Dear Catholic Exchange:

Is there somewhere I can get a list of all the rituals of the catholic church, and if possible get a list of all their origins as well?

Ms. Anno

Dear Ms. Anno,

Peace in Christ!

The word “rituals” can have many meanings, so I’m not sure which one you’re specifying. I’ve outlined below the three general senses of the word “ritual.” Please feel free to contact us with any specific questions about a particular ritual or set of rituals.

“Rituals” can refer to the liturgical rites of the Church, which includes the Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance or Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony). Funeral rites and the rite of Christian initiation for adults are also included in this category. The text of these rites, along with an explanation of the rites, are compiled in the two-volume The Rites of the Catholic Church [as revised by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a compilation of the Church’s teachings, is an excellent source for information on these rites. Our Faith Fact Signs of the Christ: Sacraments of the Church provides a general explanation of the sacraments.

The word “ritual” can also be used to refer to the diverse liturgical traditions in which the one catholic and apostolic faith has come to be expressed in various cultures and lands. For example, in the West, the Roman and Ambrosian (Latin) rites; in the East, the Byzantine, Coptic (Alexandrian), Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean rites. It would take some work to track down all the information related to this subject. If this is the sense in which you mean “ritual,” please let us know. We can point to resources that would help you find the information you seek. One place to start is our Faith Fact Eastern Catholic Churches.

Sometimes people use the word “ritual” when describing Church customs or disciplines (e.g., abstaining from meat on Fridays of Lent). Again, this is a broad topic, and one that has grown and changed through the course of the Church’s history. Many resources discuss the customs and disciplines of the Church, and we would be happy to direct you to them.

United in the Faith,

Sarah Rozman

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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