Glossary – Q-R


An ancient Hebrew title of respect still in use today, for a teacher of the Jewish Law. The title or its equivalent, “Rabboni”, is applied occasionally to Jesus in the Gospels.

Reconciliation Room

A room in which the individual rite of the Sacrament of Penance is celebrated. It is arranged to allow for either the anonymous or the face-to-face form of exchange between penitent and priest. It has replaced the former “confessional box”.


From the Latin word reliquiae meaning ‘remains’, relics are parts of the bodies of martyrs and canonised saints – or objects associated with them, such as their clothing. The custom of venerating relics developed in the early Church along with the veneration of the martyrs and saints themselves. Relics are often contained in a special vessel called a reliquary. They are also set into altars.

Religious Orders and Congregations (N.925-27)

These are groups, authorised by Church authority, who are living under a religious rule and publicly professing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Apart from these defining characteristics religious orders and congregations may differ markedly. Some for example, follow a contemplative life while others are more ‘active’, following an apostolate such as teaching or nursing. This site presents links to the religious orders and congregations that minister in New Zealand

Resurrection (N.988-1004)

The term Resurrection refers, in the first instance, to the central Christian belief that God raised Jesus to new life after his death on the cross and burial in the tomb. The New Testament describes a number of appearances of the Risen Christ to his disciples. Following St. Paul the Church teaches that Christ’s Resurrection is the ‘first fruits’ of many (see 1 Cor. 15:20). All who die ‘in Christ’ will be raised to life with him and the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Risen Lord appeared to the disciples as a glorified body. Those raised to life will also experience the resurrection of the body and not simply some spiritual or immaterial existence.

Revelation (N.50-100)

From a Latin word meaning ‘to remove the veil’, the term revelation refers to the Self-disclosure of God. Catholic teaching is that people can reason their way to a sure knowledge of God’s existence. They can however only appreciate the full extent of the mystery of the nature of God (the Trinity), and of God’s plans for humanity, because God has freely chosen to reveal these things. God has most fully revealed this mystery by sending Jesus Christ, his Son, and the Holy Spirit. Divine Revelation is transmitted through Scripture, Tradition and the Teaching Authority of the Church. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the faithful are able to grow in understanding of revelation.

Rite (N.1203)

In general this term refers to the formal procedure, the words and actions laid down, for a religious ceremony, e.g. the Rite of Baptism. It can also refer to the forms of worship of particular churches, e.g. the Roman rite, the Byzantine rite, the Armenian rite. Some religious orders also have their own rites.

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults – RCIA (N.1232)

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the liturgical and formational process of Christian initiation. Through it unbaptised adults are gradually formed in the Christian spirit and initiated into the Church, culminating in their Baptism, Confirmation and admission to the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.


The word ritual generally means set ways of doing things. In religious terms therefore one of its meanings is virtually identical to that of rite. Ritual can also mean the whole body of rites in use in the church. Thus there is a text called the Roman Ritual which lays down general principles for worship in the Catholic Church.
Prior to Vatican II each priest had a text called the Roman Ritual that set out these rites. Now the Rites of the Church are published in separate books, e.g. the Rite of Baptism, the Rite of Penance, etc.

Rome / Roman Empire

The city-state of Rome on the Italian peninsula emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean area after defeating its rival Carthage in 146 B.C. At first governed as a Republic, Rome became an Empire in 27 B.C. It was during the reign of the first Emperor, Augustus Caesar, that Jesus was born. Palestine had become part of the Roman Empire in 63 B.C. Most Jews regarded the Romans as oppressive rulers and there was much unrest. In 70 A.D. a Roman army destroyed Jerusalem, killing many Jews and driving many into exile.


In biblical terms this refers to either:
the oppressive power occupying Palestine (see entry for Rome), or
the New Testament Letter to the Romans written by St Paul around 57 A.D. to the young Christian Church in the city of Rome.

Rosary (N.2678, 2708)

This is the most popular of all Catholic devotional prayers. Its name comes from the Latin ‘rosarium’ meaning a collection of devotional texts. Its origins are lost in the past though the Dominican Friars did much to popularise the prayer in the Middle Ages. Its present form dates from the 16th Century. The Rosary consists in the recitation of fifteen ‘decades’ (sets of ten) of the Hail Mary each introduced by the Lord’s Prayer and concluded with a Doxology. Each decade is accompanied by a meditation on some aspect of the life of Christ or the Virgin Mary. These are divided into three groups of five known as the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. Usually only one of these sets is recited at a time. To assist the memory, the prayers are usually counted on a string of beads. This is how you pray the rosary.