Glossary – E

Early Church

This is an imprecise term for the first three to five hundred years in the life of the Church. During the early period following its birth around 30 AD, the young Church gradually overcame persecutors, established structures and liturgies, spread its message beyond Palestine, developed doctrines and fought various heresies. At first the Greek ‘fathers’ and monks were particularly influential but following the conversion of the Emperor Constantine (337 AD) the Church, led by the Popes gradually succeeded the Roman Empire as the dominant influence in the ‘West’.

Easter Season

The Easter Season in the Liturgical Year Calendar extends from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.

Easter Sunday (N.638, 1168-69)

The day of the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ and, as such the most important Christian celebration. Easter Sunday is the beginning of the Easter Season which extends to Pentecost, fifty days later.

Easter Triduum

A triduum, from the Latin for ‘a period of three days’, is a period of three days of prayer preparing for some major enterprise or special feast. The Easter Triduum is the culmination of the entire Liturgical Year. It celebrates the core of the Paschal Mystery – the life, death and rising of Jesus Christ. The Triduum begins with the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. Reflect  on the meaning of these special days of the year.

Easter Vigil

See entry for Holy Week


The study of the relationships between people, animals, plants, and their natural environment.

Ecumenical or General Council (N.884)

A council is an official gathering of Church leaders and representatives that assists in the process of decision-making within the Church. Ecumenical or General Councils are worldwide gatherings of bishops exercising their collegial authority in union with and led by the pope. At the present time in the Church’s history an ecumenical council is called by the pope. The First Council of Nicaea (325) was the first of seven ecumenical councils recognised by both Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox. It was there that the Nicene Creed originated.


Elijah was a great prophet during the reigns of Kings Ahab and Ahaziah of Israel in the 9th Century BC. His story is found in the First Book of Kings in the Old Testament. Elijah upheld the supremacy of Yahweh over other gods and nature.

Emmanuel (N.712)

From the Hebrew ‘Immanuel’ meaning ‘God is with us’ a name given by the prophet Isaiah to the child ‘born of a virgin’ who was to be a sign from God to Israel. Matthew uses the term of Jesus in the infancy narrative of his account of the Gospel (Matt 1:23), quoting from Isaiah 7:14. The same idea also underlies Matt 18:20 where Jesus promises to be with those who gather in his name to pray, and in Matt 28:20 where Jesus promises to be with his followers to the end of time.


A village about 11 kilometres from Jerusalem where Jesus appeared to two disciples, after his resurrection, and they recognised him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:13 ff).


From a Greek word meaning ‘the manifestation’, the Epiphany is a major Church Feast Day which celebrates the revealing of the divinity of Christ. Its main theme is the adoration of the infant Jesus by the wise men from the East. Traditionally celebrated on 6 January it is now celebrated in New Zealand on the second Sunday after Christmas.

Ethnic Group

Groups of persons from a defined geographical region, with their own language, traditions, values, customs, etc.

Eucharist (N.1322ff)

This word comes originally from a Greek word for thanksgiving. It is used by Catholics today in several related senses:

  1. in reference to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the central Catholic act of worship referred to by the Second Vatican Council as ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’. The celebration of the Eucharist is a memorial banquet of Christ’s death and resurrection, his sacrifice for the salvation of humankind. It is a sign of unity in which the faithful join with Christ in the Spirit to offer thanks and praise to God.
  2. the celebration of the Eucharist is often referred to as ‘the Mass’.
  3. in a more restricted sense it is used to refer to the second part of that celebration, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which follows the Liturgy of the Word and contains the Eucharistic prayer.
  4. it is also used to mean the consecrated bread (the host) and wine, the body and blood of Christ. Thus people may speak of ‘receiving the Eucharist

The Eucharist calls us to be radically committed to bringing about the Reign of God.

Eucharistic Prayer (N.1103-7, 1352-4, 1362-66)

This is the principal prayer of the Eucharistic liturgy. It follows the presentation of the gifts and precedes the Communion Rite. It begins when the priest says, ‘The Lord be with you’, and ends with the Doxology, ‘Through him, with him, in him…’ to which the people respond ‘Amen’. The Eucharistic Prayer is a great Trinitarian prayer of praise and thanksgiving recalling God’s saving act for humankind in the dying and rising of Christ. An important part of the Great Prayer is the epiclesis. Here the Church calls down the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and the wine which then becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharistic Prayer has its origins in the Last Supper and Jewish prayers. In the Roman Rite today a number of approved Eucharistic Prayers are in use including three for children.

Evangelical Counsels (N.915, 1973-4)

Ideals or advice on living the perfect Christian life through the practice of poverty, chastity and obedience. The counsels are called evangelical because they are taught and practised by Christ in the Gospels (Greek – Evangelium). They are held as ideals for all Christians according to their situation in life. They are taken as vows by those entering religious life.