What Do Catholics Believe? 

by | Aug 22, 2023 | Catholic | 0 comments

The Roman Catholic Church is one of the biggest religious traditions in the world with more than 1.3 billion members (as of 2021). Yet, it’s also one of the most misunderstood. So as your fellow Catholic faithful, I wrote this article in hopes to clear all the confusion and answer the most common questions about our religion. 

Catholics believe there is only one God manifested in 3 persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For us, Jesus Christ is the son of God, the redeemer, who was sent from heaven so our sins can be forgiven. We also take part in the sacraments as a way to open our hearts to God and Him to us.

Now, these are just some of what we, as Catholics, believe. There are more about our faith and practices that make us distinct from other followers of Christianity. What are they? Continue reading to know more. 

What is the Catholic Faith About? 

Trying to explain what the Catholic faith is about can be challenging. To fully understand it, we have to consider what is stated in the Scripture, doctrines, creeds, and catechism of the Church. But to go into all that isn’t exactly easy to digest, especially if you’re new or just coming back into the faith. So to try to make it simpler, here’s my take on what our religion is about. 

History of the Roman Catholic Church

To better understand what the Catholic faith is about, let’s have a quick look at its history. We believe that the Catholic Church is the same church founded by Jesus Christ, which he handed directly to his apostles with Peter as its head. Soon after Jesus’ ascension, the apostles then started to spread the gospel and gained more followers. This provided the early structure for the Christian Church. 

That said, it was the apostles who handed down the faith to their successors, which we now recognize as the Pope and Bishops. This practice is unbroken even now. So the faith, which we now believe in, is the same faith that Jesus Christ taught thousands of years ago. 

Catholic Faith

So what faith am I talking about? In its simplest form, it’s to love God and love your neighbor. 

That’s right, the Catholic faith can be summarized in this teaching. In fact, it even reflects the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments are all about loving God – we are not to have other gods besides Him, we should not use His name in vain, and we should keep the Lord’s Day holy. 

On the other hand, the rest of the commandments are about how we can love our neighbor. They speak of honoring our parents and not committing murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and covetousness to our neighbor. That said, the basic and most important thing about the Catholic faith is loving God and our neighbor. 

To prove my point, I leave you with one important passage of Scripture from the book of Matthew where he described the “Greatest Commandment”:

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Keep in mind that the love of God and neighbor are connected. If we do not love our neighbors, especially our fellow Christians, then we cannot love God properly. The same goes for when we cannot love God, then we can’t love our neighbors correctly. A neighbor, in this regard, is anyone that crosses our path. So while this may sound difficult to do, it is what God wants from us and what our faith is all about. 

How is Catholic Christianity Different From Christianity? 

Now that you have an idea of what makes up our faith, let’s proceed to what makes Catholicism different from other branches of Christianity. To repeat what others have already said, all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics. 

See, all followers of Jesus Christ are called Christians, regardless of what church they belong to. This is why there are Catholic Christians, Protestant Christians, Orthodox Christians, etc. All these religions share many beliefs, especially about incarnation and the Holy Trinity. However, there is also a lot about Catholicism that makes it unique from other churches. 

According to a study, Protestant Christians make up the second largest church (next to Catholicism) of Christians in the world. So in my comparison, I’ll be using them to represent the other Christian faith. 

Here are the differences of Catholic Christianity to other types of Christianity:

1. Tradition

For Protestant Christians, the Bible (Scripture) is God’s only book and the “Sola Skriptura”. Meaning, it is the supreme authority and in it contains everything a person needs for salvation. On the other hand, Catholics don’t believe in the Bible alone. Along with the Sacred Scripture, we are bound by the Traditions of the Catholic Church. 

The term “Traditions” refer to the faith, beliefs, and practices that were passed on from generation to generation throughout the centuries. It’s like an ancient oral tradition. So with the written tradition (Scripture), the Church offers a definitive interpretation and application for it through oral tradition. 

2. Church

As Catholics, we believe that we are the only true church in the world with the Pope as our leader. This is a lot different from Protestant Churches, which have tens and thousands of different denominations all over the world. 

3. The Pope

The Catholic Church is led by the Pope, which is a practice that the Protestants are opposed to because it’s said to contradict statements in the Bible. However, for Catholics, we consider the pope as the successor of Apostle Peter – who was the first head of our Church and was appointed by Jesus.

4. Salvation

Catholics believe that we can achieve salvation through our faith, by taking part in the sacraments and doing good to society. In contrast, other Christians believe in the idea that they can be saved by faith alone – by accepting that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior. 

5. Office 

In the Catholic Church, our bishops, priests, and deacons are given a lifelong seal of God through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This puts them into office, giving them authority over the other members of the Church. Such a consecration is only given to men. 

For Protestant Christians, they don’t consecrate anyone in specific into office. Instead, they believe that priesthood is for every believer, including women. 

6. Eucharist 

In the Catholic faith, the Sacrament of Eucharist is considered to be the most important sacrament as it is the only celebration where in we can receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Non-Catholics are not allowed to participate in the communion. But for the Protest Church, all baptized persons are invited to join. 

Furthermore, we view the Eucharist very differently. For the Catholic Church, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ once the priest consecrates them in the name of Jesus. But for Protestants, the whole ritual is only to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ. 

7. Mary “Queen of Heaven” and the Saints 

The Catholic Church has high regard for Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. For us, she is the “Queen of Heaven”. However, the Protestants reject this since there are very few biblical references to support this. 

But the thing is, we honor Mary because she is the mother of Jesus. If you think about it, God even honored her Himself since He found her worthy to be the mother of His only son. To make it clear, we honor her – we don’t worship her. 

We also believe in saints, and we pray to them as well. Again, this isn’t because we worship them, but because we believe that just as we can ask others to pray for us, we can also ask those who are in heaven to pray for us. This is our faith in the communion of saints, which you can read more about in my piece on “Why do Catholics pray to saints?” 

8. Celibacy

For Catholics, priests are obligated to be celibate (abstaining from marriage and sexual relations). Other Christian churches, however, reject such obligations.

9. Sacraments

We have seven sacraments in the Catholic Church, which we believe Jesus created. It is also through these sacraments that we are granted God’s grace. Compared to other Christian denominations, particularly Protestants, they only practice two sacraments: Baptism and Eucharist. 

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About: Maurielle

Maurielle is a content writer who has covered a wide variety of topics, from clothes to children's toys, gadgets, weddings, kayaks, and more. But more recently, she has focused her efforts on writing about her journey as a Catholic, exploring her faith, and strengthening her relationship with God. Raised in a conservative Catholic home, spent her childhood and teenage years in a Catholic school, and got married in a Catholic ceremony, her religion is a huge part of her being. Catholicism has also been the most meaningful and rewarding experience of her life. Today, she writes full-time about Catholicism and religion in the hope to help others understand the Word of God and the teachings of the Church.
<a href="https://walkingcrossroads.com/author/maurielle/" target="_self">Maurielle</a>

Maurielle

Maurielle is a content writer who has covered a wide variety of topics, from clothes to children's toys, gadgets, weddings, kayaks, and more. But more recently, she has focused her efforts on writing about her journey as a Catholic, exploring her faith, and strengthening her relationship with God. Raised in a conservative Catholic home, spent her childhood and teenage years in a Catholic school, and got married in a Catholic ceremony, her religion is a huge part of her being. Catholicism has also been the most meaningful and rewarding experience of her life. Today, she writes full-time about Catholicism and religion in the hope to help others understand the Word of God and the teachings of the Church.

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