RCIA - Resources

The Sacraments of the Church 

Sacraments of Initiation
  • Baptism: Incorporates us into the Church and gives us a rebirth as daughters and sons of God.
  • Confirmation: Is a continuation, ratification, or sealing of Baptism. It helps us focus on the missionary dimensions of the baptismal commitment.
  • Eucharist: Is the preeminent sacrament from which all others have meaning. In the Eucharist Christ is most profoundly present in the Church, which gathers to hear the Word of God and to share the nourishment of Christ’s Body with one another.
Sacraments of Healing
  • Reconciliation: Focuses on forgiveness in our life and on our acceptance of that forgiveness, which brings us back to spiritual health in the family of God after we have turned away.
  • Anointing of the Sick: Takes place as the community gathers in faith to pray over and lay hands on those who are sick, because the Church, like Christ, desires the health of the whole human person.
Sacraments of Vocation
  • Matrimony: Celebrates and witnesses the covenant of love between two people and symbolizes in that union Christ’s covenant of love for the Church.
  • Holy Orders: Is a sacrament of service by which some are called by God, through the Church, to be spiritual leaders. 


Positive Christianity involves more than obedience to laws. The beatitudes are a summary of the difficulties to be overcome by faithful Christians and the rewards that will be theirs if they are loyal followers of Christ. The beatitudes listed below are the shorter simplified versions of the originals.

  1. Happy are those who need God
  2. Happy are those with self-control
  3. Happy are those who are sorry for sin
  4. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for holiness
  5. Happy are the merciful
  6. Happy are those who love with all their heart
  7. Happy are the peacemakers
  8. Happy are those who suffer for doing what is right

Corporal (Material) Works of Mercy

  1. To feed the hungry
  2. To give drink to the thirsty
  3. To clothe the naked
  4. To visit the imprisoned
  5. To shelter the homeless
  6. To visit the sick
  7. To bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

  1. Correct those who need it
  2. Teach the ignorant
  3. Give advice to those who need it
  4. Comfort those who suffer
  5. Be patient with others
  6. Forgive others who hurt you
  7. Pray for others

Catholic Definitions

Amen means truly or so be it in Hebrew.

Anoint means to apply Holy oil as a sacred rite especially for consecration. Holy oil is placed on people, places, or things in a religious ceremony to make sacred and consecrated to God.

Apostle means “one sent.” This usually refers to the 12 men chosen by Jesus to be the bearers of his teachings to the world. The term “apostolic” generally refers back to the 12 apostles. In the Church it characterizes certain documents, appointments or structures initiated by the Pope or the Holy See. The term “disciple” refers to one who follows the teachings of Jesus.

An archdiocese is the head diocese of an ecclesiastical province.

Baptism is the first of seven Sacraments in the Christian Church that erases original sin.

Bishop is the chief priest of a diocese. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. In addition, bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the Church.

Canon Law is the codified body of general laws governing the Church.

Canon is Greek for rule, norm, standard, measure. Designates the Canon of Sacred Scripture, the list of books recognized by the Church as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Canonization is a declaration by the Pope that a person who died a martyr or practiced Christian virtue to a heroic degree is in heaven and is worthy of honor and imitation by the faithful. Verification of miracles is required for canonization (except for martyrs.)

Cardinals are appointed by the Pope and constitute the senate of the Church. They aid the Pope as his chief counselors.

Catechesis is religious instruction and formation for persons preparing for baptism (catechumens) and for the faithful in various stages of spiritual development.

Catholic is a Greek word that means “toward the whole” or “one” and refers to the fact that the Catholic Church is found all over the world and all its members follow the same beliefs.

Christ, the title of Jesus, derived from Greek translation Kyrios of the Hebrew term Messiah, meaning the Anointed of God.

Church is the universal Church that is spread throughout the world; the local Church is that of a particular locality, such as a diocese. The Church embraces all its members—on earth, in heaven and in purgatory.

A Cross or Crucifix is an object that is a crucifix only if it depicts Christ on a cross, otherwise it is a cross.

Deacons or the Diaconate is the first order or grade in ordained ministry. Deacons serve in the ministry of liturgy, of the word, and of charity. Any seminarian who is to be ordained to the priesthood must first be ordained as a transitional deacon. The Permanent Diaconate is for men who do not intend to become ordained priests. The Permanent Diaconate program is open to both married and unmarried men.

Dean/Vicar is the title of a priest appointed by the bishop to aid him in administering the parishes in a certain vicinity, called a “deanery.” The function of a dean involves promotion, coordination, and supervision of the common pastoral activity within the deanery or vicariate.

Diocese is a particular church; a fully organized ecclesiastical jurisdiction under the pastoral direction of a bishop as local Ordinary.

Grace is a free gift from God to human beings, grace is a created sharing in the life of God. It is given through the merits of Christ and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. Grace is necessary for salvation.

The Holy See is 1) The diocese of the Pope, Rome. 2) The Pope himself or the various officials and bodies of the Church’s central administration— the Roman Curia — which act in the name and by authority of the Pope.

The Sacred Host is the bread under whose appearance Christ is and remains present in a unique manner after the consecration of the Mass.

Lay Ministries are ministries within the Church that are carried out by laypersons. Included are altar servers, Eucharistic ministers and lectors.

Liturgical colors are colors used in vestments and altar coverings to denote special times in the Church year. Green is used in ordinary time, red denotes solemn feast days, purple denotes penitential times and white is used for joyful occasions including Christmas, Easter and some saints’ feast days.

Matrimony is the Roman, Orthodox and Old Catholic churches consider matrimony a sacrament and refer to it as the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is a marriage contract between baptized persons.

According to the Catechism, a mortal sin is “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.” For a sin to be mortal, three things need to be present. It needs to be a grave matter, specified in the Ten Commandments. You need to have full knowledge and complete consent that you’re committing this sin. You shouldn’t take Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin without going to confession first.

A parish is a specific community of the Christian Faithful within a diocese, which has its own church building and is under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing the faithful with ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.

Pastor, a priest in charge of a parish or congregation. He is responsible for administering the sacraments, instructing the congregation in the doctrine of the Church and other services to the people of the parish.

Pastoral Council, A group of members of the parish who advise the pastor on parish matters; also called a Parish Council.

Pontiff is used as an alternative form of reference to the Pope. Pontifical has to do with the Pope.

Rosary, a prayer of meditation primarily on events in the lives of Mary and Jesus, repeating the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. Generally, the rosary is said on a physical circlet of beads.

Second Vatican Council, a major meeting of the Bishops of the world convened by Pope John XXIII to bring about a renewal of the Church for the second half of the 20th century. It ran from 1962 to 1965 and produced important documents involving liturgy, ecumenism, communications and other areas.

Sign of the Cross, a sign, ceremonial gesture or movement in the form of a cross by which a person professes faith in the Holy Trinity, and intercedes for the blessing of himself, as well as other persons or things.

Sister, any woman religious, in popular speech. Strictly, the title applies to those women religious belonging to institutes whose members have not professed solemn vows, most of which were established during and since the 19th century.

Stations of the Cross, also known as The Way of the Cross, this devotion to the suffering of Christ consists of prayers and meditations on fourteen occurrences experienced by Jesus on His way to His crucifixion and death. Each of these events is represented by a cross. Stations can be done individually, or in groups with one person leading the prayers and moving from cross to cross.