Terminology - Glossary A

Glossary A

Term Definition

AGRAPHA – (Gr.: verbal words; not written). Sayings or deeds of Christ which were never written or recorded in the Gospels (cf. John 21:25).


AKATHISTOS  (Gr. not permitted to sit) 1) A service consisting of many hymns of praise to the Savior, the All-Holy Theotokos, or some Saint, which may be sung in church or at home. The word Akathist comes from the Greek word Akathistos meaning “not sitting” and denotes a hymn of praise honoring Christ, the Mother… Read More


AKEDIA – (in Latin, accidie) is literally fatigue or exhaustion, but in technical usage refers to the spiritual and physical lethargy which can plague those pursuing the eremetic life. The reference in Psalm 90 (91 MT) to the “demon of noonday” is traditionally identified as akedia. It can take the form of listlessness, dispersion of… Read More


AKOLOUTHIA AKOLOUTHIA – Greek term for (a) the order of a service (Slavonic: chinoposledovanie), or (b) the service itself (Slavonic: sluzhba). When a new saint is canonized a complete akolouthia for that saint is written, including all necessary texts for hesperinos, orthros and the Divine Liturgy, and normally an akathist and paraklesis of the saint…. Read More


ALB – (Podriznik) A white, or colored, vestment, reaching from the neck to the ankles, with sleeves, worn by the priest under the chasuble during the service of Divine Liturgy.


ALL AMERICAN COUNCIL – The highest legislative and administrative authority within the Orthodox Church in America is the All-American Council. The All-American Council is convened periodically at intervals of about three years. Every parish is entitled to send both clergy and lay delegates .


ALL NIGHT VIGIL – (vsenoshchnoye bdeniye) A service of the Russian Orthodox Church that consists of Vespers, Matins, and the First Hour; in parish churches it is celebrated in the evenings before Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feasts; in monasteries the All Night Vigil sometimes follows a somewhat different format.


ALL SAINTS SUNDAY – The first Sunday after Pentecost commemorating all the Saints, Prophets, martyrs, confessors, ascetics and all men and women who have glorified God through holy living.


ALLEGORY – A story filled with symbolism illustrating a spiritual reality beyond the actual historical event being described. In the ancient Church, scholars of the School of Alexandria tended to consider many incidents in the Bible as allegorical, whereas the School of Antioch practiced a more historical approach to Scripture. Although Scripture contains some pure… Read More


ALLELUIA The Greek form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, which means “Praise the Lord“  Orthodox Christians sing a chorus of Alleluia interspersed with psalm verses (alleluia verses) prior to the Gospel reading at the Divine Liturgy. In the Divine Liturgy as celebrated in the Eastern Church, Alleluia is sung either three times without a refrain… Read More


ALMIGHTY – 1)(an appellation or Title of Jesus) “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8 2) God is called Almighty because He upholds all things in His power and His will.


ALMS – Works of mercy or monetary gifts given to help the poor. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are called to help those less fortunate than themselves (see Matt. 25:31-46).


ALPHA AND OMEGA – (an appellation or Title of Jesus)  The letters which begin and end the Greek alphabet, and symbolize the beginning and the end. The Alpha and the Omega is also used as a title of Christ . “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is,… Read More


ALTAR – (SI. Prestol) The designation Altar is commonly used of the whole Sanctuary, so that we hear the expression “in the altar,” meaning “in the Sanctuary.” Only one altar is to be found in each church (unless there is an attached or side-chapel) and only one Liturgy may be celebrated on any one day… Read More


ALTAR BREAD – (see Prosphora) Bread that is used in the Eucharistic Service.


ALTAR CLOTHS – 1) Gr. Katasaskion, SI. Sratchitsa, a white cloth covering the whole altar table. It represents the Winding Sheet in which our Lord was wrapped for burial. 2) Sl. Inditia, a richly-embroidered cloth over the white cloth, representing Christ’s Robe of Glory; 3) Sl. Iliton, the cloth in which the Antimension is wrapped.


AMBO – (Ambon, Sl. Amvon) From a Greek word meaning a raised place. The elevated part in front of the Royal Doors of the Iconostas from where the Gospel is read, sermons are preached and announcements are made. Historically, the ambo was originally a raised platform in the middle of the nave of the church,… Read More


AMEN – 1)“So be it“ in Hebrew. Amen is said or sung at the close of a prayer or hymn, showing the agreement of the people to what has been said (Deut. 27:15 26; 1 Cor. 14:16).   Common English translations of the word amen include “verily,” “truly,” “so be it,” and “let it be.” 2)… Read More


AMNOS – (Gr. Lamb). The symbol for the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross (cf. John 1: 29). In the Orthodax liturgy the amnos is the first square piece from the altar bread (prosphora), inscnbed with the letters ICXC NIKA (an abbreviated form for “]esus Christ conquers”). This particular piece is to be consecrated during… Read More


AMOS – One of the books known as the prophetical books of the Old Testament. The Prophet Amos preached in the period from about 760-750 B.C. A shepherd from the Judean village of Tekoa, he was called by God to preach at the Northern shrine of Bethel. He denounced Israel, as well as her neighbors,… Read More


ANABATHMOI –’Hymns of Ascent’. These hymns are based on Ps. 120-134 and refer to the Church’s ascension to heaven. They are sung in Matins preceding the Prokeimenon and Gospel.


ANALOGION – (Sl. Analoy) A high table, usually with a sloped top used as a Gospel stand (lectern) or a stand for an icon.


ANALOI – A stand, about four or five feet high, with a sloping top; usually made of wood, and often covered with a cloth. Such stands are used (1) for reading; (2) when an Icon or the Book of the Gospels is placed in the body of the Church for veneration by the faithful.


ANAPHORA – (Gr. offering) The central prayer in the Divine Liturgy, containing the Consecration and Invocation of the Holy Spirit. It begins immediately after the recitation of The Creed.