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Catholic Doors Ministry

keys, The power of the

Spiritual authority and jurisdiction in the Church, symbolized by the keys of the kingdom of heaven, Christ promised the keys to St. Peter and head-to-be of the Church.

Knights of Columbus

Fraternal organization for Catholic men. The Knights of Columbus are engaged in religious and charitable projects in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Philippines.


The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime or scandal, but more often it comes at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization.

When a priest is laicized without his consent, for a crime such as living in concubinage, committing child sexual abuse or using the confessional to solicit sex, it is sometimes called defrocking or unfrocking. Those terms, which are not used in church law, should be restricted to forcible laicizations, since they connote a penalty.


In canon law, anyone not ordained a deacon, priest or bishop is a layperson. In this legal sense women religious (sisters) and unordained men religious (brothers) are laity. In the documents of the Second Vatican Council, however, the laity are those who are neither ordained nor members of a religious order. The Vatican II sense is the one usually intended in most discussions of laypeople and their role in the church.

Lamb of God ("Agnus Dei").

An invocation during the breaking of the bread in which the assembly petitions for mercy and peace.

lay ecclesial ministry.

Not a specific job title, but a general theological description of the work of Catholics who are not ordained but are engaged in substantial public leadership positions in church ministry, collaborating closely with the ordained leadership and working under their authority. In the United States well over 30,000 such lay ministers — an average of more than 1.6 per parish nationwide — are employed by Catholic parishes in full or part-time positions of more than 20 hours a week. Among those who are in paid posts, about 40 percent are coordinators of religious education.

Their other key ministries include general pastoral associate, youth minister, music minister, and liturgical planner or coordinator. Tens of thousands of other Catholics engage in volunteer lay ministry in U.S. parishes as catechists; as readers, altar servers, music leaders or other liturgical ministers; as social justice ministers; or in a variety of other health, charity, service or church-related ministries. Ecclesial is reserved to those who are in church-recognized leadership positions, generally certified to represent the church in their area of expertise after appropriate human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation. In a 2005 document, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, the U.S. bishops encouraged the growth of lay ecclesial ministry and set out general guidelines for the formation and the recognition or certification of such ministers.

The USCCB Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service (see www.usccb.org/certification) embodies the concerns and priorities of the bishops by reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized lay ecclesial ministers.

lay Ministries.

These are ministries within the Church that are carried out by laypersons. Included are altar servers, Eucharistic ministers and lectors.

layman, woman, person.

Any church member who is neither ordained nor a member of a religious order. When the Second Vatican Council spoke of the laity, it used the term in this more common meaning.


Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Organization of major superiors, who represent more than 90 percent of the active women religious in the United States.

leader of song.

The person who leads the community/assembly in the music they sing.

Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

Organization of major superiors, who represent more than 90 percent of the active women religious in the United States.


The place from which the Scriptures are proclaimed. Avoid using the word “pulpit.”


The book that contains all the readings from the Scriptures for use in the celebration of the liturgy.


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.


The general term for all the church's official acts of worship. It includes the Mass (also called the eucharistic liturgy), the celebration of the other sacraments, and the Liturgy of the Hours, which contains the official prayers recited by priests and some others to sanctify parts of the day. See Mass, sacraments and vespers.

liturgical colors.

Colors used in vestments and altar coverings to denote special times in the Church. Green is used in ordinary times, red denotes feasts of martyrs or the Holy Spirit, purple denotes penitential times and white is used for joyful occasions including Christmas, Easter and some saints' days.

Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The section of the celebration when the gifts are prepared and the Eucharistic Prayer is proclaimed by the celebrant.

Liturgy of the Hours.

This is the preferred term in the Latin rite for the official liturgical prayers sanctifying the parts of each day.

Liturgy of the Word.

That section of the celebration where the Scriptures are proclaimed and reflected upon. On Sundays and major feasts, there are three readings: the Old Testament selection, a New Testament selection (from the Epistles), and the Gospel reading

Lord's Prayer ("Our Father...").

The prayer of petition for both daily food (which for Christians means also the Eucharistic bread) and the forgiveness of sins.


The official Teaching office of the Church.


The central point of the theology of Mary is that she is the Mother of God. From apostolic times, tradition, the Church and the faithful have accorded to Mary the highest forms of veneration. She is celebrated in feasts throughout the year, and in devotions such as the rosary and litany and is hailed the patroness of many countries, including the United States.


The central act of worship in the Catholic Church. In most Eastern Catholic churches the Mass is called the Divine Liturgy. The Mass is divided into two main parts. The Liturgy of the Word includes Scripture readings and a homily and ends with the general intercessions. The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the offering of the gifts, followed by consecration of the bread and wine and the reception of Communion. Catholics believe that in the consecration the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ.

master of ceremonies.

One who assisted in the preparation of the celebration and is present during it to facilitate the movement of the entire rite.


The Roman, Orthodox and Old Catholic churches consider matrimony a sacrament, referred to as the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is a marriage contract between baptized persons.


A metropolitan see is an archdiocese that is the chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province. The archbishop who heads that province is called the metropolitan, but usually only in contexts referring to him in his capacity as head of the province. See province.

military Ordinariate (Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.).

Nonterritorial diocese for American Catholics and their dependents who are in the military or affiliated with the armed forces.


From the Latin word for "servant," in the ecclesiastical sense a minister is (1) an ordained cleric or (2) one who has the authority to minister to others.

ministers of Communion.

Those who assist in the distribution of communion.


A broad term in Catholic usage for any activity conducive to the salvation of souls. It can include ordained ministry such as liturgical leadership and administration of the sacraments, or lay ministry such as instructing children in the faith, serving the poor, visiting the sick, or being an altar server, reader or music leader at Mass. See lay ecclesial ministry.

miracles, apparitions.

Generally miracle is used to refer to physical phenomena that defy natural explanation, such as medically unexplainable cures. An apparition is a supernatural manifestation of God, an angel or a saint to an individual or a group of individuals.


A headdress worn at some liturgical functions by bishops, abbots and, in certain cases, other ecclesiastics.


An autonomous community house of a religious order, which may or may not be a monastic order. The term is used more specifically to refer to a community house of men or women religious in which they lead a contemplative life separate from the world.

monk - friar.

A man who belongs to one of the monastic orders in the church, such as the Basilians, Benedictines, Cistercians and Carthusians.


An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the pope to some diocesan priests. Priests in religious orders or congregations never receive the title of monsignor. In English the standard abbreviation as a title before the name is Msgr. American publications vary in whether they use the abbreviation or the full word before the name in news reporting. In covering the church internationally, however, it is also important to realize that the Catholic Church and news agencies in many other nations use Msgr. or Mgr. as the religious title before the name of bishops and archbishops, not just before the name of priests who have received that honorary ecclesiastical title from the pope. Check on the Web or in other resources to determine whether the man in question is a bishop or just a priest who has an honorary title from the pope.


Acts of self-discipline, including prayer, hardship, austerities and penances undertaken for the sake of progress in virtue.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB).

Episcopal conference of U.S. bishops. The membership is comprised of diocesan bishops and their auxiliary bishops. The conference decides matters of ecclesiastical law and issues policy statements on political and social issues.

Newman Apostolate.

An apostolate to the Catholic college and university community, now commonly known as "campus ministry."


(1) Strictly speaking, a member of a religious order of women with solemn vows.

(2) In general, all women religious, even those in simple vows, who are more properly called sisters. Whether a woman religious is a nun or sister in a strict canonical sense, in news reporting it is appropriate to use the term Sister as the religious title before her name.

Offertory Song.

Music used during the procession of gifts to the celebrant and as the altar is prepared.

Opening prayer.

This prayer by the celebrant expresses the general theme of the celebration.

Opus Dei.

A personal prelature dedicated to spreading through society an awareness of the call to Christian virtue, awareness, and witness in one's life and work. Members are not of a religious order, do not take vows, but sometimes live in community.

ordain - Ordination.

The proper terms in Catholic usage for references to the conferral of the sacrament of holy orders on a deacon, priest or bishop.

Order, Congregation, Society.

Religious orders is a title loosely applied to all religious groups of men and women.

A society is a body of clerics, regular or secular, organized for the purpose of performing an apostolic work.

Congregation is any group bound together by common rules.


A diocesan bishop or his equivalent, his vicar general and episcopal vicar, or a major superior of a clerical religious order, congregation or society. It refers to someone with ordinary authority in church law over a group of clergy, over certain pastoral concerns in a specific geographical area or over the members of a religious order. The term ordinary was formerly restricted to diocesan bishops and major superiors of religious orders, but it was expanded in the 1983 Code of Canon Law to include vicars general and episcopal vicars. It is not uncommon for bishops and other church officials schooled in the previous canon law code to use the term ordinary mistakenly to refer only to diocesan bishops or major superiors of men religious. If a church official uses the term in this more restricted former use, it is wise to question him or her on what he or she means by the term.


The sacramental rite by which a "sacred order" is conferred (diaconate, priesthood, episcopacy).

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