- rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, adoption, baptism, coming of age, graduation, or inauguration;
- communal rites, whether of worship, where a community comes together to worship, such as Jewish synagogue or Mass, or of another character, such as fertility rites and certain non-religious festivals;
- rites of personal devotion, where an individual worships, including prayer and pilgrimages such as the Muslim Hajj, pledges of allegiance, or promises to wed someone.
Within Christianity, "rite" often refers to what is also called a sacrament but should refer to the ceremonies associated with the sacraments. In Roman Catholicism, for example, the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is one of the three that are sometimes referred to as "the last rites", because they are administered to someone who was dying. The other two are Penance and Eucharist (administered as Viaticum in the case of a dying person). Since the Second Vatican Council, Anointing of the Sick is administered to those who are seriously ill but not necessarily in immediate danger of death.
The term "rite" became widely used after the Second Vatican Council when the traditional sacraments were done away with and replaced with "rites." While "rite" is often used synonymously with "sacrament," it is technically incorrect to say that one received a "rite" because the sacrament is what is received. The ritual consists of the prayers and actions that the minister of the sacrament performs when administering a sacrament. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that one has received "the last rites" as that person has really received "the last sacraments" by a minister following a ritual that has performed the "sacramental rite."
The 39 Articles the Anglican Communion and the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church state "there are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord". The word rite is often applied to what are also sometimes known as the five lesser sacraments: "confirmation, reconciliation (confessions of sins), matrimony, holy orders and anointing of the sick".
The term "rite" also refers to a body of liturgical tradition usually emanating from a specific center. Examples include the Roman Rite, the Byzantine Rite, and the Sarum Rite. Such rites may include various sub-rites. For example, the Byzantine Rite has Greek, Russian, and other ethnically-based variants. For a full list of Christian liturgical rites, see Christian liturgy.
In addition, the same term was and still is, though less frequently than before, applied to an autonomous particular Church within the Catholic Church associated with a particular liturgical tradition. Of these, the largest is the Latin Rite or Western Church. There are also several Eastern Catholic Churches or Rites. For a full list of Catholic liturgical rites, see List of Catholic rites and churches.
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- Examples: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
- What Are the Last Rites?
- Thirty-Nine Articles, Article XXV
- Articles of Religion (Methodist), Article XVI
- Lonsdale, Akasha (16 March 2019). Do I Kneel or Do I Bow?: What You Need To Know When Attending Religious Occasions. Kuperard. p. 20. ISBN 9781857335347. Check date values in: