Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed to one or more deities. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.
Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The adoring acknowledgment of all that lies beyond us—the glory that fills heaven and earth. It is the response that conscious beings make to their Creator, to the Eternal Reality from which they came forth; to God, however they may think of Him or recognize Him, and whether He be realized through religion, through nature, through history, through science, art, or human life and character."
In a broader social sense, worship may on occasion refer to an attitude towards someone of greatly elevated social status, such as a lord or monarch, or, more colloquially, towards a hero or lover.
An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader. Religious worship happens in a wide variety of locations: in purpose-built places of worship, at home or in the open. Many religious traditions place an emphasis upon regular worship at frequent intervals, often daily or weekly. Expressions of worship vary but typically include one or more of the following:
Prayer, meditation, ritual, scripture, sacraments, sacrifice, sermons, chanting, music or devotional song, dance, religious holidays, festivals, pilgrimage, dining, fasting, temples or shrines, idols, or simply private individual acts of devotion.
Adoration versus veneration
Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy distinguish between adoration or latria (Latin adoratio, Greek latreia, [λατρεια]), which is due to God alone, and veneration or dulia (Latin veneratio, Greek douleia [δουλεια]), which may be lawfully offered to the saints. The external acts of veneration resemble those of worship, but differ in their object and intent. Protestant Christians question whether such a distinction is always maintained in actual devotional practice, especially at the level of folk religion.
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