|Abbreviated Dictionary by Category||Full Unabbreviated Catholic Dictionary|
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Pagan:A collective term meaning; "Unbelievers"
Pallium: Special stole made of lamb’s wool worn over the chasuble by the Pope and archbishops; it signifies communion of archbishops with the Holy See.
Palm Sunday: Properly called "The Commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem." 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. This Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday.
Papacy: The office of the pope
Papal bull: Essentially a letter from the pope to all Christendom, a bull was so called because a lead bulla or seal was attached to it by a cord. See Bull.
Papal Infallibility: The end result of divine assistance given to the Pope through which he is prevented from the possibility and liability of error in teachings involving Church dogma and articles of faith. See infallibility.
Papal Mass: A Eucharistic celebration at which the pope presides.
Papal Representatives: The three types of representatives of the Roman Pontiff are: 1) Legate - An individual appointed by the Pope to be his personal representative to a nation, international conference, or local church. The legate may be chosen from the local clergy of a country. 2) Apostolic Nuncio - In the United States, the papal representative is sent by the Pope to both the local church and the government. His title is Nuncio. Although he holds the title of ambassador, under U.S. Law he is not accorded the special privilege of being the dean of the diplomatic corps. In countries where he is dean of the diplomatic corps, his title is Apostolic Nuncio. 3) Permanent Observer to the United Nations - The Apostolic See maintains permanent legates below the ambassadorial level to several world organizations. Since the Papal Legate does not enjoy the right to vote within the organization, his title at the United Nations is that of Observer.
Papal States: The temporary land holdings of the papacy prior to 1870; the last of the Papal States was formally signed over to Italy in 1929 with the Lateran Concordat .
Parables:The stories Jesus told which illustrate some of his most important teachings.
Paradise:Another word for Heaven. It literally means "God's Garden" and is so also used of the Garden of Eden.
Parish: A particular community of the Christian Faithful within a diocese, which has its own church building and is under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing the faithful with ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.
Parish Coordinator: A deacon, religious, or lay person who is responsible for the pastoral care of a parish. The parish coordinator is in charge of the day-to-day life of the parish in the areas of worship, education, pastoral service and administration. .
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 School: A Catholic school, parish or diocesan owned and administered, sometimes a private school owned and / or administered by a religious community.
Parochial Vicar: Priest who assist the pastor in the pastoral ministry of a parish also called an Associate Pastor or Curate.
Passion:The suffering and death of Jesus on the cross endured for the salvation of mankind.
Paschal Mystery: The term encompassing Jesus' suffering, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Holy Spirit. It refers to the saving activity of Jesus by which we are redeemed and given new life by the gracious love of God.
Passion Play at Oberammergau: A type of miracle play begun in 1633 and continuing to the present often copied around the world.
Passion Sunday:See Palm Sunday.
Pastor: A priest in charge of a parish or congregation. He is responsible for administering the sacraments, instructing the congregation in the doctrine of the Church and other services to the people of the parish.
Pastoral Associate: A member of the laity who is part of a parish ministry team.
Pastoral Care:The caring work of the Church, particularly that exercised by Ordained Ministers. Pastor means"Shepherd"
Pastoral Council: A group of members of the parish who advise the pastor on parish matters; also called a Parish Council.
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.
Paten: Flat dish to hold the large host (bread) at Mass.
Paul: Early convert to Christianity, apostle to the Gentiles.
Pax Christi:Literally means; "The peace of Christ". It is the name of an international Catholic movement for peace.
Pectoral Cross: A cross worn on a chain about the neck of bishops and abbots as a sign of office.
Penance:The sacrament of Penance where sins are forgiven, popularly called "confession" but properly called Reconciliation.. The word also refers to acts of self-denial which draw one closer to Christ.
Penitentiary: A tribunal in the Curia Romana, presided over by a cardinal, having jurisdiction over certain matters, as penance, confession, dispensation, absolution, and impediments, and dealing with questions of conscience reserved for the Holy See.
Pentecost:Literally means; fifty days. It marks the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus. Also known as "Whit Sunday".
Peripatetic: Walking or traveling about. Of or pertaining to Aristotle, or the Aristotelian school of philosophy, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum in ancient Athens. Jesus was a peripatetic preacher and teacher.
Permanent Diaconate: The first of the major orders of holy orders. See Deacon.
Persecutions: Local or general oppression of early Christians.
Petition:Asking God for our needs in prayer.
Pilgrimage: A journey to a holy place. For example, the Holy Land, Rome and Lourdes.
Pontiff / Pontifical: Pontiff is used as an alternative form of reference to the Pope. Pontifical has to do with the Pope.
Poor Box: Collection box at front entrance for alms for the less fortunate.
Postulant:A person who has applied to join a religious order and is waiting to be admitted.
Prayer: The raising of the mind and heart to God in adoration, thanksgiving, reparation and petition. The official prayer of the Church as a worshipping community is called liturgy.
Prayer of Serenity: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Reinhold Neibur.
Prayer of the Faithful: Prayers which are said at Mass after the Creed for the needs of the world and the Church. Also refers to as; "Biding Prayers." See General Intercessions and Bidding prayers.
Preaching:The proclamation of the Gospel challenging the listener to make a commitment. It also means to deliver a sermon.
Precepts of the Church: Church guidelines governing Catholics 1) Keep Holy the Lord's day, 2) Lead a sacramental life, 3) Study Catholic Teaching, 4) Observe Catholic marriage laws, 5) Strengthen and Support the Church, 6) Do penance, 7) Join in missionary spirit of the Church.
Preface:A part of the Mass leading up to the Eucharistic Prayer.
Prefect: A cardinal in charge of a congregation in the Curia Romana
Presbyterial Council: Also known as the priestsÍ council, this is the principal consultative body mandated by the Code of Canon Law to advise the diocesan bishop in matters of pastoral governance. It consists of bishops and priests serving the diocese.
Preparation of the Gifts:The time in the Mass when the bread and wine to be used in the celebration are brought to the celebrant, usually by representatives of the faithful.
Priest: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.
Primacy: Papal primacy refers to the PopeÍs authority over the whole Church.
Prior: An officer in a monastic order or religious house, sometimes next in rank below an abbot.
Processions:A solemn walk for a religious purpose, usually accompanied by prayers and hymns.
Profession:The taking of vows on joining a religious order.
Profession of Faith: The assembly together recalls and proclaims the fundamental teachings of the Roman Catholic faith. The Profession of Faith, also referred to as the Creed, is used on all Sundays and Holy Days. See Nicene Creed.
Proselytize: To bring one to anotherÍs viewpoint whether in religion or other areas.
Province: 1) A territory comprising one archdiocese called the metropolitan see and one or more dioceses called suffragan sees. The head of an archdiocese, an archbishop, has metropolitan rights and responsibilities over the province. 2) A division of a religious order under the jurisdiction of a provincial superior.
Provincial: The head of an ecclesiastical province, or a member of a religious order presiding over the order in a given district or province.
Psalms: The book of 150 hymn prayers in the Old Testament.
Purgatory:A state in which the souls of the dead are purified and perfected in love before finally becoming one with God in Heaven.
Purification and Enlightenment: Is the third stage of Christian initiation. It begins on the First Sunday of Lent and concludes on Holy Saturday as the Easter Vigil commences.
Raphael: Great painter of the Italian Renaissance (1483-1520) with a vast number of religious works to his credit.
Readers / Lectors: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 phrase Catholics use to indicate their belief that the Risen Jesus is really present in the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine.
Reconciliation Room: Small room for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, set up for face-to-face confession, though a screen is sometimes available.
Rector: An ecclesiastic in charge of a college, religious house, or congregation.
Rectory: Residence for priests.
Redemption:Being delivered form evil through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Reflection: is similar to meditation but not as intense an activity. In reflection, one concentrates mental activity and takes the time and effort to carefully consider.
Relics: The physical remains and effects of saints, which are considered worthy of veneration inasmuch as they represent people who are with God. Any part of the bodily remains of a saint; items connected to the saint's life, such as clothing.
Reformation: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.
Religion: The adoration and service of God as expressed through divine worship and acts of faith in daily life.
Religious: Priest/Diocesan Priest Religious priests are professed members of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders. In pastoral ministry, they are under the jurisdiction of their local bishop, as well as the superiors of their order. Diocesan, or secular, priests are under the direction of their local bishop. They commit to serving their congregations and other institutions.
Religious Movements: Groups of people, both lay and clerical, who band together to promote a certain belief or activity.
Requiem: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.
Resurrection of the Body:The doctrine that at the end of time the redeemed will rise, body and soul, from the dead and live forever with God.
Retreat: A period of time spent in meditation and religious exercise. Retreats may take various forms, from traditional closed forms, to open retreats which do not disengage the participants from day-to-day life. Both clergy and lay people of all ages participate in retreats. Houses and centers providing facilities for retreats are called retreat houses.
Revelation:God's disclosure of himself to humanity. The greatest revelation of God is Jesus Christ.
Rite: Describes ceremonial activity that proceeds from specific liturgical rules or directions. Some examples are the Rite of Infant Baptism, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and the Rite of Anointing and Pastoral Care of the Sick. Not only these ritual books, but all of the rites currently in use by the Church were revised at the direction of the Second Vatican Council.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA): The RCIA is the norms and rituals of the Catholic Church for people who wish to join the Church. Part of the process is also intended for baptized Christians who wish to become Catholics. The term is used in a general sense to refer to the process of entering the Catholic Church. It is also the ritual book in which the Church describes the formation process of Christian initiation. The Second Vatican Council called for the restoration of the ancient process of initiation which included stages of growth and conversion in Christ marked by steps or liturgical celebrations. The four stages in initiation are: Inquiry, Catechumenate, Purification and Enlightenment and Mystagogy. The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens is the step between Inquiry and the Catechumenate. The Rite of Election is the step which celebrates the beginning of Purification and Enlightenment. And celebrating initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) signals the step into Mystagogy.
Roman Catholic Church: The Latin Rite or Roman Rite--Church of the West centered in Rome when the Eastern Orthodox Church separated. The Roman catholic Church is not the only Catholic Church which recognizes the Pope as its head. There are 22 other catholic Church that do so, e.g., the Byzantine Rite or Byzantine Catholic Church.
Roman Curia: The official collective name for the administrative agencies and courts, and their officials, who assist the Pope in governing the Church. Members are appointed and granted authority by the Pope.
Rome: - Diocese of The City of Rome is the diocese of the Pope, who also serves as the Bishop of Rome.
Rosary : A form of prayer reflecting on the main events in the life, death and Resurrection (the Paschal Mystery) of Jesus and Mary, his mother. There are fifteen of these events, called mysteries, divided into three groups of five: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious. The prayers which go with each mystery are : 1 x Our Father; 10 x Hail Mary's; 1 x Glory be to the Father. Rosary beads are used to help count the prayers. The repetition is an aid to concentration and is used in rather the same way as a mantra in some Eastern religions.
Royal Doors: Gateway to the sanctuary in an Iconostasis (wooden screen) in an Eastern Rite church. See Iconostasis.
Sacramentals: An object, action, or blessing which is a sacred sign for example, the use of Holy Water. Rites which have some resemblance to sacraments but were not instituted by Christ.
Sacramentary: The book used by the priest which contains the order of Mass.
Sacrament: In the broad sense a sacrament is anything that makes the invisible God visible. The specific seven sacraments of the Catholic Church then are seven signs given to us by Christ that make the invisible God visible. They are Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist; the sacraments by which a person is initiated into the Catholic Church.
Sacrarium: Special sink for washing the sacred vessels used at Mass. The drain goes directly into the earth.
Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints: The office in the Vatican that investigates the lives of people to be declared saints and regulates the process.
Sacred Heart:The heart of Jesus, pierced by a lance when he hung on the cross, is honored as a sign of his love for Humanity. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Sacred love of Jesus. The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated in June and there is a tradition of honoring Jesus under this title on the first Friday of every month. Scriptural Origins: The love of God for mankind Like a mother for her infant Is 49.14-15) Like a husband for his wife (Hos 2.9-27) The human heart understood as central to the person God writing His covenant on human hearts (Jer 31.31-34) The Jesus of John's Gospel: a) At the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7.35-41) "From within him rivers of living water shall flow." b) On the cross (Jn 19.34) When blood and water flowed from his pierced side c) As risen Lord (Jn 21.25) With his wounds still visible. Historical Evolution:1) Between A.D. 800 and 1000, Jesus' heart evolved as a symbol for the venerable devotion to the humanity and wounds of Christ. 2) St. John Eudes (1601-1680) promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Heart of Mary, prompting Pope Pius XI to call him the Father of the cultus for the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. 3) St. Margaret Mary's apparitions of Christ (1673-1675), telling of his concern about the indifference and coldness in the world in response to his love. He asked her to promote a) devotion to his heart, symbolic of his love for all; b) frequent communion in a spirit of reparation, especially on the first Fridays of the month; c) holy hours and other devotions. 4) Through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque's Jesuit spiritual director, Claude de la Colombiere, promotion by the Jesuits became part of their institute, notably through the Apostleship of Prayer (Sacred Heart League), who popularized the Morning Offering and widely distributed the Sacred Heart badge. 5) Pope Pius XII encyclical in 1956 on the Sacred Heart, "Haurietis Aquas."
Sacristan: The person who takes care of the sanctuary, sacred vessels, and altar linens:
Sacristy:The room in the church where the Priests vests for Mass and other services and place where the sacred vessels are kept.
Saints:Members of the Church whose holiness of life is recognized after their deaths and who are venerated by the Church on earth. Before anyone is proclaimed as a Saint (canonized) a process of careful investigation of their life is carried out.
Saint Vincent de Paul Society: An organization of lay people who serve the poor through spiritual and material works of mercy. The society operates stores, rehabilitation workshops, food centers, shelters, criminal justice and other programs. Its national headquarters are in St. Louis.
Sanctuary: The part of the church where the altar is located.
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 in the Eucharist (Consecrated Host).
Scapular: Primarily and originally a garment, the frock-like working habit of the Benedictines; a long, shoulder-width piece of material, put on over the head, that would cover a person's front and back, like a durable apron. With the rise of the third orders in the thirteenth century, it evolved into a more symbolic garment ("the yoke of Christ"), a monastic overtone in many religious habits. It was modified, becoming part of the habit, then worn under clothing (two small double squares of cloth suspended on strings). Finally, a "lay" scapular evolved, a devotional article worn by anyone, but especially as a sign of membership in a confraternity; two small rectangles of cloth worn front and back, connected by ribbons and worn under clothing. The Five Scapulars Special devotion to five of the eighteen most familiar that are Church approved: 1. The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel 2. The Red Scapular of Christ's Passion 3. The Black Scapular of the Seven Sorrows of Mary 4. The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception 5. The White Scapular of the Holy Trinity.
Scrutiny: The name given to the ritual celebrations occurring on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent during the stage of initiation known as Purification and Enlightenment*. Within the Scrutiny celebrations, a laying on of hands and an exorcism prayer expresses the Church's concern for the elect, as the community of the faithful prays that not only the elect but all God's children be delivered from the power of evil.
Second Vatican Council: A major meeting of the Bishops of the world convened by Pope John XXIII to bring about a renewal of the Church for the second half of the 20th century. It ran from 1962 to 1965 and produced important documents involving liturgy, ecumenism, communications and other areas.
Secular Institutes: Societies of men and women living in the world who dedicate themselves to observe the evangelical counsels and to carry on apostolic works suitable to their talents and opportunities in every day life.
Seder Meal: Jewish feast celebrated in the home with a meal; commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt; part of the Passover celebration.
See: Another name for diocese or archdiocese.
Seminary: An educational institution with a formation program for men preparing for the priesthood or diaconate.
Septuagint: The Hebrew Scriptures translated into Greek; also called the Alexandrian Canon. See Deuterocanonical Books.
Sermon: When a sermon is part of the Mass, it is properly called a Homily. A talk in which the Word of God is explained. Only people commissioned by the Bishop are allowed to give Homilies, usually Priests or Deacons. Whereas a sermon can be about any topic, a homily should be about the scriptures or prayers used in that Mass.
Sermon on the Mount: Chapters 5- 7 of Matthew's Gospel, which includes many of Jesus' teachings. See Beatitudes.
Sexton: Infrequently used term for a church maintenance person.
Shrine: 1) A sacred place associated with a holy person or a supernatural occurrence. 2) Place erected to encourage private devotions to a saint or God, It usually contains a picture, statue or other religious feature capable of inspiring devotional prayer.
Shroud of Turin: Presumably the winding sheet of Jesus' burial. It was long venerated in Turin, Italy, where it was enshrined since 1578. Before that it was in France where a clear tradition of authenticity has been traced to the seventh century. It has produced a whole science, sindonology (Lt: sindo, shroud), dedicated to its study and theological interpretation. It is a strip of linen, fourteen feet three inches long and three feet seven inches wide bearing the front and back imprints of a crucified human body. The stains of sweat and blood constitute a photographic phenomenon whose nature and preservation have not been explained naturally.
Sign of Peace: A greeting to those around one during the Communion Rite of the Mass.
Sign of the Cross: A sign Catholics use by which a person professes faith in the Holy Trinity and blesses themselves . It is made with the right hand touching the forehead, the breast and shoulders while saying the words; In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Catholics make the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass, at the beginning of other forms of prayer and sometimes before beginning an activity at the start of a new day.
Simony: Buying and selling spiritual goods.
Sirach or Ecclesiasticus: Old Testament book not part of the Protestant versions, one of the Apocrypha. See Sirach and Deuterocanonical Books.
Sister: Any woman religious, in popular speech. Strictly, the title applies to those women religious belonging to institutes whose members have not professed solemn vows, most of which were established during and since the 19th century.
Sodality: A group of laity, established for the promotion of Christian life and worship, or some other religious purpose.
Soul:The spiritual element of a person's nature.
Spiritual Works of Mercy: Seven spiritual charitable works encouraged by the Church 1)Counsel the doubtful, 2) Instruct the ignorant, 3) Admonish the sinner, 4) Comfort the sorrowful, 5) forgive injuries, 6) Bear wrongs patiently, 7) Pray for the living and the dead. See also Corporal works of mercy.
Sponsor: 1) A godparent at baptism; 2) A person who accompanies another preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation, or for confirmation or marriage.
Stained-glass Windows: Colorful windows often found in churches, many tell biblical stories or depict saints, others are symbolic and are designed to inspire prayer.
Stations of the Cross: Or the Way 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. Stations can be done individually, or in groups with one person leading the prayers and moving from Station to station.
Statues: Three-dimensional representations of Jesus, Mary, the saints, or angels; often found in churches, but away from the main altar. Catholics do not pray to statues they are merely meant to inspire prayer and a good life by remembering the saints who have gone before us.
Stigmata: Marks on a body that correspond to some or all of the wounds of Christ; (marks of Jesus' passion and crucifixion, or, as in specific cases, the mark of the spear or the crown of thorns). No one must believe in stigmatism's divine origin, but it remains a special sign of oneness with Christ's sacrificial suffering (see St. Paul Gal 6.17) and is for some an aid to piety. The first known stigmatic is Francis of Assisi, who developed bleeding sores on his palms. Others include Catherine of Siena, Nicholas of Ravenna, Anne Girling (foundress of an English sect of the Shakers, and-in our own day -Padre Pio and Theresa Neumann.
Stipend: Monetary offering made to a priest when requesting that a Mass be said for a particular intention or person.
Stole: Long, narrow strip of cloth; vestment, worn across the shoulders and down the front, by the priest. It is the sign of priestly office; the deacon wears a stole across one shoulder and attached at the waist on the other side.
S.V.P.Stands for Society of St Vincent de Paul: A society of men and women willing to undertake charitable works.
Swiss Guards: The Vatican security force charged with the personal safety of the pope; members wear uniforms designed by Michelangelo
Synod:A meeting of about two-hundred Bishops from all over the world representing their various countries with legislative and policymaking powers. Usually held in Rome every three years.
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