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Catholic Pocket Dictionary/E

EASTER, FEAST OF             


EMBER DAYS             













EXTREME UNCTION             


The feast of our Lord's resurrection.


The Church has adored the Blessed Sacrament from the time of its institution. St. Ambrose says, "We adore in the mysteries the flesh of Christ, which the Apostles adored. "No one eats that flesh," says St. Augustine, "without first adoring it." But the outward signs by which the Church has expremed this adoration have not always been the same.

In the Greek liturgies the elevation of the Host takes place shortly before the communion. Ancient authors tell us how at the elevation the curtains which concealed the sanctuary during the rest of the canon were drawn aside and the sacred mysteries presented by the priest for the adoration of the faithful. Formerly in the Latin Mass the Blessed Sacrament was elevated only at the words "omnis honor et gloria" just before the "Pater Noster.” This is now usually known as "the little elevation." The elevation of host and chalice immediately after consecration was introduced in detestation of the denial of transubstantiation.

The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday which follow December 13, the First Sunday in Lent, Pentecost, and September 14 (Exaltation of the Cross), are days of fasting, and are called in English Ember Days.


An encyclical is letter addressed by the Pope to all the bishops in communion with him, in which he condemns prevalent errors, or informs them of impediments which persecution, or perverse legislation or administration, opposes in particular countries to the fulfillment by the Church of her divine mission, or explains the line of conduct which Christians ought to take in reference to urgent practical questions, such as education, or the relations between Church and State, or the liberty of the Apostolic See.


A feast kept on January 6 to commemorate the manifestation of Christ's glory -

1.   when the Magi adored Him;

2.   in His baptism, when the voice from heaven proclaimed Him the Son of God;

3.   in the miracle of changing water into wine, when Christ began His miracles.


A portion of Scripture read after the collects and before the Gospel in the Mass.


A deliberate promise to marry made by each party, expressed by outward signs, each being capable of entering upon such an engagement.


A feast kept on January 23. An office commemorating this event was written by the famous Gerson. In the sixteenth century Paul III. allowed the friars and nuns of the Franciscan Order to recite an office of the Espousals. The office was simply that of the Blessed Virgin's Nativity, except that a new Gospel was chosen and the word "nativitas" was changed into "desponsatio." However, a special office of the Espousals was written by the Dominican Peter Doré and approved by the same Pope, Paul III. An indult of Benedict XIII., in 1725, permitted its use throughout the States of the Church.


The Church regards the Eucharist as a sacrament and also as a sacrifice. Considered as a sacrament, the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.

A sacrifice is the oblation of a sensible thing made to God through a lawful minister by a real change in the thing offered, to testify God's absolute authority over us and our entire dependence on Him.

The above is included in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. There is the oblation of a sensible thing – viz. of the body and blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. The oblation is made by a lawful minister – viz. by Christ Himself acting through lawful priests, who are His representatives. There is a mystical destruction of the victim, for Christ presents Himself on the altar "as in a state of death, because He is deprived of those functions of natural life which He exercised on earth, and because He is there with the signs of death through the mystical separation between body and blood" caused by the words of consecration. There is the protestation of God's supreme dominion, for the Mass is and can be offered to God alone. Moreover, it fulfills the form and ends of sacrifice. Like the holocausts, it offers homage to God; like the sin-offerings, it propitiates Him by the very fact that it is an oblation of Christ, the victim for our sins. Like the peace-offerings, it pleads for grace, for we offer here the victim of our peace. In this sacrifice of thanksgiving we offer God the most excellent gift He has bestowed on us - namely, the Son in whom he is well pleased. Then, the sacrifice of the altar is one with that of the cross. True, no blood is shed on the altar, nor does Christ die any more, so that it is by the sacrifice of the cross, not of the Mass, that we were redeemed from sin and its penalties. But on the cross and altar we have the same victim and the same priest, and therefore, in the words of the Council of Trent, the sacrifice of the Mass, though. a commemoration, is "not a mere commemoration of the sacrifice on the cross." It is truly "propitiatory" and may be offered for the living and dead, for sins and penalties, for satisfaction and other needs, spiritual and temporal. "Moved," says the see council, "by the oblation of thin sacrifice, the Lord, granting grace and the gift of repentance, forgives crime and sins, even if they be great," and in another place, that it is the most efficacious means of helping the souls in Purgatory. The Mass is offered for the salvation of the living and of the dead who still suffer in the state of purgation. It is necessary that the priest should communicate in every Mass which he celebrates, for consumption of the species forms an integral part of the sacrifice, but it is not necessary that anyone else should do so.


The authors of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


It is necessary to ascertain the nature of the disease before remedies can be applied; and in the moral and spiritual life persons have to search their conscience in order to ascertain their past and present sins, that they may confess them to God, repent, and be forgiven, and take precautions against future falls. Spiritual writers recommend that this examination should be made at least every evening; in order to ascertain and to repent of the sins committed that day. Such examination is a matter of absolute necessity before approaching the sacrament of penance. The penitent must try, with such reasonable care as he would use in any other matter of grave importance, to ascertain at least all the mortal sins he has committed since his last confession; otherwise he is incapable of absolution.


An ecclesiastical censure by which a Christian is separated from the communion of the Church.


A name given by St. Ignatius of Loyola to a series of meditations on the truths of religion, accompanied by examination of conscience and considerations respecting present or future duty in the choice of a new state of life.


The prayers used to drive out the devil from possessed persons.


The Church has adored Christ in the Eucharist ever since that great sacrament was instituted, but it is only in times comparatively modern that the most Holy Sacrament has been publicly exposed for the veneration of the faithful.

The procession of the Blessed Sacrament on Corpus Christi was probably introduced some time after the institution of the feast, under Pope John XXII., who died in 1333. We cannot be sure that even then the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, for the earliest vessels in which it was carried seem to have hidden it completely from view. However, Thiers found in a vellum Missal dated 1373 a miniature portrait of a bishop carrying the Host in procession, the monstrance in which it is borne having sides partly of glass. We may thus reasonably conclude that in the fourteenth century the Host was exposed at least on Corpus Christi. In the sixteenth century it became common to expose the Host at other times--on occasions, e.g., of public distress - and generally the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for forty continuous hours. This devotion is still familiar to Catholics throughout the world as the usual form for the more solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The Host after High Mass (the Mass of Exposition) is placed on a throne above the altar in the monstrance. Persons are appointed to relieve each other night and day in watching and praying before it. On the second day a Mass "for peace" is sung, and on the third the Host is again placed in the tabernacle after a High Mass (that of Deposition).


Extreme Unction may be defined as a sacrament in which the sick in danger of death are anointed by a priest for the health of soul and body, the anointing being accompanied by a set form of prayers.


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