Catholic Pocket Dictionary/P



PALM SUNDAY             



PARISH PRIEST             


PASSION SUNDAY             



PATER NOSTER             



PAULIST FATHERS             

PAX VOBIS             

PECTORAL CROSS             






PETER’S PENCE             


PLAIN CHANT             




























A small cloth of linen used to cover the chalice.


A band of white wool worn on the shoulders. It has two strings of the same material and four purple crosses worked on it. It is worn by the Pope and sent by him to patriarchs, primates and archbishops.


The Sunday before Easter, on which the Church celebrates Christ's entry into Jerusalem.


An old Persian word adopted at an early date by the Hebrews. It only occurs three times in the Old Testament, and always means simply "a park." It is used for that particular garden or park in which Adam and Eve were placed; and in the later Jewish theology for that part of Hades which was inhabited by the souls of the just, and which we call "Limbo."


A parish in the modern sense is "a defined district of territory, the boundaries of which are settled by the Pope or by the bishop of the diocese, having one fixed rector, with power to rule and judge the people living within it, and to administer to them the sacraments.


A person lawfully deputed and bound to minister in his own name the word of God and the sacraments to certain members of a diocese, who in their turn are to a certain extent bound to receive them from him.


Their full title is "Congregation of the Discalced Clerks of the most holy Cross and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ." Their founder, St. Paul of the Cross, born near Genoa in 1694, put on the habit of the order in 1720. In 1721, having compiled the constitutions which he wished his followers to observe, Paul went to Rome in order to obtain their sanction. Approval having been received Paul established the first monastery of his congregation at Monte Argentaro, near Orbitello, in 1737. The rules of the society were confirmed by Benedict XIV in 1746. In 1867 Paul of the Cross was canonized by Pius IX.

The life of a Passionist is very austere. They fast three days in every week, besides Advent and Lent; they wear nothing on their feet but sandals; they rise night to say Matins, and, indeed, recite the office in choir at all the canonical hours. They divide their time between contemplation and action; being indefatigable in giving missions and retreats, especially to persons living in community. Besides the three usual vows, they make a fourth – that they will do their utmost to keep alive in the hearts of the faithful the memory of our Lord's passion. On the day of their profession they make a vow of perseverance in the congregation. Nevertheless, they only take simple vows.


The Sunday before Palm Sunday. With Passion Sunday the more solemn part of Lent begins; the images are veiled with violet at the first vespers; the Judica psalm and the Gloria Patri are omitted at the Introit.


Jesus Christ, who, in the Preface for Festivals of the Apostles, is called "Pastor aeternus," communicates the characteristics of a good shepherd of souls to all those who faithfully discharge the office of governing in his Church. This communication is preeminently made to the Roman Pontiff, who, in the collect "pro Papa" is described as "pastor ecclesiae"; it also appertains in lesser degrees to bishops and priests, upon each one of whom it devolves to lead, feed, and gently rule, like a shepherd, the flock committed to him.


A plate used from the earliest times to receive the Host consecrated at Mass.


The prayer taught by our Lord to His disciples.


The dignity of Patriarch is the highest grade in the hierarchy of jurisdiction. Immediately next to the rank of Patriarch may come that of "Primate"; metropolitans or archbishops follow; under each metropolitan are ranged his suffragan bishops.


The title of a church is the name it bears, that is of the Trinity, St. Augustine, St. Mary. The patron saint is that saint under whom special protection the Church has been placed. Thus titular is a wider term, comprehending the persons of the Trinity, mysteries e. g. Corpus Christi, and saints.

The patron of a church is generally a saint or an angel.


The Institute of the Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle was founded in New York by the Rev. I. T. Hecker and several associates in the year 1858. Its members are engaged in ordinary parochial work, in giving missions, in the education of their scholastics, and in literary labor.

They devote their principal labors to the spread of the true, practical knowledge of Catholic doctrines among the non-Catholic people of this country. Since the inception of the order the Paulists have done splendid work in behalf of the Church in making converts.


Pax Vobis is said by bishops after the Gloria in Excelsis." If the "Gloria" be not said, then the bishop's salutation is the same as the priest's--viz. "Dominus vobiscum." The fact that "Pax vobis" was our Lord's Easter greeting to the Apostles made it unsuitable for penitential days.


A small cross of precious metal worn on the breast by bishops and abbots as a mark of their office.


Penance is a sacrament instituted by Christ in the form of judgment for the remission of sin done after baptism, this remission being effected by the absolution of the priest, joined to true supernatural sorrow, true purpose of amendment, and sincere confession on the part of the sinner.


The right of punishing members for offences against its laws, and depriving them altogether or for a time of its privileges, belongs to any well-constituted society. It was exercised by the Synagogue, Christ sanctioned the use of it in His Church, and St. Paul enforced the penitential law of the Church against an offender. Of course, penitential discipline in the Church, though analogous to the procedure of human societies, claims a higher origin and is of a much more serious nature. The power of inflicting spiritual penalties has been put into the hands of the Church by Christ Himself; it is exercised in His name; it may involve deprivation of the sacraments, which are the great appointed means of grace; and, on the other hand, it is the object of penitential discipline, not only to preserve the holiness of the Church, but also to awaken wholesome fear and sorrow in the heart of the offender while there is yet time, "that his soul may be saved in the day of the Lord."


A name given to seven psalms which express sorrow for sin and desire of pardon. The psalms are 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, 142.


The day on which the Holy Ghost descended miraculously on the Apostles. The ancient tradition that this Pentecost fell on a Sunday is confirmed by John xviii. 28, for if the Friday on which Christ died was the eve of the passover, i. e. Nisan 14, then the 16th, the first of the fifty days, and the fiftieth day itself must both have been Sundays.


A lie confirmed with an oath. To call God as a witness of what is false implies either that He does not know the truth or that He would testify to what is false. It is therefore a grievous sin against the virtue of religion.


An annual tax paid to the Holy See.


The Church has approved the use of pilgrimage to holy places as a very potent help and incentive to a devout life. She also favors the practice, because she recognizes the undoubted fact that God has often granted, and still grants, interior and exterior favors, graces, and miracles, at particular places or shrines, to honor certain mysteries, and saints.

The usual motives for a pilgrimage were: the desire to realize the objects of faith and quicken religious feeling in the soul, the fulfillment of a vow or to obtain some special benefit.


Known also as Gregorian, or Roman, or Choral Chant, is the distinctive song of the Church. It has been defined to be a grave, diatonic, unison melody, set to the rhythm of the words, without strictly measured time, and used by the Church in her sacred functions.


A book containing the rites performed by a bishop.


By the title Pope is meant the Bishop of Rome, who is, according to Catholic doctrine, the successor of St. Peter, and as, such the vicar of Christ, the visible head of the Church, the doctor and teacher of all the faithful.


This is one of the three churches, at or near Assisi, which were rebuilt by St. Francis. This old church, just like the holy chapel at Loreto, is enclosed in the middle of a spacious church, annexed to a large convent.


A state in which an evil spirit, by God's permission, inhabits the body of a rational being.


A prayer or prayers, varying with the day, said after the priest has taken the ablutions.


One of the acts of the virtue of religion.


An association founded in 1844 by the Jesuits at Vals, in the diocese of Puy. The Popes have shown their approval of its spirit and work by many briefs and privileges.


Christian preaching began with our Lord Himself, who entrusted the continuation of the work to His Apostles.

The Council of Trent teaches that preaching is the "principal office of bishops," and requires bishops, parish priests, and all who have the care of souls, to preach personally, or in case of lawful impediment by deputy, at least on Sundays and solemn feasts.


The highest step of the sanctuary, on which the altar stands.


A prelude or introduction to the Canon of the Mass, consisting in an exhortation to thanksgiving made by the celebrant, in the answers of the minister or choir, and a prayer ending with the Sanctus, in which God is thanked for His benefits. The Greeks have only one Preface, which in the Clementine liturgy is extremely long. The Gallican and Mozarabic rites, on the other hand, are rich in Prefaces, and so originally was the Roman liturgy, which from the sixth till about the end of the eleventh century had a special Preface for nearly every feast. The number was reduced in most churches of the Roman rite to eleven, the common one, found in nearly all the ancient Sacrament Aries, and ten others. The Preface of the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Cross, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles, and the Common.


A general name for an ecclesiastical dignitary.


The story of Mary's presentation in the temple when three years old and her sojourn there till her marriage first appears in Apocryphal Gospels – viz. the Protevangelium and that of the Birth of Mary.


The priesthood is the second in rank among the holy orders. It is the office of a priest, according to the Pontifical, "to offer, bless, rule, preach, and baptize." First, he is empowered to offer that sacrifice bf the Mass which is the centre of all the Church's worship, because in it Christ, the great high-priest, continually offers Himself in a bloodless manner, and applies that one sacrifice consummated for our redemption on the cross. Next, the priest, standing between God and his fellowmen, blesses the people in God's name. It is his duty, if a flock is entrusted to him, to rule and to instruct it, and to administer the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Holy Communion, and Extreme Unction, besides solemnizing Marriages, etc.


In early' times bishops were called primates who held any commanding position in the Church. Thus the Roman Pontiff is called the primate of the whole Church; and the Council of Chalcedon declared that the primacy, or first place before all was to be accorded to "the Archbishop of Old Rome."

In modern times those bishops only are properly called primates to whose see the dignity of vicar of the Holy See was formerly annexed. Such sees are – Armagh in Ireland, Arles and Lyons in France, Mentz in Germany, Toledo in Spain, Gran in Hungary, Pisa and Salerno in Italy. None off these retain .any primatial jurisdiction except Gran, the archbishop of which has still the right of receiving appeals from all the other archbishops in Hungary. Changed circumstances – especially the great facility with which the most distant countries can now communicate with Rome – have made the jurisdiction of primates almost a thing of the past.


The Christian religion is described as a revelation, on the ground that God through Christ has revealed truths to which the unaided reason could not have attained, or attained with the same certainty. This revelation was made to the whole world, just as the Mosaic religion, also a revelation, communicated God's will to a single people. But after the full revelation made to the whole human race through Christ, the New Testament speaks repeatedly of private revelations made to individuals for a particular end.


The solemn entrance of the clergy to the altar for Mass, Vespers, &c., or of their return after service to the sacristy. Processions are also made with or without the Blessed Sacrament, relics, statues of the Blessed Virgin or the saints. On Candlemas, Palm Sunday, St. Mark's Day, three Rogation Days, Corpus Christi, and at funerals.


The authorized agent or representative of another. Thus it answers to a "proxy," when the question is of a marriage which one of the parties contracts through a representative, and to a "sponsor," when the question is of a baptism where one or both of the god-parents are not able to be present. In either of the above senses, a procurator contracts spiritual affinity not to himself, but to his principal.


A religious or regular profession is a promise freely made and lawfully accepted, whereby a person of the full age required, after the completion of a year of probation, binds him- (or her-) self to a particular religious institute approved by the Church. The full age required is sixteen years, reckoned from the day of birth. The year of novitiate or probation must have been continuous; so that if the novice had interrupted it even for so short a time as two hours, e. g. by leaving the monastery with the intention of entering some other order, the year would have to be begun anew, from the date when he renewed his resolution of seeking admission to the order. Moreover, the year of probation must be spent in the religions habit, and in a monastery or other house designed for the purpose and approved by the Holy See.

The matter of the promise is, the three essential vows of religion, poverty, obedience, and chastity, and any other vow or vows peculiar to the institute which the candidate is entering.

The following in an outline of the manner of profession of a nun, as prescribed in the Roman Pontifical:

"The Pontifical office is recited as far as the Gospel. The novices, habited as during their probationary year, each accompanied by two veiled religions, are led from the convent into the church, and go up two and two into the sanctuary; there they kneel; and the priest, officiating in the character of archpriest, requests of the bishop, seated on his throne before the altar, that they may be consecrated. The bishop asks whether they are fit and worthy, and, being assured that they are, bids them home up. They obey, and range themselves in a semicircle round the bishop, who, after a short exhortation, says to them in a loud voice, “Are you willing to persevere in the observance of holy chastity?” Each of them declares her willingness aloud, and after placing her joined hands between those of the bishop, pronounces her perpetual vows. They return to their former place, and kneel down, with heads bowed to the ground; the bishop kneels in front of the altar, and the choir sings the Litanies. After the sentence, “Ut omnibus fidelibus defunctis,” etc., and the response, the bishop rises, and, with his mitre on, and the crosier in his hand, solemnly blesses the newly-professed, saying, “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to bless and consecrate these Thy servants.” The response is made, “We beseech Thee, hear us.”

"After the Litanies tie professed rise, 'Veni, Creator,' is sung, and they withdraw into a robing-room to change their dress. The bishop blesses the different articles of their future costume, and first of all the habit, which they immediately put on. They reappear, two and two, and again form a semicircle round the bishop, who, after the prayers, etc., set down in the ritual, puts the veil on the head of each, the ring on her finger, and the bridal wreath on her head. After several solemn benedictions the Mass continues. At the Offertory the professed come up to lay their offerings on the altar, and at the Communion the bishop imparts to them the sacred particles which he has consecrated for them."


A prophecy is the certain prediction of future events which cannot be known by natural means.


A proposition is "heretical" when it is directly opposed to a truth revealed by God and proposed by the Church; "erroneous," when it is contradictory to a truth deduced from two premises, one an article of faith, the other naturally certain; "proximate to error," when opposed to a proposition deduced with great probability from principles of faith; "haeresim sapiens," when it is capable of a good sense, but seems in the circumstances to have an heretical meaning; "evil sounding" or "offensive to pious ears," when opposed to piety and the reverence due to divine things according to the common mode of speaking; "scandalous," when it gives occasion to think or act amiss; "rash," when opposed to the common sense of the Church in matters of faith and morals.


The territory, comprising usually several dioceses, within which an archbishop or metropolitan exercises jurisdiction.


The religions who, being appointed either by the general of the order or by the chapter, has the general superintendence of the affairs of the order within the limits of a certain province.


By this is meant the regular conferring of, and induction into, ecclesiastical functions. It has three principal parts or stages – designation, collation or institution, and installation.


A place in which souls who depart this life in the grace of God suffer for a time because they still need to be cleansed from venial, or have still to pay the temporal punishment due to mortal sins, the guilt and the eternal punishment of which have been remitted. Purgatory is not a place of probation, for the time of trial, the period during which the soul is free to choose eternal life or eternal death, ends with the separation of soul and body.


Purification, as distinct from ablution, is the pouring of wine into the chalice after the priest's communion, the wine being taken by the priest.


The Levitical law declared women unclean for seven days after the birth of a male child; it excluded them from the sanctuary for thirty-three days more; on the fortieth they had to appear in the temple and to offer a lamb one year old for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle-dove as a sin-offering. In the case of the poor it was enough to offer two turtle-doves or young pigeons, one as a holocaust and the other as a sin-offering. The Blessed Virgin was not bound by this law, since the child born of her was conceived by the Holy Ghost. But her divine Son subjected Himself to the burdens of the law that He might set His seal to its divine origin, remove occasion of cavil, and leave us an example of humility; and similar motives induced the Virgin herself to undergo the rite of purification. It is this event which the Church celebrates in the feast which bears that name, and is kept for a reason virtually given already on the fortieth day after Christmas, i. e. February 2. However, we turn to the Mass for the day, we find no less prominence given to two other events which were simultaneous with the purification. Candles are blessed and carried in procession to remind us how the holy old man Simeon met our Lord, took Him in his arms, and declared Him the light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Next, in the collect, epistle, and the gospel there are marked references to the fact that our Lord was at the same time presented in the temple before God and redeemed with five pieces of money.


A vase in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.


Copyright ©1999-2023 Wildfire Fellowship, Inc all rights reserved