Down to the Wire: Just $7,553 left to match to win our Challenge Grant. Your gift will still be doubled!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ORIENTATION

The custom of turning toward the East in prayer, already in practice in pre-Christian times. Christianity attached a new significance to the ritual. The East was the cradle of human civilization. Christ lived in the East while he was on earth, and from the East he will come to judge the human race. The Apostolic Constitutions (from 900 on) directed that churches be erected with the apse toward the east. This custom was observed except by Emperor Constantine, so that the churches of St. John Lateran, St. Peter, and San Lorenzo, violate that directive. Later the directions of city streets made this custom impracticable. The altar end, regardless of its situation, is always referred to as the east end, and caskets at funeral Masses are placed with a priest's head to the east and a layman's feet to the east, symbolizing the relative position of priest and people at divine services.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Getting Marriage Right 19 hours ago
O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. 22 hours ago
No 'Francis effect' in Strasbourg November 25
What Pope Francis told European Parliament, and what Pope John Paul II said November 25
Public perception demands a way of mercy November 24

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25