Catholic Dictionary

Act of Contrition—A penitential prayer you warm up with so you don’t cramp up in the confessional.

Act of God— 1. The kind of disaster insurance doesn’t cover 2. The only way to get some Catholics to church on Sunday.

Act of Faith–An action that shows a person’s belief that an event will occur — such as when a guy cleans his bedroom before a big date.

Acts of the Apostles—1. Phony motions to the wallet made by the Apostles when the check arrived for the Last Supper. 2. Christ’s touring company — they knocked ’em dead in Samaria, Thessalonica, Damascus,etc.

Advent —A season filled with the sounds of pipers piping, drummers drumming and cash registers ringing.

Advent Wreath— A brightly colored, seasonally decorated fire hazard.

Agnostic—1. An atheist who is hedging his bets. 2. Someone who isn’t sure there is a God, but who is sure he doesn’t want to go to Mass every Sunday.

All Saints Day (November 1st)—- A day to honor the least-known saints and give your least-liked halloween candy to your little brother.

All Soul’ Day (November 2nd)—The day to remember all deceased Motown recording artists.

Alpha and Omega—-The fraternity that Christ belonged to.

Amen—-The only part of a prayer everyone knows.

Annulment—-1. Divorce, Catholic style. 2. A decree that a marriage never existed — like the dream sequence on “Dallas”.

Apocalypse—An important event that you probably can’t find a Hallmark card for.

Apostasy– The difficult process of giving up one set of beliefs for another — such as switching from Leno to Letterman.

Arc of the Covenant–The trajectory of the tablets when Moses threw them down the mountain.

Armageddon—The last day you can redeem your green stamps.

Ascension of Christ—-Jesus rose into heaven forty days after Easter — an indication of how tough it is to get a table up there.

Asceticism–Living a pure, virtuous life – and then dying of boredom.

Beatification—-1. Papal recognition that a holy person is one step away from having a parochial school named after him. 2. The step in the canonization process when a persons’ head is fitted into a halo.

Beattitudes—-1. Sayings that look nice on a cross-stitched plaque. 2. Second rate attitudes.

Benediction—The start of the race to the parking lot.

Bethlehem—Where Mary and Joseph had to come to their census.

Bingo—1. How Catholics tithe. 2. The parlor game churches organize each week to keep little old ladies off the street.

Bishop—Old man in the see.

Blessed Virgin– The phrase Joseph muttered himself to sleep with.

Blessing–A prayer preceeding an event that grants God’s grace and releases Him from any liability.

Blind Faith–A redundant expression.

Body of Christ—Amen…oops, sorry. Habit I guess.

Bulletin–1. Parish information read only during the homily. 2. Catholic air conditioning. 3. Your receipt for attending Mass.

Burning bush–What the Isrealites thought Moses had been smoking when he said he spoke with God.

Calvin, John–The man who championed the theory of predestination — whether he wanted to or not.

Cannon Law–The principle that whoever has the cannon makes the law.

Capital sins—more serious that the lower case ones.

Caroling—1. A Christmas tradition of walking from house to house singing yule song until residents give you food to shut up. 2. Yuletide revenge on the neighbor whose barking dog keeps you up at night.

Catholic Mass—An event with so much standing, sitting, and kneeling you can forego your Jane Fonda workout tape for Sunday.

Catholic Wedding—A ceremony in which a father loses his daughter — and his life savings.

Celibacy— A clever comeback used by single men and women to explain why they don’t have a date for Saturday night.

Charity—1. What you call your trash when you give it to the Little Sisters of the Poor. 2 The only one of the theological virtues that pays off every April 15th.

Choir—A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the congregation to lip-sync.

Christians— People who follow Jesus, although they disagree on which way He went.

Christmas—The celebration of the birth of Christ, which invariably falls during the busiest shopping season of the year.

Confession—What you bragged about the night before.

Conscience— the little voice of morarity that you wish had a body so you could punch it in the nose.

Convent—A rectory where the toilet seats are always down.

Corona–The goofy haircut some monks receive to ensure their vow of chastity.

Covenant—A contract between God and His people — one that the Devil is still trying to take to arbitration.

Creation—The story that scientists get a big bang out of.

Creationism—The belief that no one is a monkey’s uncle.

Crucifixion–1. A rather extreme form of impeachment. 2. The form of execution used by the Romans when the lions were full.

Cry Room—A place in the back of the church where children are brought after their tantrums have reduced their parents to tears.

Dead Sea Scrolls—The Cliff Notes to the old testament.

Devil—Evil with a capital D.

Devotion— Standing for the duration of the Gospel on Palm Sunday

Disciples—Followers of Christ who hadn’t earned enough merit badges to become Apostles.

Divine Intervention—What happens when God steps in and does something for the good of mankind…like ending Ronald Reagan’s movie career.

Dona Nobis Pacem— The double play combination of the parish softball team.

Doxology—A verbal high-five with the Lord.

Easter—1. The day you see Catholics you haven’t seen since Chistmas 2. The day when Christ’s body was missing and all the children are worried about is finding the missing chocolate eggs.

Ecumenical Council– Where all those “a priest, a rabbi, and a minister” jokes get started.

Ecumenical Prayer Service–When Christians of various denominations get together and confuse the heck out of God.

Ecumenism—The practice of unity among Christians whereby Catholics cut Protestants some slack for being close.

Egypt—the country which created the first form of writing: hieroglyphics — the basis for all medical prescriptions.

Envy— The sin Catholics commit when they think of non-Catholics who get to remain seated during their church services.

Eternity—The time between Communion and the end of Mass.

Evangelists, TV 1. Preachers with miraculous power—the ability to squeeze dollars out of the penniless.

Eve— The only wife who never had to worry about the “other woman”

Everlasting Life— What a Catholic will need to understand all the changes since Vatican II.

Eye of the needle— The analogy that provides a strong incentive for rich men to breed tiny camels.

Faith—Giving God the benefit of the doubt on the question “Can God make a rock so big that even He, Himself, cannot lift it”?

Fast—God’s diet plan

Feast of the Assumption—The holy day observed forty days after Easter, by which time all of the black jelly beans will be gone.

Fishers of men—-A description of the Apostles who trawled for souls.

Folk mass—The type of liturgy celebrated at the church of Saints Peter, Paul and Mary.

Font—The baptismal basin where the priest wets the baby’s head and the baby wets the priests vestments.

Free will—A gift from God that you will pay for later if you use it incorrectly.

Friday, Good—The day of the crucifixion of Jesus—which makes you wonder what a Messiah’s got to do to make it a Bad Friday.

Garden of Eden—Where Adam and Eve dug us a hole.

Gnosticism—Gneo-Christian cult based on gnebulous gnosis whose days were gnumbered due to gnaysayers.

God—The Supreme Being who knows everything, including why the Howells brought so many clothes for a three hour tour.

Godparent— A person who has to baby-sit on request.

Golden Rule—The most painful thing a nun can hit you with.

Good Samaritan—A guy who today would probably get arrested and left in jail until “60 minutes did a story on him.

Gospel–A term that means “Good news”—–even though the homily always follows.

Great Schism–A time when there were more Popes that heavyweight boxing champions.

Guilt— Agonizing paranoia somewhere along the lines of “God will get me for what I did”. It racks the brain, twists the emotions, and turns the stomach until the person’s a physical wreck–and God’s job is already done.


Hail Mary—1. A prayer you say when the answer to “Our Father” is “NO” 2.The answer to the question, “What could be worse than raining cats and dogs?”

Handshake of peace— Shaking hands with the kid next to you in Mass—who just wiped his nose without a handkerchief.

Heaven’s Gate— A passage that everyone wants to get through and a movie that everyone avoided.

Hell–1. A place that even Johnny Cochran can’t save you from. 2. Satan’s home on the range.

Holy cards— Pictures of religious figures–like baseball cards without bubble gum.

Holy Day of Obligation 1. As in Monday night Football, a Mass that counts in the standings. 2. A feast day on which Roman Catholics are duty bound to suffer through their second Mass, sermon and collection of the week.

Holy Grail— The chalice that Jesus and the Apostles shared at the Last Supper. Its location is unknown and, considering oral hygiene, that’s probably for the best.

Holy oil—Chrism rubbed on the foreheads of teenaged Confirmation candidates — as if they needed more grease up there.

Holy Saturday—The day your knees are sore from Good Friday.

Holy water—A liquid whose chemical formula is H2OLY.

Homily—The part of Mass when the pastor prepares the flock for the fleecing.

Hope—A desire that’s dashed when Father Talkalot proceeds down the aisle on a hot Sunday.

Hymn–A song of praise usually sung in a key three octaves higher than the congregation’s range.

Hymn, recessional—-The last song on Mass, often sung a little more quietly since most people have left before that time.

Immaculate Conception—1. A clean thought. 2. The feast that reminds Catholics of the purity of Mary and the fact that they have only seventeen more shopping days until Christmas.

Incense–Holy smoke.

Innocent III—The man who was Pope until Proven Guilty IV.

Inquisition–A tough *final* exam.

Intercession—A prayer on behalf of another—although it shouldn’t be for the other person to die of hemorrhoids.

Issac— The biblical figure who became anxious when his father, Abraham, wanted to spend some ‘quality time’ with him.

Jesuits– An order of priests known for their ability to found colleges with good basketball teams.

Jesus Christ—1. The Son of God who became the Messiah, despite a few cries of nepotism. 2. One person who could truthfully answer yes to the question “Hey, were you born in a barn, or what?”

Jesus Freaks—The subtitle of the Gospel chapter in which Christ clears the temple.

Jews—Known as “the Chosen People”. Throughout history, whenever anyone felt the need to pick on someone, they always chose the Jews — if there were no Catholics or gypsies around.

Job—A man who probably would have enjoyed root canal surgery.

John the Baptist–1. The man who started the wet look. 2. The guy your mother told you to stay away from–along with Jim the Lutheran and Chip the Episcopalian.

Jonah–the original “Jaws” story.

Joseph of Arimathea– An undertaker who doubled his money by selling Christ a tomb for only three days.

Justice–When your kids have kids of their own.

Kneeler—What little children with muddy shoes love to stand on.

Knights of Columbus–The organization responsible for the senseless proliferation of spaghetti dinners.

Kyrie Elieson—The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava.

Lamb of God—A prayer Catholics can say without missing a bleat.

Lapsed Catholic—1. A Catholic who only knows pig latin. 2. A Catholic who doesn’t care if Southern Methodist beats Notre Dame in football.

Last Supper— One of the strangest meals in history, because Jesus performed the First Mass and all thirteen in attendance sat on one side of the table.

Latin— The language that died of irregular vowel movenents.

Latin Mass— Vatican II—-Latin 0

Laying on of hands– A healing action by a charismatic – first on the head, then on the wallet.

Lazarus–1. A friend of Jesus who died but got better. 2. A man who was late to his own funeral.

Lector—The liturgucal reader who must speak louder than the sports coats of the

ushers. Lent—1. The time of year when you borrow ham sandwiches from your Protestant neighbors. 2. The last chance before summer to keep those broken New Year’s promises.

Limbo— A place for unbaptized souls who must bend over backwards to get into Heaven.

Litany— The part of the Mass you don’t need to memorize.

Liturgy–Just about the only urgy that can be satisfied by an unmarried Catholic.

“Love thy Neighbor as thyself” —– The Golden Rule— for everybody except masochists.

Lust— One of the seven deadly sins–confessed to a man who is not allowed to commit it.

Lyre–A bibical instrument that masqueraded as a harp.

Madonna— latin for “like a virgin”

Magi— The most famous trio to ever attend a baby shower.

Manger—1. Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn’t covered by an HMO. 2. The bible’s way of showing us that holiday travel has always been rough.

Manna— the trail of bread crumbs that God left for the Israelites so they could find their way out of the desert

Martyr—Someone dying to be a saint. 2. A religious person who gets stoned.

Mary, Blessed Virgin— The only mother who became well known for her virginity.

Mary Magdalene—– The woman the disciples greeted with “How’s Tricks?”

Mass— The kind of confusion that exists in the church parking lot every Sunday.

Mass Attendance— How young Catholics “pay the rent” when they still live with their parents.

Mea Culpa— An obscure way to take the blame for something without letting everyone know that you screwed up. “The meek shall inherit the earth” —The Lord’s trickle-down theory.

Mercy–when there is no sermon on a hot Sunday.

Messiah– A classical piece that Catholics have a Handel on.

Methuselah— The oldest man in history at 969 years old, which is 6,783 in dog years.

Middle Ages—When a Catholic is old enough to go to Mass alone, but still has to bring home a bulletin as proof.

Miracle— 1. A Catholic family with fewer that 6 kids. 2. An event with no reasonable explanation—such as “The Honeymooners: the Lost Episodes”. 3. Divine intervention–prayed for most ardently in the waning seconds of football games.

Missalettes—- The dancing girls at progressive masses.

Mitre— The hat that the bishop has to take off at movies.

Monks—What priests evolved from.

Monotheism—When God speaks to you over the AM dial of your radio.

Monsignor—A title conferred by the Pope on a priest (this grants him an extra ten minutes of sermon each week.)

Mortal Sin— A sin which your parents would kill you for, if they found out.

Mortification—Ignoring your stomach growls during Mass.

Moses—The leader of the Israelites who should have gone up the mountain a third time for directions out of the desert.

Mount Sinai— The place where God told Moses to take two tablets and call him in the morning.

Myrrh—The second gift of the Magi, and a great scrabble word when you’re out of vowels.

Mysteries of the Church— Phenomena that are impossible to understand. For example, how a four foot altar boy can lift a twenty-pound book high enough for a six-foot man to read from.

Mysteries of the Rosary— Things to ponder while you’re praying the Rosary — such as how to get the darned thing untangled.

New Testament–Sequel to the Old Testament in which God was in a considerably better mood.

Novices—Clerics who are still adjusting their habits.

Nun–1. A woman who has taken vows of poverty and chastity–hence the name. 2. The butt of the joke ending with this punch line: “That was no laity, that was my sister”

Obedience–The vow of “monk he see, monk he do.”

Offering–A sacrifice unto God – hangovers don’t count.

Old Testament—A book of scripts for Cecil B. De Mille.

Olive Branch—A welcome sign of hope for Noah, since he had only stocked enough martini olives for thirty-eight days.

ONE (1) A.D.– The year peoples ages started increasing each year.

Ordinary time–The period on the litergical calendar when the Church readily admits that there isn’t much going on.

Original Sin—1. What is cleansed by baptism, after which we use the new and improved kind. 2. What teenagers are always trying to come up with.

Pagans-People without religion whose numbers span the globe—never knowing the thrill of a bingo victory or the agony of the feet after the reading of the Passion.

Palms—Branches you leave behind in the pews on Palm Sunday, only to have the priest burn them and rub the cinders on your forehead the next Ash Wednesday.

Pantheism—the belief in the miracle of Teflon.

Papal bull– a letter from the Pope that’s infallibull.

Papal Infalibility—1.The doctrine which states that the only time the Pope in wrong is when he is mistaken. 2. Why the Pope would clean up on Jeopardy.

Papal Visit–When countries roll out the red carpet and half their GNP for the Pope – who tells them to do something about the poor.

Parochial School—Where you learn enough about religion to say Mass and enough about sex to use the right public restroom.

Paten–The communion plate that the altar boy uses to score your Adam’s apple.

Patron Saint—The guardian you talk to when all the other lines are busy.

Pentateuch–the first five books of the Bible—and the only books of the New Testament that Catholics can recall.

Pentacost—Fifty days after Easter–by which time you’ve more than made up for your Lenten sacrifices.

Permanent deacon—A married man who can do almost anything a priest can, and some things he can’t.

Petitions—The time during the Mass when everyone is praying for world peace but thinking, “Please help me with the lottery”

Pew–1. A medieval torture device still found in Catholic Churches. 2. A real pain in the Mass.

Poverty— A vow taken by the clergy that keeps the Church in the black.

Prayer- Your last resort for obtaining something that you don’t have a chance in Hell of getting.

Pre-Cana–The required wedding preparation retreat which helps a couple establish a solid base for arguments in the coming years.

Predestination 1. The rendezvous spot for you and your friends when you’re supposed to be at Mass. 2.The gas station where a Catholic family stops, even though Mom and Dad told everyone to go before they left.

Pride—Bringing photographs along to confession.

Procession– The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass, consisting of the altar boys, the lay ministers, the celebrant, and the late parishioners looking for a seat.

Protestant– A person who will probably make it to Heaven, but won’t live in as good of a neighborhood.

Purgatory—1. A place that Cub fans will bypass completely 2. A place where a snowball still has a chance.

Recessional—The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass – led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

Relics–People who have been going to Mass for so long they actually know when to sit, kneel, and stand.

Religion—A cult with a good PR department.

Resurrection of Christ–It’s hard to keep a good man down.

Revelation– The final book of the Bible which doesn’t exactly end “and they lived happily ever after.”

Rhythm method–Why Catholic kids don’t have rooms of their own.

Rome– Where II and II is IV.

Rosary–A prayer ritual that seems to last five decades.

Sabbath– A day of worship and rest, meaning Mass and football (in no particular order).

Sacrament– An after-sinner mint.

Sacrament of Baptism–The first time the Church soaks you.

Sacrament of Reconciliation–Solemnly asking forgiveness for actions you wish you had videotaped to show your friends.

Sacrilege– Irreverent use of something sacred–but it’s too late now, you’re already up to the S’s.

Sacristry–1.The clerical locker room. 2. A place where divestment is not a moral issue.

Saint–A person always pictured as light-headed.

Saint Anthony–The saint a man prays to when his wife can’t find what he’s looking for.

Saint Basil–A man for all seasonings.

Saint Christopher–The saint to call if AAA doesn’t answer.

Saint Joseph–1.The husband of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of cold showers. 2. The most boring role in the Christmas pageant.

Saint Jude–The patron saint of the federal budget.

Saint Peter–The Apostle that Jesus once called “The Rock”–now employed as a bouncer at the pearly gates.

Satan–An angel who got fired.

Second Coming—When you had better not be standing anywhere near the fan.

Sermon–1. The part of the Mass that begins with a recap of the Gospel and then drones into other gray matters of Christianity while your gray matter wanders off into subjects such as whether there are still the same number of ceiling tiles as last week. 2. Another word for homily, which doesn’t make it any shorter.

Sexual Intercourse–A caring, special act between two people who are in love, married (to each other), in bed, under the covers, with the lights off, and the door locked – for the pupose of making more Catholics.

Shroud–Pajamas for the big sleep.

Shroud of Turin–An old burial garment Christ wouldn’t be caught dead in.

Sign of the Cross–1. How young Catholics remember which hand is their right one. 2. A gesture showing reverence for the Cross – used during Mass and before free-throws.

Sin of Commission–An action that is immoral, such as picking all the cashews out of the holiday nut mix.

Sin of Omission–Never putting any cashews into the nut mix in the first place.

Sinner–someone who cannot cast the first stone, but would be more than happy to cast the next five or six.

Sloth–The cardinal sin of laziness – which can only be forgiven by a guy who works one day a week.

Sodom and Gomorrah — Where Old Testament college students went on spring break.

Solomon–A man known for his wisdom, despite the fact that he had three hundered wives.

State of grace– After you receive absolution, but before you see a cute girl genuflecting.

Synagogue–Where Jesus is just another pretty face.

Tabernacle– Where Christ had an out-of-body experience.

Temptation–A condition conducive to sinning–for most people, just being conscious.

Temptation of Christ–To once, just once, declare “To hell with what the Scriptures say Peter, *I* say we’re going to the beach today.”

Ten Commandments–The most important Top Ten list not given by David Letterman.

Theologian–1. A sage who writes at length about how little we know of God. 2. Someone who would know where Noah kept the termites.

Theology–The college course that helps you unlearn all the things you learned in religion class.

Tower of Babel–The reason the Lord created different languages. He scattered the builders across the continent, only to have them reunite in New York as cabbies.

Transfiguration of Christ–When Scotty used the wrong coordinates and almost beamed up Jesus.

Turn the Other Cheek–The rule of thumb when the other guy is bigger.

Ushers–The only people in the parish who don’t know the seating capacity of a pew.

Vacation Bible School–How parents ruin a child’s summer vacation.

Vatican City–The only country that will never win an Olympic luge medal.

Vespers–Vat ve hear ven vorshippers don’t vant to vear out their velcome.

Vigil–Looking out for number one.

Vine and branches–A biblical metaphor: Christ is the vine, we are the branches — and the Big Guy has the pruners.

Virgin birth–Paying the fiddler without getting to dance.

Virginity–What cannot be refunded once a deposit is made.

Vulgate–The version of the Bible that Spock reads.