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Mass Terminology

Acclamation – a joyful response which is sung

Alb – the long, loose-fitting tunic worn under vestments

Alleluia – means “praise God” in Hebrew; used especially during the Easter season

Altar – a table used at Mass (or sometimes called the “Table of the Lord”)

Amen – It means “so be it” and is used to express acceptance of what has just been said or done

Antiphon – a special prayer taken from the Psalms or other Bible verse which are used during Mass

Blessing – a divine and life-giving action, the source of which is the Father

Bread of Life – another name for Christ present in the Eucharist

Celebrant – the priest who presides at the Mass

Chalice – the cup that holds the wine which is blessed at Mass

Chasuble – the priest’s cape-like vestment which is placed over the alb, cincture and stole

Cincture – a cord the priest ties around the waist; it is used like a belt when vestments are worn

Communion – receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist

Consecration – the words by which the bread and wine at Mass are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ; part of the Eucharistic Prayer

Corporal – the linen cloth spread on the altar at the beginning of Mass (the chalice and host are placed on it)

Creed – the profession of faith made by the faithful during Mass; the Nicene Creed is used unless it is a children’s Mass, then the Apostles Creed may be used

Crucifix – a cross with the figure of Christ on it

Cruets – small pitchers that hold the water and wine used at Mass

Eucharist – the sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus, Eucharist comes for a Greek word meaning thanksgiving); the Church’s greatest act of worship

Gifts – freely given presents or donations

Gloria – also called the “Angelic Hymn”

Gospel – the Good News proclaimed by Christ and then the Apostles and the Church; the Gospels which are read at Mass are taken from the writing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Homily – sermon

Hosanna – Hebrew prayer which means, “Save us, we ask,” used by the crowds to greet Jesus on Palm Sunday; is said or sung at Mass

Host – unleavened bread used for Eucharist; commonly in the form of a wafer

Hymns – a song of praise

Intercessions – prayers of petition said by the faithful on behalf of others; at Mass the General Intercessions are sometimes called the Prayer of the Faithful

Lamb of God – prayer said or sung during the Communion Rite (or Jesus is the…)

Lectionary – the book from which selected scriptures are read at Mass

Lector – proclaims the readings for the Mass

Liturgical Year – the church year which begins the First Sunday in Advent and ends with the Feast of Christ the King

Liturgy – the official public worship of the Church

Liturgy of the Eucharist – one of the two main parts of the Mass; follows the Liturgy of the Word; God is present in the Eucharist; bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus

Liturgy of the Word – one of the two main parts of the Mass; God is present in the Word; God speaks through the prophets, the Apostles, the life and teachings of Jesus and the priest; the faithful respond with prayers of praise, petition, and a profession of faith

Lord’s Prayer – the “Our Father”

Mass – a celebration of the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper; a sacrifice and a meal

Missal – the book the priest uses when celebrating the Mass

Offertory – includes the procession with the gifts and the offering of bread & wine

Pall – a small white square of stiff linen used to cover the chalice

Paten – a flat saucer of the same material as the chalice

Penitential Rite –one of the Introductory Rites of the Mass; includes prayers of forgiveness and mercy

Prayer – conversation with God

Prayer of the Faithful – referred to as general intercessions or petitions

Preface – prayer of praise at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, it includes some of the wonderful things God has done for us; the Preface varies with the season or holy days

Priest – celebrant of the Mass

Processional – A sacred parade in which priests and people move from one place to another in honor of a special occasion; during Mass there are three processions – entrance, offertory and recessional

Profession of Faith - the public acceptance of the teachings of the Church

Psalm - A collection of Divinely inspired hymns or poems

Purificator – a linen cloth used for wiping the chalice

Reading – scripture read at Mass

Recessional – the formal movement to end the Mass

Rite – a religious ceremony; the words and actions or a liturgy or a sacrament

Species – the external form or appearance of bread and wine in the Eucharist; Communion can be received under one or both species

Sign of Peace – “The peace of the Lord be always with you.”

Sign of the Cross – a prayer gesture which honors the Blessed Trinity

Stole – a long piece of cloth worn around the shoulders; priests wear stoles whenever they are celebrating Mass of the sacraments

Thanksgiving – an expression of gratitude

Transubstantiation – the process of changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ

Usher – assists with seating and the collection of the offertory at Mass

Vestments – special clothing the priest wears for Mass

Download a PDF of the Mass Terminology.