Looking for definitions


Where can I find basic definitions of Catholic words and phrases. for example i looked up the term “trinitarian life”(used several times in the catechism) in an online catholic dictionary and didn’t find it listed. I am posting this as a scripture question because I am trying to understand the catechism which explains scripture. I know that is a stretch but no other category comes close.


The Catechism does not explain scripture. The word catechesis means teaching. Nowhere does the Church or the Catechism claim to explain scripture.

Some things can’t be defined in a glossary or dictionary. Volumes can be written about living the life of the Trinity to use your example.

You could try the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.org/cathen/t.htm.



I stand corrected about the thread location. I would agree that a dictionary could not fully explain Trinitarian life any more than it could completely explain the word “Catholic.” However, it could still give a simple definition that would unlock the context. For example: Catholic adgective - pertaining to the form of Christianity practiced by the pope. obviously if you want to know more about the form of Christianity the pope practices you can read and speak to a lot more people and there is a huge amount of information you now can identify as pertaining to the question, "What is “Catholic”? If I know the definition of Trinitarian life, I can apply everything I read from Catholic sources to that definition and develop a cohesive knowledge about it. Otherwise, familiarity with the sound of the term creates an illusion of knowledge leading to the idea that it cannot be defined. Meaning, I am sorry TimothyH, but although you may know much about trinitarian life, you still don’t know what it is. That is a simple fact of the mechanics of reason. :slight_smile: I don’t mean to say you are ignorant or dumb in the least. But I think if you could boil down some of the big terms in Christianity, it would help you explain them to outsiders like me. your answer kind of makes it seem like its my fault for asking–which is not your intent.


The phrase “Trinitarian Life” does not appear in the list on the link.


Sometimes the phrases in the *Catechism *can be understood in their ordinary sense. I think that is the case here with the phrase “Trinitarian life.”

It seems to mean the life of the Trinity itself, i.e., the interactions between the three Divine Persons themselves or, for lack of better words, the “private, family life” of the members of the Trinity, as distinct from the Trinity’s interactions outside of itself with the rest of Creation or, for lack of better words, its “public life.”

Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which we receive in Baptism, we become intimately united to the Trinity; we become partakers in the divine nature. No longer mere servants of God, like the rest of Creation, we become sons of God by adoption, brought into the private, family life of members of the Trinity. At least that is how I understand how the words are being used.


Trinitarian just means Christian. Perhaps you are over-thinking this?


I did not intend to make it seem like you are wrong for asking. I have often thought that it would be nice for the Pope to get on TV or radio once in a while and explain a certain aspect of the faith very simply for regular people.

Other than that, I don’t know what else to say. :shrug:



I have every confidence you have the best intentions and want to help. Having an evangelical missionary background I understand as well as anyone how easy it is to be misunderstood when trying to positively represent one’s beliefs to an outsider hoping they join you and are blessed for it. I also was able to use the website you suggested for other terms I was wondering about. So you have been helpful. Thank you. :wink:

Btw, I wonder if there is an indirect sense that the Catechism does explain the bible. The Catholic religion counts the bible as sacred scripture and the Catechism was written to teach Catholics the faith and practice of the church. It stands to reason, then that a person familiar with both books would be at an advantage understanding either. That is what I meant about the Catechism explaining the bible. I suppose, the bible explains the catechism in the same sense.


Found this at:


True Life Begins with the Trinity
Charles Irvin
Senior priest, Diocese of Lansing, Michigan
Founding editor of Faith Magazine


A man like St Paul, trained as a Jewish leader and acknowledging only the one God, when brought into the Christian world by Jesus… such a man completely changed his ideas about God. We have so very often at Mass heard the result of Paul’s newfound faith, a Trinitarian faith. He went on to frequently speak of the Holy Spirit, calling us to let the Spirit lead us… the Spirit of adoption who leads us, says St Paul, to cry out: “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself, St Paul writes, gives witness with our own spirits that we are children of God. “And”, says St Paul, “we are heirs as well; heirs of God, heirs with Christ…”.

What does it all mean for you and me in our everyday living? Well, it means that our lives are geared to be relational. We find ourselves through our close relationships with others. We discover the meaning of life when we love others and when we particularly love a significant other for life. Our problems in seeing ourselves, our identity problems, are solved when we find ourselves in a communion with others, one that allows us to be who we really are. In the recent past philosophers who are Christian have written a lot about that. For them, the Holy Trinity has much to say about our living authentic and meaningful lives.


Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM gives the homily this Sunday as the final conference for his retreat called “Working Out Your Salvation”. He first gives the context by outlining all five of his conferences:

1.Be faithful to daily duty
2.Be Other-centered, Not Self-centered
3.Understand Reality of Vice and Virtue
4.Practice and Live the Sacraments
5.Live a Trinitarian life

He then describes what he means by living a Trinitarian life with the maxim, Ad Patrem, Per Filius, In Spiritu Sancto, (To the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit) and by defining God as the infinitely perfect being who is the most Holy Trinity whom we must love with all our hearts.


Sep 21 - Homily - Fr. Wade Menezes: Living a Trinitarian Life ((Youtube video))

Thanks for the question. Hoping to listen to the video in a bit.

All the best,



I think you are right when you say that a person familiar with both books can better understand either. The Catechism references the Bible more than any other work but it references the writings of the Early Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church, encyclicals and other ancient texts.

At the risk of going way off topic…

The Catechism has four sections, or “Pillars”.

**The Profession of Faith (Creed) **
*]Paragraphs 26 through 1065
*] Goes through the Nicene Creed line-by-line
*]St. Augustine said that the creed is God’s plan of salvation in “Tightly wound form”.
*]This first pillar is based on Scripture. The other three pillars depend on knowing the plan for our salvation as laid out in scripture. Scripture tells us God’s plan for our salvation, and the Profession of Faith (creed) is a highly condensed summary of God’s plan for our salvation.

**The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Sacraments and Liturgy) **
*]Paragraphs 1066 through 1698
*]How we get into the story and how we take part in God’s plan through the sacraments, and how we fit in to God’s Kingdom on Earth, his Church.

**Our Life in Christ **
*]Paragraphs 1691 through 2550
*]Moral theology - how we live our lives as Christians.
*]How we interact with Christians, non-Christians and all of God’s creation.
*]How we live out God’s plan for our salvation.
*]How we advance God’s Kingdom on Earth for the salvation of others.

**Christian Prayer **
*]Paragraphs 2558 through 2865
*]Prayer is intimate communication with our Creator and the Lover of our Souls.
*]Prayer ensures the first three pillars.
*]Covers the most sublime and most perfect prayer, the “Our Father” line by line

The Catechism should be read in the context of Scripture, yes, always with a Bible nearby.

Just to followup on your original question, I think Scott Hahn authored some kind of dictionary of terms but I can’t remember exactly what it was.



That is a most informative outline.


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