. He offered himself once and for all (Heb 10:14), in a perfect sacrifice upon the cross. His priesthood is made present in a special way in the Church through the ministerial priesthood, conferred through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

See Pope.

Private Revelations:
Revelations made in the course of history which do not add to or form part of the deposit of faith, but rather may help people live out their faith more fully. Some of these private revelations have been recognized by the authority of the Church, which cannot accept so called "revelations of faith" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of Christ confided to his Church.

A solemn walk for a religious purpose, usually accompanied by prayers and hymns.

The taking of vows on joining a religious order.

Profession of Faith:
The synthesis (creed, "symbol of faith") of the faith which summarizes the faith professed by Christians. See Creed.

One sent by God to form the people of the Old Covenant in the hope of salvation. The prophets are often authors of books of the Old Testament. The prophetic books constitute a major section of the Old Testament of the Bible. John the Baptist concludes the work of the prophets of the Old Covenant.

People in the community who warned others about consequences of their actions.

A person who believes in Christ and has been baptized, but who does not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety, but rather is a member of a Protestant church or ecclesial community whose roots are in the Reformation, begun in the sixteenth century.

The proto or first Gospel: the passage in Genesis (3:15) that first mysteriously announces the promise of the Messiah and Redeemer.

The dispositions by which God guides his creation toward its perfection yet to be attained; the protection and governance of God over all creation.

The virtue which disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it. One of the cardinal moral virtues that dispose the Christian to live according to the law of Christ, prudence provides the proximate guidance for the judgment of conscience.

A prayer in the Book of Psalms of the Old Testament, assembled over several centuries; a collection of prayers in the form of hymns or poetry. The psalms have been used since Jesus' time as the public prayer of the Church.

The book of psalms arranged for liturgical use.

Comes from the Latin word "pulpitum", meaning staging platform, from which the priest proclaims the Gospel readings of the Mass and preaches the homily.

Punishment, Eternal:
The penalty for unrepented mortal sin, separating the sinner from communion with God for all eternity; the condemnation of the unrepentant sinner to hell.

Punishment, Temporal:
Purification of the unhealthy attachment to creatures, which is a consequence of sin that perdures even after death. We must be purified either during our earthly life through prayer and a conversion which comes from fervent charity, or after death in purgatory.

A state of final purification after death and before entrance into heaven for those who died in God's friendship, but were only imperfectly purified; a final cleansing of human imperfection before one is able to enter the joy of heaven.



Unjust discrimination on the basis of a person's race; a violation of human dignity, and a sin against justice.

Stands for Right of Christian Initiation of Adults. A year long process of entrance into the Catholic Church.

Those who read the scripture passages during Mass. Passages from the Old Testament or the epistles in the New Testament may be read by lay people. Passages from the Gospel are always read by a Priest or Deacon.

Real Presence:
The unique, true presence of Christ in the Eucharist under the species or appearances of bread and wine. The Church invites the faithful to deepen their faith in the real presence of Christ through adoration and communion at the Eucharistic liturgy, and through adoration outside its celebration.

Our ability to know the existance of God with certainty through our hearts and minds.

Reconciliation, Sacrament of:
The sacramental celebration in which, through God's mercy and forgiveness, the sinner is reconciled with God and also with the Church, Christ's Body, which is wounded by sin.

Jesus Christ, redeemer of mankind. Christ paid the price of his own sacrificial death on the cross to ransom us, to set us free from the slavery of sin, thus achieving our redemption.

A movement for reform of certain doctrines and practices of the Church which began in the 16th Century and led to division between Catholic and Protestant Churches.

Any part of the physcial remains of a saint or items that have touched the body of a saint.

A set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion.

Religious Liberty:
A Vatican II doctrine affirming the natural right to be free of coercion in one's religious beliefs.

Religious Life:
See Consecrated Life.

Remission of Sins:
The forgiveness of sins, which is accomplished in us through faith and Baptism, as the fruit of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Christ gave the power to remit sins to his Apostles, and through them to the ministers of the Church. The remission of sins committed after Baptism is effected sacramentally through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Making amends for a wrong done or for an offense, especially for sin, which is an offense against God. By his death on the cross, the Son of God offered his life out of love for the Father to make reparation for our sinful disobedience. We are obliged to make reparation for personal sins against justice and truth, either through restitution of stolen goods or correcting the harm done to the other's good name.

See Contrition; Penance.

A Mass for the dead. It takes its name from the first word of the prayer with which Mass begins. In Latin This is; "Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine."(Lord, give them eternal rest).

Responsorial Psalm:
A psalm which is recited or sung after the first scripture reading at Mass.

The return of what has been unjustly taken from another.

Resurrection of Christ:
The bodily rising of Jesus from the dead on the third day after his death on the cross and burial in the tomb. The resurrection of Christ is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ.

Resurrection of the Dead:
The raising of the righteous, who will live forever with the risen Christ, on the last day. The eleventh article of the Christian creed states, "I believe in the resurrection of the body." The resurrection of the body means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal bodies" (Rom 8:11) will come to life again.

God's communication of himself, by which he makes known the mystery of his divine plan, a gift of self-communication which is realized by deeds and words over time, and most fully by sending us his own divine Son, Jesus Christ.

The diverse liturgical traditions in which the one catholic and apostolic faith has come to be expressed and celebrated in various cultures and lands; for example, in the West, the Roman and Ambrosian (Latin) rites; in the East, the Byzantine, Coptic (Alexandrian), Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean rites. "Rite" and "ritual" are sometimes interchanged, as in "the sacramental rite" or "the sacramental ritual."

Roman Curia:
The bureaucracy that assists the Pope in administering his duty of pastoring the Catholic Church.

Roman Ritual:
Liturgical book containing special rites and blessings. Since Vatican II, this book has been called the Book of Blessings.

A prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which repeats the privileged Marian prayer Ave Maria, or Hail Mary, in "decades" of ten prayers, each preceded by the Pater Noster ("Our Father") and concluded by the Gloria Patri (Glory Be to the Father), accompanied by meditation on the mysteries of Christ's life. The rosary was developed by medieval piety in the Latin church as a popular substitute for the liturgical prayer of the Hours.


The Sabbath or seventh "day," on which God rested after the work of the "six days" of creation was completed, as recounted in the opening narrative of the Bible. Creation is thus ordered to the Sabbath, the day to be kept holy to the praise and worship of God. Just as the seventh day or Sabbath completes the first creation, so the "eighth day," Sunday, the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead, is celebrated as the "holy day" by Christians the day on which the "new creation" began. Thus the Christian observance of Sunday fulfills the commandment to remember and keep holy the Sabbath day.

An efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. The sacraments (called "mysteries" in the Eastern Churches) are seven in number: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance or Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.

Sacred signs which bear a certain resemblance to the sacraments, and by means of which spiritual effects are signified and obtained through the prayers of the Church.

Sacred Heart:
The symbol of the love with which Jesus continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings without exception.

Sacred Scripture:
The sacred writings of the Old and New Testament that are believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by human hands.

A ritual offering made to God by a priest on behalf of the people, as a sign of adoration, gratitude, supplication, and communion. The perfect sacrifice was Christ's death on the cross; by this sacrifice, Christ accomplished our redemption as high priest of the new and eternal covenant. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is commemorated and mysteriously made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church.

Profanation of or irreverence toward persons, places, and things which are sacred, i.e., dedicated to God; sacrilege against the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, is a particularly grave offense against the first commandment.

The room in the Church where the Priests vests for Mass and other services and the sacred vessels are kept.

The "holy one" who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life. The Church is called the communion of saints, of the holy ones.

The forgiveness of sins and restoration of friendship with God, which can be done by God alone.

Sanctifying Grace:
The grace which heals our human nature wounded by sin by giving us a share in the divine life of the Trinity. It is a habitual, supernatural gift which continues the work of sanctifying us of making us "perfect," holy, and Christlike.

The part of a church set apart for the principal rites of worship. A shrine or place of pilgrimage.

Sanctuary Lamp:
A lamp which is kept burning in front of the tabernacle in Catholic churches as a sign and a reminder that Jesus is really present.

A fallen angel or the devil; the Evil One.

Satisfaction (for Sin):
An act whereby the sinner makes amends for sin, especially in reparation to God for offenses against him. The penance given by the confessor in the Sacrament of Penance constitutes such satisfaction. All true satisfaction for sin must be a participation in the satisfaction for sin made by Christ through his death on the cross.

Jesus which means "God saves" in Hebrew. The Son of God became man to achieve our salvation; he is the unique savior of humanity.

An attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.

Refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff, or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

Scripture, Sacred:
The sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments.

Seal of Confession:
The confessor's obligation to keep absolutely secret what a penitent has told to him in the Sacrament of Penance; also known as the "sacramental seal".

Seamless Garment of Life:
Refers to Jesus' robe, which legend says it was seamless.

Second Coming of Christ:
See Parousia.

Secular Institute:
See Institute, Secular.

A college where men are trained for the priesthood.

Sensus Fidei:
A supernatural appreciation of the faith (sensus fidei) shown by the universal consent in matters of faith and morals manifested by the whole body of the faithful under the guidance of the Magisterium.

A pre-Christian Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made by Jewish scholars, and later adopted by Greek speaking Christians.

A talk in which the word of God is explained. Also called a homily. Only people commissioned by the Bishop are allowed to give sermons, usually Priests or Deacons.

Sign of the Cross:
A sign in the form of a cross made by the Christian as a prayer honoring the Blessed Trinity, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

Signal Graces:
Signal Graces are those special and unique Graces to help sanctify us in our state in life.

The buying or selling of spiritual things, which have God alone as their owner and master.

An offense against God as well as a fault against reason, truth, and right conscience. Sin is a deliberate thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the eternal law of God. In judging the gravity of sin, it is customary to distinguish between mortal and venial sins.

See Calumny.

A culpable lack of physical or spiritual effort; acedia or laziness. One of the capital sins.

Social Justice:
The respect for the human person and the rights which flow from human dignity and guarantee it. Society must provide the conditions that allow people to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and vocation.

Social Sin:
The effect of sin over time, which can affect society and its institutions to create "structures of sin," by analogy called "social sin".

Social Teaching:
The teaching (social doctrine) of the Church on the truth of revelation about human dignity, human solidarity, and the principles of justice and peace; the moral judgments about economic and social matters required by such truth and about the demands of justice and peace.

A solemnity is a principal day in the Church's liturgical calendar. Solemnities celebrate events in the life of Christ, Mary, and the saints which are of particular importance for the whole Church, Celebration of these special days begins the evening before. The following days are solemnities:

January 1
Sunday between January 2 and January 8
March 19
March 25
March/April (date varies)
40 days after Easter
50 days after Easter
Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday after Holy Trinity
Friday after Body and Blood of Christ
June 24
June 29
August 15
November 1
November (date varies, but always Sunday)
December 8
December 25

Mary, Mother of God
Joseph, Husband of Mary
Easter Triduum
Ascension of the Lord
Holy Trinity
Body and Blood of Christ
Sacred Heart
Birth of John the Baptist
Peter and Paul, Apostles
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
All Saints
Christ the King
Immaculate Conception
Christmas (Birth of the Lord)

Son of God:
A title frequently applied to Jesus in the Gospel, signifying his unique relationship to the Father. The second Person of the Blessed Trinity is called Son of God in reference to the Eternal Father. The revelation of his divine sonship is the principal dramatic development of the story of Jesus of Nazareth.

Son of Man:
The title used by our Lord of himself in the Gospel. This title connotes a relationship with the eschatological figure of the "Son of man appearing in clouds and glory" in the prophecy of Daniel.

The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection.

See Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Director:
Person trained to work with people spiritually.

Stations of the Cross:
A series of fourteen meditations on incidents in the suffering and death of Christ. Pictures of these scenes can be found round the walls of most Catholic churches.

Unjustly taking and keeping the property of another, against the reasonable will of the owner. Stealing is a violation of the seventh commandment of God, "You shall not steal."

The willful taking of one's own life; a grievous sin against the fifth commandment. A human person is neither the author nor the supreme arbiter of his life, of which God is sovereign master.

The "Lord's Day," the principal day of the week for the Eucharistic celebration of the Church. Each Sunday Mass commemorates the resurrection of Christ on the first Easter Sunday, and is a reminder of the first day of creation for those who have become a "new creation in Christ".

Surpassing the power of created beings; a result of God's gracious initiative. Our vocation to eternal life is supernatural.

The attribution of a kind of magical power to certain practices or objects, like charms or omens. Reliance on such power, rather than on trust in God, constitutes an offense against the honor due to God alone, as required by the first commandment.

Stands for Society of St Vincent de Paul: A society of men and women willing to undertake charitable works.

A meeting of bishops of an ecclesiastical province or patriarchate (or even from the whole world, e.g., Synod of Bishops) to discuss the doctrinal and pastoral needs of the church. A diocesan synod is an assembly of priests and other members of Christ's faithful who assist the bishop by offering advice about the needs of the diocese and by proposing legislation for him to enact. The words "synod" and "council" are sometimes used interchangeably.

Seeing with one lens. Matthew, Mark and Luke all give a common view of Jesus and they are called the Synoptic Gospels.


The receptacle in the church in which the consecrated Eucharist is reserved for Communion for the sick and dying. Reservation of the Eucharist in the tabernacle lends itself to private devotional visits and adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by the faithful.

Teaching Office:
See Magisterium.

The cardinal moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasure and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the mastery of the will over instinct, and keeps natural desires within proper limits.

The house of worship built in Jerusalem by Solomon as God's dwelling-place, for the exercise of the priestly rites of sacrifice in the Jewish religion. After the capture of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans, the second temple was destroyed and never rebuilt. Jesus recognized the Temple as God's dwelling, and a house of prayer; he even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God's definitive dwelling place. The Holy Spirit makes the Church "the temple of the living God".

An attraction, either from outside oneself or from within, to act contrary to right reason and the commandments of God. Jesus himself during his life on earth was tempted, put to the test, to manifest both the opposition between himself and the devil and the triumph of his saving work over Satan.

Ten Commandments:
The rules of life delivered by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. They still form the basis of Christian morality.

The name given to the two major parts of the Bible; a synonym for "covenant," as in Old and New Covenants. The Old Testament recounts the history of salvation before the time of Christ (46 books), and the New Testament unfolds the saving work of Jesus and the apostolic beginnings of the Church (27 books).

The study of God, based on divine revelation.

A revelation or visible appearance of God, as in the case of Moses at Mount Sinai.

See Eternal Life.

The living transmission of the message of the Gospel in the Church. The oral preaching of the Apostles, and the written message of salvation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Bible), are conserved and handed on as the deposit of faith through the apostolic succession in the Church. Both the living Tradition and the written Scriptures have their common source in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The theological, liturgical, disciplinary, and devotional traditions of the local churches both contain and can be distinguished from this apostolic Tradition.

The belief that God exists at a higher plane, such as heaven. God is beyond human ability to perceive.

The mysterious event in which Jesus, seen speaking with Moses and Elijah on the mountain, was transformed in appearance in the sight of Peter, James, and John as a moment of disclosure of his divine glory.

The scholastic term used to designate the unique change of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. "Transubstantiation" indicates that through the consecration of the bread and the wine there occurs the change of the entire substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ, and of the entire substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ even though the appearances or "species" of bread and wine remain.

Tridentine Mass:
The Latin Mass authorized by the Council of Trent in the 16th Century. It was the form of Mass used by the Western Church until 1969 when Pope John Paul VI authorized the use of a revised Mass which could be said in the language of the country.

A liturgical celebration of three days duration, as in the Easter Triduum.

The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at the very root of the Church's living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the eternal Father.

Trinity Sunday:
The Sunday after Pentecost. A day on which special honor is paid to the Blessed Trinity.

The discernment of persons, events, or things in the Old Testament which prefigured, and thus served as a "type" (or prototype) of, the fulfillment of God's plan in the person of Christ. The typology of the Old Testament which is made clear in the New Testament demonstrates the dynamic unity of the divine plan of salvation.


Stands for "Union of Catholic Mothers", and organization of Catholic married women for the preservation of faith and morals in the home.

Unity, Christian:
See Ecumenism.


The official residence of the Pope in Rome. It also refers to the central government of the Church.

Veneration (of Saints):
Showing devotion and respect to Mary, the Apostles, and the martyrs, who were viewed as faithful witnesses to faith in Jesus Christ. Later, veneration was given to those who led a life of prayer and self-denial in giving witness to Christ, whose virtues were recognized and publicly proclaimed in their canonization as saints. Such veneration is often extended to the relics or remains of those recognized as saints; indeed, to many sacred objects and images. Veneration must be clearly distinguished from adoration and worship, which are due to God alone.

Venial Sin:
Sin which does not destroy the divine life in the soul, as does mortal sin, though it diminishes and wounds it. Venial sin is the failure to observe necessary moderation, in lesser matters of the moral law, or in grave matters acting without full knowledge or complete consent.

The evening prayer of the Divine Office.

Garments worn by Ministers of the Church when celebrating Mass or administering the sacraments. These include the alb (a long white tunic worn by all ministers); the chasuble (the main outer-garment worn by the Priest when celebrating Mass); the stole (a type of scarf worn around the neck). It is worn by all Clergy when administering the sacraments as well as for Mass.

The Eucharist received by a dying person. It is the spiritual food for one's "passing over" to the Father from this world. With Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, the reception of Holy Communion as Viaticum constitute the "last sacraments" of the Christian.

Vicar of Christ:
A title given to St. Peter, head of the Twelve Apostles, and to his successors, the popes; "vicar" means one who stands in for or acts for another.

A habit acquired by repeated sin in violation of the proper norms of human morality. The vices are often linked with the seven capital sins. Repentance for sin and confession may restore grace to a soul, but the removal of the ingrained disposition to sin or vice requires much effort and self-denial, until the contrary virtue is acquired.

Virgin Birth:
The conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary solely by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church's confession of faith in the virgin birth affirms that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit without human seed.

Virgin Mary:
The mother of Jesus, who is honored as "ever-virgin" for her perpetual virginity.

An habitual and firm disposition to do the good. The moral virtues are acquired through human effort aided by God's grace; the theological virtues are gifts of God.

Virtues, Theological:
Gifts infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. The theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity.

Vision, Beatific:
See Beatific Vision.

Catholic custom of dropping into the Church for a few minutes during the day to say a quick prayer.

The calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter. God has created the human person to love and serve him; the fulfillment of this vocation is eternal happiness. Christ calls the faithful to the perfection of holiness. The vocation of the laity consists in seeking the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. Priestly and religious vocations are dedicated to the service of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation.

Votive Mass:
A votive Mass celebrates a mystery of the Lord or a saint to which the faithful may have a special devotion. The Lectionary provides readings for votive Masses in honor of the Trinity, the Triumph of the Cross, the Eucharist, the Sacred Heart, the Precious Blood, the Holy Name, the Holy Spirit, the Apostles.

A deliberate and free promise made to God, concerning a possible and better good which must be fulfilled by reason of the virtue of religion. Religious vows, the public profession of the evangelical counsels in the Church, have an exemplary value in witnessing to the Kingdom to come.


Way of the Cross:
A devotional exercise which follows the "way of the cross" in the Savior's steps, observing stops or "stations" to meditate on the path Jesus took from the Praetorium in Jerusalem to Golgotha and the tomb. "By his holy Cross he has redeemed the world".

Another name for the feast of Pentecost. Whit means White, in earlier times the newly baptized wore the white robes of Baptism on This day.

Western World:
Lands west of Istanbul Turkey. Lands east of Istanbul are called Eastern world.

A spiritual gift which enables one to know the purpose and plan of God; one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is also the name of one of the books of the Old Testament.

Word of God:
The entire content of Revelation as contained in the Holy Bible and proclaimed in the Church. In John's Gospel, God's "Word" means his only-begotten Son, who is the fullness of God's Revelation and who took flesh (the Word incarnate) and became man for the sake of our salvation.

Works of Mercy:
Charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbors in their bodily and spiritual needs. The spiritual works of mercy include instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving, and patiently forbearing. Corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, sheltering the homeless, and burying the dead.

Creation, or the earth, or even the universe. "All that is" often called the "world" in Scripture owes its existence to God's act of creation; God's creation is called "good" in the Bible, and human beings are said to have been created "in his own image and likeness". In the New Testament the "world" is sometimes used to indicate the forces of opposition to the work of Jesus and of his Holy Spirit. In this sense it signifies the world which Jesus came to redeem from sin. The world will reach its goal and perfection when it has been renewed and transformed into "the new heaven and the new earth" in the fullness of God's kingdom.

Adoration and honor given to God, which is the first act of the virtue of religion. Public worship is given to God in the Church by the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ in the liturgy.



Yahweh (Yhwh):
The personal name of the God of Israel, revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai, meaning "I am who I am".