Abbess. (from masc. abbot; Gr. Hegoumeni). The female
superior of a community of nuns appointed by a bishop;
Mother Superior. She has general authority over her community and nunnery
under the supervision of a bishop.
Abbot. (from Aram. abba, father; Gr.
Hegoumenos, Sl. Nastoyatel). The head of a monastic community or
monastery, appointed by a bishop
or elected by the members of the community. He has ordinary jurisdiction and
authority over his monastery, serving in particular as spiritual father and
guiding the members of his community.
Abstinence. (Gr. Nisteia). A penitential
practice consisting of voluntary deprivation of certain foods for religious
reasons. In the Orthodox Church, days of abstinence are observed on Wednesdays
and Fridays, or other specific periods, such as the Great Lent (see fasting).
The follower of a priest; a person assisting the priest in church
ceremonies or services. In the early Church, the acolytes were adults; today,
however, his duties are performed by children (altar boys).
(Sl. Vozdukh). The largest of the three veils used for covering the
paten and the chalice during or after the Eucharist. It represents the shroud
of Christ. When the creed is read, the priest shakes it over the chalice,
symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Affinity. (Gr. Syngeneia). The spiritual
relationship existing between an individual and his spouse's relatives, or
most especially between godparents and godchildren. The Orthodox Church
considers affinity an impediment to marriage.
Love). Feast of love; the common meal of fellowship eaten in gatherings
of the early Christians (I Cor. 11: 20 34). Agape is also the name of the
Easter Vespers Service held in the early afternoon on Easter day. The faithful
express their brotherly love and exchange the kiss of love honoring the
Age of Reason. This is the time in life
when an individual begins to distinguish between right and wrong and becomes
morally responsible for himself. It is considered to begin at the age of seven
or so, and no later than twelve.
Agnets. (see lamb).
(Gr.: verbal words; not written). Sayings or deeds of Christ which were never
written or recorded in the Gospels (cf. John 21:25).
Akathistos Hymn. A hymn of praise comprised of
twenty-four stanzas and sung at the Salutation Services, dedicated to Virgin
Mary Theotokos. It is divided into four parts, one part sung on each
Friday of the Great Lent. On the fifth Friday, the entire set is sung in
commemoration of a miracle by the Virgin in Constantinople (626 A.D.). The
hymn is also known as "Salutations" (Gr. Heretismoi).
Alb. (Lat.; Gr. stichari[on]. Sl.
Podriznik). The long white undergarment of the clergy, with close
sleeves, worn under the chasuble or the sakkos.
All Saints Sunday. (Gr.
Agion Panton). A feast day of the Orthodox Church collectively
commemorating all the Saints of the church who have remained anonymous. This
feast day is celebrated on the Sunday following
Alpha-Omega. The first and the last letters of the
Greek alphabet, symbolizing "the beginning and the end," or the divinity and
eternity of Christ. (Rev. 1: 8). These two letters also form the monogram of
Altar. (Hebr. "a place of sacrifice;"
Gr. hieron; Sl. prestol). In Orthodox architecture the term
signifies the area of the sanctuary divided from the rest of the church by the
Altar Bread. (see Prosphoro).
Table. (Gr. Hagia Trapeza; Sl. Prestol). The square
table in the middle of the altar, made of wood or marble, on which the
Eucharist is offered. It is dressed with the "Altar Cloth," and contains the
relics deposited there by the consecrating bishop.
The center of the table is occupied by the folded Antiminsion,
on which the ceremonial gospel book is placed, and behind it is the tabernacle
with the "reserved gifts."
Ambon. (see pulpit).
(Gr.-Sl. analoy). A wooden stand or podium placed on the right side
of the soleas near the south door of the altar. Usually with a sloped
top, it is used as a stand for the gospel book or icon.
(Gr.: a curse, suspension). The spiritual suspension with which the church may
expel a person from her community for various reasons, especially denial of
the faith or other mortal sins. The church also may proclaim an anathema
against the enemies of the faith, such as heretics and traitors, in a special
service conducted on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (first Sunday of Lent).
Anchorite. (Gr. Anachoritis, "a departurer").
A solitary monk or hermit; an individual who withdraws from society and lives
a solitary life of silence and prayer.
(Gr. Angelos, "messenger"). Bodiless beings, purely spirits,
created by God before man. They are superior in nature and intelligence to
man; and, like man, they have understanding and free will. Some of them are
appointed to guard the faithful (guardian angels). Angels are grouped in nine
orders (tagmata) as follows: Angels; Archangels; Principalities;
Powers; Virtues; Dominations; Thrones; Cherubim; Seraphim. In the Orthodox
worship, every Monday is dedicated to the angels.
(Gr. Evangelismos). A feast of the Orthodox Church (March 25)
commemorating the visit of Archangel Gabriel to Virgin
Mary "to announce" that she was chosen to be the Mother
of God (Luke 1: 26-33).
Anteri. (see cassock).
Antidoron. (Gr.: "instead of the gift"). A
small piece of the altar bread (prosphoron)
distributed to the faithful after the celebration of the Eucharist.
Originally it was given to those who could not take communion, but it
became a practice for it to be offered to all the faithful.
Antimens or Antiminsion. (Gr. and Lat.
compounds "in place of a table;" Sl. Antimins). It is a rectangular
piece of cloth, of linen or silk, with representations of the entombment of
Christ, the four Evangelists, and scriptural passages related to the
Eucharist. The antimens must be consecrated by the head of the church
and always lie on the Altar Table. No sacrament, especially the Divine
Liturgy, can be performed without a consecrated
Antiphon. (Gr. "alternate utterance or
chanting"). 1) A short verse from the scriptures, especially the psalms, sung
or recited in the liturgy and other church services. 2) Any verse or hymn sung
or recited by one part of the choir or chanters in response to another
Apocrypha. (Gr. "hidden or secret").
Some of the books of the Bible not accepted by all denominations of Christians
as true and divinely inspired. Some of them were written much later but
attributed to important individuals of the apostolic times, thus bearing a
misleading title (pseudepigrapha).
Sl. Otdanive). The "octave-day" of a feast day which lasts more than
one day and usually occurs eight days after the actual feast day. The
Apodosis of Easter occurs after forty days, on the eve of the
Apologetics. (Gr. "defenders"). The individuals and
saints who defended the faith and the Church by their ability to present,
explain, and justify their faith. 2) The theological science and art of
presenting, explaining and justifying the reasonableness of the Christian
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
Apostolic Canons. A collection of eighty-five decrees
of ecclesiastical importance, referring mainly to ordination and the
discipline of the clergy. The church believes that they were originally
written by the Apostolic fathers.
Apostolic Fathers. Men who lived during the
first century of Christianity, for the most part the disciples of the
Apostles; their teachings and writings are of great spiritual value to
Christians. Major fathers are St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp of Smyrna,
St. Clement of Rome and the unknown author of Didache.
Apostolic Succession. The
direct, continuous, and unbroken line of succession transmitted to the bishops
of the Church by the Apostles. The bishops, who form a collective body (that
is the leadership of the Church), are considered to be successors of the
Apostles; and, consequently, the duties and powers given to the Apostles by
Christ are transmitted through "the laying-on-of hands" to the bishops and
priests who succeeded them by ordination (cheirotonia) to priesthood.
Archangels. An Angelic order of angels
of higher rank. The names of two archangels, Michael and Gabriel, are known
(feast day on November 8); they are also known as "leaders of the angelic
A head bishop, usually in charge of a large ecclesiastical jurisdiction or
archdiocese (see Metropolitan).
A senior deacon, usually serving with a bishop of higher rank (Archbishop
An ecclesiastical jurisdiction, usually a metropolis headed by an Archbishop.
(Gr. "head of the flock or cloister"). A celibate presbyter
of high rank assisting the bishop
or appointed abbot in a monastery. In the Russian tradition some
Archimandrites have the right to wear the mitre and the mantle
Armenian Church. A monophysite
denomination which broke from the Orthodox Church in the fifth century (451
A.D.). Communities which belong to the Armenian Church exist in the United
States and other parts of the world.
Artoclasia. (see Vespers).
A movable feast day, forty days after Easter, commemorating the ascension of
Christ into Heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts, 1:
Ascetic. (Gr. "one who practices [spiritual] exercises").
Monks who have accepted a monastic life and intensively practice self
discipline, meditation, and self-denial, motivated by love of
Ascetic Theology. A theological field studying the
teachings and the writings of the ascetics of the Church (see also mysticism).
Assumption or Dormition. A feast day
(August 15) commemorating the "falling asleep" (koimisis) of Virgin
Asterisk. (Gr. "little stars;" Sl. Zvezditsa).
A sacred vessel having two arched metal bands held together in such a fashion
as to form the shape of a cross. It is placed on the paten and serves to
prevent the veil from touching the particles of the
Atheism. (Gr. "godlessness"). Denial of the existence
of God. An atheist accepts only the material and physical world or what can be
proven by reason.
Atonement. (Gr. exilasmos). The
redemptive activity of Christ in reconciling man to God. The Orthodox believe
that Christ, through His death upon the cross, atoned or paid for human sins.
Autocephalous. (Gr. "appointing its own leader"). The status of
an Orthodox church which is self-governed and also has the authority to elect
or appoint its own leader or head (cephale).
(Gr. "self-rule"). The status of an Orthodox Church that is self-ruled. An
autonomous church is governed by its prelate, who is chosen by a superior
jurisdiction, usually by a patriarchate).
Axios. (Gr. "worthy"). An exclamation made at ordination to
signify the worthiness of the individual chosen to become a clergyman.
Baptism. (Gr. "immersion into water for
purification)". A sacrament instituted by Christ Himself, this is the
regeneration "of water and the spirit" (John 3:5). An Orthodox baptism is
administered by the priest‹in case of absolute emergency, however, by a layman
(aerobaptismos)‹through three complete immersions and by pronouncing
the individual's name along with the name of the Trinity, "the Father and the
Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen" Chrismation follows immediately after
Baptismal Font. (see kolymbethra).
Garments. (Gr. Fotikia or baptisika; Sl. krizhma). The
garments brought by the godparent to dress the infant immediately after the
immersion in Baptism. In Orthodoxy, these garments are considered sacred and
must be either kept safely or destroyed by fire.
(Gr. onoma). The individual's name given in baptism, commonly the
name of a saint, who becomes the individual's Patron Saint. The baptismal
names of the first-born are usually those of their
Baptistry. A special room or area in the form a
pool for baptizing in the ancient Church. Gradually it was replaced by the
baptismal font (see kolymbethra).
(Gr. Makarismoi ). 1) Blessings promised to individuals for various
reasons. 2) The eight blessings given by Christ at his Sermon on the Mount
(Matt. 5: 3-12). 3) Salutation addressed to an Orthodox Patriarch ("Your
Benediction. (Lat. "blessings to glorify God").
The closing blessing offered by a clergyman at the end of a service or other
Bigamy. (Gr. Digamia). The act of contracting a
new marriage while a previous one is still binding, an act forbidden by the
Bishop. (Gr. Episkopos,
Archiereas). A clergyman who has received the highest of the sacred
orders. A bishop must be ordained by at least three other bishops and is
considered a successor of the Apostles.
Blasphemy. Evil and
reproachful language directed at God, the Virgin, the Saints or sacred
objects. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a mortal and unforgivable
sin, because it presumes that Got's saving action in this particular case is
impossible. (cf. Matt. 12: 31).
Burial. (Gr. Taphe; Sl.
Pogrebeniye). The act of interment of the dead body of one of the faithful
in consecrated ground, according to the appropriate Orthodox rites and service
of burial (Nekrosimos). The Church may deny an Orthodox burial to those
who have committed a mortal sin such as blasphemy, suicide, denial of faith,
or acceptance of cremation.
Byzantine. Referring or attributed
to Byzantium, the ancient Greek city on the Bosporus, which later (331 A.D.)
became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and then of the Medieval Greek
Empire of Constantinople. Its people are known as Byzantines and its
cultural heritage as Byzantine (i.e., Byzantine art, the Empire,
church, architecture, music, etc.).
Byzantine rite. 1) Performing church services
according to the Eastern Orthodox tradition. 2) Christians who belong to Roman
Catholic jurisdictions and accept its beliefs, but follow the customs of the
Greek Orthodox Church, celebrating the liturgy in Greek, Slavonic or in their
native language, but in the Orthodox fashion.
Calendar. (Gr. Hemerologion).
The yearly system determining the Orthodox holidays and hours. The
Orthodox year begins on September 1. Since all feasts were arranged according
to the Julian (old) Calendar, many Orthodox churches follow it to the present
day, while other Orthodox churches have adopted the Gregorian (new) Calendar
(since 1924). See also the article on the Calendar
of the Orthodox Church.
Keri[on]). Candles made of beeswax are used in the Orthodox Church as a
form of sacrifice and devotion to God or Saints. They are used in various
Orthodox services and ceremonies and are symbolic of Christ, who is "the Light
of the World." According to a different symbolism, the two elements of a
candle represent the two natures of Christ: the Divine (the burning wick) and
the Human (the wax body).
Canon. (Gr. "rule, measure,
- The Canon of the scriptures or the official list of books recognized
by the church as genuine and inspired by God.
- The Canon of Matins (a collection of hymns consisting of nine
odes, the Heirmos, and sung at the Matins Service, the
- The Liturgical Canon which refers to all liturgical material,
including the Creed, used for the Liturgy and the consecration of the
Eucharist. (see also kanon and Typikon).
Canonization. The official declaration by the Church that
a deceased Christian of attested virtue is a saint, to be honored as such, and
worth of imitation by the faithful.
Law). The law of the church, containing the various rules,
ecclesiastical decrees and definitions concerning the faith or the life style
of Orthodox Christians. The Canons generally provide for all administrative or
disciplinary questions that might arise in the Church, and, consequently, are
not infallible but can be changed or re-interpreted by an Ecumenical Council.
See also the article on the Canon
Law of the Orthodox Church
(or Mortal or Deadly sin). Great offenses against God, or moral
faults which, if habitual, could result in the spiritual death of the
individual. The following sins are considered to be mortal: pride,
covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth: they are the "Seven
Deadly Sins" of the phrase.
Raso; Sl. ryassa). The long black garment with large sleeves worn by
the Orthodox clergy as their distinct attire. Another such cassock with narrow
sleeves (Gr. Anteri; Sl. Podrasnik) is worn under the cassock. It
symbolizes the death of a clergyman to this world, and his burial and
subsequent dedication to God and his heavenly kingdom.
A summary of doctrine and instruction, teaching the Orthodox faith in the
form of questions and answers. The catechetical or Sunday school of each
parish is responsible for such instruction of children or other
Catechumen. (Gr. "those who
learn the faith"). A convert to Christianity in the early church, who received
instructions in Christianity, but was not yet baptized. Catechumens were
permitted to attend the first part of the Eucharist (Liturgy of the
Catechumens), but were dismissed before the Consecration of the Gifts.
Cathedral. (Gr. "the main chair"). The principal church of a
bishop~s jurisdiction, the chief church in every diocese.
(Gr. "universal, concerning the whole;" Sl. Sobomaya). A term
describing the universality of the Christian message, claimed to be
exclusively theirs by the Orthodox Church. However, in the West, it has come
to mean the Roman Catholic church (v. Eastern Orthodox Church).
Celibacy. The unmarried state of life. Unlike the Roman Church,
Orthodoxy permits a clergyman to be married; however, his marriage must occur
before the ordination to a deacon or presbyter. Orthodox bishops are only
chosen from the celibate clergy, but widowers, who have accepted monastic
vows, may also be chosen.
Censer. (Gr. Thymiato; Sl.
kadillo). A metal vessel hung on chains, used in church ceremonies for
burning incense. There are twelve small bells attached to the chains,
representing the message of the twelve Apostles.
(Gr. Potirion; Sl. Vozduh). A large cup of silver or gold, with a
long-stemmed base, used for the Eucharist. It is one of the most sacred
vessels of the church and is handled only by the clergy.
Chancellor. (Gr. Protosyngelos). The chief administrator
and church notary in a diocese or archdiocese. He is the immediate
administrative assistant to the bishop, and handles all records, certificates,
and ecclesiastical documents of his jurisdiction.
echos; Sl. glas). The music proper to the Orthodox services. There are
eight tones or modes in the Orthodox Byzantine chant, chanted by the
chanters or cantors.
Chanter. (Gr. Psaltis).
A lay person who assists the priest by chanting the responses and hymns in
the services or sacraments of the church. Today chanters have been replaced to
some extent by choirs.
Chapel. (Gr. Parekklisi[on]; Sl.
Chasovnya). A side altar attached to a larger church or a small building
or room built exclusively or arranged for the worship of God. A chapel can
belong either to an individual, an institution, or can be part of a parish
Chasuble. (Gr. feloni[on]; Sl. felon). A
sleeveless garment worn by the presbyter
in the celebration of the liturgy. Short in front, with an elongated back, and
an opening for the head, it is one of the most ancient vestments of the
Church, symbolizing the seamless coat of Christ.
Cherubic Hymn. (Gr. "the song of the angels").
Liturgical hymn sung after the Gospel-reading and during the Great Entrance.
Its text in English is as follows:
We, who mystically represent the Cherubim, And chant the thrice-holy
hymn to the Life-giving Trinity, Let us set aside the cares of life That we
may receive the King of all, Who comes invisibly escorted by the Divine
Chrism. (Gr. Myrron).
Sanctified oil composed of several ingredients and fragrances, used in the
sacrament of Chnsmation (after Baptism).
The Holy Chrism in the Orthodox Church is exclusively prepared by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, blessed
in a series of preparations and ceremonies. Holy Thursday is customarily the
day of its consecration.
Chrismation. (see Baptism
See also the articles on:
Sacramental Life of the Orthodox
Chrisom. (Gr. Ladopano; Sl. knzhma). A piece of
white linen for the wrapping of the infant after Baptism. The Orthodox
preserve it as a sacred object, since it signifies the purity and holiness of
the baptized Christian.
Christology. A subject or field of dogmatic
theology examining the belief of the church and the history of beliefs
Churching. (Gr. Sarantismos). A service of
thanksgiving and blessing of women after childbirth. In the Orthodox church,
this rite is performed on the fortieth day after birth and is reminiscent of
the Old Testament ceremony of purification (Lev. 12: 2-8) and the presentation
of Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2: 22-29).
(Gr. koinonia). The receiving of the sacrament of the Eucharist
after proper preparation, fasting, and confession. Orthodox Christians are
encouraged to receive communion as often as possible, even daily.
See also the article on The Holy
Saints. The Orthodox Church believes that all the people of God
‹members of the Church, either the living on earth or the departed in heaven,
are in constant communion and fellowship with each other in faith, grace and
prayers, since they constitute one Body in Christ ‹ the Church.
Compline. (Gr. Apodeipnon; Sl. Velikoye PovecheAye).
A woship service performed after dusk. It is often combined with Vespers,
to form an all-night vigil. There is a Great Champlain and its abridgement,
known as Little Champlain.
(Gr. Exomologisis). The act of confessing or acknowledgment of sins
by an individual before God in the presence of a priest, who serves as a
spiritual guide and confessor (pneumatikos) authorized to ask for
forgiveness and to administer a penance.
Pneumatikos (see confession).
2) A person who defended and publicly confessed the Faith, thereby
exposing himself to persecution (Homologetis).
(Gr. Heirotonia). The ordination of an individual to priesthood through
the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Consecration of a Church. (see
Copts. (Gr. "cut off from the main body"). These are the
Oriental churches of the East which were separated from the Orthodox Church
after the Fourth
Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) for following the false
teachings of Monophysitism
(belief in one nature (physis) of Christ).
Ecumenical. (Gr. Synodos; Sl. Sobor). Assembly of
representatives from all church jurisdictions convoked for the settlement of
ecclesiastical or doctrinal problems and disputes. The Orthodox Church
recognizes the following seven Ecumenical Councils:
- Nicaea, in
325. Fathers present, 318. Condemned Arianism, defined divinity of Christ,
and composed first part of Creed.
381. Fathers, 180. Condemned Apollinarianism, defined divinity of Holy
Spirit, and completed the Creed.
431. Fathers, 200. Condemned Nestorianism and defined the term Theotokos.
451. Fathers, 630. Condemned Monophysitism.
553. Fathers, 165. Condemned heretics and pagans.
680. Fathers, 281. Condemned Monothelitism. The so called Quinisext
or in Trullo was held in Constantinople
692 and regulated disciplinary mattes to complete the Fifth and the Sixth
787 (again in 843). Fathers, 350. Condemned Iconoclasm.
Crosier. (Gr. Ravdos or Pateritsa). The pastoral
staff of a bishop, signifying his responsibilities and the authority by which
he spiritually rules his flock.
Crowns. (Gr. Stephana).
A metal crown or wreath made of cloth in the shape of lemon blossoms, with
which the priest "crowns" the newlyweds during the sacrament of Matrimony. The
crowns are white, signifying purity, and represent the power that is given to
the newlyweds to become "king and queen" of their home.
Deacon. (Gr. "assistant, servant"). The fist of the
three orders of priesthood. A deacon is not permitted to perform the
sacraments, but assists the bishop
and the presbyter
in the Eucharist
and other services or ministries of the church.
Proistamenos). An honorary title given to a presbyter; meaning: 1) the
senior priest in a cathedral of a diocese; 2) the senior priest in a large
parish; 3) the head of the faculty in a theological
Deaconess. A pious lay woman assisting in the church
as a caretaker or charity worker. The practice of using deaconesses in the
Church was very ancient; however, it gradually
Dikirotrikera. (Gr. "set of two and three
candles"). A set of two candleholders, one double-branched candlestick and
another triple-branched, both used by the bishop
in blessing at the liturgy. The Dikeron (double candleholder) signifies
the two natures of Christ, while the Trikeron (triple
candleholder) signifies the Holy Trinity.
Episkopi). A town or fully organized church district under the
ecclesiastical jurisdiction and pastoral direction of a
Diptychs. (Gr. "folding boards"). 1) Lists of names for
living and dead, written on cardboard for their commemoration in the liturgy.
2) An official roster of the names of the heads of Orthodox jurisdictions read
during the liturgy by concelebrating bishops, or the head of an ecclesiastical
Dismissal. (Gr. Apolysis; Sl. Otpust). The
closing prayers and benediction, including the dismissal hymn (Apolytikion)
in church service.
Dogma. Basic beliefs
and truths contained in the Bible and the Holy Tradition of the Church as
defined by the Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers of the Church. Dogma is
studied by the field of dogmatic
Dormition (see assumption).
Eagle. (Gr. Dikephalos aitos; Sl. Orletz).
Small circular rug or permanent design on the church's floor, presenting a
double headed eagle with outstretched wings soaring over a city. It signifies
the watchfulness and authority of the bishop over his diocese. The
double-headed eagle was also the symbol of the Byzantine Empire.
Easter. (Gr. Pascha
or Lambri). The feast day of the resurrection of Christ, known also
as "the Feast of Feasts." It is the greatest Orthodox festival, celebrated the
Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring equinox. It is a movable
feast and the dates of the other movable feasts of the Orthodox Church are
calculated from it.
Ecclesia. (Gr. "the gathering of the
people"). 1) The gathering of the faithful at the church for worship and
fellowship; 2) the church where the liturgy is celebrated; 3) the Church as
the Body of Christ.
Ecclesiastical. Whatever deals or pertains
to Church and its life.
Ecclesiology. The branch of theology
studying the nature, constitution, function, and membership of the
Ecumenical Council. (see council).
The "First Among Equals" of all the Orthodox autocephalous churches and was
founded by St. Andrew the Apostle. Visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate
of Constantinople home page for more information, historical notes,
encyclicals, official documents, and photo and video
Ecumenism. The movement of Christian Churches
toward a mutual understanding of their problems and the concept of unity and
love willed by Christ.
Ektenial. (Gr. 'long" or "elongated").
Petitions or litanies used in Orthodox services, particularly in the liturgy.
They refer to the world in general, peace, leadership and those in need. The
response to an ektenial petition is: "Lord have
Encyclical. (Gr. "moving in a circle"; "circulating"). A
letter by the head of an Orthodox jurisdiction (Archbishop
to those under his spiritual authority. The content of such a letter may vary
but it must refer to specific administrative or spiritual topics concerning
Engainia. (Gr. "blessing for
renewal"). The ceremony of consecration of a new church, conducted only by a
bishop. It is performed before the Eucharist, and it mainly consists of the
washing of the Holy Table of the altar, the depositing of relics in it, and
the blessing of the church icons.
Engolpion. (Gr. "upon the chest"). The bishop's medallion,
usually of enamel and richly decorated with precious stones, hanging upon his
chest and signifying his episcopal office.
Eisodos). The solemn procession of the celebrating clergy carrying the
Gospel at the liturgy, after the antiphons (Small Entrance), and
carrying the Holy Gifts during the chanting of the cherubic hymn (Great
Epanokalymafko. The monastic black veil hanging over
the back of the kalymafki of a celibate Orthodox clergyman,
especially the prelate of a church (see kalymafki). Some Orthodox
prelates of Slavic background wear white
Eparchy. (Gr. "province, region").
An ecclesiastical jurisdiction headed by a bishop, metropolitan,
Epigonation. (Gr. "on the knee;" Sl.
Palitsa or Nabedrennik). An oblong or rhomboidal vestment
(approx. 12 x 12 inches) suspended from the belt
and hung over the right side above the knee of a clergyman of higher rank. It
signifies the cloth used by Christ to wipe his disciples' feet before the Last
Supper and also the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Epiklesis. (Gr. Epiklesis) Special prayer or petition by
the Priest to "invoke" or to call upon the Holy Spirit, in order that God's
Grace will descend for the consecration of the Holy Gifts at the
Epiphany. (Gr. Theophania; Sl.
Bogoyavleniye). The feast commemorating the baptism of Christ in the
Orthodox Church (January 6), and celebrating the ''manifestation'' of God in
the Holy Trinity.
Episkopos. (see bishop).
(Gr. "on the tomb;" Sl. Plaschanitsa). 1) The winding sheet on
which the dead body of Christ is sewn or painted, representing his shroud. 2)
An ornamented bier representing the tomb of Christ. On God Friday the
Epitaphios is placed on the bier, which is adorned with flowers, and is
carried in a procession representing the funeral of Christ. 3) The special
service on Good Friday evening commemorating the burial of Christ.
Epitrachelion. (Gr. "about the
neck"). One of the most important vestments hanging from the neck down to the
feet. An Orthodox priest must wear this particular vestment
to perform a sacrament.
Equal to the Apostles. (Gr.
Isapostolos). An honorary title given to saints such as St. Constantine
and Sts. Cyril and Methodios for their missionary work in the Church.
Eschatology. (Gr. "the last things to happen). The theological
field concerned with life after death, especially the 'last things," i.e., the
state of the dead, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Final Judgment.
See also the Article on The
Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church
Eucharist. (see Communion)
(Gr. "the book of prayers;" Sl. Sluzhebnik). A liturgical book used
by the clergy, containing the various services, sacraments and prayers
required for the administration of sacraments and other ceremonies and
services of the Church.
Evangelists. The authors of the Gospels
(Evangelia) who, according to Church belief, were inspired by God in
the writing of the Bible. The Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
In the Orthodox Church they are symbolically represented by a man, a lion, an
ox, and an eagle respectively.
"dispatching'). A special hymn sung at Matins after the Canon. It refers to
Christ's activity after the Resurrection, particularly His dispatching of the
disciples to preach to the world.
Exapteryga. (Gr. "six-winged
Metallic banners adorned with representations of angels
carried at various processions of church services.
"representative with full authority"). The head of an ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, usually an Archbishop,
representing the head of the Church (i.e., Patriarch)
in the administration of a national Church.
(Gr. Aphorismos). A penalty or censure by which a baptized
individual is excluded from the communion and fellowship of the Church, for
committing and remaining obstinate in certain mortal sins. Church members may
excommunicate themselves by absence from the sacraments and by actions
contrary to Church law.
Exorcism: See the article on exorcism
in the Orthodox Church.
Fanar. The Greek neighborhood of Constantinople (Istanbul)
where the Ecumenical
Patriarchate is situated.
of the Church. (Gr. Pateres). Pious and educated individuals, most
of them bishops, who lived during the first eight centuries of Christianity.
They wrote extensively, taught, explained, and defended the faith of the
Church. The most important Orthodox Fathers are: St. Basil the Great, St.
Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John Chrysostom, St.
Athanasius the Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. John of
Filioque. (Lat. "and from the Son"). Theological term
referring to the procession of the Holy Spirit. Its insertion in the Creed by
the Roman Church (1009 A.D.) became one of the main causes for the schism
between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.
Guardian Angel. (Gr. Phylakas Angelos). The Orthodox
believe that certain angels
are appointed by God at baptism to guide and protect each faithful. A prayer
of the Orthodox Liturgy asks for "an angel of Peace, a faithful guide and
guardian of our soul and bodies."
God-parents. (Godfather, Gr. Nounos;
Godmother, Gr. Nouna).Sponsors at Baptism and Chrismation
taking the responsibility for the faith and spiritual development of the
newly-born Christian. The Orthodox people highly regard the spiritual bond and
relationship between godparents and their godchildren, and marriage between
them is prohibited. (see affinity).
(Gr. Agia Sophia) The Cathedral of Constantinople in which the
Ecumenical Patriarchs and Byzantine Emperors were enthroned. It is the
greatest Orthodox church, dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God. It was built by
the emperor Justinian in the year 532 A.D.; its architecture is an outstanding
example of the so-called Byzantine Orthodox order. Select this link to
visit the web site on Hagia Sophia
Hagiography. (Gr. Hagiologia) The writings of the Church
Fathers and the study of the lives of the saints. The
Orthodox Church is a reservoir of such writings, which the faithful are urged
to read for their spiritual growth and development.
Chatzis; fem. Hatjina; Ar. "pilgrim"). A title or name given to
those who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and were "baptized" in the Jordan
River. Such a pilgrim may assume the title of Hatjis for the rest of
his or her life. One also may attach this word before the baptismal name to
produce a variation such as Hatji-Yiorgis or Hatji-Yiannis. Such names often
become surnames, especially common among Greeks.
(Gr. "new and personal belief or idea"). The denial or rejection of a
revealed dogma or belief accepted and professed by the Church. An individual
who begins a heresy is a heretic and is excommunicated.
Heretismoi. (see Akathistos
Hermit. (see Anchorite).
Hesychasm. spiritual movement in the
Byzantine Empire (fourteenth century) developed on Mount Athos, Greece. The
term means "to be quiet" and signifies the system of spiritual development
through meditation, contemplation and perfection to the degree of absolute
union with God (theosis). It is one of the forms of Orthodox Mysticism
and is still practiced in the Orthodox world.
Different, alien, and presumably false belief or teaching. The Orthodox
Church describes as such all other Christian
Hierarchy.The higher clergy or College of bishops
who are assigned to rule over spiritual matters of the church.
Water. (Gr. Agiasmos). Water blessed at the service of the "Great
Blessing" on the feast day of Epiphany (Jan. 6) or on other occasions (Small
Blessing). It is used for the blessing of people, as at Holy communion or for
the blessing of things for their well being.
Holy Wisdom. (see
Horologion. (Gr. "Book of the Hours;"
Sl. Chasoslov). The Liturgical book containing the services and prayers
of the different hours of the day, i.e., Compline, Matins, Vespers
and the Office of the Hours (see hours).
Hours. In Orthodox monasteries, monks maintain
special services for the main hours of the day. Each hour commemorates a
special event, as follows:
- first hour (6:00 A.M.): Thanksgiving for the new morning and prayer
for a sinless day.
- Third hour (9:00 A.M.): the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
- Sixth hour (12:00 noon): the nailing of Christ to the Cross.
- Ninth hour (3:00 P.M.): the death of Christ.
Icon. (Gr. image). A Byzantine-style
painting in oil on wood, canvas, paper or a wall (fresco) representing Christ,
the Virgin Mary, or other Saints and scenes from the Bible. The Orthodox
Church uses icons for veneration with the understanding that the respect is
paid not to the material icon but to the person represented "in spirit and
truth" (cf. John 4: 24). See also the article on: ORTHODOX
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Iconoclasm. (Gr. "the breaking of icons"). It refers to the conflict
in the Byzantine Empire between 7~7 and 843 aver the use of icons in the
church. The Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 and 843) decreed the use of icons,
following in the main the teaching of St. John of
Iconography. The study and the art of painting of
icons. In the Orthodox Church, iconography was developed mainly in the
monasteries, which became the centers of its study and development.
See also the article on: ORTHODOX
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Iconostasis. (Gr. "an icon-stand"). In the Orthodox Church the term
signifies: 1) the stand on which the main icon
of the Patron
Saint of the church is placed for veneration. 2) The screen separating the
sanctuary or altar from the church proper and adorned with various icons.
There may be two or three tiers of icons in an iconostasis, but the main tier
must follow a certain iconographic form as following (from north or left side,
to south):the icon of the Patron
Saint of the church; of the Virgin
Mary, of Christ, and of St. John the Baptist
See also the article on: ORTHODOX
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Iliton. (or Eiliton, Gr.) The silk cloth used to wrap the
corporal (or antiminsion).
Jesus Prayer. A short prayer that the Orthodox
constantly repeat to practice devotion to God; the tradition of repeating this
distinctive prayer was developed in Orthodox monasteries. The text of Jesus'
Prayer is: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on
Judgement. The Last or Final Judgment, which according
to the Church's belief will occur at the end of the world and the second
coming of Christ. The judgment that takes place immediately after an
individual's death is called particular judgement. See also the
article on The
Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox
Dikaidosia). The right and the authority of a bishop
to rule over his diocese as a spiritual overseer. It includes legislative,
judicial and executive authority, which can be exercised only by individuals
who have been canonically ordained and appointed to rule aver the jurisdiction
Kalymauki or kamilafki. (Sl. kamilavka). The black
cylindrical hat worn by Orthodox clergy. The black monastic veil
(epanokalynafkon) worn by the celibate clergy at various services or
ceremonies is attached to the kalymauki (see
Kanon. 1) Short hymns consisting of
nine odes, sung at the service of Matins. 2) The special service known as the
Great Kanon sung on the evening of the Wednesday of the fifth week of
the Great Lent.
Kathisma. Liturgical hymn.
- The twenty stanzas into which the Orthodox Psalter is divided.
- The second kanon of the Matins.
Keri. (see candles).
(Gr. "message; preaching"). Proclaiming or preaching the word of God in the
manner of the Apostles. It is a method of church instruction centered mainly
on Christ and the concept of salvation.
Koimissis (see Dormition)
Kolymbethra. A large, often movable, circular basin on a
stand, containing the water for immersion in Baptism. It symbolizes the Jordan
River or the pool of Siloam.
Kontakion. A liturgical hymn that
gives an abbreviated form of the meaning or history of the feast of a given
day. The kontakion is sung after the sixth ode of the Canon in the
liturgy and the Service of the Hours. St. Romanos the Melodist is considered
to be the most important hymnographer of the
Koumbaros (fem. koumbara).
- The "best man" in wedding.
- The sponsor in a baptism.
- The address that Greek Orthodox use for their best man or their
Laity. (Gr. Laikos; Sl. Miryane). Members of
the Church who are not ordained to the priesthood.
Lamb. (Gr. Amnos). The symbol for the sacnfice of
Christ on the Cross (cf. John 1: 29). In the Orthodax liturgy the amnos
is the first square piece from the altar bread (prosphoro),
inscnbed with the letters ICXC NIKA (an abbreviated form for
"]esus Christ conquers"). This particular piece is to be consecrated during
service. (Gr. Epitaphios threnos). Special hymns referring to the
sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His burial (see
Lance or spear. (Gr. Lonche). A
small, lance-shaped, double-edged knife used by the priest for the cutting of
the altar bread in the service of the Preparation of the Holy Gifts (see Proskomide).
Language. According to the Orthodox tradition, the Church
adopts and uses the language of any particular country or ethnic group that
she serves. The main liturgical languages in the Orthodox Church are Greek,
the various descendants of old Church Slavonic, and Arabic.
Supper (Gr. Mystikos Deipnos; Sl. Taynya Vercherya).
The Last meal of Christ with His disciples in the 'Upper Room' before his
arrest. With this supper he instituted the Sacrament
of the Holy
Leavened Bread. (Gr. artos). Bread made
with yeast (enzymes); and used far altar bread for the Orthodox Eucharist (as
opposed to the unleavened bread used by the Latin Church). Leavened bread is
also acceptable for the purpose in the more liberal Protestant
Lent. (Gr. Sarakosti) The
fifty-days fast preceeding Easter for the spiritual preparation of the
faithful to observe the feast of the Ressurection. Besides Lent, the Orthodox
Church has assigned a number of other fasting periods (see abstinence
and special section of this book).
The theological field that studies the liturgies and the various services and
rituals of the Church.
(Gr. "a public duty or work"). The main form of worship for the celebration of
the Holy Eucharist. The Orthodox Church celebrates four different versions of
- The Liturgy of St. James,
- The Liturgy of St. Basil,
- The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which is the most common, and
- The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts performed only during the
period of Great
See also the articles on: Worship
in the Orthodox Church
Logos. (Gr. "word"). A symbol for Christ, the word incarnate, or
"word made Flesh:' which is also called "the Word of God" (cf. John,
Lord's Prayer. The prayer taught by Christ in the Sermon
on the Mount (cf. Matt. 6: 9-33 and Luke 11: 2-4). It begins with the phrase
"Our father. . ." and is the most common Orthodox prayer.
Magnificat. (Lat. "My soul doth magnify the Lord"; Gr.
Megalynalion). A hymn of praise in honor of the Mother of God (Theotokos).
Its verses follow Mary's own words beginning with the phrase "my soul doth
magnify the Lord" (cf. Luke 1: 46-55). It is sung after the eighth Ode of the
Canon at Matins.
Mantle. (Gr. Mandias). A distinctive and
elaborate garment, purple or blue in color, wom by the bishop
in variow church ceremonies and services, such as Vespers, but not during the
Martyr. (Gr. "witness"). One who willingly suffered
death for the faith.
Martyrika. (Gr. "a sign of witnessing").
Small decorative icons or crosses passed out to the guests who witness an
Martyrology. A catalogue of martyrs and other
arranged according to the calendar.
(Gr. Orthos). The Morning Service, which is combined with the
liturgy. It begins with the reading of six psalms (Exapsalmos), the
reading of the Gospel, the chanting of the Canon, and the Great Doxology.
Memorial. (Gr. Mnymosyno). A special service held in the
Orthodox Church for the repose of the souls of the dead. Memorial services are
held on the third, ninth and fortieth day; after six months, and after one or
three years after death. Boiled wheat is used as a symbol of the resurrection
of everyone at the Second Coming of Christ.
liturgical book containing the lives of the saints and the special
hymns (stichera) for the feast-days of the Orthodox
Saints. It is divided into twelve volumes, one for each month.
Metropolitan. The prelate of the largest or most
important city (Metropolis) or province with primacy of
Mitre. (Gr. Mitra). The official headdress
or "crown" of a bishop.
In Slavic churches some archimandrites are allowed to wear the mitre as a
recognition of their service to the church (mitrate or mitrophoros).
The mitre derives from the crown of the Byzantine emperor.
Monastery. The dwelling place and the community thereof,
of monks or nuns living together in a communal life (cenobites) in
a convent, and practicing the rules of prayer and vows. The members of some
monasteries live alone in solitude (anchorites).
See the article on Monasticism
in the Orthodox Church,
Monk. (Gr. Monachos;
fem. Monache). An individual who denies the world in order to live
a religious life under the monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and
obedience.See the article on Monasticism
in the Orthodox Church,
Monophysitism. A heresy which arose in the
fifth century concerning the two Natures of Christ. The monophysites
accepted only the Divine Nature of Christ, and were condemned as heretics
by the Fourth Ecumenical Council, at Nicaea (451 A.D.) (see also Copts).
A heresy of the seventh century, which developed in an attempt to
reconcile the monophysites with the Orthodox. The monothelites accept
the two Natures of Christ, but deny His human will (Thelesis),
accepting thereby only his Divine
Mortal Sins. (see capital
Mother Church. The Church of Jerusalem, as
being the first Christian Church. Commonly, the Orthodox consider as Mother
Church the Ecumenical
Patriarchate as being the senior Church of the Orthodox
Mount Athos. The center of Orthodox monasticism, situated
on a conical mountain on the Chakidi Peninsula, Greece. See the article on
in the Orthodox Church, which has links to the monasteries of Mt.
Mysticism. The search through various
prayers and practices to achieve unity with God in life (theosis) (see
Name-day. (Gr. Onomastiria or Onomastiki eorti).
The tradition of the Orthodox people to celebrate one's name-day instead
of a birthday. Since the Orthodox people are usually named after a saint's
name, all those having the same name celebrate together. Celebration of the
name-day is considered to be spiritually important, and the celebrating
individual develops special spiritual ties with his Patron Saint and,
consequently, with God.
Narthex. The vestibule area of the
church, leading to the church proper or the nave. In the early Church this
area was as signed for penitents and those who were not yet baptized
Nave. The center, the church proper of an
Orthodox Church, where the faithful remain to observe the liturgy and other
Neophyte. (Gr. Neophotistos). A newly baptized
individual or convert of the early Church.
Nounos. (see godparents).
(Gr. Dokimos). An individual who accepted the monastic life, undergoing
a period of probation in preparation for taking his vows.
(Gr. Monachi (fem), or Kalogria). A woman following the monastic
life, living in a convent and leading a strict contemplative
Oblation. (see Proskomide).
Oktoechos. (Gr. "eight modes" or
Paraletiki). Service book containing the canons and hymns of the eight
tones or modes of Byzantine music. They are used in all services, arranged
every eight weeks, one for each tone, and are attributed to St. John of
Damascus (eighth century), one of the greatest Orthodox hymnographers and
Omophor. (see Pall).
Orarion. (Lat.) One of the deacon's vestments,
made of a long band of brocade and worn over the left shoulder and under the
right arm. It signifies the wings of the angels.
Ordination. (Gr. cheirotonia). The sacrament of the Holy
Orders, imparted through the laying on of hands upon the candidate for the
(Gr. "correct or true belief"). The common and official name used by the
Greek Christians and Eastern Christian Church. The Orthodox Church maintains
her belief that she alone has kept the true Christian faith, complete and
Orthodox Sunday. The first Sunday of Lent,
commemorating the restoration of icons in the church (see Iconoclasm).
Orthros. (see Matins).
Orthros. (see Matins)
Paganism. Belief in religions other than
Christianity, especially ancient Greek polytheism, which was a non-revealed
Pall. (Gr. Omophorion). One
of the bishop's vestments, made of a band of brocade worn about the neck and
around the shoulders. It signifies the Good Shepherd and the spiritual
authority of a bishop.
Palm Sunday. (Gr. Kyriaki ton Vaion;
Sl. Verbnoye Voskresenye). The Sunday before Easter, commemorating the
triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. The Orthodox use palms or willow
branches in the shape of a cross, which the priest distributes to the faithful
after the liturgy.
Panagia. (Gr. "All Holy"). One of the
Orthodox names used to address the Mother of God. In Orthodox art, the term
Panagia denotes an icon depicting the Virgin
Mary with the Christ Child, or the bishop's medallion (Encolpion)
which usually is decorated with an icon of the Panagia (especially in the
Russian Church). (See also: Theotokos)
(Gr. "He who reigns over all; almighty"). One of the appellations of God.
In Orthodox art, Pantocrator is the name of the fresco decorating the
center of the dome, depicting Christ as the almighty God and Lord of the
Paraklitiki. (see Oktoechos).
Pascha. (see Easter).
week. (Gr. Diakaimsimos or "bright week"). The week following the
Sunday of Easter (Pascha), signifying the spiritual renewal and joy
brought to the world by the resurrected Christ.
table of dates for Easter and all movable feasts of the
Pastoral theology. The theological field that studies the
ways and methods to be used by the clergy for carrying through their duties as
Pastors of the Church.
Paten. (Gr. Diskos). A small
round and flat plate made of gold or silver on which the priest places the
particles of bread at the celebration of the Eucharist.
Patriarch. (Gr. "in charge of the family"). The highest
prelate in the Orthodox Church. Today there are eight Orthodox prelates called
patriarchs (see Patriarchate).
ecclesiastical jurisdiction governed by a patriarch. There are eight such
jurisdictions today in the Orthodox Church, the four ancient Patriarchates
of the East, and the four Slavic patriarchates.
The theological field that studies the lives and the writings of the
Fathers of the Church.
Patron saint. (Gr.
Poliouchos; Sl. Nebesny Pokrovitel). A saint chosen by a group,
nation, or organization to be their special advocate, guardian and protector.
The Patron Saint of an individual is usually the saint after whom the
individual is named. See also the web page listing the Calendar of Saints and the
article on Saints
in the Orthodox Church.
Pedalion. (see Rudder).
(Gr. "fiftieth Day"). A feast celebrated fifty days after Easter
commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples of Christ. It
is considered to be the birthday of Christianity.
A liturgical book (containing all the prayers, hymns and services
performed during the period of fifty days between the feasts of Easter and
Polychronion. (Gr. "for many years"). A prayer sung
by the chanter or choir in honor of the celebrant bishop
or presbyter. Its full version is: "for many years of life" (Gr. Eis Polla
Eti Despota; Sl. Mnogaya Iyeta).
(Gr. "oil candelabrum"; "abundance of oil and grace"). 1) special hymns
sung during the Service of Matins. 2) the great candelabra hanging from the
ceiling of an Orthodox church. 3) a descriptive adjective used to describe
Christ as the God of Mercy.
(Gr. "elder"). A priest in charge of a parish. A protopresbyter is an
honorary title granted by a bishop
in acknowledgement of service to the church.
Sl. Matushka). A honorary title for the priest's wife or mother.
Prokeimenon. (Gr. "gradual introduction"). A liturgical verse
or scriptural passage sung or read before the reading of the Epistle. It
serves as an introduction to the theme of this particular reading.
Proskormide. (Gr. gathering of gifts
or preparing to receive the gifts; Sl. Shertvennik). The Service of
the preparation of the elements of bread and wine before the Liturgy.
It takes place on the Table of Oblation (Prothesis), which is situated
at the left (north) side of the altar.
Prosphoro. (Gr. "offering gift, an item dedicated to
God and offered as a votive," also prosphora). The altar bread
which is leavened and prepared with pure wheat flour to be used for the
Eucharist. It is round and stamped on the top with a special seal (sphragis
or Panagiari). Sometimes it is made in two layers symbolizing the
two natures of Christ (Human and Divine). The inscribed parts of the top are
used for the Eucharist and the rest of it is cut into small pieces to be
distribued to the faithful (antidoron).
Pulpit. (Gr.; Sl. Amvon, "an elevated place,
podium"). A small raised platform or elaborate podium at the left (north) side
of the soleas and in the front of the iconostasis. Decorated
with representations of the four Evangelists, it is the place on which the
deacon or priest reads the Gospel and delivers his sermon.
Raso. (see cassock).
(Gr. Anagnostis, Sl. Chtets). The individual assigned to read, chant,
and give responses in church services. Usually such a person will be blessed
by the bishop
with special prayers and in a special ceremony.
Ieipsana Agia). The remains from the body of Saint or even a Saint's
possessions, such as clothes or vestments. The relics are honored and
venerated by all Orthodox. Upon the consecration of a new church, the
embeds holy relics in the Altar Table, following the ancient traditions of the
church in performing the Eucharist on the tombs of Martyrs
Rite. (Gr. Telete, Sl. Tchin).
The performance of a religious ceremony following a prescribed
order of words and actions (typikon).
Rudder. (Gr. Pedalion). The book containing
the rules and regulations prescribed by the Ecumenical Synods and the Fathers.
It is the Constitution of the Orthodox Church.
Sacrament. (Gr. Mysterion, Sl. Tainstvo). The outward
and visible part of religion consisting of various ceremonies, words and
symbolisms, producing an invisible action by the Holy Spirit that confers
grace on an individual. All Sacraments were instituted by Christ for the
salvation of the believer (see separate sections on the Sacraments
and the Saramental
Life in the Ortodox Church).
Sacrifice. (Gr. Thysia; Sl.
Zhertva). The bloodless offering to God, which is the Holy Eucharist
offered at the Liturgy. It signifies the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for
man's salvation. Also, refer to the article on the Dogmatic
Tradition of the Orthodox Church
Skevophylahon; Sl. Riznitsa). A utility room at the right side
(south) of the altar, where vestments and sacred vessels are kept and where
the clergy vest for services. Saints. (Gr. Agios). All holy men, women,
who, through a pure and holy life on earth or through martyrdom and confession
of faith in word and deeds, have merited the canonization of the Church. The
saints and the other pious people who are in glory with God constitute the
"Triumphant Church" .
Saints: See the artilcle on: Saints
in the Orthodox Church.
Dalmatic. The main vestment worn by the bishop during the Liturgy. It
originates from the vestments of the Byzantine emperor.
Schism. Formal separation from the unity of the
one true Church. Although the Christian Church has witnessed several schisms,
the most disastrous was the separation of the Greek Eastern and the Roman
Western Church in 1054, dividing Christendom into two parts (see separate
section on church
See. (Gr. Hedra or Thronos). The
official "seat" or city capital where a bishop
resides (esp. for a large jurisdiction); hence, the territory of his entire
jurisdiction may be called his See.
Service books. They are
special books containing the hymns or the services of the Orthodox Church.
There are eight as follows: Gospel (Evangelion), Book of Epistles
(Apostolos), Psalter (Octoechos or paraklitiki), Triodion,
Pentecostarion, Twelve Menaia, Horologion, and Service or Liturgy
book (Euchologio or Ieratiko).
Service Book or
Ieratikon or Litourgikon or Euchologio. (Sl. Sluzhebnik).
The liturgical book containing the prayers and ceremonial order of the
various church services including the Liturgy.
Sign of the Cross.
The Orthodox make the Sign of the Cross to signify their belief in the
sacrifice of Christ upon the cross for man's salvation. It is made by the
right hand in a cruciform gesture touching the forehead, chest, right and left
shoulders with the tips of fingers (the thumb, index and middle finger joined
together as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, the ring and little finger touching
the palm as a symbol of the two Natures of Christ).
area with elevated floor in front of the iconostasis of the church, where the
various rites and church ceremonies are held. See also the article on: ORTHODOX
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Soteriology. Theological field
studying the mission and work of Christ as Redeemer (Soter). Also,
refer to the article on the Dogmatic
Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
Sphragis. (see prosphoro).
relationship. (see affinity).
Monastery or monastic community directly under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Stichar. (see Alb)
(Gr. hypodiakonos). A laymen who has received a special blessing by
to serve in the church, assisting in the services and ceremonies.
- A brief biography of a saint read in the church on occasions of his
- Book or books containing lives of the saints.
Synaxis. (Gr. "assembly;" Sl. Sobor). A gathering of the
faithful in honor of a saint or for reading passages from his biography (synaxarion).
Tabernacle. (Gr. Artophorion; Sl. Darochranitelnitsa).
An elaborate ark or receptacle kept on the Altar Table, in which the Holy
Gifts of the Eucharist are preserved for the communion of the sick, or for the
Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent.
(Gr. "miracle-worker;" Sl. Chudotvorets). A title given to some saints
distinguished among the faithful for their miracles.
Theotokos. A theological term commonly used by the
Orthodox to indicate the doctrinal significance of Virgin Mary as Mother of
Theotokion. (Gr. "referring to Theotokos;"
Sl. Bogorodichey). A hymn which refers to or praises Theotokos,
the Mother of God.
Three hierarchs. The Orthodox Church
considers in particular three bishops (hierarches) of the Church as Her
most important Teachers and Fathers, who contributed to the development and
the spiritual growth of the Church. They are St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory
the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom. Their feast day is observed on
January 30, a day also dedicated to Hellenic letters since the three hierarchs
contributed to the development of Greek Christian education and literature.
Titular bishop. An auxiliary bishop
without his own territorial or residential diocese, who is usually assisting a
with a large jurisdiction (Archbishop
or Patriarch). The episcopal title of a titular bishop
is taken from an ancient diocese which once flourished but now exists only in
name, and, therefore, a titular bishop
does not have his own jurisdiction.
Orthodox. (Gr. Paradosis). The transmission of the doctrine or
the customs of the Orthodox Church through the centuries, basically by word of
mouth from generation to generation .
Metamorphosis). The transfiguration of Christ is a major feast day
(August 6) commemorating the appearance of Christ in divine glory along with
Moses and the prophet Elias on Mount Tabor (cf. Matt. V:
Triodion. (Gr. three odes or modes). 1) The period
between the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican, and Cheese-Fare Sunday.
2) A Liturgical book containing the hymns, prayers and services of the movable
feast before Easter, beginning with the Sunday of the Pharisee and the
Publican until Easter Sunday.
Trisagion. (Gr. thrice-holy).
1) One of the most ancient hymns of the church used by the Orthodox in
every prayer or service: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy
upon us." 2) Memorial Service performed by the graveside or in church for the
repose of the soul.
Typikon. (Gr. following the
order; Sl. Sluzhebnik). Liturgical book which contains instructions about
the order of the various church services and ceremonies in the form of a
Unleavened bread. (see prosphoro).
Vespers. (Gr. Esperinos; Sl. Litiya).
An important service of the Orthodox Church, held in the evening, which is
mainly a Thanksgiving prayer for the closing day and a welcome of the new one
to come the following morning. On the eve of an important holiday, the Vesper
Service includes Artoclasia or the blessing of the five loaves (Gr.
artos; Sl. Litiya) for health and the well-being of the
Vestments. (Gr. Amphia).
The distinctive garments worn by the clergy in the liturgy and the other
Vigil (Gr. olonychtia). Spiritual exercises during the night
preceding the feast day of a saint or another major feast, observed by various
spiritual preparations, prayers and services.
Year of the Church. (see calendar).
Zeon. (Gr. boiling). The hot water
used by the priest for the Eucharist.
It is added to the chalice during the Communion hymn in commemoration of the
water that flowed out of the side of the crucified Christ when he was pierced
with the spear.
Zone. The belt or girdle worn
by the priests on his stichar. It signifies the power of faith.
Lat. Latin .
cf. see, check