Abbess. (from masc.abbot;Gr.Hegoumeni). The female superior of a community of nuns appointed by a bishop; Mother Superior. She has general authority over her community and nunnery under the supervision of a bishop.

Abbot. (from Aram.abba, father; Gr. Hegoumenos, Sl.Nastoyatel). The head of a monastic community or monastery, appointed by a bishop or elected by the members of the community. He has ordinary jurisdiction and authority over his monastery, serving in particular as spiritual father and guiding the members of his community.

Abstinence. (Gr. Nisteia). A penitential practice consisting of voluntary deprivation of certain foods for religious reasons. In the Orthodox Church, days of abstinence are observed on Wednesdays and Fridays, or other spesific periods, such as the Great Lent (see fasting)

Acolyte. The follower of a priest; a person assisting the priest in church ceremonies or services. In the early Church, the acolytes were adults; today, however, his duties are performed by children (altar boys).

Aer. (Sl.Vozdukh). The largest of the three veils used for covering the paten and the chalice during or after the Eucharist. It represents the shroud of Christ. When the creed is read, the priest shakes it over the chalice, symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Affinity. (Gr.Syngeneia). The spiritual relationship existing between an indivindual and his spouce’s relatives, or most especially between god parents and godchildren. The Orthodox Church considers affinity an impediment to marriage.