WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CATHOLIC?
People have chosen to enter the Catholic Church for various reasons. Members of the Church have different understandings of what makes them Catholic or why they are Catholic. However, there is a common thread that binds all Catholics together. Catholics belong to a Christ-centered faith community that views Jesus Christ as the foundation. Catholics share Jesus’ vision and model their lives after Jesus’ example of love. Catholics are called to care for one another and to use their unique gifts and talents for the good of the community and the world. Below is a listing of some of the basic beliefs and values of a Catholic:
- We believe in God who is our loving Father and creator. God’s love is limitless and overflows into our hearts and lives. God has created us out of His love that sustains and supports us daily.
- We believe that God sent us his own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, and rose from the dead, to save us and offer us the gift of eternal life. We profess faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our Shepherd and King.
- We believe in the Holy Spirit and in the Spirit’s powerful presence in the Church today. The Spirit, given by Jesus to the Church at Pentecost, enables the Lord to continue to be present with us today and to continue his saving mission. The Spirit imparts wisdom and knowledge to us and gives us our various spiritual gifts, which are found in the Bible. We are called to recognize and share these gifts with the community. The Spirit helps us to continue to develop our faith and to grow in our relationship with God.
- We strive to follow Jesus’ teachings in our lives: to love God above all else and to love others, to practice forgiveness and mercy, to care for the poor and helpless.
- We work for peace and justice in our world. We bring God’s kingdom of peace, unity, and love to a world faced with conflict, division, and strife.
- We worship and praise God by living a sacramental life. We recognize the need for forgiveness and see the sacrament of reconciliation as a means to receive this great gift of forgiveness. We recognize that our sin harms the community in some way and the sacramental gift of reconciliation helps heal our relationships with others, the community, and God. We also encounter the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and are nourished and fed by the Eucharist on a weekly basis. The Eucharist binds us together as a community and with God. We believe that the Eucharist is not merely a sign or symbol of Jesus, but rather the real body and blood of Christ. We are open to receiving this real presence and to becoming the body of Christ in the world.
- We recognize the importance of prayer and take time to develop an active prayer life. Prayer strengthens and defines our relationship with God. Without prayer, we lose touch with our loving God and we isolate ourselves from a God who desires intimacy and closeness.
- We recognize the importance of reading and praying the Sacred Scriptures. The Bible is God’s word and we strive to learn and understand the word of God by applying the Scriptures to our lives today.
- We acknowledge the primacy of the Pope and respect the office of the papacy as the true teaching authority of the Church. We seek guidance for moral decisions from the pope and the bishops in communion with him.
- We recognize the importance of service to others. Believing that Jesus came to serve and not to be served, we strive to follow the example of Jesus and spread his message of love. We try our best to live lives centered on the Gospel and to live for others, rather than just for ourselves.
- We preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, both in word and in action. We are willing to stand up to opposition and preach Gospel values in a world whose values are often contrary to the message of Jesus. We are willing to endure suffering and rejection, as did Jesus, for the sake of the Gospel and to speak up for what we believe to be right, just, and true.
- We are devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, and see the saints as true examples of holiness and faith. We pray through Mary and the saints and ask them to intercede for us.
- We are committed to the protection of all of life, in all stages. We pray for the protection of all of human life, from the moment of conception until natural death. We also work to strive to respect the dignity of every human being and to eliminate prejudice, oppression, poverty, violence, and injustice.
- We are a community of believers united with Catholics from around the world.