I. Terminology The German word
Gottesdienst (“worship,” lit. “service of God”) is attested since the 13th/14th century as a German translation of Latin
cultus (Cult/Worship). It came into common use in the 16th century, especially in Luther’s works. Starting with an ethical understanding of the word, Luther himself used it as a technical term for the common celebration of the Word of God, as it evolved from the evangelical reform of the Catholic sacrifice (IV) of the mass. For centuries the term
Gottesdienst remained limited to this specific form of worship of the Protestant churches. After Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church adopted it on a grand scale (e.g. by the creation of a Roman Congregatio de Cultu Divino [Ger.
Divine Worship] et Disciplina Sacramentorum replacing the former Congregatio Rituum [or Caeremoniarum]). The Eastern churches continued to use the traditional term
Divine Liturgy, referring only to the Eucharist (III, 3). This short survey reveals that the meaning of the term