Catholic Glossary

Abba- Abba is the word that Jesus used to teach people to call God "Father" in prayer. The word meant "Daddy" to the Jewish people.

Adoration- Adoration is the act of worshipping or honoring God as divine.

Advocate- The Advocate is another name for the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, who helps and guides us in following Jesus.

Almsgiving- Almsgiving is the act of giving time, money, or goods to people who are poor or in need.

Ascension- The Ascension was the moment when Jesus, in his resurrected body, returned to his Father in heaven. He will come again at the end of time.

Baptismal grace- Baptismal grace is the gift of sharing in God’s divine life that we receive at Baptism, which frees us from sin.

Baptismal vows- Promises made at Baptism to reject sin and to live as children of God.

Beatitudes- The Beatitudes are Jesus’ teachings about how to live and find real happiness in God’s kingdom. They teach us to love God, love each other, seek justice, and spread peace.

Blasphemy- Blasphemy is the act of showing contempt for God or sacred things through one’s words or actions.

Candidate- A candidate is a person who pursues and prepares for a certain role. A person who is preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation is called a candidate.

Catholic- The word catholic means "universal." With a capital C, it describes the Church founded by Christ’s apostles. Because it welcomes all people who believe in Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church is universal.

Catholic epistles- The Catholic epistles were letters written to the universal Church. These seven letters are included in the New Testament.

Charism- A charism is a talent or gift from the Holy Spirit that an individual uses to serve the Church, live a Christian life, and work for the good of all people.

Chastity- Chastity is a virtue that helps us express our sexuality in a mature and unselfish manner. The word chastity describes a state of being morally pure in thought and conduct.

Chrism- Chrism is the perfumed oil that has been blessed by a bishop and is used for anointing in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Being anointed with chrism is a sign of receiving the Holy Spirit.

Commissioned- To be commissioned is to be entrusted with the power to fulfill a particular task. Christ entrusted the apostles and their successors with the task of leading and serving the Church.

Communion of Saints- The Communion of Saints is the union of all those, both living and dead, who believe in Christ.

Confirmation- Confirmation is a sacrament of initiation in which we receive the special strength of the Holy Spirit and become full members of the Church.

Conscience- A conscience is an ability to know what is right and what is wrong.

Consecrate- To consecrate is to make sacred. The priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine, or change them into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Contemplation- Contemplation is prayer without the need for images, words, or thoughts; it is resting in God’s presence.

Covet- To covet means to have an excessive desire for what rightfully belongs to someone else.

Diocese- A diocese is a region or district whose parishes a bishop serves and oversees.

Disciple- A disciple is a follower of Christ who carries on Christ’s mission by showing others the love of God.

Easter Triduum- The Easter Triduum is the holiest celebration of the liturgical year. It begins on Holy Thursday evening and concludes with the evening prayer on Easter Sunday. The Triduum includes the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, and the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection at the Easter Vigil.

Epistle- An epistle is a letter written to a Christian community by Saint Paul or another disciple in the early Church. Such letters are included in the New Testament.)

Evangelist- An evangelist is a person who proclaims God to the world by word of mouth, through writings, or as a living example. The word also refers to a writer of a Gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are often called the four evangelists.

Evangelize- To evangelize is to spread the truth of the Gospels through our words and love of others.

Ex nihilo- Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "from nothing." It is used to describe how God created the universe.

Exposition- Exposition is a manner of honoring the Blessed Sacrament by placing it in view of worshipers for adoration.

Extreme Unction- Extreme Unction, or "last anointing," is another term for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

Fortitude- Fortitude, a moral virtue, is the courage to do what is right.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit- The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the seven special gifts or blessings that enable us to become more Christlike: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, right judgment, courage, reverence, and wonder and awe.

Grace- Grace, a gift that God freely gives us, is God’s life within us, which fills us with love and enables us to live according to God’s will.

Hallow- To hallow is to venerate, honor, or treat as holy.

Holy oil- Holy oil is oil blessed by the bishop and used in the Anointing of the Sick and other sacraments.

Holy Week- Holy Week is the week that begins on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. It includes the final days of Lent, as well as Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. During this week, we remember in a special way the events that are at the center of our lives as Christians: the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Christ.

Incarnation- The Incarnation is God’s Son becoming man, one like us, Jesus Christ, who is both human and divine.

Indomitable- Indomitable means "unable to be conquered."

Indulgence- An indulgence is the removal of all or some of the punishments that we must suffer in purgatory for the effects of our sins on earth.

Intercession- An intercession is a prayer that we say on behalf of others in need of God’s help.

Justice- Justice, a moral virtue, is the practice of treating others fairly.

Justification- Justification is God’s act of freely forgiving our sins and giving us the grace we need to become holy and Christlike.

Kingdom of God- The kingdom of God is God’s reign of peace, justice, and love, initiated on earth by Jesus and reaching perfect fulfillment at the end of time.

Life everlasting- Life everlasting is the life that Jesus’ faithful followers will share for all eternity.

Liturgical cycle- The liturgical cycle is the recurring calendar of church celebrations and seasons honoring the Paschal mystery throughout the year.

Lord’s Day- The Lord’s Day is another name for our Sabbath, or day of rest in honor of God. We celebrate Mass on the Lord’s Day.

Magisterium- The pope, in communion with the bishops, is the teaching authority, or Magisterium, of the Church.

Meditation- Meditation is a type of prayer in which we are silent and concentrate on listening to God through our feelings, imagination, and thoughts. Meditation is thinking about God’s presence in our lives.

Messiah- Messiah means "God’s anointed one" or "savior." A messiah is a person chosen to save people from a particular fate. Jesus is the Messiah, the One promised to deliver all people from sin.

Miracle- A miracle is a wondrous sign or event that can only have happened through the power of God.

Missioner- A missioner is a person who shares his or her faith through preaching and charitable works. Missioners of the Church preach Christ’s message of salvation to all people.

Monstrance- A monstrance is a special container in which the Eucharist is placed for adoration.

Morality- Morality is a system of rules for good conduct based on our beliefs. Christian morality includes keeping the commandments in response to God’s love.

Moral virtues- The moral virtues are four spiritual qualities--temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude-- that we receive through the Holy Spirit. They help us avoid sin.

Mortal sin- A mortal sin is a serious act against God’s law, done purposely. It separates us from God’s grace. It normally requires the sacrament of Reconciliation to be forgiven.

Mosaic Law- The Mosaic Law, or Law of Moses, sets forth rules and practices that Jewish people have followed from the time of Moses, for whom the Law is named. The Ten Commandments, the basis of Mosaic Law, are found in the Bible, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5:6--21. The Book of Leviticus contains further details of the Law.

Novena- A novena is a Catholic devotion in which specific prayers are said on nine consecutive days.

Oral tradition- Oral tradition is a body of stories that has been passed down by word of mouth. In ancient Israel, before the Gospels were written, people told stories about God and all God did for them.

Original sin- Original sin is the sin of the first man and woman, which has been passed on to all human beings. Because of it, we are weakened in our ability to resist sin and do good.

Papal infallibility- Papal infallibility is the doctrine that when the pope speaks officially for the Church on a matter of faith or morals, he is guided by the Holy Spirit and what he says is free from error.

Parable- A parable is a story that teaches a moral or religious lesson. Parables often use everyday events and objects to explain important truths.

Particular judgment- At the end of our lives, Jesus Christ judges how well we have followed him. Particular judgment is the judgment each individual receives from Christ at his or her death.

Paschal mystery- The Paschal mystery is God’s plan for our salvation through the Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. The Church celebrates the Paschal mystery in the liturgy throughout the year, but in a special way during the Easter Triduum.

Passion- Jesus’ Passion is the suffering, crucifixion, and death he endured for our sins.

Penance- Penance is another name for the sacrament of Reconciliation. With a lowercase p, it refers to a prayer or kind act that we do as an expression of sorrow for our sins.

Pentecost- Pentecost is the day on which Jesus Christ’s disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit, which empowered them to proclaim the good news. Pentecost is often referred to as "the day the Church was born."

Perjury- Perjury is the act of lying after having made an oath to tell the truth, with God as one’s witness.

Petition- A petition is a solemn prayer of request.

Pharisees- Pharisees were Jewish people who accepted the written laws of the Old Testament and tradition (the spoken teachings of religious leaders).

Pilgrimage- A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place or sacred site for spiritual or devotional reasons.

Plagiarism- Plagiarism is the use of someone’s ideas or works as if they were one’s own.

Polygamy- Polygamy is the state of having several marriage partners at the same time.

Preferential option for the poor- The preferential option for the poor is an understanding that we must give priority to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in society.

Presbyter- In the Church today, the term presbyter means "priest." In the early Church, presbyters were the appointed religious leaders, or elders, of the early Christian communities.

Prudence- Prudence, a moral virtue, is the habit of making good judgments and decisions.

Purgatory- Purgatory is a final purification from sin after death.

Resurrection- The Resurrection is Jesus’ victory over death as he rose to new life. On the last day there will be a resurrection of our bodies as we rise to new life with Christ.

Revelation- Revelation is God’s act of revealing God’s own self and inviting us to respond with faith. A revelation is also an important truth about God, expressed under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Rite of Election- A ritual that takes place on the first Sunday of Lent, in which godparents or sponsors testify on behalf of the readiness of catechumens to be admitted into the Church.

Sacramental- A sacramental is a symbolic prayer, blessing, object, or action instituted by the Church that can lead us to a fuller participation in the grace of the sacraments.

Sacred Scriptures- The term Sacred Scriptures refers to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, which have been accepted by the Catholic Church as the word of God written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Salvation- Salvation is freedom from the pain of sin and assurance of permanent union with God.

Sanctification- Sanctification is the act of making or of being made holy.

Solidarity- Solidarity is the unity we share with all our brothers and sisters, who are made in the image of God.

Temperance- Temperance, a moral virtue, is the habit of living in moderation and controlling our desires.

Temptation- Temptation is an enticement or a pressure to turn away from God through sinful thoughts, words, or actions.

Theological virtues- The theological virtues are three spiritual qualities--faith, hope, and charity--that come from God and help us become more holy.

Tradition- Tradition is the body of official teachings, rituals, customs, and practices of the Church that have developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and are handed down from the apostles.

Trespass- Trespass means "to commit a sin."

Trinity- The Trinity is the three Persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe that there is only one God, who is revealed to us in these three divine Persons.

Venial sin- A venial sin is less serious than a mortal sin. Venial sins weaken our relationship with God and the church community.

Viaticum- Viaticum, which means "provision for the journey" in Latin, is Holy Communion that is given to a dying person.

Virtue- A virtue is an ability to make morally good decisions that lead to the habit of doing good. Christian virtues are considered gifts from God that we can develop into habits of Christian living.

War crimes- War crimes are acts of violence against innocent people during wartime.

Witness- Witness is an attesting to the truth of something by words or actions. We give witness to Christ by imitating in our everyday lives what Jesus would say or do.

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