Eucharist, meaning “thanksgiving,” names the central rite of the Christian tradition in which Christians share the sanctified bread and wine, giving thanks to God, as Jesus did in sharing such a meal with his disciples. This rite is also called holy communion, the Lord’s supper.


Mass is a term used in the Roman Catholic Church for the ritual that culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist, the central rite of sharing the consecrated bread and wine in the church community.


Benedictines are members of monastic orders who live according to the Rule of St. Benedict, the 6th century monk of Monte Cassino in Italy whose teachings lie at the heart of monastic life, ancient and modern.

Deuteronomy, Book of

The fifth book of the Humash or Five Books of Moses, Deuteronomy (or Dvarim in Hebrew, meaning ‘Words’) is composed of the final speech of Moses’ life, followed by the narration of his death. Deuteronomy contains many retellings of events and laws that appear earlier in the Torah, most notably the Ten Commandments.

Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and repentance that Jesus taught his disciples; it has become the most widely known prayer in the Christian world.


Peter was, according to the Bible, one of the disciples of Christ, a fisherman called to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry. He was the disciple called “the rock,” upon whose strength Jesus said he would build his church. Peter is said to have been crucified in Rome, where St. Peter’s Basilica is at the heart of the Roman Catholic Vatican complex.

Kingdom Hall

A Kingdom Hall is the name the Jehovah’s Witnesses give to their place of worship.

Paul VI

Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) was elected as successor to Pope John XXIII who died in 1963, right in the middle of the Second Vatican Council. Thus, Pope Paul VI was the overseer of the second, third, and fourth sessions of Vatican II. He was the first modern pope to travel widely (to Israel, India, the U.S., Uganda, Columbia, and East Asia) and the first pope ever to travel by air. He appointed several cardinals from churches in non-European countries. He also issued the controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s ban on artificial contraception.

Vatican II

The Second Vatican Council was an historic council of Roman Catholic renewal called by Pope John XXIII to “open the windows” of the Church to the world of the 20th century. Meeting in Rome over the course of three years from 1962-65, the Council formulated major statements on the nature of the Church, its role in the modern world, its relation to other Christian churches, and its relation to non-Christian religions.


Angels are a class of supernatural or spiritual beings, imaginatively understood to perform various functions on God’s behalf. Angels are especially described as divine messengers. Angels are common to Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


A deacon is a minister of the church, ordinarily a preliminary rank of clergy below a fully ordained minister or priest.


(also: Jesus Christ; Christ) Jesus is the historical figure considered by Christians to be the Christ, the Messiah, whose life and teachings, death and resurrection give clear evidence of God’s love for humankind. Jesus was born shortly before the death of Herod the Great (d. 4 BCE) and died by crucifixion some thirty years later. Christians have always had many Christologies, or ways of articulating their understanding of Jesus Christ. Jesus is also understood by Muslims to be one of God’s prophets.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mary who is said to have appeared as an Indian woman to an Indian peasant named Juan Diego in 1531. Her image—imprinted on his cloak—is considered confirmation of her miraculous appearance. It hangs above the altar in her great basilica in Mexico City. She has become a symbol of Mexican national identity in the United States as well as Mexico.


The Trinity is the Christian doctrine of the three natures of the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The language of the Trinity bespeaks the complexity of God, who can be spoken of as the transcendent creator, the one who accompanies humanity as the Christ, and the one who is intimate and ever-present as Holy Spirit.


Adam is Hebrew for “human, man.” It is the name given to the first person created by God and as such has an important symbolic role in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.