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Glossary of Church Terms

Alphabetical Listing of Glossary of Church Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | Z


Cana Conference: A Catholic family movement, originally designed to aid married couples and families in their spiritual and interpersonal relationships. The program is now divided into Pre-Cana, for couples engaged to be married, and Cana Conferences, programs for married people.

Canon Law: The codified body of general laws governing the Church.

Canon: Greek for rule, norm, standard, measure. Designates the Canon of Sacred Scripture, the list of books recognized by the Church as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Canonization: A declaration by the pope that a person who died a martyr or practiced Christian virtue to a heroic degree is in heaven and is worthy of honor and imitation by the faithful. Verification of miracles is required for canonization (except for martyrs).

Cantor: One who sings during the liturgy (i.e., the responsorial psalm).

Cardinal: Cardinals are appointed by the pope and constitute a kind of senate of the Church, and aid the pope as his chief counselors.

Cassock: A non-liturgical, full-length, close-fitting robe for use by priests and other clerics under liturgical vestments; usually black for priests, purple for bishops and other prelates, red for cardinals, white for the Pope.

Catechesis: Religious instruction and formation for persons preparing for baptism (catechumens) and for the faithful in various stages of spiritual development.

Catechetical: Referring to catechesis.

Catechetics: From the Greek meaning "to sound forth," it is the procedure for teaching religion.

Cathedral: The major church in an archdiocese or diocese. It is the seat of the local Ordinary.

Catholic: Greek word for universal. First used in the title Catholic Church in a letter written by St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians of Smyrna about 107 A.D.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development: The US Catholic bishops' domestic anti-poverty program. Started in 1970, it is funded through an annual collection in Catholic parishes.

Catholic Relief Services: overseas aid agency of American Catholics.

Celebrant: The one who presides over the assembly and consecrates the Eucharistic Sacrament.

Celebrant: The one who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.

Celebrant's Chair: The place where the celebrant sits. It expresses his office of presiding over the assembly and of leading the prayer of those present. AVOID: The use of the word THRONE

Celebrator: Used only to describe a participant in a nonreligious celebration.

Chalice: The cup used to hold the wine.

Chancellor: The chief archivist of a diocese' official records. Also a notary and secretary of the diocesan curia.

Charismatic: Person who believes God endowed them with gifts or graces.

Charisms: Gifts or graces given by God to persons for the good of others and the Church.

Chasuble: The vestment worn over the alb by priests, bishops and Pope when celebrating the Mass.

Christ: The title of Jesus, derived from the Greek translation of the Hebrew term Messiah, meaning the Anointed of God.

Church: The universal Church that is spread throughout the world; the local Church is that of a particular locality, such as a diocese. The Church embraces all its members--on earth, in heaven, in purgatory.

Ciborium: A vessel used to hold the consecrated bread for the distribution of communion.

Clergy: Collective term referring to male persons who administer the rites of the Church through Holy Orders.

Cloister: Part of a convent or monastery reserved for use by members of the institute.

College of Cardinals: The College of Cardinals is made up of the cardinals of the Church, who advise the Pope, assist in the central administration of the Church, head the various curial offices and congregations, administer the Holy See during a vacancy, and elect a new Pope.

Collegiality: The shared responsibility and authority that the whole college of bishops, headed by the pope, has for the teaching, sanctification and government of the Church.

Communion Song: The music that is used as the consecrated bread and wine is distributed to the faithful.

Concelebrants: Those priests and bishops who join the Celebrant in celebrating the Mass.

Concluding Rite: The brief rite which consists of the celebrant's greeting to all present, final blessing and dismissal.

Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM): Organization of major superiors representing communities of men religious in the United States.

Confession: Only part of the Sacrament of Penance or reconciliation, not a term for the sacrament.

Confirmation: One of the three sacraments of initiation, along with baptism and Eucharist.

Contemplative Nun: A religious woman who devotes her entire life in the cloister to prayer and reflection.

Convent: In common usage, the term refers to a house of women religious.

Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR): Organization of major superiors approved by the Holy See for the purpose of assisting the individual institutes of the members, transacting common business, and fostering suitable coordination and cooperation with the conferences of bishops and also with individual bishops.

Crosier (pastoral staff): The staff which a bishop carries when he presides at the liturgy.

Cross bearer: The one who carries the cross in the procession (entrance and recessional).

Cross/crucifix: An object is a crucifix only if it depicts Christ on a cross, otherwise it is a cross.

Cult: Generic use cult denotes any act or system of veneration or worship.

Cursillo: Conducted by priests and laypersons, it consists of a three-day weekend focused on prayer, study, and Christian action, and follow-up program known as the post-cursillo.

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