Here you have a wide selection of terms used in every day life of the Catholic Church practices, customs and liturgical seasons of year. You may search this page by pressing Ctrl+F (PC) or Command+F (Mac) and typing in your search terms.

Act by which a priest, acting as the agent of Christ, grants forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Ones who assist in the celebration (i.e., carrying candles, holding the Pope’s staff, miter, etc.).
Refers to the external acts of reverent admiration or honor given to a thing or person.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Prayer to Christ, who is recognized as being truly present in the Sacrament. During Adoration, the Blessed Sacrament is displayed for the people.
The white garment covering one’s street clothes.
Alleluia Acclamation
This acclamation of praise to God follows the second reading and prepares the assembly for the Gospel.
A table on which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God. It is the center of importance in the place where the Mass is celebrated. Also called: “The Table of the Lord.”
Hebrew word meaning truly, it is true. As concluding word of prayers it expresses assent to and acceptance of God’s will.
Apostle – Apostolic – Disciple
Literally “one sent.” Normally this 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.
The ministry or work of an apostle. In Catholic usage, a term covering all kinds and areas of work and endeavor for the service of God and the Church and the good of people.
Apostolic Nunciature
The offices of the Holy Father’s representative to a country or to the Church in that country.
Title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses.
The chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province.
A vessel or device used for sprinkling holy water during special blessings. The ordinary type is a metallic rod with a bulbous tip which absorbs the holy water and discharges it at the motion of the user’s hand.
Those present to celebrate the liturgy. Other terms: to use: “The Community,” “The Church (as people not building),” “The Worshipers,” “The Faithful,” or “the congregation.” Avoid: Spectators, Crowd, Audience—all passive words which do not reflect what those present at Mass do. NOTE: It is the entire assembly (ordained and non-ordained) that celebrates the liturgy of the Mass, therefore avoid: The Pope’s Mass, The Bishop’s Mass, His Mass, etc.–all terms which would give the impression that it is only the Pope or clergy who celebrate Mass.
Auxiliary Bishop
A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese, to assist a residential bishop.
A church to which special privileges are attached. It is a title of honor given to various kinds of churches.
Final step toward canonization of a saint.
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.
Blessed Sacrament
The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, whether at the Mass or reserved in a special place in the Church.
Book of Gospels
The book which contains the Gospel texts, from which the priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel of the day.
Bread and Wine
The elements used in the celebration of Eucharist (unleavened bread and natural pure wine). NOTE: After the Eucharistic Prayer the bread and wine is referred to as: “the consecrated bread and wine” or “the Body and Blood of Christ.” Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine are mere symbols; they believe the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ.
Breaking of the Bread
The celebrant recreates gestures of Christ at the Last Supper when He broke the bread to give to His disciples. The action signifies that in communion the many are made one in the one Bread of Life which is Christ.
A man who is a member of a religious order or congregation, but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood.
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.
Canon Law
Canon Law, Code of – The collection of laws (canons) governing administration of the Roman Catholic Church. All aspects of Church life are addressed in the Code, including its administrative structure, the sacraments, and the teaching office of the Church, among others.
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).
One who leads the singing during the liturgy (i.e., the responsorial psalm).
Cardinals are appointed by the Pope and constitute the senate of the Church. They aid the Pope as his chief counselors.
A non-liturgical, full-length, close-fitting robe for use by priests and other clerics under liturgical vestments; usually black for priests, purple for bishops and other prelates, red for cardinals, and white for the Pope.
Religious instruction and formation for persons preparing for baptism (catechumens) and for the faithful in various stages of spiritual development.
Referring to catechesis.
The major church in an archdiocese or diocese. It is the seat of the local Ordinary (diocesan bishop, religious superior or other authority).
Greek word for universal. First used in the title Catholic Church in a letter written by St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians of Smyrna about 107 A.D.
The one who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.
Celebrant’s Chair
The place where the celebrant sits during the Liturgy. It expresses his office of presiding over the assembly and of leading the prayer of those present.
The cup used to hold the wine that is consecrated to become the Blood of Christ.
A spiritual gift given for the good of the Church to an individual or a group of people, especially in a religious community. Men and women religious reflect a specific aspect of the life of Jesus Christ and contribute to the building up of the Church through their charism. Examples: Christ the Preacher (Dominicans), Christ the Healer (brothers and sisters who serve in health care).
Gifts or graces given by God to persons for the good of others and the Church.
The vestment worn over the alb by priests, bishops and Pope when celebrating the Mass.
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 vessel used to hold the consecrated bread for the distribution of the Body of Christ during communion.
Collective term referring to male persons who administer the rites of the Church through Holy Orders.
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is made up of the cardinals of the Church, who advise the Pope, assist in the central administration of the Church, head the various curial offices and congregations, administer the Holy See during a vacancy, and elect a new Pope.
The shared responsibility and authority that the whole college of bishops, headed by the Pope, has for the teaching, sanctification and government of the Church.
Communion Song
The music that is used as the consecrated bread and wine – the Body and Blood of Christ – is distributed to the faithful.
Those priests and bishops who join the Celebrant in celebrating the Mass.
Concluding Rite
The brief rite which consists of the celebrant’s greeting to all present, final blessing and dismissal; followed by a concluding song and concluding procession.
Part of the sacrament of penance or reconciliation, not a term for the sacrament.
One of the three sacraments of initiation, along with Baptism and Eucharist.
The prayer and blessing during which the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Crosier (pastoral staff)
The staff which a bishop carries when he presides at the liturgy.
Cross bearer
The one who carries the cross in the procession (entrance and recessional).
An object is a crucifix only if it depicts Christ on a cross, otherwise it is a cross.
The vestment the deacon wears over the alb on solemn occasions.
An ordained minister who assists the Celebrant during the Liturgy of the Word and at the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
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.
A regional subdivision of the diocese. The Diocese of Charleston comprises 5 deaneries: Costal, Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee and Piedmont.
The diaconate is the first order or grade in ordained ministry. Any man who is to be ordained to the priesthood must first be ordained as a transitional deacon. Deacons serve in the ministry of liturgy, of the word, and of charity. The Permanent Diaconate is for men who do not plan to become ordained priests. The program is open to both married and unmarried men. 
Diocesan Curia
The personnel and offices assisting the bishop in directing the pastoral activity, administration and exercise of judicial power of the diocese.
A particular church; a fully organized ecclesiastical jurisdiction under the pastoral direction of a bishop as local Ordinary.
An exemption from Church law.
The response of the people acclaiming the sovereignty of God.
Having to do with the Church in general or the life of the Church. 
Refers to official structures or legal and organizational aspects of the Church.
A movement for spiritual understanding and unity among Christians and their churches. The term also is extended to apply to efforts toward greater understanding and cooperation between Christians and members of other faiths.
A pastoral letter addressed by the Pope to the whole Church.
Entrance Procession
Priest, deacon, altar servers, lectors, enter the church or designated place for celebration of the liturgy.
Entrance Song/Music
The song/music which takes place during the entrance procession.
Refers to a bishop or groups of bishops as a form of Church government, in which bishops have authority.
Doctrine concerning the last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell, and the final state of perfection of the people and the kingdom of God at the end of the world.
Eucharistic Prayer
The prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. It is the center and high point of the celebration. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the Church believes that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Refers to Christians who emphasize the need for a definite commitment to faith in Christ and a duty by believers to persuade others to accept Christ.
A preacher or revivalist who seeks conversions by preaching to groups.
Evening Prayer
Evening Prayer, most commonly known as Vespers, is the official prayer that marks the end of the day. It consists primarily of sung psalms and other readings from Scripture.
A penalty of censure by which a baptized person is excluded from the communion of the faithful for committing and remaining obstinate in certain serious offenses specified in canon law. Even though excommunicated, that person still is responsible for fulfillment of the normal obligations of a Catholic.
Free Will
The faculty or capability of making a reasonable choice from among several alternatives.
General Intercessions
Prayer of intercession for all of humankind; for the Church, civil authorities, those with various needs, for all peoples, and for the salvation of the world. The celebrant invites all to pray, another minister proclaims the prayers of petition and the assembly responds by asking God to hear and to grant their requests.
Ancient hymn of praise in which the Church glorifies God. It is used on all Sundays (outside of Advent and Lent), and at solemn celebrations. The text originates from the Christmas narrative in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:14).
The infinitely perfect Supreme Being, uncaused and absolutely self-sufficient, eternal, the Creator and final end of all things. The one God subsists in three equal Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
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 celebrant greets all pre-sent at the liturgy, expressing the presence of the Lord to the assembled community.
In general, the term refers to the ordered body of clergy, divided into bishops, priests, and deacons. In Catholic practice, the term refers to the bishops of the world or of a particular region.
Holy Communion
After saying a preparatory prayer, the celebrant (or other designated ministers) gives communion (the consecrated bread and wine) to himself and the other ministers at the altar, and then communion is distributed to the congregation.
Holy See
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. Holy See is also the diocese of the Pope, Rome.
The homily (sermon) is a reflection by the celebrant or other minister on the Scripture readings and on the application of the texts in the daily lives of the assembled community.
Host, The Sacred
The bread under whose appearance Christ is and remains present in a unique manner after the consecration of the Mass.
In Greek, the first three letters of the name of Jesus.
Immaculate Conception
Catholic dogma concerning Mary and the name of a feast in her honor celebrated Dec. 8. It refers to the belief that Mary was without sin from the moment she was conceived.
Incense (material used to produce a fragrant odor when burned) is used as a symbol of the Church’s offering; the rising smoke represents the prayers of the assembly rising to God.
The remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven.
A series of prayers for the Church, the world, the Pope, clergy and laity, and the dead. Final Doxology A final prayer of praise of God.
The name of Jesus, meaning Savior in Christian usage, derived from the Aramaic and Hebrew Yeshua and Joshua, meaning Yahweh is salvation.
Keys, Power of the
Spiritual authority and jurisdiction in the Church, symbolized by the “keys” to the kingdom of heaven. Christ promised the keys to St. Peter and future heads of the Church.
Lamb of God (“Agnus Dei ”)
An invocation during the breaking of the bread in which the assembly petitions God for mercy and peace.
Lay Ministries
These are ministries within the Church that are carried out by laypersons. Included are altar servers, Eucharistic ministers and lectors.
Layman, laywoman, layperson
Any Church member who is neither ordained nor a member of a religious order. When the Second Vatican Council spoke of the laity, it used the term in this more common meaning.
The book that contains all of the readings from the Scriptures that are used in the celebration of the liturgy.
Liturgical Colors
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.
The public prayer of the Church.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
The section of the celebration when the gifts of bread and wine are prepared and the Eucharistic Prayer is proclaimed by the celebrant, and the Blessed Sacrament is distributed to the assembly.
Liturgy of the Hours
This is the preferred term in the Latin rite for the official liturgical prayers sanctifying the parts of each day.
Liturgy of the Word
That section of the celebration where readings from the Scriptures are proclaimed and reflected upon. On Sundays and major feasts, there are three readings:
Old Testament selection
New Testament selection (from the Epistles)
The Gospel reading
Lord ’s Prayer (“Our Father…”)
The prayer of petition for both daily food (which for Christians means also the Eucharistic bread) and the forgiveness of sins.
The central point of the theology of Mary is that she is the Mother of God. In traditions since apostolic times, the Church and the faithful have accorded to Mary the highest forms of veneration. She is celebrated in feasts throughout the year, and in devotions such as the rosary and litany and is hailed the patroness of many countries, including the United States.
The common name for the Eucharistic liturgy of the Catholic Church. Also referred to as Eucharist, Celebration of the Liturgy, Eucharistic celebration, Sacrifice of the Mass or Lord’s Supper. NOTE: Do not use: “Saying Mass” or “Performing Mass.” Instead use: “Celebrating Mass,” “Concelebrating Mass,” “Celebrating the Liturgy,” or “Celebrating the Eucharist”
Note: The following terms are listed in their sequence of the Mass. Entrance Procession
Entrance Song/Music
Veneration of the Altar
Penitential Rite
Opening Prayer
Liturgy of the Word
Responsorial Psalm
Alleluia Acclamation
Profession of Faith
General Intercessions
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Blessed Sacrament
Preparation of the Gifts
Offertory Song
Washing of Hands
Prayer Over the Gifts
Eucharistic Prayer
Preface Dialogue
Lord ’s Prayer (“Our Father…”
Sign of Peace
Breaking of the Bread
Lamb of God (“Agnus Dei ”)
Holy Communion
Communion Song
Prayer After Communion
Concluding Rite
Master of Ceremonies
One who assists in the preparation of the liturgy and is present to facilitate the movement of the entire celebration.
Matrimony, marriage
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.
From the Latin word for “servant,” in the ecclesiastical sense a minister is (1) an ordained cleric or (2) one who has the authority to minister to others.
Ministers of Communion
Those who assist in the distribution of Communion; also called Eucharistic Ministers.
Miracles, Apparitions
Generally “miracle” is used to refer to physical phenomena that defy natural explanation, such as medically unexplainable cures. An apparition is a supernatural manifestation of God, an angel or a saint to an individual or a group of individuals.
A headdress worn at some liturgical functions by bishops, abbots and, in certain cases, other clerics.
An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the Pope to some diocesan priests. In the United States, the title is given to the vicar general of a diocese. In Europe, the title also is given to bishops.
In general, all women religious, even those in simple vows who are more properly called sisters.
Offertory Song
Music used during the presentation of gifts to the celebrant and as the altar is prepared for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Opening Prayer
This prayer by the celebrant expresses the general theme of the celebration.
Ordain – Ordination
The proper terms in Catholic usage for references to the conferral of the sacrament of Holy Orders on a deacon, priest or bishop.
Order, Congregation, Society
A religious order is the title loosely applied to all religious groups of men and women. A society is a body of clerics, regular or secular, organized for the purpose of performing an apostolic work. A congregation is any group bound together by common rules.
Diocesan bishops, religious superiors, and certain other diocesan authorities with jurisdiction over the clergy in a specific geographical area, or the members of a religious order.
Papal Infallibility
The end result of divine assistance given to the Pope through which he is prevented from the possibility and liability of error in teachings involving Church dogma and articles of faith.
Papal Representatives
The three types of representatives of the Roman Pontiff are:
1) Legate – An individual appointed by the Pope to be his personal representative to a nation, international conference, or local church. The legate may be chosen from the local clergy of a country.
2) Apostolic Nuncio – In the United States, the papal representative is sent by the Pope to both the local church and the government. His title is Nuncio. Although he holds the title of ambassador, under U.S. law he is not accorded the special privilege of being the dean of the diplomatic corps. In countries where he is dean of the diplomatic corps, his title is Apostolic Nuncio.
3) Permanent Observer to the United Nations – The Apostolic See maintains permanent legates below the ambassadorial level to several world organizations. Since the Papal Legate does not enjoy the right to vote within the organization, his title at the United Nations is that of Observer.
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.
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 Associate
A member of the laity who is part of a parish ministry team.
Pastoral Council
A group of members of the parish who advise the pastor on parish matters; also called a Parish Council.
The plate used to hold the bread.
Pectoral Cross
A cross worn on a chain about the neck of bishops and abbots as a sign of office.
Penitential Rite
A general acknowledgment of sinfulness by the entire assembly, accompanied by requests for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Pontiff is used as an alternative form of reference to the Pope. Pontifical has to do with the Pope.
The raising of the mind and heart to God in adoration, thanksgiving, reparation and petition. The official prayer of the Church as a worshipping community is called liturgy.
Prayer After Communion
The final prayer by the celebrant in which he petitions that the Sacrament be beneficial for all.
Prayer Over the Gifts
The prayer by the celebrant asking that the gifts to be offered be made holy and acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.
Preface Dialogue
The introductory dialogue between the celebrant and assembly in which all are invited to join in prayer and thanksgiving to God. The Holy, Holy, Holy The response of the community to the preface and a continuation of the general theme of praise and thanks. Also called the Sanctus.
Preparation of the Gifts
The time in the Mass when the bread and wine to be used in the celebration are brought to the celebrant, usually by representatives of the faithful.
Presbyteral Council
A consultative group of priests that assists the bishop in his governing of the diocese. Council members are representative of all priests in the diocese and include priests elected by fellow priests, priests included by virtue of the offices they hold (ex officio) and priests appointed by the bishop.
Presbyteral Council – A consultative group of priests that assists the bishop in his governing of the diocese. Council members are representative of all priests in the diocese and include priests elected by fellow priests, priests included by virtue of the offices they hold (ex officio) and priests appointed by the bishop.
Presbyterial Council
Also known as the priests’ council, this is the principal consultative body mandated by the Code of Canon Law to advise the diocesan bishop in matters of pastoral governance. It consists of bishops and priests serving the diocese.
Papal primacy refers to the Pope’s authority over the whole Church.
Processional Cross
The cross carried in the processions.
Profession of Faith
The assembly together recalls and proclaims the fundamental teachings of the Roman Catholic faith. The Profession of Faith, also referred to as the Creed, is used on all Sundays and Holy Days.
The state or condition in which those who have died in the state of grace, but with some attachment to sin, suffer for a time before they are admitted to the glory and happiness of heaven.
Reader, Lector
One who proclaims the scriptures during the Liturgy of the Word. Known formerly as “Lector.”
The physical remains and effects of saints, which are considered worthy of veneration inasmuch as they represent people who are with God.
The adoration and service of God as expressed through divine worship and acts of faith in daily life.
Religious Movements
Groups of people, both lay and clerical, who band together to promote a certain belief or activity.
Religious Priest/Diocesan Priest
Religious priests are professed members of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders. In pastoral ministry, they are under the jurisdiction of their local bishop, as well as the superiors of their order. Diocesan, or secular, priests are under the direction of their local bishop. They commit to serving their congregations and other institutions.
Responsorial Psalm
Between the first and second readings, a psalm is spoken or sung by the entire assembly. The response is repeated after each verse. If sung, a cantor or choir sings the verses of the psalm.
A period of time spent in meditation and religious exercise. Retreats may take various forms, from traditional closed forms, to open retreats which do not disengage the participants from day-to-day life. Both clergy and lay people of all ages participate in retreats. Houses and centers providing facilities for retreats are called retreat houses.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
The norms and rituals of the Catholic Church for people who wish to join the Church. Part of the process is intended for baptized Christians who wish to become Catholics. The term is used in a general sense to refer to the process of entering the Catholic Church.
Roman Curia
The official collective name for the administrative agencies and courts, and their officials, who assist the Pope in governing the Church. Members are appointed and granted authority by the Pope.
Rome – Diocese of
The City of Rome is the diocese of the Pope, who also serves as the Bishop of Rome.
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.
The book used by the celebrant, containing all the prayers for the liturgy of the Mass.
The part of the church where the altar is located.
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.
Another name for diocese or archdiocese.
An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood or diaconate.
Erected to encourage private devotions to a saint. It usually contains a picture, statue or other religious feature capable of inspiring devotional prayer.
Sign of Peace
Before sharing the Body of Christ the members of the assembly are invited to express their love and peace with one another.
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, nun
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.
A group of laity, established for the promotion of Christian life and worship, or some other religious purpose.
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.
The vestment worn around the neck by all ordained ministers. For priests, bishops and Pope, it hangs down in front (under the chasuble); deacons wear it over their left shoulder crossed and fastened at the right side.
A loose, flowing vestment of white fabric with wide sleeves. For some functions it is inter-changeable with an alb.
A gathering of designated officials and representatives of a church, with legislative and policymaking powers.
Place in the Church where the Eucharist or sacred species are stored.
The study of God and religion, deriving from and based on the data of divine Revelation, organized and systematized according to an academic method.
A tribunal (court) is the name given to the person or persons who exercise the Church’s judicial powers.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Civil corporation and executive agency of the Catholic Church in the United States of America.
Vatican Congregation
A Vatican body that is responsible for an important area in the life of the Church, such as worship and sacraments, the clergy, and of saints causes.
Vatican Councils
Councils of all bishops of the Church called by the Pope. These councils usually are called to discuss specific matters of interest to the Church.
Veneration of the Altar
The revering of the altar with a kiss and the optional use of incense.
A portion of the Church’s divine office recited each day by priests. (see Evening Prayer)
The vesture ministers wear.
A promise made to God with sufficient knowledge and freedom, which has as its object a moral good that is possible and better than its voluntary omission.
Washing of Hands
An expression of the desire for inward purification. The celebrant washes his hands in symbolic cleansing to prepare himself just as the gifts have been prepared as an offering to the Lord.
Witness, Christian
Practical testimony or evidence given by Christians regarding their faith. They may witness their faith in all circumstances of life—by prayer and general conduct, through good example and good works, etc. – and by being and acting in accordance with Christian belief, while actually practicing the Christian faith.