actual grace the help God gives us in our particular need or to do a particular good act or to avoid evil
angels spiritual beings that praise God and serve him as messengers to help people understand God’s plan or to keep them safe from harm
Apostles the twelve men Jesus chose to be his closest followers and to share in his work and mission in a special way
Apostles’ Creed one of the Church’s oldest creeds. It is a summary of Christian beliefs taught since the time of the Apostles.
apostolic a Mark of the Church. The Church is apostolic because her teaching authority comes directly from Jesus and his chosen Apostles, handed down through the bishops of the Church, who are direct successors of the Apostles.
Apostolic Succession the term used to describe that the authority to lead and teach the Church can be traced through the centuries from the Apostles to their successors, the Pope and bishops
Ascension the event of the Risen Christ being taken up to Heaven forty days after his Resurrecion
Assumption the Church teaching that, at the end of her life, Mary, body and soul, was “taken up” (assumed) into Heaven. The Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption on August 15.
beatification the second step in the process of becoming a Saint, in which a venerable person is recognized by the Church as having brought about a miracle through his or her prayers of intercession
blasphemy the sin of showing contempt or lack of reverence for God and his name
Blessed Sacrament a name for the Holy Eucharist, especially the Body of Christ reserved in the Tabernacle
canonization a declaration by the Pope naming a person a Saint. Canonized Saints have special feast days or memorials in the Church’s calendar.
catholic a Mark of the Church. The Church is catholic because she is universal, meant for all people in all times and in all places.
character a permanent, sacramental, spiritual seal that strengthens us to do God’s work. A seal is given in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, or Holy Orders.
Church the community of all baptized people who believe in the Holy Trinity and follow Jesus
clergy men who are ordained and given sacred authority to serve the Church by teaching, divine worship, and pastoral leadership
common good the good of everyone; the Christian principle that all people, either in groups or as individuals, have the opportunities to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily
Communion of Saints the pilgrim Church on Earth, those being purified in Purgatory, and the blessed already in Heaven
conscience the God-given ability that helps individuals judge whether actions are right or wrong
consecrated religious life a state of life lived by religious sisters, brothers, and priests in community and characterized by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience
consecration the part of the Eucharistic Prayer in which the priest prays the words of Jesus over the bread and wine, and these elements become the Body and Blood of Christ
conversion a sincere change of mind, heart, and desire to turn away from sin and evil and turn toward God
councils gatherings of bishops during which they speak about the faith of the Church, her teachings, and important issues
covenant a sacred promise or agreement humans or between God and humans
Creed a formal statement of what is believed about the Holy Trinity and the Church. The word creed comes from the Latin for “I believe.” There are two main creeds of the Church: the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed.
Decalogue another name for the Ten Commandments; from the Greek phrase meaning “ten words”
devotions popular prayers or practices that honor Jesus, Mary, and the Saints
disciple one who learns from and follows the example of a teacher. The disciples of Jesus are those who believe in him, follow his teachings, and put them into practice.
domestic Church a name for the Catholic family, because it is the community of Christians in the home. God made the family to be the first place we learn about loving others and following Christ.
ecumenism an organized effort to bring Christians together in cooperation as they look forward in hope to the restoration of the unity of the Christian Church
ekklesia the original term for church in Scripture, meaning “convocation” or “those called together”
eternal life life forever with God for all who die in his friendship
evangelical counsels poverty, chastity, and obedience. Those in consecrated religious life take public vows to live these counsels.
Evangelists the four inspired human authors of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
faith the Theological Virtue that makes it possible for us to believe in God and the things that he has revealed to us. Faith leads us to obey God. It is both a gift from God and a free, human choice.
Feast of the Holy Family the day celebrating the special family relationship among Mary, Joseph, and Jesus
fidelity faithful presence; it is the most important rule of loving and lasting relationships
filial respect the response children are called to have toward their parents, which includes obedience, respect, gratitude, and assistance
free will the God-given freedom and ability to make choices. God created us with free will so we can have the freedom to choose good.
Fruits of the Holy Spirit the qualities that can be seen in us when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts
Gifts of the Holy Spirit seven powerful gifts God gives us to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and live the Christian life. We are sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.
grace God’s free, loving gift of his own life and help to do what he calls us to do. It is participation in the life of the Holy Trinity.
Great Commandment the twofold command to love God above all and your neighbor as yourself. It sums up all of God’s laws.
holiness a state of becoming more God-like, living in his presence and with his love
holy a mark of the Church. The Church is holy because she is set apart for God and his purposes and God is holy. Christ gave himself up to make the Church holy and gave the Church the gift of the Holy Spirit to give her life.
Holy Days of Obligation all Sundays, as well as designated holy days that Catholics are required to participate in the Mass
Holy Orders the Sacrament at the Service of Communion in which a baptized man is ordained to teach the faithful, lead divine worship, and govern the Church; ordained ministers serve as bishops, priests, and deacons
Holy Trinity the mystery of one God in three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
icons religious pictures that illustrate Jesus, Mary, and other holy people; icons are traditional among many Eastern Christians
idolatry the sin of putting other people or things in God’s place, or before God, in our lives
Immaculate Conception the truth that Mary was preserved free from Original Sin from the first moment of her conception. The Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
in persona Christi term referring to the mission and ability of priests and bishops, granted through Holy Orders, to act in the person of Christ
infallible the quality of being free from error. A teaching is Infallible when the Pope, as head of the Magisterium, speaks officially on a matter of faith or morals that is to be believed by everyone in the Church.
informed conscience a conscience that is educated and developed through constant use and examination and learning about the teachings of the Church
justification the forgiveness of sins and the return to the goodness for which humans were first created
laity all baptized members of the Church who share in Jesus’ mission and witness to him and his message but are not priests or consecrated sisters or brothers; sometimes called lay people
liturgical year the feasts and seasons of the Church calendar that celebrate the Paschal Mystery
liturgy the official public worship of the Church. It includes the Seven Sacraments and forms of daily prayer.
Liturgy of the Hours the Church’s public prayer offered at set times during the day and night to mark each day as holy
Magisterium the teaching office of the Church, which is all the bishops in union with the Pope. The Magisterium has the teaching authority to interpret the Word of God found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Marks of the Church the essential characteristics that distinguish Christ’s Church and her mission: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic
martyr a holy person who gives up his or her life to witness to the truth of Christ and the faith. The word martyr means “witness”
Matrimony the Sacrament at the Service of Communion in which a baptized man and a baptized woman make a permanent covenant of love with each other and with God
missionaries people who answer a call from God to devote a period of their lives to bringing Christ’s message to people in other places
missionary mandate the responsibility given by Jesus to the Church to bring his saving message to everyone
monastery a building where a community of religious men (or sometimes women) join together in spirituality and service
Mystical Body of Christ a name for the Church, whose baptized members are all united to Christ and one another through the Holy Spirit, forming one holy people with Christ as her head
New Commandment Jesus’ command for his disciples to love one another as he has loved us
Nicene Creed a summary of foundational truths about the Holy Trinity, the Church, and eternal life. We usually say the Nicene Creed during Mass.
offices of Christ the three roles of Jesus ( Priest, Prophet, and King) that describe his mission and work among God’s People; all those baptized share in these three roles
one a Mark of the Church. The Church is one because the power of the Holy Spirit unites all the members through one faith and one Baptism.
Paschal Candle a large, white candle that is lit from the Easter fire, and is used during the Easter season and at Baptisms and funerals as a symbol of the Resurrection
Pentecost the feast that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and first disciples fifty days after Easter
perjury making a promise under oath which the maker does not intend to keep
personal sin a deliberate thought, word, deed, or omission that violates the law of God
Pope the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome, and the head of the entire Catholic Church
Precepts of the Church some of the minimum requirements given by Church leaders for deepening our relationship with God and the Church
righteous to act in accordance with God’s will, being in his friendship, free from guilt or sin
sacramentals sacred blessings, objects, and actions that remind us of God, are made sacred through the prayers of the Church, and that help us respond to the grace received in the Sacraments
Sacred Tradition God’s Word to the Church, safeguarded by the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, and handed down verbally—in her Creeds, Sacraments, and other teachings—to future generations
Saints those whom the Church declares led holy lives and are enjoying eternal life with God in Heaven
salvation the loving action of God’s forgiveness of sins and the restoration of friendship with him brought by Jesus Christ
sanctifying grace God’s Divine life within us that makes us his friends and adopted children
Seven Sacraments effective signs of God’s grace instituted by Christ and given to his Church. In the celebration of each Sacrament, there are visible signs and Divine actions that give grace and allow us to share in God’s work.
social sin a term that refers to the sinful social structures that result from personal sin and that lead to social conditions that do not reflect or promote the New Commandment
solidarity a Christian principle that motivates believers to share their spiritual gifts as well as their material ones
soul the spiritual principle of a human person that is individual, created by God, and will exist forever
Stations of the Cross images of fourteen scenes that help us think and pray about Jesus’ suffering, Death, and burial
Tabernacle the special place in the church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved after Mass for those who are ill or for Eucharistic Adoration
Temple of the Holy Spirit the way Saint Paul describes how the Holy Spirit resides within the body
Ten Commandments the ten fundamental moral laws given by God to Moses, and recorded in the Old Testament, to help his People live by the covenant
Theological Virtues gifts from God that help us believe in him, trust in his plan for us, and love him as he loves us; they are faith, hope, and charity
Transfiguration the revelation of Jesus’ Divine glory to the Apostles Peter, James, and John
virtue a good spiritual habit that strengthens and enables you to do what is right and good
vows solemn promises that are made to or before God