This glossary is primarily for grades K-6. Definitions are not technical, but rather meant to convey the sense of the word as it relates to vocations.

Active – A religious brother or sister who works outside of the monastery or convent. As opposed to cloistered or contemplative religious, who mostly stay within the monastery or convent.

Apostolate – Work that is done to continue the work of the apostles. Each religious order usually has a main apostolate, such as teaching, nursing, helping the poor, etc.

Apostolic Succession – The direct continuous line of bishops stretching back to Jesus’ apostles.

Bishop – A successor to the apostles who is normally the leader of a diocese (or does some other important work in the Church). Only bishops are able to ordain priests.

Brother – A man in a religious order. Sometimes “brother” is used more specifically to mean a man in a religious order who is not a priest.

Call – An invitation from God to follow a certain path in life.

Cardinal – A title for bishops who play a special role within the Church, and who together elect the Pope.

Celibacy – Living unmarried for a holy purpose.

Charism – A gift from the Holy Spirit meant for building up the church.

Chastity – One of the three vows taken by religious men and women. Remaining unmarried for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Clergy – Men who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders, including bishops, priests, and deacons.

Cloister – An area of a monastery or convent that is reserved only for the religious who live there.

Cloistered – A consecrated religious who spends almost all of his/her time in the convent/ monastery in prayer and quiet work, only leaving for urgent matters such as visiting a doctor.

Consecrated – Dedicated for a holy purpose.

Consecrated Life – The vocation to be a religious brother or sister, or a consecrated virgin.

Consecrated Virgin – A person who makes a vow of chastity but is not necessarily part of a religious order.

Consolation – Spiritual comfort and contentment.

Contemplative – A religious brother or sister who primarily serves the Lord and the world through prayer.

Convent – A place where consecrated religious sisters or brothers live. “Convent” means “come together.”

Community – A group of religious brothers or sisters who live and share the same mission. They prayer together daily and have a superior who leads the community.

Deacon – A man who is ordained to the first level of Holy Orders. He assists the priest at Mass, preaches, baptizes, and witnesses marriages.

Desolation – Spiritual discomfort and discontentment.

Discern – To discover God’s will for you.

Discernment – The process of discovering God’s will, especially when a person is trying to discover his or her vocation.

Discernment of Spirits – Discovering whether spiritual feelings or thoughts are being suggested to a person by God or by the devil.

Divine Office – The universal prayers of the Church that are prayed during different times of the day.

Evangelical Counsels- The wisdom of the Gospel which advises people to embrace poverty, chastity and obedience.

Generous – Willingness to give.

Habit – The distinctive clothing of a religious brother or sister. Each religious community normally has its own distinctive habit.

Holy Orders – A sacrament conferred by a bishop that gives a man the grace and spiritual power to bring sacramental grace to others. The three levels of Holy Orders are deacon, priest, and bishop.

Husband – The male spouse in a marriage.

Lauds – The Morning Prayer of the Divine Office.

Laity – All the faithful members of the Church except those who have received Holy Orders.

Liturgy of the Hours – Also called the Divine Office. The universal prayers of the Church that are prayed during different times of the day.

Marriage – The sacramental, lifelong union of a man and woman for the purpose of lovingly helping one another and bearing and nurturing of children.

Monastery – The place where contemplative religious brothers or sisters live.

Monk – A member of a religious community of men who live a contemplative life.

Night Prayer – the part of the Divine Office which is said at night, usually around 9pm.

Nun – A member of a religious community who lives a cloistered, contemplative life.

Obedience – Complying with the request of a superior. One of three vows taken as part of religious life.

Order or Religious Order – A religious community that follows Jesus in the particular way that their community’s founder established. Examples of different orders are: Benedictines, Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, etc.

Poverty – One of the three vows taken by consecrated religious. It is a vow to not possess personal property.

Promise – A statement of intent similar to making a vow.

Priest – A man ordained by a bishop to bring Christ to the world through preaching and the sacraments.

Religious – A person who has taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Religious Life – The vocation to a vowed life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, within a community of people who have also made these vows.

Scapular – A piece of cloth which is part of the habit of many religious which symbolizes the protection of God and Mary, as well as the person’s obedience to God through the religious life. Some lay people wear a small version of the scapular.

Single – A person who is not married.

Single Life – A state of life where a person has neither married, been ordained, or taken religious vows.  It is technically not a “vocation” because it does not entail permanent commitment, but many single people are able to serve God and others heroically because of the flexibility of the single life.

Sister – A female member of a religious community.

Spouse – The complementary partner in a marriage.

Stole – Part of the liturgical vestments of a priest to indicate authority. It is a decorative piece of cloth draped over the shoulders and worn straight down on either side of the chest. A diagonal version is worn by a deacon.

Superior – A leader in a religious order.

Transubstantiation – The change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.

Universal Call to Holiness – God’s call to all people to be united with Him forever in love.

Vespers – The part of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) which is prayed in the evening.

Vocation – God’s call to a person to live in a certain way. Includes Marriage, Priesthood, and Consecrated Life.

Vow – A solemn promise made publicly before God.

Wedding – The liturgical celebration which brings together a man and woman into marriage.

Wife – The female partner in a marriage.