Terminology - Glossary A

Glossary A

Term Definition

A.D. (abbrev. Lot) Abbreviation for the Latin words Anno Domini meaning literally “in the year of our Lord.” and denoting the years after the Incarnation of the Son of God from which time we now reckon our calendar.


AARON’S ROD – (an appellation of the Theotokos) Just as Aaron’s Rod sprouted miraculously in the Old Testament, so too, the Theotokos has budded forth the Flower of Immortality, Christ our God (Num. 17:1-11).


ABBA – The Aramaic term of intimacy used in addressing one’s father, somewhat equivalent to the English “Daddy.” Christ uses Abba in addressing God the Father. St. Paul tells believers that their relationship with God through the Holy Spirit is so personal that they too may speak to Him as intimately as to their own… Read More


ABBESS – (from masc. abbot; Gr. Hegoumeni). The female superior of a community of nuns appointed by a bishop; Mother Superior. She has general authority over her community and nunnery under the supervision of a bishop.


ABBOT – The head of a monastery appointed by a bishop. His authority is the administration of the property and to enforce the rule of community life in the monastery. In Slavonic his title is “the Nastoyatel.” His rank is usually an Archimandrite., or Egumen.


ABORTION – is the termination of a pregnancy by taking the life of the baby before it comes to full term. The Scriptures teach, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 138[139]:13). When an unborn child is aborted, a human being is killed. There are at least two… Read More


ABSOLUTION – The prayer offered by a bishop or presbyter for the forgiveness of sins. Following His glorious Resurrection, Christ breathed on His Apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22, 23). This… Read More


ABSTINENCE – A penitential practice, consisting in abstaining from meats and meat products. Days of Abstinence in the Orthodox Church are observed every Wednesday and Friday through the year, except the weeks after Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. Certain holydays are days of strict abstinence – no meat or milk products – the Beheading of St…. Read More


ACADEMY, THEOLOGICAL – A post-graduate theological school.


ACOLYTE – (taper-bearer, altar boys) The follower of a priest; a person assisting the priest in church ceremonies or services. In the early Church, the acolytes were adults; today, however, his duties are performed by children.  At one time there was a rank of minor clergy called the taper-bearer, responsible for bearing lights during processions… Read More


ACTS OF THE APOSTLES – The fifth book of the New Testament written by St. Luke, the author of the Third Gospel. It traces the early history of the Christian Church from the Ascension of our Lord to St. Paul’s first visit to Rome. The ‘Epistle’ is read from the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES during… Read More


ADMINISTRATOR – He who is in charge of a diocese in the absence of a bishop when the diocese is vacant by the resignation or death of the bishop.


ADVENT A forty-day period of prayer, repentance, and fasting in preparation for Christmas. The word stems from the Latin word for “coming”; during the fast the faithful prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas.


ADVOCATE – 1) (an appellation or Title of the Holy Sirit)  Normally associated with the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete also, Comforter, and Counselor. 2)(an appellation or Title of Jesus)  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus… Read More


AER – (Sl. Vozdukh) A large veil (usually of the same material as the priest’s vestments) for covering the chalice and paten during the celebration of Divine Liturgy.


AERIAL TOLL-HOUSES – The teaching of Aerial Toll-Houses regards the soul’s journey after its departure from the body, and is related to the particular judgment. In its most general form, it refers to the idea that after death, the demons attempt to find a basis for taking the soul to Hades, while the angels and… Read More


AFFINITY – A spiritual relationship which becomes an impediment to Matrimony. In Baptism the Godparents contract a spiritual affinity with the Godchild. In Matrimony, all blood relatives of the husband to the second degree of kindred inclusive, contract this relationship of affinity with the wife, and vice versa.


AFTERFEAST – An afterfeast (also known as postfeast ) is a period of time following certain major feasts of the Christian year during which the feast continues to be celebrated. The liturgical life of the Church reflects this extended celebration by continuing to express the themes of the feast in the divine services celebrated during… Read More


AGAPE Greek for the unconditional love which God extends to His people. Agape also designates a communal meal connected to the Eucharist which was a practice of the early Church (1 Cor. 11:20 34).


AGAPE VESPERS – ( Vespers of Love) Agape Vespers is served on the evening of Pascha. It follows the order of Great Vespers. After the prokeimenon the Gospel account of the empty tomb (John 20:19-25) is read. It is customary to read this pericope in many different languages, demonstrating the universal nature of the Good… Read More


AGE OF REASON – The time of life at which a person begins to be morally responsible, normally at about the age of seven. At this age children begin coming to confession.


AGGREGATES – According to the Slavonic Typicon, the different Canonical Hours (including Midnight Office and Typica) may be grouped together into aggregates so that there are three major times of prayer a day: Evening, Morning and Midday. This is to conform with Psalm 55:17, “Evening, morning, and noonday will I tell of it and will… Read More


AGNETS – (Sl. lamb) The sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament. Symbolically Christ was called the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (JOHN 1:29). Accordingly, in the Orthodox Church, the name Agnets is attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and that part of the… Read More


AGNOSTICISM – the philosophical position that the existence or non-existence of God is unknowable. Condemned by the Orthodox Church for being a belief in error for denial of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.