Glossary – H


Another name for the Israelites. It appears often in the Old Testament, mostly applied by foreigners to the Israelites or of themselves in their dealings with foreigners. The word Hebrew also applies to the original language of most of the Old Testament.


Literally “a choice”. The wilful and persistent denial of a truth of the Catholic faith by a baptised person.

Herod the Great

Ruler of Palestine 37 B.C. – 4 B.C. Noted for his brutality, so the account of the slaughter of the male children of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth (see Matthew 2:13-18) is in character. The Herod who features in the accounts of the trial of Jesus was Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas, who was Tetrarch of Galilee 4 B.C. – A.D. 39.

Holy, Holy, Holy

The ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ or ‘Sanctus’ (Latin for holy) is the acclamation sung (or said) following the Preface in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. In its origins it extends back to the blessings pronounced at Jewish ritual meals. In later centuries it was often sung to elaborate musical settings. The words are based on Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 118:26 and Matthew 21:9 – Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Holy Innocents

The children of Bethlehem massacred by Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the child Jesus (Matt 2:16-18) who the Wise Men had announced as ‘the infant king of the Jews’. The Church remembers their fate as martyrs with a Feast on 28 December.

Holy Saturday

See entry for Holy Week.

Holy Thursday

See entry for Holy Week.

Holy Water (N.1668)

The use of water for ritual cleansing came into Christianity from Judaism. Holy Water is used to bless people and things, and is itself blessed during a special ritual. Holy Water is used during public baptisms and during the Paschal Season.

Holy water is most commonly used by Catholics when, on entering a church, they dip their fingers in it before making the Sign of the Cross, thus recalling their baptism and invoking God’s blessing.

Holy water that is blessed as a sacramental is different to Baptismal Water blessed for the Sacrament of Baptism.

Holy Week

The week from Passion Sunday to the Easter Vigil inclusive, that commemorates Christ’s last days on earth, including the paschal mystery of his death and Resurrection. The main celebrations are: Passion (or Palm) Sunday which centres on Christ’s entry into Jerusalem; the Chrism Mass at which oils are blessed; Holy Thursday on which the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, including a ceremonial washing of the feet; Good Friday on which the Eucharist is not celebrated but rather a solemn Passion Liturgy which includes a Veneration of the Cross; and the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.

Follow the events of Holy Week as recorded in the four Gospels.


The homily is an important part of the Liturgy of the Word, usually in a Eucharistic liturgy. Following the reading of the Gospel the priest or other ordained minister (bishop or deacon), takes the Scriptures or liturgical texts of the day and, taking into account the needs of the hearers, speaks with the purpose of giving nourishment to their lives as Christians. Homilies used to be called sermons.


From the Hebrew meaning “May God save” or “save us we pray”, Hosanna was a shout or chant of joy used in Jewish worship. It is found in the Psalms.

In the celebration of the Eucharist, hosanna is said at the conclusion of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) in the Eucharistic Prayer. The Gospels describe the crowds shouting hosannas at Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (Matt 21:9, Mk 11:9, John 12:13).