Ecclesiastical Glossary

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Each page contains all the entries for a single letter of the alphabet. Use the page controls at the bottom of each page to navigate: 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, etc.


Paraments The colored cloths that are used to decorate the altar, pulpit, and lectern according to the seasons of the Church Year.

Paschal candle

Passion of Our Lord The time of Jesus’ suffering and death as recorded in the Gospels.

Passion Narrative The story of Jesus’ suffering and death combined from the four Gospels.

pastor (Latin: “shepherd.”) the title for the congregation’s public minister who is ordained and called to be the spiritual supervisor of the “flock” that gathers around Word and Sacrament to receive God’s good gifts. The means of grace were given to the Church by God, who calls certain men through her to administer them to the congregation. Also referred to as bishops (or overseers), presbyters (or elders), teachers, and ministers (see Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 12:29; Ephesians 4:11–12; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:5).

Pax Domini Latin ‘the peace of the Lord’. The Gospel absolution (Luther) spoken by the pastor as immediately after the Words of Institution as he holds the consecrated elements, the body and the blood of Jesus, before the congregation. John 14:27; 20:19–21.

Penitential Psalms Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51,102, 130, and 143.

Pentecost Greek ‘fifty’. The commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles when they were given the ability to preach the Gospel in many different languages, celebrated on the fiftieth day of Easter. Also called Whitsunday (White Sunday) for the white robes worn for baptism on that day.

pericope Greek  ‘a section’. The portion of Holy Scripture appointed to be read on a given Sunday or festival day in the Church Year.

pew A bench where members of the con¬gregation sit during worship.

Post-Communion ‘after Communion’. The part of the liturgy immediately following the Distribution in Holy Communion.

praise To offer thanks and honor to God; to glorify Him; often done in hymns and songs.

pray/praying Calling upon God; to bring requests to God in words or thoughts, offering praise and thanksgiving to Him.

Prayer of the Church The longest prayer of the Divine Service; takes up the needs of the world, the Church, the congregation, and local and special concerns.

preach/preaching To proclaim the Word of God for calling sinners to repentance for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith in Christ.

preacher A man who preaches or proclaims God’s Word, calling sinners to repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

Preface Proclamation of praise and thanksgiving that begins the Service of the Sacrament; concludes with the Proper Preface.

priest One who intercedes between God and man, offering sacrifices for sins and announcing God’s blessings.

Proper Preface A special prayer said before the Lord’s Supper that emphasizes the key themes of the feast, occasion, or season of the Church Year.

proper Latin propria, ‘the appropriate things’. Those parts of the service that change according to the Sunday or festival of the Church Year, for example, the Introit and the Scripture readings. See the ordinary.

propitiation The cover of the ark of the covenant, where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice; to atone for sin.

Psalm The songs or poems in praise of God, especially one of the chapters in the Book of Psalms in the Bible. The hymn and prayer of the Old Testament. Psalms are used by the Christian Church in worship and devotions followed by the Gloria Patri.

Psalms, Laudate Laudate psalms are 148, 149, 150. Laudate is an instruction to the people to praise God. In the Latin the word. The Laudate psalms are often spoken/sung together each day at Lauds (Morning Prayer) [Rule of St. Benedict].

Pulpit. Book stand, typically on the south side of the nave in the church building; the place from which the pastor delivers the sermon during the Divine Service.

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