We'll receive a $25,000 grant if others match it by Pentecost. $23,785 to go. Your gift will 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.

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

Recent Catholic Commentary

A silent scandal: Catholic schools promoting morally unacceptable vaccines April 24
A More Militant Church? April 24
How we'll know if the Vatican and the US hierarchy are serious about deposing negligent bishops April 24
Final take on the LCWR: A time to plant, a time to uproot April 24
With the LCWR, has the Vatican taken Gamaliel's advice? April 24

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16
Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Finn CWN - April 21