To meet 2014 costs & move to a more stable platform next month, we must raise $10,182 more in December!
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.

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

Recent Catholic Commentary

Which American archbishops—if any—will receive red hats at the February conclave? December 23
A Blessed Christmas! December 23
Facing entrenched opposition, Pope Francis plows ahead on Vatican reform December 22
The cardinal who can't let go December 22
Denial of Service Attack: Success! December 19

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17
Pope identifies 15 spiritual ‘sicknesses’ of the Curia CWN - December 22
Pope Francis's Christmas Message 'Urbi et Orbi' (To the City and the World): full text, link to video CWN - December 25