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Abba

Aramaic (the language of Jesus) word for father.

Abbess/Abbot

a nun in charge of a convent or monk in charge of a monastery

Abortion (Direct )

The deliberate ending of a pregnancy by killing the unborn child in the womb of a woman.

Abraham

The husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac (Genesis 21) and Ishmael (Genesis 16).

Absolution

An essential part of the sacrament of Reconciliation where the priest, in the name of Christ and the Church, prays over the penitent (the person who is making a confession) and declares that their sins no longer have a hold on them.

Abstinence

An act of intentionally giving something up, it is most often connected to abstaining from meat on the Fridays of Lent and other Fridays of the year as a way to do a small penance and remember what Jesus did for us on the cross on Good Friday.

Acolyte

A person from the church community that is known as a liturgical minister who assists the priest during Mass by carrying the cross and candles, setting the altar, and so on.

Act of Contrition

A prayer prayed by one seeking forgiveness and reconciliation to express their full sorrow for the sins they have committed and resolving to do better in the future.

Acts of the Apostles

The book of the New Testament written by Luke depicting the earliest times in the Church from the ascension of Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost and the start of the apostle's preaching and baptizing, the conversion of St. Paul and his preaching, to the imprisonment of Paul and his transfer to Rome for trial.

Adam

The name given in the Bible to the first human being, coming from the Hebrew word for "clay" or "earth", because in the second story of creation in Genesis, God makes him from the clay of the earth. (Genesis 2:4-7)

Adoration

A form of prayer that invites us to silent contemplation in the presence of God.

Advent

The start of a new Church liturgical year, four weeks before Christmas, which focuses on the coming of Jesus Christ not just at Christmas but in the fullness of time and in the way in which we transform the world now.

Agape

Pronounced "Ah-ga-pay". A Greek word for love, which the New Testament uses to describe the kind of love Jesus preached.

Alb

A long white rob worn by liturgical ministers, including priests and deacons.

Alleluia

A word which means "Praise God."

Almsgiving

To give money or other assistance to the poor. Almsgiving is one of the three practices especially encouraged during Lent, along with extra prayer and fasting.

Alpha/Omega

The first letter in the Greek alphabet (alpha=) and the last letter (omega=).

Altar

The sacred table in church on which we place the bread and wine for Mass.

Altar Sever

Another name for an acolyte. An altar server can be male or female, young or old.

Altar Stone

Altars that are fixed in place (ours is not) have a stone which contains relics of various saints to remind us of the holy lives we are to live as we celebrate Eucharist around the altar..

Ambo

The stand in the sanctuary area from which the Scripture readings are read.

Ambry

A container or cabinet on the wall where the consecrated holy oils are kept.

Amen

A word which means "I believe! May God make it happen in our lives!" We say it at the end of prayers and just before receiving holy communion.

Anathema

The way a council of bishops designates something that is forbidden or not to be practiced or believed.

Angel

An angel is a messenger from God. The Bible relates different stories that use such messengers to help people.

Annunciation

The event in Mary's life where she experiences the angel Gabriel telling her she is to be the mother of the Savior, even though she has never had sexual relations.

Anointing of the Sick

One of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church, intended for those who are seriously ill, physically or mentally.

Apostle

The name means "one who is sent." It is used to designate both the Twelve core disciples in Jesus' ministry but also is used by the New Testament to name a wider range of missionaries such as Paul, Barnabus and others.

Apostles' Creed

An early Christian creed that summed up some key beliefs for Christians.

Apotactics

The adherents of a heresy which sprang up in the third century and spread through the western and southern parts of Asia Minor.

Apse

In older churches it is the name given to the domed area of the church where the sanctuary is.

Archangel

As messengers of God, some angels are considered as having a special rank or purpose.

Ascension

The return of Jesus in glory to his Father in heaven, after his resurrection.

Asceticism

A practice of denying oneself immediate pleasure or gratification for the sake of pursuing deeper spiritual goals.

Ash Wednesday

The Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent and the start of the season of Lent.

Assembly

The coming together of God's people for prayer; another name for the church at prayer.

Assumption of Mary

When we die we hope to be with Jesus in heaven and eventually have a resurrected body.