(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.


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.

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.


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

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.


The Hutterites are a Christian community of Anabaptists origins who acknowledge only the baptism of believers, not infants, and hold property in common. Founded in the 16th century in Moravia (Germany) by Jacob Hutter (d. 1536), they continue to live in self-sufficient communities in the U.S.


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.


A convent is a religious association and residential home of a religious order, particularly an order of women or nuns; the term is commonly used in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions.


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.

Good Friday

Good Friday—the Friday before Easter—is the day observed by the Christian church as the day of Christ’s crucifixion. Christians keep this day in many ways: with prayer, fasting, or the veneration of the cross.


A monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ordained monks are called bhikkhus, those who beg alms, depending upon the laity for their food and support. In the Jain tradition, ordained monks are called sadhus or holy ones; they traditionally live in close interaction with Jain laity, depending upon them for food and sustenance. In the Hindu tradition, a sannyasi is one who renounces... Read more about monk


Resurrection means rising to life from the dead. In the Christian tradition, it refers specifically to the rising to life of Jesus after his death by crucifixion, signaling the expected resurrection of all who have died. Envisioning the resurrection of the dead at the end of time is a common theme in the Hebrew scriptures. The expectation of resurrection stands in contrast to the expectation of the soul’s reincarnation in many of the Indic religious traditions—Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain.


Excommunication is a form of church censure, barring a Christian from participating in the holy communion, thus barring that person from the fellowship of the church.


Messiah means, literally, the “anointed one.” In Biblical tradition, the term came to mean a redeemer and royal descendant of the dynasty of David who would restore the united kingdom of Israel and Judah and usher in an age of peace, justice and plenty, sometimes called the Messianic age. Judaism, throughout its history, has lived through many false messianic claims. While the most famous one, from a Jewish perspective, is Jesus of Nazareth, the notion of proclaiming oneself, or one’s spiritual mentor, to be the messiah, was common in Medieval Judaism as well. Shabbetai Tzvi (1626-1676)... Read more about Messiah


A catechism is a manual or lesson book of Christian instruction, containing essential Christian teachings for young people or those seeking to join the Christian community.