Orthodox Terms

Acolyte: The follower of a priest; 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 Table: The square table in the middle of the altar, on which the Eucharist is offered. Center of the table is occupied by the folded Antiminsion, 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 Table, which is also called “The Throne (of God)”.

Amen: Meaning “So Be It” This phrase concludes all Litanies and Services.

Ambo: Is the space immediately in front of the Royal Doors. The place where the Gospel is read and the Sermon is given.

Axios: An exclamation made at ordination to signify the worthiness of the individual chosen to become a clergyman.

Blessing’s: 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.

Censer: 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, used for the Eucharist. Holy Cup in which the wine and water are put during Proskomedia, and later in which the Holy Bread(the Body of Christ) is added before Communion of the Faithful. One of most sacred and is handled only by the clergy.

Chanter: 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, and not a means of it. Only Christians who have properly prepared them selves 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: Third order of the Clergy, assist the Bishop and the priest, leads the people in prayer and worship.

Diskos; Plate on a pedestal, on which the Lamb rests until the Consecration of the Elements.

Epiclesis: Calling down 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.

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 Our Lord.

Gospel: Book of the New Testament. At the Divine Liturgy the reading is done by the Priest.

High Place: The holiest part of the Church, located in the eastern most part of the church “behind” the Holy Altar Table.

Icons: Icons form the “family portraits” of the house of God.

Iconostas: The iconscreen 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: Symbolic of the prayer of the Saints and the Faithful, in the worship of God in heaven, only the Orthodox Church is consistently fulfilling this prophecy of worship.

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.

Matins: The morning service, usually celebrated with Vespers.

Mitre: The jewelled crown wore by Bishops, Archmandrites and Mitered Archpriests during Divine services.

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 Christs’s Resurrection from the dead. Pascha ranks above all Holy Days and is termed “The Feast of Feasts.”

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 vestment, this represents the seamless robe worn by Christ at his trial, and prior to his Crucifixion.

Priest: The Second of the Major Holy Orders, priests/presbyters and 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 Weddings, to give Holy Unction to the sick, to 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.

Proskomedia: The first part of the Divine Liturgy, preceding, “Blessed is the Kingdom…”and the Hours. The Liturgy of Preparation is performed on the Table of Oblation.

Prosphora: The “offering” bread baked and offered by faithful Orthodox Christians, offered and used in the Eucharist, from which the Lamb is taken, the remainder is cut up to form the antidoron. Prosphora means “offering.” 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. A Full Prostration is performed by crossing oneself and touching the knees, hands and forehead to the ground. A Half or Waist Prostration is performed by crossing oneself and bending over and touching the right hand(fingers) to the ground.

Reader: A reader is given the responsibility of reading the Epistle during liturgy.

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.

Sign of the Cross: Is the enduring symbol of faith in Christ our Savior, and the blessing of the Christian. Is the profound confession of faith in Christ.

Solia: The elevated area in front of the Iconostasis.

Star Cover: Cross-piece of gold or silver with a star located at the top, placed on the Diskos to keep the chalice viels 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 other Vestments.

Subdeacon: The Bishop’s personal aids, they assist him at Liturgy, and are responsible for taking care of the Sanctuary, and the Liturgical vessels, and Church items.

Theotokos: Greek for “Birth-giver of God”, or “Bearer of God”.

Tropar: The short hymn sung at Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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.

Vestment: The special Holy Robes worn by all Ordained and Lesser Clergy and Altar-Servers.

Zeon: The hot water brought to the Priest at the time of receiving of Holy Communion. Also called Teplota.