Holy Trinity: The mystery of one God in Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Incarnation: When the Son of God assumed human nature and became man.
Transubstantiation: When, in the consecration of the bread and wine, there occurs the change of the entire substance of the bread into the Body of Christ, and the entire substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ.
Angel: A spiritual, personal and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan. Not a person who has died and gone to heaven.
Sanctifying grace: Grace that heals our wounded human nature by giving us a share in the divine life of the Trinity. A habitual and supernatural gift that perfects and makes us holy.
Actual grace: Temporary supernatural intervention by God to enlighten the mind or strengthen the will to perform supernatural actions that lead to heaven.
Sin: Any intentional thought, word, deed or omission that violates God’s law.
Original sin: The sin by which the first humans disobeyed God, resulting in the loss of original holiness. Also, the fallen state of human nature that affects every person.
Concupiscence: An inclination to sin, due to original sin, which remains even after baptism.
Mortal sin: Grave infraction of the law of God that destroys divine life (sanctifying grace) in the soul of the sinner. For sin to be mortal, it must involve grave matter, full knowledge of the evil of the act, and deliberate consent of the will.
Venial sin: Sin that diminishes and wounds but does not destroy the divine life (sanctifying grace) in the soul of the sinner.
Heaven: Complete and eternal happiness with God and all the blessed.
Purgatory: Temporary state after death whereby souls who die in a state of sanctifying grace are purified from sin and its effects and are made ready for eternal life with God.
Hell: State of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed; unending misery reserved for those who freely choose not to repent of mortal sin before death.
Doctrine: A revealed teaching of Christ that is irreversible.
Discipline: A man-made ordinance subject to change.
Immaculate Conception: The conception of the Virgin Mary, who through the anticipated merits won by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection, was preserved immune from original sin.
Adapted, with permission, from the Diocese of Harrisburg’s “Basic Catholic Vocabulary” list for new catechists.