Terminology - Glossary A

Glossary A

Term Definition

ANATHEMA – (Gr. suspended) A pronouncement by which the Church declares a person out of her communion, particularly because of the denial of the truths of faith. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy (first Sunday in Lent) in the Orthodox cathedrals during the Pontifiical service the anathema is proclaimed upon all heretics and apostates (GAL. 1:9,… Read More


ANAVATHMI – A series of short hymns, based on the Psalms of Ascents (Greek Anavathmi), nos. 119-133, which are sung at Matins on Sundays, and Feasts with a Gospel. On Sundays they are divided into three Antiphons, except for Tone Eight, which has four. They are sung immediately before the Prokeimenon. On Feasts the first… Read More


ANCHORITE – A person who withdraws from the world to live a solitary life of silence, prayer and mortification.


ANGELS – 1) Bodiless powers created before the creation of the physical universe. The English word “angel” comes from the Greek word for “messenger.” Throughout the Scripture, angels are messengers who carry the Word of God to earth (e.g. Gabriel’s visit to Mary, Luke 1:26-38). The Orthodox Church teaches that there are nine “choirs” or… Read More


ANIXANTARIA – On major feasts, and especially at All-night Vigils, the closing verses of the Opening Psalm are often sung to a solemn and protracted melody. The verses are farced with short hymns of praise, such as “Glory to you, Holy One. Glory to you, Lord. Glory to you, heavenly King. Glory to you, O… Read More


ANNOUNCEMENT (BELLS) – Blagovest This is a slow rhythmic, unhurried striking of one bell, which is usually rung for the announcing of the beginning of services. (see BLAGOVEST)


ANNUNCIATION – The visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she had been chosen to bear Christ, the Son of God. The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated exactly nine months before Christmas. Mary’s Son was no ordinary child, but God’s divine Son and Word in human flesh.


ANOINTED – 1)The anointing of a person with oil in the Scripture, in the Bible, in the Mosaic Law, in the practice of the Old Testament was a sign of consecration, of sanctification, of being set apart for the service of God, and so the use of anointing is in the Scripture. 2)(an appellation or… Read More


ANOINTING – The act of tracing a mark in the form of a cross, with holy oil on a person or a thing in a Church ceremony. Annointing is used in sacraments of Baptism, Chrysmation, and Annointing the sick, for the healing of body and soul (JAMES 5:14). Churches and altars are annointed when they… Read More


ANTICHRIST – Literally, “against Christ” or “instead of Christ.” Antichrist is used by John to refer to: (a) the opponent of Christ who will arise at the end of this age, and (b) the “many antichrists” who stand against the Son of God (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3).


ANTIDOR – (Antidoron, Gr. instead of a reward) The portions of the holy bread from the prosphora which are distributed to the faithful after Divine Liturgy.


ANTIMINSION – (Sl. Antimins) A combined Greek-Latin word meaning in place of a table. It is a silk or linen cloth with a sketch of the Entombment of Christ. A part of a saint’s relic is sewn into it. It is consecrated by a bishop and kept on the “prestol” (altar) at all times to… Read More


ANTIPASCHA – (St. Thomas Sunday) The Sunday after Easter, called the Second Sunday, is thus the eighth day of the paschal celebration, the last day of Bright Week. It is therefore called the Antipascha, and it was only on this day in the early church that the newly-baptized Christians removed their robes and entered once… Read More


ANTIPHON –  (pl. antiphons) a general title for a hymn or a section of the Psalter; the title describes the manner in which the hymn or Psalter are to be chanted, i.e., by two choirs in turn. An antiphon consists of one or more psalm verses (or sentences from Holy Scripture), alternating with verses which contain… Read More


APOCALYPSES – The last book of the Bible, also called Revelations. The prophetic book of the New Testament written by the beloved Apostle John.


APOCRYPHA – The word apocrypha comes from a Greek meaning “hidden.” Apocrypha may have different meanings depending on how it is applied to the Old or New Testaments and whether it is being used by Catholics, Protestants or Orthodox Christians. Because of this confusion, the term is not used much by Orthodox writers. For the… Read More


APODOSIS – (Sl. Otdaniye) The end of a feast of our Lord or the Mother of God which has lasted more than one day. It corresponds to the Western octave-day.   ‘Giving back’ or ‘return’ – It is the last day of the after-feasts on which the feast finally ends. Also called the leave-taking.


APOKATASTAIS – The name of a heresy saying that all will be saved, even if they reject God. In 543 the doctrine of apokatastasis was condemned by the Synod of Constantinople.


APOLOGETICS – The science of the defense and explanation of the Christian religion.  Apologetics is a field of study concerned with the systematic defence of Christianity. The term “apologetic” is derived from the Greek word apologia, which means in defense of (also means “reply” or “answer”).


APOLYTIKION – (Gr. “dismissal“). The dismissal hymn in honor of a saint, Christ, or Virgin Mary on the occasion of their feast day, especially at the end of the Vespers Service. It is often referred to simply as the Troparion of the Day.


APOSTASY – Literally, “turning away.”  This sin is committed when a Christian or body of believers rejects the true faith of Christ (1 Tim. 1:5 7; 4:1-3). Apostasy is the rejection of Christ and His saving power after baptism. An apostate is a person who has entered into apostasy, leaving the Church.


APOSTICHA – (singular apostichon) These are hymns (stichera) sung between verses of selected psalms, thus the Greek meaning: hymns on the verses (stichos), found at vespers and weekday matins. Aposticha are unique in that they start with a hymn, rather than a verse as stichera usually do. The aposticha at Sunday Vespers form an alphabetical… Read More


APOSTLE – 1)  Literally, “one who is sent.” Apostle is used as a title for the Twelve Disciples who formed the foundation of the NT Church, replacing, symbolically, the twelve tribes of Israel. In order to maintain this symbolism, Matthias was elected to replace Judas (Acts 1:15 26). The word is also used of the… Read More


APOSTOLIC CANONS – (Sl. Apostolskiya Pravila) A collection of eighty-five ecclesiastical decrees believed to have been drawn up by the Apostles. They are concerned chiefly with the discipline of the clergy and ordination.