Serve the Lord with Gladness – GLOSSARY
The names of things we see or use in the church:

Alb: a white full-length clothing that priests wear at Mass and other liturgical ceremonies. Sometimes altar servers wear a type of alb too. It reminds us of the white garment we were wrapped in at our baptism. In the Scriptures, the vision of people all worshipping and thanking God in heaven in the Book of Revelations (7:9-17) tells us that they were dressed in white robes.

Altar: During Mass, this is the most important place in the Church as it is where we offer the greatest prayer we have, the Eucharist. It is made of stone (like many of the altars in the Old Testament part of the Bible) or of wood (like the table of the Last Supper that Jesus celebrated with his disciples). At Mass it is covered with a large white cloth and large candles are placed on it or close to it. Sometimes there is a crucifix on it or hanging above it or a processional cross standing nearby.

Ambo: This is the official name we give to the lectern where the Word of God is proclaimed to us.

Amice: The name given to a square of white cloth with two long strings attached to it which some priests put around their neck before putting on an alb. Sometimes too, a bishop puts it on his lap before anointing someone.

Baptismal Font: A large water container, usually decorated, sometimes made of stone, where people are baptised. Often it is round or has 8 sides.

Boat: The container used for holding incense. It often has a kind of spoon in it.

Book of the Gospels: A large decorated book that contains the Gospel readings for the Mass. It is usually carried by the person proclaiming it or by a Minister of the Word to the altar at the beginning of Mass.

Cassock or Soutane: The full length clothing that priests, servers and sometimes choir members wear. Priests wear black ones. Bishops can have purple ones. Cardinals wear blood-red ones and the Pope wears a white one.

Chair: The priest sits in a special chair (sometimes called the Presidential Chair) to show he is leading the prayer on behalf of the people gathered in the name of Jesus the High Priest. The priest leads a lot of the prayers from here. Along with the altar and the ambo, these are among the most important elements in the Sanctuary. 

Chalice: The cup we use for the wine which is consecrated in the Eucharist.
Most often, it is made of metal.

Chasuble: The name for the long outer garment the priest wears during Mass.
They come in four main colours: By ancient tradition, white is worn for the feasts of the Lord (like Christmas and Easter) and of saints (other than martyrs); red for Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, feasts of the Holy Cross, Apostles and martyrs; violet for Advent and Lent and green for Ordinary Time.

Ciborium: The container for the hosts we use at Mass, before or after their consecration. It looks like a big chalice, but has a lid.

Cincture:  The cord tied around the waist by those who wear an alb. Some albs, particularly those worn by priests, don’t need one.

Cope: A large, full-length cape, with a clasp at the front, worn for funerals, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and during other liturgies other than Mass.

Corporal: A square, white, linen cloth which we place on the altar. We put the chalice, ciborium or paten from the Preparation of the Gifts on it until the end of Communion.

Credence-table: The side table on which are placed things necessary for Mass, such as the cloths, water cruet, towel, chalice etc.

Crucifix: A cross with the figure of Jesus on it. There is always one on or near the altar.

Cruet: A small container, often made of glass, containing the water or wine for the Mass.

Dalmatic: A type of garment sometimes worn by a deacon that has sleeves. It is always the same colour as the priest’s chasuble.

Extinguisher: A small cone (usually of brass) fixed to the end of a pole and used for putting out (extinguishing) candles. 

Finger-towel: The towel with which the priest dries his hands after he washes them during the Preparation of the Gifts.

Holy Water stoop: A container for carrying Holy Water. A sprinkler is provided so that the priest or deacon can sprinkle people and objects with the water.

Host: The name we give the special type of unleavened bread we use at Mass that is consecrated for us in the Eucharistic Prayer.

Humeral Veil: A long, rectangular garment, with a clasp at the front, worn by the priest or deacon when carrying a Ciborium or Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament, especially on Holy Thursday evening and during Blessed Sacrament Processions.

Incense: One of the gifts the three wise men brought to Jesus. It looks a bit like large grains of brown sugar, which when sprinkled on burning charcoal, gives off clouds of sweet smelling smoke. It is contained in a ‘boat;’ as often this container is shaped like a boat.

Lectionary: A large book which contains the Readings from the Bible we need for the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. There are three of them:
The Red one for Sundays, Advent, Christmas time, Lent and Eastertime.
The biggest one is the Blue one: with all the readings for weekdays and Saints feast days and the Beige/Brown one: with readings for baptism, confirmation, funerals, weddings and so on.

Missal: The book which contains all the prayers of the Mass.

Monstrance: A special vessel for showing the Blessed Sacrament for our prayer and adoration. It is made of precious metal and sometimes has ‘rays’ coming out from the centre.

Nave: The part of the church where the people sit. The passageways are called aisles.

Pall: A square board covered in white linen to cover the chalice or paten. It is useful to keep flies out of them.

Paschal Candle: A very tall candle, blessed at Easter and often to be seen standing next to the baptism font. It represents the risen Christ, the light of the world.

Paten: There are two types: One is a thin, round metal plate on which is sometimes placed the priest’s host. Others are like metal dishes with sides on them in which we can hold many hosts.

Purificator: A white linen cloth (usually folded up and with a little red cross on it) which is used to clean (‘purify’) the chalice and patens and ciborium.

Pyx: A round container for the consecrated host. A large pyx is kept in the tabernacle to hold the large host that is used for exposition and Benediction in the monstrance. A smaller one is used by the priest, deacon, or other ministers of Holy Communion when taking Communion to people outside the church, especially the sick and housebound.

Sacristy: The room where priests and servers prepare themselves for worship.

Sanctuary: The name we give to the space in a church where the altar, lectern and priest’s chair are placed.

Sanctuary Lamp: The lamp which is kept burning near the tabernacle to show that the Christ is present to us in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. The lamp is very often red, in a bracket attached to the wall, or it can hang from the ceiling.

Stole: A type of ‘scarf’ worn by priests and deacons, which is a sign of their ministry. The priest’s stole is worn around the neck. The deacon’s stole is worn across the left shoulder and the ends are attached to each other on the right side. It matches the chasuble, or the deacon’s dalmatic and is the same colour.

Surplice: A white, linen garment worn over the soutane or cassock. 

Tabernacle: The decorated, secure place, often made of metal in which we keep the Blessed Sacrament safe so it is available when people who are sick or dying need to receive it, and for our adoration and prayer. Sometimes it is covered with a veil that matches the liturgical colour of the day.

Thurible: The container for the burning charcoal and incense. It is usually suspended at the end of chains so that it can be swung and also opened and closed easily.

Vestments: The term we use to describe the special clothes worn by priests, deacons and servers during the liturgy.

Year, Liturgical: The Church has its own calendar. The year begins on the first Sunday of Advent (four Sundays before Christmas Day).

  • In the Season of Advent, purple vestments are worn.
  • In the Season of Christmas, white vestments are worn. This season usually lasts for about three Sundays.
  • Then Ordinary Time begins (this is sometimes called Sundays throughout the Year). Green vestments are worn.
  • Lent interrupts Ordinary Time. Purple vestments are worn.
  • The Season of Easter follows; during this time, the vestments are white.
  • Pentecost Sunday brings the Season of Easter to an end. Red vestments are worn.
  • After Pentecost, Ordinary Time re-starts, and the green vestments are used again. There are 33 or 34 Sundays in Ordinary Time.
  • The Last Sunday in Ordinary Time is the celebration of Christ the King: white vestments are worn. This marks the end of the Church’s year.
  • Then the Season of Advent begins again.