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Misc. Priest / Vocation Facts

Return to Priests & Vocations Section 

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

Misc. Priest / Vocation Facts

Sources: Various

Important Notice:  By using this site you indicate agreement to all terms. For more terms information, see below and click here.


Click link below or scroll down to view all:

Abbot

Addressing Correspondence to Clergy

'Alter Christus'

Anchorite

Apostolical Succession

Asceticism

Bishop

Bishop of Rome

Bishopric

Brother

The Calling to Religious Life

Candidates

Canon

Cardinal

Cassock

Celibacy / Chastity

Chaplains

Church Hierarchy

Clergy

Cleric

Clerical Dress

Clerks Regular

Cloister

'Common Priesthood of the Faithful'

Congregation

Consecrated Life

Convent

Cure of Souls

Deaconate

Diocese

Discalced

The Divine Office

Duties / Responsibilities

Episcopacy

Episcopate

Evangelical Councils

Excardination

Formation

Fostering Vocations

Friar

Friary

Habit

Hermit

Hierarchical Priesthood

Holy Orders

'In Persona Christi'

Incardination

Mendicant

Metropolitan

Ministerial Priesthood

Minor / Major Orders

Missionary

Monastery

Monasticism

Monk

Monsignor

Novice

Novitiate

Obedience

Oblate

Ordained

Orders - See "Holy Orders"

Ordinary

Ordination

Parish

Parish Priest

Pastor

Patron Saints

Pope

Postulant

Poverty

Power of the Keys

Prayers for Priests

Preacher

Preaching

Prelate

Presbyter

Priest

Priesthood

Primate

Prior

Procurator

Profession (Religious)

Provincial

Rector

Rectory

Regular Clergy

Religious

Religious Institutes

Religious Life

Religious Order Initials

Religious Orders

Religious Priest

Role of Women

Rule

Sacerdos

Sacraments - See Sacraments Section

Secular Clergy

Secular Priest - See "Secular Clergy"

Seminarian

Seminary

Simple Vow

Sister / Nun

Solemn Vow

Sub-Deacon

Superior

Temporary Vows

Tertiary

Tonsure

Vestments

Vocation

Vows

Why Women Can't Be Priests

Also See...  

Item

Fact(s)

Abbot

"An Abbot is one who exercises over a religious community of men authority similar in many things to that exercised by a bishop over his diocese. He has also certain privileges usually granted to bishops." (Baltimore Catechism)

Addressing Correspondence to Clergy

Click Here for 'Addressing Correspondence to Clergy'

'Alter Christus'

A Priest acts as an 'Alter Christus' (Latin for 'Another Christ') when performing his priestly ministry. 

Also See: 'Alter Christus' / 'In Persona Christi' (Reflections) | 'In Persona Christi'

Anchorite

A hermit.

Also See: Hermits

Apostolical Succession

"The authoritative and unbroken transmission of the mission and powers conferred by Jesus Christ on St. Peter and the Apostles [and] from them to the present pope and bishops." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Bishop | Ordained | Power of the Keys | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections) | Vatican View Section

Asceticism

"Asceticism is self-discipline in all its forms, particularly those voluntarily undertaken out of love of God and desire for spiritual improvement; its meaning is sometimes improperly limited to corporal austerity. It may be internal discipline applied, to the mind, heart and will by purely internal effort, and at least a little of this is imposed on every Christian as a condition of salvation; or external, whether by the renunciations implied by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience...or by the various forms of bodily mortification and austerity directed to making and keeping the appetites conformed to right reason and God's law. Asceticism is an integral part of Christian life, having its sanction in our Lord's life...and teaching. It is not an end in itself, discomfort of mind or body for its own sake, but a means towards personal sanctification, freedom of soul, and approach to God; its higher forms are entirely voluntary and based on the distinction between precepts and counsels: it seeks first the Kingdom of God and so attains to fullness of life." (Catholic Dictionary) 

Also See: Evangelical Councils

Bishop

"The supreme ecclesiastical ruler of a diocese. Bishops are the successors of the apostles, as the pope is the successor of St. Peter. For the affairs of their own dioceses they are responsible directly to the pope. They govern their flocks in the name of God as representatives of Christ; they are not delegates of the Holy See, though they are subject to its authority, but exercise their own powers by virtue of their office. They do not enjoy personal infallibility, but collectively in union with the pope, they are infallible." (Catholic Dictionary) Note that Bishops may trace their power back directly to the apostles and must remain in communion with the pope. Bishops are appointed by the pope in the Western Church. As stated in the Baltimore Catechism: "The difference between the powers of a bishop and of a priest with regard to the administration of the Sacraments is that a bishop can give all the Sacraments, while a priest cannot give Confirmation or Holy Orders." 

Also See: Bishop of Rome | Bishopric | Diocese | Episcopate | Episcopacy | Bishops / Episcopate (Reflections) | Diocese / Parish (Reflections) | Vatican View Section | Papal Infallibility (Vatican View Section) | U.S. Dioceses & Archdioceses (Church Talk Section)

Bishop of Rome

The Pope is the Bishop of Rome. For more information on the Pope / Papacy, click here (Vatican View Section)

Also See: Pope

Bishopric

Refers to the office of the bishop.

Also See: Bishop | Episcopate | Episcopacy | Bishops / Episcopate (Reflections)

Brother

The term "brother" may have various meanings. With regard to the religious life, it may refer to a member of a religious order who is not a priest.

Also See: Religious Orders | Religious Life | Are You Called to Religious Life?

The Calling to Religious Life

Refers to one's being called by God to the Religious Life.

Also See: Religious Life | Are You Called to Religious Life? | The Calling to Religious Life (Reflections) 

Candidates

'Candidates' may refer to those being considered for the priesthood.

Also See: Priests / Priesthood (Reflections) | Candidates (Reflections) | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Canon

"An ecclesiastical person (Lat. Canonicus), a member of a chapter or body of clerics living according to rule and presided over by one of their number." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Cardinal

"A member of the Sacred College of Cardinals, the counselors and assistants of the pope in the government of the Church". (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Cardinals / Papal Legates (Reflections) | Cardinals (Vatican View Section Facts) | Pope

Cassock

"[A] close-fitting garment reaching to the heels, fastened down the front with numerous small buttons; the ecclesiastical uniform of all clerics except those who, being members of orders or congregations, have a distinctive habit. The cassock of the pope is white, of cardinals red, of bishops and other prelates purple, and everybody else black. For ordinary use cardinals, bishops and prelates have a black cassock with red or purple cincture, buttons and piping." (Catholic Dictionary) 

Also See: Clerical Dress | Clerical Dress / Appearance / Comportment (Reflections)

Celibacy / Chastity

Warning: May contain some graphic language

Clerical celibacy refers to the vow taken by the clergy to refrain from marriage / carnal intercourse. Chastity "excludes all indulgence of and all voluntary pleasure arising from the sexual appetite in the case of single persons [and] controls the use of such appetites according to the dictates of right reason in the case of married persons." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Celibacy / Chastity (Reflections) | Why Priestly Celibacy?

Chaplains

"The title given to the priest appointed to exercise the sacred ministry in an institution, such as a convent, orphanage or prison, usually with the cure of souls, or to minister to a special class of persons, e.g. military and naval chaplains." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Chaplains (Reflections)

Church Hierarchy

In a broad sense, the hierarchy of the Church may primarily consist of those who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders (e.g. the pope, bishops, priests, and deacons).

According to the Baltimore Catechism: "The pastors of the Church rank according to authority as follows: (1) Priests, who govern parishes or congregations in the name of their bishop; (2) Bishops, who rule over a number of parishes or a diocese; (3) Archbishops, who have authority over a number of dioceses or a providence; (4) Primates, who have authority over the ecclesiastical or Church provinces of a nation; (5) Patriarchs, who have authority over a whole country, and, last and highest, the Pope, who rules the Church throughout the world." 

Also See: Bishop | Holy Orders | Pope | Priest | Church Hierarchy (Reflections)

Clergy

"Persons in the Church legitimately deputed to exercise the power of holy orders and jurisdiction." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Holy Orders

Cleric

Refers to a member of the clergy. 

Also See: Clergy

Clerical Dress

Refers to the proper dress worn by clergy.

Also See: Cassock | Habit | Clerical Dress / Appearance / Comportment (Reflections)

Clerks Regular

"Bodies of men bound by the religious vows and living in community under a rule, but engaged primarily in the active work of the ministry and not bound to office in choir, as distinct from the monastic and mendicant life." (Catholic Dictionary)

Cloister

"The English equivalent of the Latin word 'clasura' (from claudere, 'to shut up')... In modern ecclesiastical usage, clausura signifies, materially, an enclosed space for religious retirement" (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Also See: Convent | Monastery | Religious Life

'Common Priesthood of the Faithful'

The 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' refers to the 'priesthood of the laity' which is referred to in various passages of Holy Scripture (e.g. 1 Pt 2, Rv. 1, 5, 20). This 'universal priesthood' should not be confused with the ministerial priesthood, which confers special powers and duties upon those ordained. While all the faithful share in the 'common priesthood', not all the faithful share in the ministerial priesthood. As in the Old Testament, [e.g. where God spoke to Moses: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites" (Ex. 19:6)] different classes of the priesthood exist, including a 'general priesthood' of followers who can offer prayers, thanksgiving, and other 'spiritual sacrifices' to God. 

Also See: Ministerial Priesthood | Priesthood | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections) | The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' (Reflections)

Congregation

This term has various meanings and may refer to a religious institute established by a bishop, monasteries united under a common head, and religious institutes in which members take only simple vows. 

Also See: Religious Institutes | Monastery | Religious Life | Simple Vow

Consecrated Life

"A permanent state of life recognized by the Church, entered freely in response to the call of Christ to perfection, and characterized by the profession of the evangelical councils of poverty, chastity, and obedience." (USCCB)

Also See: Religious Life | Evangelical Councils | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Convent

"A convent is defined as a building which serves as a fixed dwelling-place where religious live according to their rule." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Also See: Cloister | Friary | Monastery | Religious Life

Cure of Souls

"The pastoral care of the faithful." (Catholic Dictionary) The cure of souls generally includes the celebration of the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, catechesis, etc.

Also See: Parish Priest | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests (Reflections) | Sacraments Section

Deaconate

The deaconate is the first order or grade in ordained ministry. All men to be ordained to the priesthood must first be ordained as deacons. [Note: Also, since the Second Vatican Council, a "permanent deaconate" was instituted to assist priests.]

Also See: Holy Orders | Minor / Major Orders | Ordained

Diocese

"The territory governed by a bishop. The pope alone can erect, alter, divide, unite, or suppress dioceses" (Catholic Dictionary). Dioceses are divided into parishes.

Also See: Bishop | Pope | Diocese / Parish (Reflections) | U.S. Dioceses & Archdioceses

Discalced

Comes from the Latin "without shoe". May refer to religious congregations whose members go without shoes (or who wear sandals).

Also See: Religious Life

The Divine Office

Traditionally, the "Divine Office" refers to certain prayers said at specified hours of the day and night which are recited by priests, religious, and other clerics. May also be called "Canonical Hours", "Liturgy of the Hours", or "Breviary".

Also See: The Divine Office (Reflections)

Duties / Responsibilities

Priests have a variety of duties, however, as St. Thomas Aquinas states, "[T]he principal act of a priest is to consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ". For more information on priestly duties / responsibilities, try here (Reflections: Duties & Responsibilities of Priests)

Episcopacy

"The bishops of the Church as a body." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Bishop | Episcopate

Episcopate

Refers to the office of a bishop.

Also See: Bishop | Episcopacy | Bishops / Episcopate (Reflections)

Evangelical Councils

"[V]oluntary poverty, perpetual chastity and entire obedience. Their observance is not necessary to salvation; they are a rule of perfection put forward to be voluntarily taken up by those who find themselves the vocation to do so. They are not perfection itself, but instruments for its attainment, for maintaining and strengthening love of God and one's neighbor." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Religious Life | Vows

Excardination

"[T]he transfer of a cleric permanently from the jurisdiction of one bishop to that of another." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Incardination | Incardination / Excardination (Reflections)

Formation

Refers to the preparation of a person for the priesthood or religious life.

Also See: Priesthood | Religious Life | Seminarian | Seminaries / Seminarians / Training / Formation (Reflections) | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Fostering Vocations

May refer to practices / behaviors to encourage persons called to religious life to respond to their calling and to efforts to increase the number of priests / religious in the Church.

Note for Parents: "Parents and guardians should bear in mind with regard to their children's vocations: (1) That it is their duty to aid their children to discover their vocation: (2) That it is sinful for them to resist the Will of God by endeavoring to turn their children from their true vocation or prevent them from following it by placing obstacles in their way, and, worst of all, to urge them to enter a state of life to which they have not been divinely called; (3) That in giving their advice they should be guided only by the future good and happiness of their children and not by any selfish or worldly motive which may lead to the loss of souls." (Baltimore Catechism)

Also See: Fostering Vocations (Reflections) | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Friar

"A member of one of the so-called mendicant orders [e.g. Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians]. 'Friar' is not synonymous with 'monk'... the life of a monk is normally passed within the walls of his monastery; a friar has his headquarters in a friary but his work is of the active ministry and may take him to all parts of the earth; a friar is a member of a highly organized, widespread body with a central authority to which he is professed; a monk's allegiance is to the abbot of an autonomous individual monastery." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Friary | Mendicant | Religious Life

Friary

"A community of any one of the orders of friars and the house in which they live." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Friar

Habit

Related: "42 Reasons Nuns Should Wear Habits" (User-Submitted Article)

"The clothes or uniform proper to a religious order." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Clerical Dress | Religious Orders

Hermit

"One who lives alone and devotes himself primarily to the exercises of religion in order the better to know, love and serve God." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Anchorite | Religious Life

Hierarchical Priesthood

Refers to the ministerial priesthood as distinct from the 'common priesthood of the faithful'.

Also See: Church Hierarchy | 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' | Ministerial Priesthood | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections) | The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' (Reflections)

Holy Orders

"Holy Orders is a sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties." (Baltimore Catechism) The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by bishops. Like Baptism and Confirmation, this sacrament makes an indelible (permanent) mark on the soul of the recipient.

Also See: Minor / Major Orders | Ordained | Ordination | Priesthood | Holy Orders (Sacraments Section Reflections) | Sacraments Section | Are You Called to the Priesthood / Religious Life?

'In Persona Christi'

A priest acts 'In Persona Christi' (Latin for 'In the Person of Christ') when performing his priestly ministry. 

Also See: 'Alter Christus' | Priest | Alter Christus / In Persona Christi (Reflections) | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests (Reflections)

Incardination

"Incardination is a canonical and perpetual enlistment in the new diocese to which a given person [e.g. priest] has been transferred by letters of excardination." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Also See: Excardination | Incardination / Excardination (Reflections)

Mendicant

Traditionally applied to orders of friars who were forbidden to possess property and subsisted by begging.

Also See: Friar

Metropolitan

"In the Western church the title and rank added to that of an archbishop who presides over a province and consequently has suffragen sees under him" (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: The Metropolitan (Reflections)

Ministerial Priesthood

Refers to the ordained priesthood which confers special powers and duties upon the men ordained.

Also See: 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' | Hierarchical Priesthood | Ordained | Power of the Keys | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections) | The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' (Reflections) | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests

Minor / Major Orders

"[Traditionally,] Sub-deaconship, deaconship and priesthood are called major or greater orders, because those who receive them are bound for life to the service of the altar and they cannot return to the service of the world to live as ordinary laymen." (Baltimore Catechism) Traditionally in the Western church, the minor orders refer to the "lower ranks of the clergy, through which all aspirants to the priesthood must pass." (Catholic Dictionary). Note that major / minor orders may still be used by traditional religious orders.

Also See: Holy Orders | Priesthood

Missionary

Missionary may refer to one who engages in certain apostolic labors (e.g. propagating the faith in foreign countries). 

Monastery

Generally refers to the "fixed abode of a community of monks, canons regular or nuns; the name is extended to include houses of friars [and various] congregations" (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Cloister | Convent | Religious Life

Monasticism

"The essence of monasticism, strictly so called, is the formation of a 'community of monks, bound to live together until death, under rule, in common life, in the monastery of their profession, as a religious family, leading a life not of marked austerity but devoted to the service of God.' It must be distinguished from the community life of canons regular and the mendicant life of friars, both of which are monastic only to a certain extent and incidentally, and still more from the organized activity of later orders and congregations." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Monastery | Monk | Religious Life

Monk

"One who by taking the vows of religious binds himself to the monastic life in its integrity." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Monastery | Monasticism | Religious Life | Friar

Monsignor

"A Monsignor is a priest upon whom the Pope confers this title as a mark of esteem. It gives certain privileges and the right to wear purple like a bishop." (Baltimore Catechism)

Novice

"One undergoing a period of probation...with the object of testing fitness for profession in a religious order or congregation of men or women." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Novitiate | Postulant | Profession (Religious) | Religious Life | Religious Orders | Congregation | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Novitiate

"The period or condition of being a novice" (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Novice

Obedience

A vow commonly taken by priests or religious to "submit to the direction of his superiors according to the rule and constitutions of the society." (Catholic Dictionary). [Note: For diocesan priests, obedience may be given to the bishop.]

Also See: Vows | Religious | Religious Life | Obedience (Reflections)

Oblate

"The name given to members of certain religious congregations who have offered themselves to the service of God." (Catholic Dictionary) It is derived from the Latin term "oblatus" ("offered").

Ordained

Refers to a man who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It should be noted that "each man validly ordained was ordained so by someone ordained in direct line of apostolic succession to Christ Himself."

Also See: Holy Orders | Ministerial Priesthood | Ordination | Priesthood | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections)

Orders

See "Holy Orders"

Ordinary

"A cleric with ordinary jurisdiction in the external forum over a specified territory." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Cleric

Ordination

Refers to the reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders

Also See: Holy Orders | Ministerial Priesthood | Minor / Major Orders | Ordained | Sacraments Section | Are You Called to the Priesthood / Religious Life?

Parish

"A defined territorial district, within a church and congregation, in charge of a priest who has cure of souls therein. Every diocese must be parceled out into parishes; its boundaries, etc., may be altered for a canonical reason at the discretion of the bishop... Parishes are the ordinary charge of the secular clergy" (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Diocese | Parish Priest | Diocese / Parish (Reflections)

Parish Priest

"A priest having cure of souls in a parish or quasi-parish under the authority of the local ordinary." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Parish

Pastor

The term 'pastor' is Latin for 'shepherd'. "A priest who has cure of souls, whatever the canonical position of his parish or district may be." (Catholic Dictionary).

Patron Saints

Altar Boys: St. John Berchmans

Bishops: St. Ambrose, St. Charles Borromeo

Bishops (Missionary): St. Paul

Catechists: St. Charles Borromeo, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Viator

Clerics: St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother

Confessors: St. Alphonsus de Liguori

Deacons: St. Laurence, St. Stephen, St. Marinus

Hermits: St. Antony, St. Giles, St. Hilarion

Lay Brothers: St. Gerard Majella

Lay Sisters: St. Martha

Missionaries: St. Francis Xavier, St. Theresa of Lisieux, St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Monks: St. John the Baptist, St. Antony, St. Benedict of Nursia

Nuns: The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Bridget, St. Scholastica

Papacy: St. Peter

Parish Priests: St. John Vianney

Priests: St. John Vianney, St. John of Avila

Pope: Pope St. Gregory the Great

Preachers: St. John Chrysostom, St. Bernardino of Siena

Seminarians: St. Charles Borromeo

Tertiaries: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Margaret of Cortona, St. Louis IX

Those Rejected by Religious Orders: St. Benedict Joseph Labre, St. Joseph Moscati, St. Rose of Viterbo

Virgins: The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Agnes

Vocations: St. Alphonsus Liguori

Also See: Saints Section

Pope

"The pope, as bishop of Rome, is the successor of St. Peter, and therefore the visible head of the Church on earth, the vicegerent of Christ, and the supreme ruler of all Christians. Christ commanded Peter to 'feed my lambs, feed my sheep' (John xxi, 16, 17), which meant that he was to rule and govern the faithful and their pastors. He is therefore the supreme judge in all matters of faith and morals, in pronouncing upon which he may exercise infallibility. He also exercises supreme jurisdiction and may legislate for the whole Church and dispense from canonical law. He alone can erect, suppress, or otherwise modify dioceses and mission territories; confirm the election of bishops or translate or depose them; and fully approve new religious institutes. He reserves to himself the beatification and canonization of saints and the absolution of certain sins, and judges appeals from all lower authorities. But he cannot alter the faith once delivered to the saints or suppress or modify any essential rites or dispense from the divine law. Much of the papal power may be and is delegated, e.g., to the Roman congregations, delegates apostolic, and others." (Catholic Dictionary)

The pope is Christ's Vicar, the earthly leader of the Catholic Church, and the successor of St. Peter. He also has jurisdiction over the Vatican City State and the Holy See. He is the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. His office is called the pontificate (or papacy). As possessor of the keys to the kingdom of heaven and gifted with infallibility, the pope keeps the doctrine of the faith pure and acts as a center of unity in the Church. His office is a royal one, as represented by the triple tiara commonly worn by the popes. The pope also has his own Papal Coat of Arms and military force (the Swiss Guards). The pope presently resides in the Vatican palace and his official seat is the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

Note: The term 'pope' is derived from the Greek 'papa', or father. The term originally enjoyed a broader use (e.g. it was applied to bishops and priests), but after a few centuries, it was used exclusively to denote the Bishop of Rome.

Also See: Bishop of Rome | Vatican View Section

Postulant

"One preparing to be clothed as a novice in a religious house by means of a preliminary experience of the life." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Novice | Religious Life

Poverty

A vow often taken by religious to renounce personal property.

Also See: Vows | Poverty (Reflections)

Power of the Keys

"An expression, derived from Matt. xvi, 19, denoting the complete ecclesiastical authority of orders, jurisdiction and doctrine conferred by our Lord in the first place on St. Peter and his successors and then on the other members of the hierarchy in their degree. Popularly and in the writings of many of the Fathers and other theologians it refers only to the power of binding and loosing exercised in the sacrament of Penance." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Priesthood | Priests & The Sacrament of Penance (Reflections)

Prayers for Priests

Click Here for 'Prayers For Priests & Vocations'

Preacher

One designated by proper Church authorities to preach Catholic doctrine. 

Also See: Preaching | Preachers / Preaching (Reflections)

Preaching

"The object of preaching is to instruct people in the Christian faith in order that they may know and love God and his revelation and lead a virtuous and charitable life; it is addressed both to the understanding and to the heart. The Council of Trent confirmed the doctrine that preaching is a principal office of bishops and ordered that their duties, the priests of parishes, should preach at least on Sundays and holidays. This sermon is usually a discourse on the gospel of the day at the parochial Mass. Secular priests from outside the diocese and any religious may not preach in a public church without the bishop's permission. A deacon may be deputed to preach, but never a layman or a woman, even if a religious." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Preacher | Preachers / Preaching (Reflections)

Prelate

"A dignitary having jurisdiction in the external forum by right of his office. The principal prelates are the bishops; others are vicars and prefects apostolic, abbots and other major superiors of religious orders, and the higher officials of the Roman curia." (Catholic Dictionary)

Presbyter

Generally, in early usage of the term, presbyter may refer to a bishop, whereas in later usage, the term presbyter may refer to a priest.

Also See: Bishop | Priest

Priest

"The minister of divine worship, especially in its highest act, [the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass]." (Catholic Dictionary) The power of their office is conferred by the reception of Holy Orders and may be traced back directly to apostolic times. Priests receive a threefold power to preach, forgive sins, and to consecrate the Holy Eucharist. Priests are called by God (a "vocation"), not elected, and have an awesome power - "they have powers not given even to the angels!" A priest confers the sacraments, acting "In Persona Christi" and as an "Alter Christus". One may say that he acts "as an instrument employed by God for the salvation of souls."

Also See: 'Alter Christus' | Cure of Souls | Holy Orders | 'In Persona Christi' | Ministerial Priesthood | Minor / Major Orders | Ordained | Ordination | Parish Priest | Pastor | Power of the Keys | Priesthood | Religious Priest | Sacerdos | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests (Reflections) | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections) | Prayers for Priests / Vocations | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests

Priesthood 

The term priesthood may have various meanings, including: "i. The priestly office, character or dignity. ii. The character imprinted on the soul by the valid reception of the sacrament of Holy Order. iii. The aggregate of those priestly rank [e.g. the bishops and priests with the pope as their head.]." (Catholic Dictionary). The priesthood in the Catholic Church was instituted by Christ. It surpasses the priesthood of the Old Testament in dignity and power. The ministerial priesthood established by Christ confers special powers "not even granted to the angels" - e.g. the power of forgiving sins and the power of consecrating the Holy Eucharist. It is a true ministerial priesthood and is distinguished from the 'common priesthood of the faithful' (in which no special priestly powers are granted).

Also See: Holy Orders | Ministerial Priesthood | Power of the Keys | Priest | Priests / Priesthood (Reflections)

Primate

"A bishop who, without the rank of patriarch, exercises jurisdiction over all the metropolitans and bishops of a given district or country, himself being subject only to the Holy See." (Catholic Dictionary) Note that this title may be principally of historical importance.

Prior

"A monastic superior or sub-superior, usually holding office temporarily for a fixed period. The superiors of colleges of secular canons are sometimes called prior." (Catholic Dictionary)

Procurator

"i. The representative of a religious order permanently residing in Rome. ii. The official in a monastery (or convent, seminary or similar establishment) who has charge of...[certain] affairs of the house... iii. Any person lawfully appointed to act for another, e.g. a proxy for a sponsor at baptism." (Catholic Dictionary)

Profession (Religious)

"A contract whereby a novice freely gives himself, by the taking of vows, to the religious life in a community approved by the Church. It may be solemn or simple, and this latter temporary or perpetual." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Novice | Religious Life | Vows

Provincial

"The superior of a province of a religious order." (Catholic Dictionary)

Rector

"A priest legitimately appointed as the ruling head of a church (parish or otherwise), college (e.g. seminary) or institution (e.g. university)."

Rectory

Refers to a priest's residence.

Regular Clergy

"In its strict sense, the priests and other professed members...of any religious institute having solemn vows. In its common sense, those clerics who are bound by vows and live in community according to a rule, as opposed to those, seculars, who do not so live, i.e., the ordinary parochial clergy." (Catholic Dictionary) As stated in the Baltimore Catechism: "There are many religious communities of priests, who, besides living according to the general laws of the Church, as all priests do, follow certain rules laid down for their community. Such priests are called the regular clergy, because living by rules to distinguish them from the secular clergy who live in their parishes under no special rule. The chief work of the regular clergy is to teach in colleges and give missions and retreats."

Religious

"Any person, clerical or lay, male or female, who is a member of a religious institute." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Religious Institutes | Religious Life | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Religious Institutes 

"Canon law calls a 'religion' or religious institute in general a society of men or women approved by ecclesiastical superiors, in which the members in conformity with the special laws of their association take vows, perpetual or temporary but to be renewed when they expire, and by this means tend to evangelical perfection. It must be a society in the strict juridical sense... To become a religious institute in the full canonical sense it must receive positive and formal approval from the legitimate authority, that is, the Holy See or the bishop. As a condition for such approval each institute must have its rule or constitution determining its mode of government, the rights and duties of the members. Each member must take the vows of religion publicly, that is, in the hands of the legitimate superior, who receives them in the name of the Church. Institutes are principally divided into orders and congregations and are clerical or lay." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Religious | Religious Life | Congregation | Religious Orders | Religious Order Initials For Men | Religious Order Initials for Women | Religious Institutes For Men | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Religious Life

"[A] life directed to personal perfection...a life seeking union with God" (Catholic Encyclopedia)

"'A stable mode of life in a community, whereby the faithful undertake to observe, not only the general precepts, but also the evangelical councils by means of the vows of obedience, chastity and poverty' (Code of Canon Law, canon 487). Religious...are bound to tend to perfection by practicing the counsels and submitting to the rules and constitutions of their order or congregation." (Catholic Dictionary)

Note that religious life may vary depending upon the community, order, etc. 

Also See: Consecrated Life | Religious | Religious Institutes | Vows | Religious / Religious Life / Religious Institutes (Reflections) | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Religious Order Initials

Click here for Religious Order Initials For Men

Click here for Religious Order Initials For Women

Religious Orders

"i. Canon law reserves this name to the religious institutes in which the members take solemn vows... ii. Historically a society of persons united for religious ends, bound by vows, and organized ultimately under the authority of a 'superior general'... iii. in common speech, any of the societies which canon law calls religious institutes." (Catholic Dictionary) Note: Some well-known religious orders may include: Augustinians, Benedictines, Carmelites, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Redemptorists, Salesians, etc.

Also See: Religious Institutes | Religious Life | Religious Order Initials | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Religious Priest

Unlike a diocesan priest (who serves the church in his diocese), a religious priest is not ordained for a specific diocese, but may serve his own religious community and also beyond the limits of a diocese.

Role of Women

Click Here For "Proper Role & Behavior of Women" Reflections

Also See: The Religious Life For Women | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests

Rule

"The regulations of life and daily discipline under which a religious lives. These vary in every order and congregation" (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Religious Life

Sacerdos

Latin for priest. Note: Click here  for more Latin definitions.

Sacraments

See Sacraments Section

Secular Clergy

"The ordinary clergy who pursue their work, principally parochial, living independently in the world, as opposed to the regular clergy who are bound by a rule and usually live in monasteries. The secular priest is the normal Christian cleric" (Catholic Dictionary)

Secular Priest

See "Secular Clergy"

Seminarian

Refers to a man who is training for the priesthood.

Also See: Seminary | Candidates | Seminaries / Seminarians / Training / Formation (Reflections)

Seminary

"A college exclusively devoted to the training of candidates of the priesthood." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Seminarian | Candidates | Seminaries / Seminarians / Training / Formation (Reflections)

Simple Vow

"Public vows not recognized by the Church as solemn. Usually they render contrary acts unlawful but not invalid. Thus religious in simple vows retain ownership of property, and their marriages are valid, though illicit; but some simple vows render contrary acts invalid. They cannot be taken before [completing a certain age]... A religious society of simple vows is called a congregation, and religious women in simple vows are technically called sisters, as distinct from nuns in solemn vows." (Catholic Dictionary) 

Also See: Vows | Solemn Vow | Congregation | Religious | Religious Life | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Sister / Nun

"[N]uns and sisters...devote themselves in various religious orders to the practice of a life of perfection" (Catholic Encyclopedia). Note that, strictly speaking, a female belonging to a religious institute having solemn vows is a 'nun', whereas one who takes only simple vows is a 'sister'.

Also See: Religious Life | Simple Vow | Solemn Vow | The Religious Life For Women | Are You Considering the Religious Life? 

Solemn Vow

"Those recognized as such by the Church. They render contrary acts not only illicit but invalid: thus religious in solemn vows cannot own property or contract valid marriage... A religious society of solemn vows is called an order, and its members are regulars; religious women in solemn vows are technically termed moniales, i.e. nuns." (Catholic Dictionary) 

Also See: Vows | Simple Vow | Religious Orders | Religious | Religious Life | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Sub-Deacon

In the Western Church, subdeacon traditionally refers to the lowest of the major orders. 

Also See: Minor / Major Orders

Superior

"Any one having authority over others by virtue of his ecclesiastical rank either in the Church or in some unit thereof, e.g. a seminary or monastery." (Catholic Dictionary)

Temporary Vows

Temporary vows may refer to religious vows which automatically lapse at the end of a certain period unless they are renewed or made perpetual.

Also See: Vows | Religious Life

Tertiary

"A member of a third order. A secular tertiary is a lay person living in the world; a regular tertiary is a religious living in a community and bound by vows." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Vows | Religious Life

Tonsure

"A complete shaving of part of the hair [on a man's] head" - it may be required for clerics and may be considered "the visible sign of the clerical state and symbolizes Christ's crown of thorns" (Catholic Dictionary). The actual pattern of the shaving may vary.

Vestments

"The special garments worn by ecclesiastics in the exercise of divine worship and administering the sacraments." (Catholic Dictionary) Such garments may be traced back even to the Old Testament (cf. Ex. 28).

Also See: Clerical Dress

Vocation

"A call given by God to a soul" (Catholic Dictionary). This term is often associated with those called to the religious life or priesthood, but, strictly speaking, it applies to other "callings" as well (e.g. marriage).

Also See: The Calling to Religious Life | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Vows

"A solemn promise made to God freely and deliberately to perform some good work or to embrace a higher state of life. The fulfillment of a vow is an obligation of the virtue of religion. Vows are public (e.g. the vows of monks and nuns) or private, solemn or simple, personal or real. A vow binds no one but the vower, but the obligations of real vows, whereby property is dedicated to God, pass to heirs. Ordinaries can dispense or commute vows for a just cause, except those reserved to the pope." (Catholic Dictionary)

Also See: Simple Vow | Solemn Vow | Temporary Vows | Evangelical Councils | Celibacy / Chastity | Obedience | Poverty | Religious Life

Why Women Can't Be Priests

Click Here For "Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests"

Also See: Role of Women

Also See...

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