Acolyte: a person assisting the priest in church ceremonies or services.
Aer: The large chalice veil that covers the bread and wine which is prepared at the Liturgy of Preparation.
Alleluia: Derived from the Hebrew, meaning “Praise the Lord”, sung after the Epistle.
Altar: The square table in the middle of the Sanctuary, on which the Eucharist is offered. The center of the Altar is occupied by the folded Antimins, on which the ceremonial gospel book is placed, and behind it is the tabernacle with the “reserved gifts.” Only ordained clergy may touch the Altar.
Amen: Meaning “So Be It”. This phrase concludes all Litanies and Services.
Ambon: The space immediately in front of the Royal Doors. The place where the Gospel is read and the Sermon is given.
Antidoron: The remains of the prosphora not used in Communion.
Antimins: (or Antimension). This altar cloth is the Bishop's blessing for a priest to perform the Divine Liturgy. It is consecrated with Holy Chrism, signed by the Bishop and contains a relic from a martyr.
Banners: These are processional banners with icons on both sides. Processions are made on significant feast days. In such processions, parishioners carry the banners in front of the priest and congregation and walk around the church three times or processions may also be made around the interior of the church. Banners are ensigns representing Christianity’s conquest over the adversaries of the Church.
Bishop: Third rank of the Clergy.
Blessings: The Blessing of Christ himself, given by Bishops and Priests to the faithful, always in the sign or form of the Cross.
Candles: Symbolizing perpetually burning love for, and constant prayer to, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Catechumens: Those people being instructed in the teachings of the Christian Faith and preparing for Holy Baptism.
Censer: (Kadylo). A metal vessel hung on chains, used in church ceremonies for burning incense, symbolic of the prayers we offer to God.
Chalice: A large cup of silver or gold, with a long-stemmed base. Wine and water are put in it during Proskomedia. Later during Eucharist, the Holy Bread (the Body of Christ) is added before Communion. One of most sacred and is handled only by the clergy.
Cantor: Lay person who assists the priest by chanting the responses and hymns.
Chrism: Sanctified oil composed of several ingredients and fragrances, used in the sacrament of Chrismation.
Communion: Sign of unity. Only Orthodox Christians who have properly prepared themselves are invited to receive Holy Communion.
Confession: Act of confessing or acknowledgment of sins by an individual before God in the presence of a priest, authorized to ask for forgiveness and to administer a penance.
Creed: Symbol of Faith.
Deacon: First order of the Clergy, assists the Bishop and the Priest, and leads the people in prayer and worship.
Diskos: Plate on a pedestal, on which the Lamb rests until the Consecration of the Elements.
Eight Tones: Group of melodies that are used to organize sung or chanted music. Each tone has its own distinctive characteristic.
Epiclesis: Invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts offered according to Christ’s Holy Command, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” This is the most solemn moment of the Divine Liturgy.
Eternal Lamp: The eternal lamp is traditionally fashioned in the form of a multi-winged angel. Lit 24 hours a day.
Eucharist: Body and Blood of Christ in the Mystery of Holy Communion.
Fan: Processional Fan, bearing an Icon of the Holy Angels.
Fasting: Abstaining from certain foods and activities in order to draw closer to God. Total fasting (no food or drink) is required before receiving Holy Communion.
Feast Day: Holy Day commemorating an event in the life of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and Saints, etc.
Gospel: Book of the New Testament. At all services the reading is done by the Priest.
High Place: The holiest part of the Church, located in the easternmost part of the church “behind” the Altar.
Icons: Icons form the “family portraits” of the house of God.
Iliton: A silk cloth slightly larger than the antimins that is folded around it at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, and which is left on the altar table.
Iconostas: The icon screen separating the Sanctuary (Altar area) from the Nave, symbolizing the Mystery of God and of His Kingdom. It represents the place where heaven and earth meet-in Christ and the saints.
Incense: Symbolizes the prayers of the Faithful, in the worship of God. It also symbolizes the Holy Spirit, that is present everywhere.
Kondak: The short hymn sung at all church services. It draws our attention to the inner aspect of the commemorated event.
Lamb: That portion of the prosphora (offering) bread which is removed for consecration during the Liturgy of Preparation, which is Consecrated during the Liturgy, becoming the Body of Christ.
Lent: One of four periods set aside each year when we are called upon to fast and pray fervently.
Litany: Series of prayers to which the people and the Choir respond “Lord have mercy.”
Liturgy: The principle worship service of the Orthodox Church, celebrating the Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension, Enthronement and Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is the standard Resurrection service of the Orthodox Church around the world.
Mitre: The jewelled crown worn by Bishops and Mitered Archpriests during services.
Musa: A blessed, small antimins sponge (musa) must be kept in every Antimins – with it the particles from the Diskos are wiped off and crumbs from the antimins are gathered.
Mystery: “Sacrament”, the means by which God’s Grace is imparted to us by His Holy Orthodox Church. Only Orthodox Christians may receive the Holy Mysteries.
Narthex: The western section of the Church. Also called the Vestibule or Porch. Some services begin in the Narthex.
Nave: The large center area of the Church where the Orthodox Faithful stand and pray worshipping the Lord God.
Pascha: The Greek word for “Passover”, commemorating the Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. Pascha ranks above all Holy Days and is termed “The Feast of Feasts.” Not to be confused with Paska, Easter Bread.
Pectoral Cross: Worn by Priests, it symbolizes the reality that the priest is the representative of Christ Crucified to the people of the world, and as Christ’s ambassador, he is to bring them the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Phelon: The Priest’s distinctive outer vestment.
Plashchanytsia: Also called the Shroud. It is a rectangular piece of ornately decorated cloth. On it is the image of Christ wrapped in the holy Shroud that covered Him prior to His entombment. It is venerated from Good Friday until Pascha.
Priest: The Second of the Major Holy Orders, priests/presbyters are the representative of the Bishop in the Parish. He receives, through Ordination, the power consecrate the Holy Eucharist, to preach and explain the teachings of the Holy Gospel, Baptize, Chrismate, celebrate Matrimony, give Holy Unction to the sick, hear confessions and grant absolution in the name of the Lord.
Procession: The liturgical movement of the Clergy, Altar-Servers, Choir and Faithful usually around the Church.
Prokimen: An Old Testament verse.
Proskomedia: The first part of the Divine Liturgy. Also, called the Liturgy of Preparation.
Prosphora: The “offering” bread baked and offered by faithful Orthodox Christians. It is offered and used in the Eucharist, from which the Lamb is taken, the remainder is cut up to form the antidoron. It is baked, inscribed with the symbol of the Cross, and with the letters IC XC NIKA, meaning “Jesus Christ Conquers.”
Prostration: A reverential bow.
Reader: A reader is given the responsibility of reading the Epistle during liturgy and psalms during services.
Reserved Gifts: The reserved sacrament of the body and blood of Christ placed in the Tabernacle on the Altar. The priest uses these gifts outside the Service for example, giving communion to sick, infirmed and in an emergency.
Royal Doors: The Doors in the center of the Iconostas, thru which only Bishops, Priests and Deacons, as ordained representatives of Christ, may pass. To the left of the Royal Doors is the Icon of the Incarnation, The Virgin Mary. To the right is the Icon of Christ the Teacher.
Sanctuary: The front part of the church that surrounds the altar.
Shroud: Also called Plashchanytsia. It is a rectangular piece of ornately decorated cloth. On it is the image of Christ wrapped in the holy Shroud that covered Him prior to His entombment.
Sign of the Cross: Is the enduring symbol of faith in Christ our Savior, and the blessing of the Christian. It is the profound confession of faith in Christ.
Solia: The elevated area in front of the Iconostasis.
Spear: A lance-shaped knife used to take particles out of the prosphora. It represents the spear with which Christ's Body was pierced.
Star Cover: Cross-piece of gold or silver with a star located at the top, placed on the Diskos to keep the chalice veils from resting on the Lamb. Symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, which shone over the Christ Child at His Nativity.
Stikhar: The White Robe worn under the Vestments.
Supplicant: A person who prays to God in a humble way.
Tabernacle: The Tabernacle looks like a miniature church placed on the Altar. It houses the "reserved gifts".
Table of Oblation: A small table on which the bread and wine are prepared for the Divine Liturgy
Teplota: The hot water brought to the Priest at the time of receiving of Holy Communion. Also called Zeon.
Tetrapod: This service table is placed in the front centre of the nave. On it is usually a small standing cross with candles on either side, with a slightly raised icon centre of the table in front of the cross. Parishioners traditionally venerate this icon when entering the church before doing anything else. They also venerate the icon at the end of a Service.
Theotokos: Greek for “Birth-giver of God”, or “Bearer of God”.
Tone: See "Eight Tones".
Tropar: The short hymn sung at all services. It emphasizes the external aspect of a commemorated event.
Veneration: The act of honoring with great respect and reverence.
Vespers: Held in the evening, which is mainly a Thanksgiving prayer for closing the day and a welcome of the new one to come the following morning.
Vestibule: Western portion of the church. The Entrance by which all enter.
Vestment: The special Holy Robes worn by all Ordained Clergy and Altar-Servers.
Zeon: The hot water brought to the Priest at the time of receiving of Holy Communion. Also called Teplota.