The Use of Color in the Catholic Liturgical Year
The sense of sight, including color, plays an important role in Catholic worship. The colors of a Catholic priest’s vestments help the faithful know that certain celebrations are at hand.
Green: The color of vestments used during ordinary time. (Ordinary time is the rest of the year that’s not the Christmas or Easter season — it’s still important, it just has an unexciting name.)
White and gold: Most appropriate for Christmas and Easter.
Red: For on feasts of the Passion of Jesus and for the Holy Spirit, representing red tongues of fire, in addition to being worn for the feasts of martyred saints, who shed their red blood for Christ.
Rose: On the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the color rose may be worn as a sign of anticipated joy.
Church decorations and flowers usually reflect the vestment color.
The religious season before Christmas when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.
A raised table-like structure from which a priest celebrates Mass.
A canon law decree that declares that a marriage was never a valid sacrament in the first place, usually because one or both of the partners did not enter into it with good faith and intentions.
The 12 men who accompanied and supported Jesus and were trained by him to spread Christianity.
A large diocese run by an archbishop.
The first day of Lent when Catholics are anointed with ashes as a reminder of their mortality.
The essential sacrament that washes away original sin and welcomes the baptized person into the Church.
The Catholic belief that God, the one Supreme Being, is made up of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
A man ordained first to the priesthood, then elevated to the next level by the pope. A bishop oversees a diocese; an archbishop oversees an archdiocese.
A branch of Catholicism that recognizes the authority of the pope and celebrates the sacraments, but whose rituals differ from those of Western or Roman Catholic sects.
The supreme law of the Catholic Church that spells out the rules and regulations that guide the Church.
An ordained man elevated to the step just below the pope. Cardinals help the pope administer to the faithful and a new pope is elected from among them when a pope dies.
A book that contains the doctrines of Catholicism.
A formal and solemn oath to never enter the married state. Priests take a vow of celibacy.
The gold or silver cup that holds the wine that will become Christ’s body and blood during the Mass.
A member of the clergy.
A sacrament during which a Catholic confesses all known mortal sins to a priest.
The part during the Mass when the priest changes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.
A Christian oath, stating what Catholics believe as revealed to them by God through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Key Catholic creed are the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
An ordained man who normally has no intention or desire of becoming a priest. A deacon may be single or married.
A collection of parishes overseen by a bishop.
The day in the Catholic calendar when a specific saint’s holy life and deeds are remembered.
The act of touching the right knee to the floor while bending the left knee as a gesture of respect and obedience to God.
Sponsor to a child or adult being baptized.
The Friday before Easter Sunday; the day Jesus died on the cross.
A totally free, unmerited gift from God. Grace is a sharing in the divine; the inspiration to do God’s will.
A place of eternal joy and the ecstasy of dwelling with God.
A place of eternal torment and damnation.
The essential sacrament of Catholicism in which a host consecrated by a priest becomes literally the body and blood of Jesus and is received by the Catholic faithful.
A day in the Catholic calendar when all Catholics must attend Mass.
The sermon given after the Gospel is read at Mass. Different than a sermon in that it’s a explanation and reflection on the Word of God, read only by clergy.
A wafer of bread used in a Eucharistic service. It becomes the Host (capitalized) when consecrated.
Incapable of error. The pope is believed to be infallible when he teaches a doctrine on faith or morals to the universal Church.
Non-ordained, everyday Catholics. Members of a religious organization who are not clergy.
A layperson trained for the task of reading at Mass.
The 40 days before Easter, when Catholics prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus through fasting, abstinence, and prayer, often giving up a specific treat for the duration of the season.
The formal, official worship service of Catholicism. Catholics are required to attend Mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation.
A sin that kills grace; committing a mortal sin is tantamount to choosing Hell over Heaven.
The only sanctioned birth control method for Catholics, it relies on charting a woman’s fertile cycle and abstaining from sex during fertile periods to prevent pregnancy.
Sin passed down to every human from Adam and Eve; the Sacrament of Baptism washes it away.
A collection of neighborhoods in one region of a county within a given state under the spiritual care of a priest.
The supreme head of the Catholic Church.
An ordained man responsible for administering the sacraments and tending to the spiritual health of his parishioners.
A spiritual state of the soul in which it is purified before entering heaven.
A rite established by Jesus Christ to bring grace to those participating in or receiving it. The seven sacraments of Catholicism are Baptism, Penance, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.
A student training for the priesthood.
The equivalent of Protestant divinity school where men are trained for the priesthood.
A gesture of respect in which a Catholic uses the right hand to touch the forehead, then the middle of the breast, then the left shoulder, and finally the right shoulder.
God’s laws as given to Moses. Following the Commandments is the path to a holy life; breaking them is the basis of sin.
The act of changing the substances of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
The physical seat of the Catholic Church; the pope lives and rules from the Vatican.
A transgression that inflicts a slight wound to the soul and which may be forgiven by making a confession and a sincere act of contrition.