Catholicism 101: An Introduction to the Catholic Faith

Have you ever had questions about the Roman Catholic Church, its teachings, or faith? Ever been curious about what Catholics believe and why they have specific practices and traditions? Since St. Martin’s is a Catholic, Benedictine university, questions about Catholicism have probably crossed your mind. The Catholic faith is vast and can be very complicated, but let’s focus on some important truths, and hopefully this will bring clarity to your questions.

Question 1: Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, the Father, the Messiah “The Anointed/Chosen One” and the Savior of the world. Catholics believe Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine, which is a mystery that our minds can never fully grasp. Jesus spent about 33 years on earth before he was crucified on the cross and died for the salvation of all souls. On the third day after his death, Jesus rose from the dead and walked the earth for 40 more days as our risen lord. After this period, he ascended into heaven and joined God the Father, making it possible for all of us to join him in heaven.

Question 2: What does “catholic” mean?

The word “catholic” comes from the Greek “katholikos,” meaning universal, which was first used to describe the church in the early second century by St. Ignatius of Antioch. This means that the same liturgy, scripture readings and practices are observed in unity by many diverse cultures across the world. This distinct form of unity is unique among all other religions.

Question 3: How do Catholics practice their faith?

Catholics practice their faith in many ways, and each Catholic does so differently. But, there are five precepts that all Catholics must follow, which includes attending Mass every Sunday and holy days of obligation, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) at least once a year, receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Easter Season, honoring the days of fasting and abstinence throughout the year and supporting the needs of the church to the best of one’s ability. These five obligations are the minimum requirements to be considered a practicing Catholic.

Question 4: Why do Catholics go to church every Sunday?

On Sundays, Catholics honor the Third Commandment, which calls all the faithful to “keep holy the Sabbath.” But, Sundays are more than just respecting the Lord’s Day, but also provide the opportunity to receive Holy Communion, which is the centerpiece of the Catholic faith. Once a week, all Catholics across the globe are invited to join as one family in Christ, praise the name of Jesus, and receive the body and blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. Jesus, who then physically unites with our beings, fuels us to grow deeper in faith, spread the Gospel message, and love others. The Eucharist is a complicated and deep topic, so stay tuned for an upcoming article that will discuss all about this beautiful Sacrament.

Question 5: What is the difference between Christians and Catholics?

Simply put, all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics. Catholicism is the original and largest branch of Christianity, instituted by Jesus Christ in the first century, and has both similar and different teachings, beliefs and practices than other Christian branches.

Written by Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer

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