June 4: Catholic Vocabulary

Below are some of the words we discussed this past Wednesday evening:

Amen:  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.

Anamnesis: 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.

Apostle: 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.

Ascension: The taking up of Jesus into Heaven forty days after the resurrection and witnessed by the Apostles. Ascension Thursday is celebrated forty days after Easter.

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

Beatitude: 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.

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

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

Canonization: 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.

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.

Catechumen: 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.

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

Celibacy: 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.

Chalice: The cup used at Mass to hold the wine.

Charism: 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.

Charity: 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.

Chasuble: A sleeveless outer vestment worn by a Catholic or High Anglican priest when celebrating Mass, typically ornate and having a simple hole for the head.

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

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

Doctrine/Dogma: 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.

Doxology: 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.

Ecumenism: 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.

Encyclical: 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.

Epiclesis: 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”.

Epistle: 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.

Examen: 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.

Filioque: 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”.

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

Grace: 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.

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.

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

Indulgence: 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.

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

Litany: 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.

Martyr: 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.

Missal: A book containing the prayers of Mass.

Mystagogy: 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.

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

Parousia: 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.

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

Prophet: 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.

Psalm: 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.

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

Rites: 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.

Sacrament: 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.

Solemnity: 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:
Mary, Mother of God, Epiphany, Joseph, Husband of Mary, Annunciation, Easter Triduum, Ascension of the Lord, Pentecost, 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)

Thurible: The censer or vessel in which incense is burned at liturgical services. It consists of a cup-shaped metal body for holding charcoal and incense, with a separate lid for controlling the smoke and fire, and a chain, or chains, allowing the censer to swing safely without spilling its contents.

Tradition: 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.

Transubstantiation: 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.

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

Viaticum: 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.