Glossary

Terms beginning with L

Labyrinth

1)     These were a feature of many medieval cathedrals. They are marked out on the floor, but unlike a maze have only one path – there are no dead ends. You can walk the labyrinth slowly, as an aid to contemplative prayer and reflection, as a spiritual exercise, or as a form of pilgrimage.

Lay Person(s)

1)     The term Lay people or the ‘Laity’ refers to members of the church who are not ordained or who are not members of the clergy. The difference between clergy and laity is less marked than it used to be and in some Christian denominations such as the Society of Friends or ‘Quakers’ there is no such distinction.

Lectern

1)     The lectern is the reading desk from which the Bible is read during services. The word derives from the Latin verb ‘to read’. Readings from the Bible take place at every church service.

Lent

1)     This is the season of penitence and fasting which is roughly the forty days before Easter and was first observed in the early church as a time in which those preparing for baptism might be instructed in the faith. Today Christians use it as a time for some sort of spiritual development. This can take many forms such as prayer and fasting, self-denial, spiritual reading or some other discipline such as attending a Lent Course. Lent is often associated with Jesus’ retreat into the desert as a preparation for his ministry.

Liturgical Colour

1)     The Church uses colours to mark different stages in the Church year, or liturgical calendar. You can see these colours on altar frontals and priests’ vestments. Purple – Advent; White or Gold – Christmas and Epiphany; Purple – Lent; Red – Good Friday; White or Gold – Easter & Ascension; Red – Whitsun/Pentecost and martyred saints days, Green – Ordinary time after Trinity Sunday.

Liturgy

1)     The word is Greek for the ‘work of the people’. It has become more associated with the set orders of service in the Church. Due to the proliferation of modern services and liturgical texts there has been a big growth in this area of religious publishing.

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Amendments

If you have any amendments to make or suggestions for other terms or words that you think it would be useful for us to explain, please get in touch with the Glossarist.

Licensing

All definitions © copyright EasternCathedrals 2004-2017+.
Please contact the Glossarist if you are interested in using this material as content on your own website.

Credits

The original core of this glossary was commissioned from Canon Phillip McFadyen of St George's Colegate, in Norwich.