[Traditional Roman Mass]

Sources used:
The Concise Catholic Dictionary, Robert Broderick, MA, 1943, with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.
The New Roman Missal, Fr. Lasance, 1937, with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.
The St. Andrew Daily Missal, Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, OSB, 1952, with Imprimi Potest and Imprimatur.
The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary, Albert J. Nevins, MM, 1965,
with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.
Sancta Missa Tutorial

  A cappella Term applied to choral music unaccompanied by any instrument.

Abandonment The act of completely conforming oneself to the will of God so that all one does flows from love and sacrifice. It is a high degree of sanctity and demands a special grace from God.

Abbé In French-speaking countries this title may be used in addressing anyone who has the right to wear the dress of the secular clergy. "Monsieur l'
abbé" could refer to anyone who has received tosure, whether or not he is a priest.

Abdication The voluntary renunciation of a high office, princely dignity or much more rarely, the papcy. Generally the abdication is irrevocable, so that once a person has renounced a high Church office, he no longer partakes of the rights of that office.

Ablution The wine and water with which the celebrating priest washes remaining particles of the Communion host from his thumb and index finger after the Communion in the Mass. In the Mass, the washing and consuming by the priest of this wine and water. Also the process of purifying the chalice during Mass.

Abrogation In canon law, the repeal or cancellation of a law; the total revoking of a law.

Absolution (1) The remission of sin by an authorized priest in the Sacrament of Penance; the judicial act of forgiving; sacramental forgiveness. Conditional absolution is that given when the Sacrament is in danger of nullity or when, if it is not given or is denied, the penitent might suffer spiritual loss. General absolution is that given to a group simultaneously when private Confession is impossible. Those so absolved are obliged to mention their sins when they next have an opportunity to go to Confession. (2) Absolution from censures is the removal of penalites imposed by the Church; it grants reconciliation with the Church. (3) Absolution for the dead is that ceremony performed over the body of the dead after a requiem Mass, and in which the priest implores the remission, indirectly, of the penalties of sin. If the body is not present, the service is held over the catafalque. (4) Absolutions in the breviary are those short petition prayers said before the lessons in Matins.

Abstinence (1) The act whereby one forgoes or deprives oneself of something pleasing to the senses, such as alcoholic beverages. (2) The obligation attached to certain days on wbich the Church forbids Catholics the eating of meat and soups of meat stock, gravy or sauces made from meat. On days of complete abstinence, these foods may not be eaten at all; on days of partial abstinence, they may be eaten once, at the principal meal. The law of abstinence binds all over 7 years of age. Days of complete abstinence are: Fridays, Ash Wednesday, Holy Saturday forenoon, the vigils of Assumption and Christmas; partial days are: Ember Weds. and Sats., and vigils of Pentecost and All Saints.

NOTE: Today the days of complete abstinence are all Fridays of Lent and Ash Wednesday. The other Fridays of the years are days of penance, but one has the option to make another sacrifice in lieu of the abstinence from meat and meat sauces or stocks. Even where the Traditional Mass is offered, one is not obligted to observe the Ember day abstinence. There are no more days of partial abstinence.

Accident That which is apt to exist only in another being; it has no independent existence, its existence is not self-sufficient. As spoken of regarding the Blessed Sacrament, the accidents are what the senses perceive. Philosophical term in distinction to substance.

Accidie {Sloth} The sin of spiritual laziness. Indifference toward a spiritual good because one is obliged to live up to its troublesome requirements. In itself it is a venial sin, but is mortal when it leads to the neglect of a grave obligation.

Acclamation (1) Naming one to an ecclesiastical dignity unanimously by the electors without balloting, or by vocal acclaim. One of three ways of electing a Pope. (2) A brief liturgical formula such as, "Laus tibi Christe."

Acolyte An escort; an attendant. His office is that of assisting the priest at Mass, of performing the duties of Mass-server. (1) The name given to the highest of the four minor orders; a sacramental. (2) A Mass-server or assistant of a priest at any ritualistic ceremony.

Act of worship The Mass and the Divine office which are the principal services of the Catholic Church and the chief acts of worship. Generally, the adoration of God.

Action (1) The Canon of the Mass. (2) The discussion of a single subject in a session of a council. (3) Used in the phrase "Catholic Action" to denote the acts commissioned by the hierarchy for the participation of the laity in the liturgy, prayer, conversion duties, and work of the Catholic hierarchy. Work to advance the cause of Christ in temporal and spiritual matters: first, personally; second, in the family; and third, in the associations of social life.

Acts (1) The proceedings and their recording in a court of justice. (2) "Acts" of  the Martyrs, accounts of their confessions of faith and death. (3) The "Acts of the Apostles" which is the section of Sacred Scripture wherein their activities are recorded. (4) Prayers by which one, declares his faith in God, hope in Him, charity or love of Him, and sorrow for sin because of offending Him.

Actual Grace The internal gift of God to the soul, which after the manner of a motion influences the will and understanding, lasting as long as the action for which it is given lasts. Actual grace may be that which excites the mind to act, or it may be that which assists the mind to complete an action already begun. (Cf. Grace.)

A.D. Abbreviation for the Latin words Anno Domini meaning literally "in the year of the Lord," and denoting the years after the Incarnation of the Son of God from which time we now reckon our calendar.

Adjuration The act of begging earnestly or of commanding in God's name, or in the name of some holy person or thing, in order to urge the person addressed to act or to desist from acting.

Admonition The penal remedy required by canon law before a censure can be imposed; a warning to cease doing an evil act or simply some misconduct before a censure is imposed; usually there are three given.

Adoration (1) Acts of Divine worship directed to God; (2) Perpetual---Continuous exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, day and night, during which time adorers take turns in offering prayers and devotion. (3) Adoration of the Cross: the ceremony of Good Friday, so called by long use, which is an act of venerating the Crucifix. (Cf. Latria.)

Advent The time of preparation for the Feast of the Incarnation, which in the Church calendar consists of three or four weeks between Advent Sunday, the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew, and Christmas eve. The first liturgical season of the Church calendar. The period of spiritual preparation for Christmas.

Agape An obsolete feast or meal, sometimes called brotherly or love feast, taken in common following an early practice of the Greeks. It was in commemoration of the Last Supper and was probably taken before the celebration of Mass.

Age The canonical age is that time fixed when one incurs certain obligations or can receive certain dignities or privileges. The canonical age is reckoned from the day of birth and not from the day of Baptism. The canonical age affects the life of a Christian in the following: (a) at the age of seven a child becomes subject to the laws of the Church, e.g. Sunday Mass, abstinence, etc.; it is presumed that at that age one has the use of reason; there are exceptions, however: a child is obliged by the law of annual Confession and Paschal Communion as soon as he attains to the use of reason, even though he has not completed his seventh year. (b) Marriage contracted by males under sixteen or by females under fourteen is null and void. Males attain the age of puberty at the end of the fourteenth year, and females at the end of the twelfth year of age; those who have not reached the age of puberty are not subject to penalties latae sententiae; Godparents at Baptism must normally be at least fourteen years of age. (c) At the age of twenty-one the obligation to fast begins, and this obligation ceases for both men and women at the beginning of the sixtieth year [now 59].

Agnus Dei (1) The prayer in the Mass, shortly before the Communion, beginning with these
words, in English, "Lamb of " God." (2) Name given to disks of wax on which are impressed the figure of a lamb and which are blessed at regular seasons by the Pope; they may be oblong, round or oval in shape and vary in size; the figure of the lamb usually has a banner or cross accompanying it.

Alb The white, full length, linen vestment with sleeves worn over the amice by the priest in celebrating Mass. It is bound close to the body by the cincture. It signifies the purity of conscience demanded of God’s priests.

Aliturgical Term applied to those days of the year on which the celebration of Mass is forbidden; now only Good Friday.

Alleluia Word used in the liturgy of the Church as a joyful prayer of praise, meaning "praise the Lord."

All Saints The feast celebrated on the first of November commemorating all the Saints of the Church, whether canonized or not.

All Souls The feast celebrated on the second of November in solemn commemoration of and as prayer for the Souls in Purgatory. The priest is permitted to celebrate three Masses on this day.

Almuce The garment for covering the head and shoulders worn by Canons while chanting the office in choir. A Canon is a member of the clergy that lives in a semi-community and who is dedicated to a cathedral or chorus of that cathedral.

Altar {& Altar stone} A place of offering Sacrifice; it is the edifice upon which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Traditionally it contains a movable center, called the altar stone in which is placed a relic of a Saint or Martyr. Ordinarily it is that of the latter because the Martyr has spilled his blood for Christ.  Although it is relatively small it must be large enough to support the chalice and host from underneath. The "fixed or "immovable" altar is the stone table top [sometimes it is of wood] with its upright supports. The altar stone must be consecrated by a Bishop and not a priest.


(1) The small square, consecrated stone which is the portable altar.
(2) The entire top of the fixed or immovable altar. (Cf. Altar.)

The part of the altar that holds the stone is that portion that is kissed by the priest.

  Altar (high) The principal or main altar in a church. (a) An altar is designated as a side altar when it is an altar other than the high altar. (b) Doubled altar is an altar built so that Mass can be offered on either side of it. (c) Afixed altar is one solidly built of stone and immovable. (Cf. Altar.)

Altarage {Stipend} The offerings received by a priest from the laity for performing ceremonies such as Baptisms, Marriages, or funerals. (Obs.) (cr. Honorarium, Stipend.)

Altar breads Round wafers baked of fine, wheaten, unleavened flour and used in the Consecration at Mass. There are two sizes, the smaller, for the Communion of the faithful, the larger for the priest's Communion of the Mass and for exposition. Also called hosts.

Altar cards The three cards placed at the center and two sides of the altar and on which are printed some parts of the Mass which are constant, or contained in the ordinary of the Mass.

Altar cloths Three cloths, always of linen, required by the rubrics of Mass, which are spread over the top of the altar and are specially blessed for use on the altar.

The Altar by liturgical law and the Church’s ancient custom is covered with three Altar linens for a practical and spiritual purpose.  Practically, the Altar is covered with the three clothes to prevent any sacrilege of the Precious Blood, should any spill from the chalice after the Consecration; thus the cloths will absorb It and prevent any from spilling onto the ground.  Symbolically, the cloths represent the three-fold nature of the Church:  Triumphant, Suffering and Militant; it can also represent the Holy Trinity and most especially the winding cloths of Our Lord in the Sepulcher (i.e, the Holy Shroud of Turin).  The cloths must be made of white linen, as linen is purified after a long process.  The cloths must cover the mensa (top) of the Altar and the sides as well, just reaching to the floor.

According to liturgical law and the universal and ancient tradition of the Church, every Altar is to be vested with an Antependium (or frontal), and the Tabernacle is to be vested with a Conopaeum (derived from the Greek word meaning, mosquito net), which is a veil that covers the entire Tabernacle and not just the doors (this imitates the tabernacle, or tent, used by the Jews in the desert to cover the Ark of the Covenant, which was  “God amongst them”, though in a spiritual form only).

The Altar is to be vested in the same colors as the Mass because the Altar represents the body of Christ.  Hence the only time that the Altar should be denuded is at the end of the ceremonies of Holy Thursday during the Dividunt (They have divided my clothes) when the Altar is stripped of its garments (which includes the Altar linens) in imitation of Our Lord being stripped of His clothes at the Foot of the Cross.

Amice The piece of fine linen in the form of a rectangle.  The celebrant places it for a moment on his head, and then allows it to rest upon his shoulders.  As he does so he prays: "Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that so I may resist the assaults of the devil."

The amice us the first garment donned by the priest when vesting for Holy Mass; it is worn under the alb.

Historical Origin: A covering for the head and neck worn like a hood.  When indoors it was lowered and thrown over the shoulders.  Monastic (e.g., Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican) priests (and deacons and subdeacons) still do this.

Altar piece A painting at the back of a main altar; decorative statuary on the altar.
Altar stone
Ambo A raised platform or pulpit approached by steps; It was placed in the nave of early churches from which pronouncements were made or where certain parts of the sacred liturgy, as the Epistle and Gospel of High Mass, were, and sometimes still are, sung. There may be two, one on each side.

Ambry A closet or chest wherein the holy oils are kept on church property, usually attached to the wall of the sanctuary.

Ambulatory The two aisles of a church running up to and behind the high altar, forming a circular walk; a gallery or walking space in a cloister.

Amen A Hebrew word meaning "truly," "certainly," "so be it." When said at the end of a Creed, it means assent; at the end of a prayer, it signifies desire to obtain the petition. Otherwise, the word is merely to mark the ending of a statement.

Anamnesis Literally "a calling to mind." The words in the prayer of the Mass which declare that the Consecration is fulfilled in memory of Christ; in the Roman rite the first of three prayers after the Consecration of the Mass beginning with the words Unde et memores.

Anaphora The Canon of the Mass, including the Preface in Eastern rites.

Anathema A thing given over to evil; that pronouncement by which the Church declares a person to be out of her communion, particularly because of the denial of a truth of faith; an excommunication.

Anemnesis A commemorative prayer. It is usually applied to the commemoration of Christ's Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension in the prayer beginning with Unde et memores, after the Consecration.

Anger The excessive desire or inclination to take revenge. It is excessive when the passion is unreasonably strong in the mind or in outward expression. It is grievous when it offends charity or justice in its expression. It is one of the capital or deadly sins because it easily leads to other sins. Its contrary virtue is meekness. (Cf. Capital Sins.)

Anglican Orders Holy Orders of controverted validity of the clergy of the heretical Church of England. Declared by the Church to be "absolutely null and void" in the Bull Apostolicae Curae (1896).

Annates Revenues for the first year of an ecclesiastical benefice. Benefits given to the Pope to aid in defraying the expense of his office and international work.

Anniversary In ecclesiastical language, a Requiem Mass read on the third, seventh, and thirtieth day after the death of a person, or a year after the death.

 Anointing (1) Term applied to the act of tracing a mark in the form of a cross, with a holy oil, on a person or thing. (2) Referring to the sick, it usually means the administration of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

Antependium The cloth hanging down in front of the altar from the front edge of the table to the floor, varying in color with the liturgical season or the particular Mass being celebrated. Required by rubrics when the altar is not of stone. A frontal. (Cf. Frontal.)

Anticipation The practice of reciting, on the previous evening or after 2 p.m., Matins and Lauds of the Divine office; permitted only in the recitation of the Divine office in private.

Anticlericalism Opposition to religion by attacking the clergy or attempting to stop their activities. This may be an attack against the clergy themselves or attempts to stop their work, or it may be simply an habitual spirit of antagonism.

Antimension A combination corporal and altar stone used in the Byzantine Rite. It is an I8 inch square piece of linen doubled, in which are sewn up relics anointed with chrism. It is generally ornamented with a design, representing the entombment of our Lord, with the four Evangelists and the instruments of the Passion, printed in black ink. It corresponds somewhat to a portable altar. Also called the "Greek corporal."

Antiphon (1) Words or verses prefixed to and following a psalm or psalms containing thoughts on the mystery considered by the Church in the Divine office. (2) In the Mass, the prayers of the Introit, Offertory, and Communion are called antiphons.

Antiphonary The book containing the antiphons of the breviary together with their musical notes, or those parts of the breviary which are sung in choir.

Antiphoner One who intones the antiphons when the breviary is sung in choir.

Antipope A false, rival claimant to the Papacy. A pretender to the See of the Bishop of Rome.

Antistes The title applied to a prelate or bishop in Church history and sometimes in prayers.

Apostasy Defection from God through entire rejection of either one or more of the following after it had been previously accepted: (1) the Catholic faith; (2) ecclesiastical obedience; (3) the religious or clerical state.

Apostate One who possessed the Catholic faith and has rejected it entirely; also, one who apostasizes from Church obedience, or from the religious or clerical state.

Apostle (1) One "sent" or "commissioned." Primarily one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, namely, Saints Peter, John, James the son of Zebedee, Matthew, Jude, Thomas, Philip, Bartholomew, James the son of Alpheus, Andrew, Simon the Cananean, Mathias, later chosen to replace Judas, and later St. Paul. (2) The name often given to the first missionary to a country.

Apostles' Creed The prayer embodying the fundamental Christian teachings and a profession of belief in them; a liturgical prayer of the Catholic beliefs of faith. It is called Apostles' because it embodies a summary of Apostolic teachings. (Cf. Credo, Nicene Creed.)

Apostolic Delegate Papal representative sent to a country having no regular diplomatic relations with the Holy See. One having special delegated powers.

Apostolic Fathers Early Christian writers who wrote on doctrinal subjects and whose writings were not done later than the opening of the third century.

Apostolicity That one of the four marks of the Catholic Church by which it stems from the Apostles in its doctrine, authority, and organization.

Apparel A panel of embroidery stitched on the upper center part of the amice and on the cuffs and hem of the alb.

 Approbation Judgment by a prelate of a priest, declaring him qualified by authorizing him to exercise some sacred ministry. The grant of faculties by a bishop to an ordained cleric.

Apse The sanctuary end of a church building, especially those of Romanesque or Gothic architecture; originally, the semicircular termination of the church, but later the shape became varied according to the general design of the building. In a basilica, that rounded or vaulted section in which are placed the bishop's throne and seats for the clergy, and in front of which the altar stands.

Archangel One of the nine choirs of Angels.

Archbishop The bishop of an archdiocese who has limited authority over the other bishops of his province. As head of an ecclesiastical province the archbishop is called the metropolitan, the other bishops are called suffragans. The title archbishop is sometimes given honoris causa to the bishop of an archdiocese which has no suffragan sees.

Archdeacon In the early days of the Church  the deacon selected by the bishop to assist him in his work, now obsolete. The vicar general or chancellor today corresponds to this early office.

Archdiocese A diocese or jurisdiction of an archbishop; usually it is the metropolitan see of an ecclesiastical province.

Archiepiscopal Cross A cross with two cross bars, the upper one, shorter than the other. It is carried before the archbishop in processions in his own province. Also called the Patriarchal Cross.

Archpriest (1) The head of a diocesan deanery. (2) In early times a special representative of the bishop.

Aridity The lack of sensible devotion and of consolation in prayer.

Aseity A philosophical term applied to one existing independent of all else; a mode of existing of oneself. The prime distinguishing attribute of the Divine substance.

Ash Wednesday The first day of the Lenten fast. It derives its name from the custom of placing blessed ashes of burnt palms on the foreheads of the faithful in the form of a cross to remind them of death and the necessity of penance.

Ashes The burnt remains of palms which are blessed before the principal Mass of Ash Wednesday and placed on the forehead of each person to remind them of their last end and the necessity for penance; blessed ashes are a sacramental of the Church.

Asperges (1) The ceremony of sprinkling the altar, clergy, and people with holy water, performed by the celebrant before the principal Mass. This is only permitted on Sundays. (2) The first word of the psalm verse recited by the celebrant and choir at this ceremony.

Aspergill An instrument for sprinkling holy water; usually a rod with a perforated metal bulb at the end from which holy water is shaken.

 Aspersory A portable vessel to hold holy water and into which the aspergill is dipped.

Aspiration A short prayer.

Assistant (1) The priest aiding a parish priest; a curate. (2) One assisting the bishop in a pontifical function. (3) A newly ordained priest may have an assistant priest at his first Solemn Mass. (4) Assistant deacons, sometimes called chaplains, are those who assist the bishop at low Mass, walk at his side in procession, or sit beside him when, vested in cappa magna, he sits at the throne.

Assumption The taking up of the body of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven and she was thereby preserved from bodily corruption after her death. The feast is celebrated on August 15 and is a holyday of obligation. (Dogma: Nov. 1, 1950)

Atonement The reconciliation of man with God by Jesus Christ, the Son, through His sacrificial death on the Cross. The Redemption.
Attention Advertence of the mind to what one is doing; required for prayer and for the lawful administering or receiving of the Sacraments.

Aureole (1) In art, the light Aureole or gold shading surrounding the figure in a sacred picture. (2) In theology, a certain accidental reward over and above the essential bliss of Heaven given to persons who achieve Heaven with extraordinary degrees of merit.

Azyme The unleavened bread used by the Jews in their sacrifices; sometimes applied to the Eucharistic bread.

Burse The burse is a square container for the corporal when the latter is not in use.  It is made of the same material and color as the vestments. 

Chalice This is a cup made of gold or silver, or if of silver, the interior must be of gold.  It holds the wine for the Holy Sacrifice.  There are four parts of a chalice:  the foot (or base), stem, node and cup.  The node is in the center of the stem and the celebrant uses this to elevate and hold the chalice.
Every chalice has a cross or crucifixion scene to demark its “front” on its foot. The priest always vesst the chalice with the front facing him and centers all items with it.

Chalice Veil This is the cloth which covers the chalice until the Offertory, and again after Communion (i.e., when the chalice is not being used).  It also is made of the same material and color as the vestments.  The act of covering the chalice follows the rule of covering those items that are sacred or used for sacred purposes. Ensure that the veil just barely touches in front of the chalice’s foot, and that it is centered widthwise on the chalice.

Corporal The corporal is a square piece of linen.  In size and appearance it resembles a small napkin.  It is spread out on the Altar, and the chalice is placed upon it.  During the Mass the Sacred Host rests for a time on the corporal, hence the reason for its name, meaning body, as the Sacred Body of Our Lord rests upon it.
Ensure that the corporal is fully inside the burse with the opening of the corporal facing the opening of the burse.

Purificator This is a linen cloth used for wiping the chalice, and the fingers and mouth of the celebrant after Communion. It is spread over the cup of the chalice at the beginning and end of Mass. From the Offertory until the Ablutions the purificator is placed folded next to the corporal. Most purificators are marked with an embroidered cross in the center.

Ensure that purificator is slightly tucked into the cup and that the bottom edges are even.

Paten {& Celebrant's Host} This is a plate which the top surface (upon which the celebrant’s host rests) and which must be at least gold plated.  The host remains on the paten until the Offertory and then is placed on the Altar (the paten is then covered with the purificator and corporal, though during a Solemn High Mass it is held at this time by the subdeacon).  After the Consecration, the Sacred Host is once again placed on the paten in order to prevent the loss of Sacred Particles.

Most patens have an emblem on their underside. The priest is to ensure that the paten and its emblem are centered on the cup and that host (and its impressed design if any) is centered upon the paten.

Pall This is a square stiffened piece of linen which covers the chalice after the wine and water have been poured in at the Offertory and until the Ablutions.  It is used to protect the offered wine and upon its consecration, the Precious Blood from dust and falling matter.  This linen is often stiffened with a piece of card stock, or even plastic, which can be removed when the pall needs to be cleaned.  While a pall’s top can be made of cloth other than linen, the bottom (i.e., that which might come into contact with the Precious Blood) must be made of linen.

The top of the pall is usually marked with a cross.  Ensure that the pall is centered upon the paten.


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