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Glossaries ...Sources of self-understanding
Go to: Glossary of Jewish Terms for Christians



The season of Advent encompasses four weeks of preparation for Christmas (the birth of Jesus), and anticipates Christ’s second coming at the end of time.

All Saints Day


Originally a feast that honored martyrs, All Saints Day is a solemnity in honor of all those who are saints, both the obscure and the famous.

Annunciation of the Lord


The Annunciation of the Lord commemorates the revelation to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she was to be the mother of Jesus which is recorded in the Infancy narrative of the Gospel of Luke. The solemnity of the Annunciation is March 25th, nine months before the birth of Jesus.


The Ascension of the Lord, celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day), commemorates the ascension of Jesus bodily into heaven according to biblical accounts (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50 and Acts 1:2; 6-11), and affirmed in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. The weekdays that fall in the octave between the Ascension and Pentecost are a preparation time for the coming of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is a solemnity in the Catholic Church and in many places its celebration is moved from the Sixth Thursday of Easter to The 7th Sunday of Easter.

Theologically the Ascension marks the definitive time of Jesus' humanity entering into the "hidden" realm of God from whence Jesus will be revealed in glory in the time to come (Acts 1:11), along with those who have been "raised with Christ" and whose lives are "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-4).

The Church understands that Jesus as the Christ and "head of the Church" precedes the faithful into God's Kingdom towards which they, as members of Christ's Body, hope and aspire. Jesus becomes the mediator and intercessor assuring the faithful of the constant outpouring of the Holy Spirit (CCC. 665-667).

Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday begins the forty day period of Lent. Ash Wednesday is observed as a fast day. Ashes, a sign of repentance, are blessed and the foreheads of the faithful are marked with the ashes in the sign of the cross. The use of ashes today reflects an ancient practice and symbolizes mourning and sorrow for sin, and repentance before God.

"Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return"

The 40 day Fast of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday night. Sundays are excluded in the 40 day count since Sunday is not a fast day.
[Liturgically Lent lasts 44 days begining on Ash Wednesday and ending before the Paschal Triduim, and includes Sundays.]

Birth of the Blessed
Virgin Mary


The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a feast that has been celebrated since the 8th Century. Mary’s birth is seen as miraculous. She was conceived without sin and chosen by God to be the mother of the Son of God.

Blessed Virgin Mary


Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary has a central role in the life of the Church. Other titles include: Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Sorrows, Our lady of Mount Carmel, Queen of Heaven, Our Lady of Fatima, Star of the Sea, Queen of Peace.

Body and Blood of


Also known as Corpus Christi, this solemnity commemorates the institution of the Eucharist.

Christ the King


The solemnity of Christ the King celebrates Jesus Christ as King and falls on the last Sunday of the liturgical year.



Christmas, also called the Feast of the Nativity, celebrates the birth of Jesus. It is the first day of the Christmas Season, which ends with Epiphany.



The Easter season extends from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.

Easter Sunday


The day of the Resurrection of the Lord. The first eight days of Easter are called the Easter octave and are celebrated as solemnities.



A Greek word meaning “to show” or “to manifest,” Epiphany in the Western Church celebrates the visitation of the Magi to the child, Jesus. Eastern Christians celebrate Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan at Epiphany.

Feasts, Holy Days and


Throughout the liturgical year various saints, martyrs, and confessors are given a place of honor. Feasts and memorials, together with solemnity days celebrating events in the life of Jesus, his mother, Mary, or other important saints, fill the days of the year and date back to the early days of the Church.

Good Friday


The day of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion, Good Friday is a solemn day, marked by fasting and the celebrating of the Passion of the Lord in the Stations of the Cross (morning) and in solemn liturgy in the afternoon (usually 3 pm). There is no mass celebrated between the preceding evening’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Easter Vigil of Saturday night. Church altars are bare, stripped of customary cloths, candles sticks and crucifix. Afternoon liturgies comprise the Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion (using hosts consecrated at a prior mass.)

Holy Thursday


Thursday of Holy Week. The Mass of the Oils takes place in the morning. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the evening, commemorating Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist, begins the Easter triduum.

Holy Week


Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem commemorates the Jesus' last days, his passion and death, and culminates, on Easter Sunday, with the resurrection of the Jesus, the Lord. During this week the Holy Oils, used symbolically in the Churches, are blessed and consecrated. The oils are: Chrism (Gk. anointing), used in sacramental anointing, the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. Consecrated by the bishop in his particular church (on Holy Thursday morning) these oils are distributed through the priests (and pastoral associates) for use in parishes.

Immaculate Conception
of the BVM


The Catholic Christian tradition holds that Mary, the mother of Jesus the Savior, was, from her conception, preserved from “original sin,” always participating fully in divine grace. Mary's immaculate conception has been understood as a necessary and fitting state for one destined to be the Mother of God. Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 490).
This belief was defined as a dogmatic teaching of the Church By Pope Pius IX in 1854.



Lent is the period of days from Ash Wednesday to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday.) The sixth Sunday of Lent (Palm Sunday) marks the beginning of Holy Week. The Alleluia is not heard in liturgies during Lent, until the Easter Vigil. Lent is the time for Catechumens to complete the stages of Christian initiation, and for all the faithful to encounter renewal through penitential practices, reflection, and renewal of baptismal vows.

Liturgical Years


There are three Liturgical Years, A, B, and C. in each year of the liturgical calendar the Sunday readings are associated primarily with one of the synoptic gospels. Yr. A., Gospel of Matthew, Yr. B., Gospel of Mark, Yr. C., Gospel of Luke. The liturgical year begins with Advent.

Ordinary Time


The Christian liturgical year is divided into Seasonal Time (Advent-Christmas; Lent-Easter) and Ordinary Time in which all aspects of the mystery of Christ are celebrated. From the Latin ordinal, “numbered” days.

Palm Sunday


Falling on the Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday, reported in all four gospels, commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in the days before his death. Palm fronds are blessed and distributed on Palm Sunday.



The fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Jesus (on Easter Sunday), Pentecost remembers the manifestation of the Spirit in the community of his disciples, and celebrates the continued presence of the Spirit of God within the Church. The fifty days from Easter resurrection to Pentecost are celebrated as one feast day, or one great Sunday, days, above all other days, for singing Alleluia (Pope Paul VI, 1969).

Presentation of the
Blessed Virgin Mary


The Presentation of Mary is a memorial associated with an event related in the apocryphal Infancy Narrative of James. The story is that Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, received a heavenly message that they would bear a child. Subsequently, Mary was presented at the Temple and consecrated to God. Other texts say Mary was consecrated in fulfillment of a vow.

Presentation of the Lord
also called...
The Purification of Mary
The Meeting of the Lord


The feast of the Presentation of the Lord is celebrated forty days after the Nativity (Christmas). The celebration recalls the presentation of the child at the Temple according to the Law. Jesus is welcomed at the Temple by two elderly people, Simeon and the prophetess, Anna, both of whom, beholding the child, praised God for the redemption of Israel. The feast has a second dimension, the purification ceremony for Mary after having given birth, according to the Levitical laws. More...

St Joseph, Husband of the Virgin Mary  

The Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th each year [because it is a solemnity the celebration is moved to another day should 19th March be a Sunday.] Following the growth in devotion to St. Joseph after the reformation the feast of St Joseph was added to the 1570 Tridentine Calendar.

The feast honors Joseph, the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus. Joseph, in the gospels and Christian tradition, is portrayed as a man of faith attentive to the word and revelation of God and one who, despite the difficult circumstances occasioned by the pregnancy of his espoused wife Mary, attentive to the divine will protected her and her child, Jesus thus facilitating the plan of God for the world.

It is through Joseph that Jesus is shown to be descended from Abraham through the House of David. Matthew's gospel uses this relationship, established in the genealogy of his infancy narrative (Mt. 1:1), to establish that Jesus is truly the revelation of the prophetic promise to Israel, and that Jesus is the Son of God and the messiah. Luke's gospel also associates Joseph with the House of David (Lk. 2:4). More...

The Assumption of the
Blessed Virgin Mary


The solemnity of the Assumption of Mary commemorates her departure from this life, assumed body and soul into heaven. The origin of this belief rests in the faith traditions of the Early Church. The doctrine was defined in 1950. The Assumption of Mary is the Dormition in Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The Holy Family


The feast of the Holy Family, celebrated between Christmas and New Year’s Day, honors the family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

The Baptism of the Lord


The Baptism of the Lord commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by John the Baptist (Mt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:7-11; Lk. 3:15-16, 21-22) and is considered in Christian tradition as one of the manifestations of God in the world. In the Eastern tradition The Baptism of the Lord is called the Theophany or Epiphany.The Baptism of the Lord

The event of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan was called Theophany because in the baptism of Jesus by John, God was manifested as Trinity: through the Spirit (in the form of a dove) and the Divine Voice which pronounced from heaven, "You are my beloved Son..." and in Jesus manifested as God incarnate. Early preachers spoke of Jesus, the Christ, as the Light and of the people of the church baptised in the waters of Baptism; they are as "lights shining in the world."

"Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptised; let us also go down with him, and rise with him." (St Gregory Nazianzen c. 329–389)

In Orthodox Christianity the Baptism of the Lord is still called "The Feast of Lights."


The Transfiguration of Jesus or The Transfiguration of the Lord is a feast commemorating an event recorded in the synoptic Gospels which recounts the transfiguration of Jesus upon a high mountain. There the radiant Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah and a heavenly voice announced "This is my son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased; listen to him" (Mt. 17:5).

The transfiguration is recounted in Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36. While the location of the transfiguration is not mentioned in the text, tradition since the 5th Century, has located the event at Mount Tabor [although it has also been noted that Mount Hermon is much closer to Caesarea Philippi.]

The Transfiguration is celebrated on August 6th. Some Churches (e.g. Lutheran, Methodist) celebrate the Transfiguration on the last Sunday of the Epiphany season—the Sunday immediately preceding Ash Wednesday.The Churches of Sweden and Finland celebrate the Transfiguration on the 7th Sunday after Trinity [the 8th Sunday after Pentecost.]



Beginning on Holy Thursday evening and extending to Easter Sunday evening, the triduum, commemorating the days of the Lord’s passion and resurrection, is recognized as the culmination of the entire liturgical year. Beginning with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday) the triduum reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil (Saturday night) and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. The solemnity of Easter has the same preeminence in the liturgical year as Sunday has in the Christian week.

Trinity Sunday


The first Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday celebrates the Christian doctrine of the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Weekday cycles


Weekday liturgical readings throughout the year follow two cycles, Cycle I and Cycle II. Cycle I is followed in years with an odd number (e.g., 2011, 2013), Cycle II is followed in even number years (e.g., 2010, 2012).

Womens World Day of Prayer   World Day of Prayer is an ecumenical movement of Christian women or many cultures and traditions who observe a common day of prayer each year. World Day of Prayer is celebrated on the 1st Friday of March. Prayer is focused around a theme, prepared each year by women from one of the participant countries. WDP is an opportunity for women to affirm their faith and share hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, opportunities and needs.
World Day of Prayer web site. The motto of World Day of Prayer is Informed Prayer and Action.
World Communications Day   World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council (Inter mirifica, 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost. The announcement of the theme is made on September 29, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, who have been designated as the patrons of those who work in radio. The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24), to allow bishops' conferences and diocesan offices sufficient time to prepare audiovisual and other materials for national and local celebrations.
World Day of the Sick  

World Day of the Sick is a Catholic Church institution celebrated annually on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes — it is a day to reflect upon the mystery of suffering and to raise the sensitivity of all to the suffering of the sick.

"If every man is our brother, much more so are the weak, the suffering and those in need of care, and they must be at the center of our attention, so that none of them feel forgotten or marginalized; ... indeed, the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true for the individual and society" (Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of the Sick, 2011).


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