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Glossary Of Christian Terms

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Advent : beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, a countdown to Christmas Day.

Anglican Church : the churches of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Anno Domini (AD) : indicates the number of years since the birth of Christ; AD means 'in the year of our lord'.

Ascension Day : 40th day after Easter, marking Christ's final appearance on earth.

Ash Wednesday : the first day of Lent; a 40-day period of penance leading up to Easter.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary : 15 August; a Catholic celebration of thanksgiving for Mary's ascension to heaven.

baptism : religious rite involving immersion in, or sprinkling with, water to cleanse from sin, which welcomes someone into the Church.

Before Christ (BC) : indicates the number of years 'before Christ' was born.

Bible : the holy book of Christianity.

carols (Christmas carols) : special hymns that are sung at Christmas to commemorate the birth of Christ.

Catholic : a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholics believe that Christ appointed St Peter as the first leader of the Church, and that he and all subsequent popes speak with the authority of God.

Catholicism (Roman Catholicism) : the Catholic religion, its beliefs and practices. See also: the 'Catholicism' section.

Christian : someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christianity : the Christian religion, its beliefs and practices.

Christmas : the most widely celebrated Christian festival, which commemorates the birth of Christ.

Church of England : the established, state-controlled Anglican Church of England. See also: the 'Church of England' section.

confession (sacrament of reconciliation) : the Catholic ritual of confessing sins to a priest who forgives them and prescribes a suitable penance.

confirmation : a ceremony at which a baptised Christian confirms their beliefs, and is fully admitted to the Church.

Corpus Christi : the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, when Catholics give thanks for the role of Christ in the Eucharist.

crucifixion : putting Christ to death by nailing him to a cross.

Defender of the Faith : the head of the Church of England, and the monarch.

Easter : a Christian festival commemorating the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Day : the first Sunday after the first new moon that follows the vernal equinox; it is the most important Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Christ and the arrival of spring.

Eucharist (or Holy Communion) : a religious rite or ritual in which consecrated bread and wine are offered to individuals by a priest, to commemorate Christ's last supper.

extracorporeal conception : an assisted method of conceiving a child outside the human body.

Free Churches : Protestant churches that are not controlled by the state.

God : there is only one Christian god, the father of mankind, who created heaven and earth and sent his son, Jesus Christ, to save mankind.

Good Friday : commemorates the crucifixion of Christ. Hot cross buns are often eaten on Good Friday, which occurs two days before Easter Day.

Holy Saturday : the day after Good Friday, and on which paschal candles are lit to overcome the darkness of death.

Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) : the third person of the Trinity, who continues Christ's work on earth after his death.

Holy Week : the last week of Lent, when the suffering and death of Christ are commemorated.

hot cross buns : spicy, fruited bread rolls that are decorated with a cross, and traditionally eaten on Good Friday.

Immaculate Conception : Catholics believe that Mary, to be a fitting mother for Christ, was herself born free of sin by immaculate conception. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church on the 8 December as a holy day of obligation, commemorating the immaculate conception of Mary.

Jesus Christ : the son of God, who was sent to earth to save mankind, and upon whose teachings Christianity is based.

Lent : the 40-day period of penance that leads up to Easter.

Maundy Thursday : Christians often make donations to charity on this holy day, which commemorates the Last Supper of Christ and his disciples.

Mothering Sunday (Mother's Day) : the fourth Sunday in Lent; it was originally the day on which Christians attended the 'mother church' but is today a day for giving thanks to our mothers.

Palm Sunday : the first day of Holy Week.

paschal candle : candle that is lit as part of the Easter celebrations on Holy Saturday to overcome the darkness of death.

Passion Sunday : the fifth Sunday in Lent, and on which Christ's suffering is contemplated.

Pentecost (or Whitsun) : the seventh Sunday after Easter, celebrating God's gift of the Holy Spirit; a traditional time for the baptism of converts.

Protestant : the churches formed in protest against the Roman Catholic Church during the 16th century Reformation, including the Church of England.

reconciliation : this Catholic sacrament is better known as 'confession', and is the act of confessing one's sins to a priest, who then pronounces forgiveness and prescribes a suitable penance.

resurrection of Christ : the belief that God raised Christ from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.

Sabbath : Sunday; the Christian day of rest, when many Christians attend church.

sacrament : the name for a religious
ethnic_groups rite; there are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church.

sacrament of the sick : a religious rite that is carried out when someone is ill or dying, and involves them being anointed with holy oil. Sacred Heart of Jesus : the third Friday after Pentecost, and on which Catholics celebrate Christ's love with images of hearts.

Satan : Jehovah's Witnesses believe Satan to be an enemy of Jehovah (God) who afflicts pain and sorrow.

Shrove Tuesday : the day before Ash Wednesday, and on which pancakes are traditionally eaten in the UK.

St Michael and All Angels : a Catholic celebration on 29 September of the saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

surrogacy : the process of one woman carrying a child for another; the child is usually conceived with the sperm of the partner of the woman who is unable to carry a child.

Synod (the General Synod of the Church of England) : the governing body of the Church of England.

Trinity : God the father, Jesus Christ the son and the Holy Spirit, who continues Christ's work after his death.

Trinity Sunday : the Sunday after Pentecost, and the day on which the communion of God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is celebrated.

vicar : a clergyman appointed to act as the priest of a parish.

Virgin Mary (Blessed Virgin Mary) : the mother of Jesus Christ; many Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary because they believe she has influence over her son.

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