Being a Catholic is a simple belief system to follow, but the extent of the beliefs and practices can seem overwhelming to those new to the faith. Some people might give you a blank stare when you tell them you’re a Catholic, but to them, you might as well be talking a foreign language. In reality, it’s not that hard to understand what being Catholic means, but it can be a bit overwhelming to wrap your head around.
The Catholic Church
There is one thing that unites all Catholics, regardless of their personal beliefs – the belief in the Catholic church. Some may believe that it means praying to saints, getting baptized, and attending mass, while others may believe it means living by the teachings of the church. But is there more to it?
Well, Catholicism is a diverse religion and often a confusing one. It’s a faith that encompasses a wide range of doctrines, practices, and beliefs. It also covers a wide range of topics to include worship, prayer, morality, politics, and family. Let’s read further below to find the meaning of being a catholic.
Being a Catholic – Finding Its Meaning
It’s hard to define what it means to be Catholic, but there to look at it. Here are some of the reasons that define the meaning of being a catholic:
- We are Christians. Being Catholic is not something that comes naturally to everyone, but it takes commitment. It means first being a Christian, which means to be obedient to God, his commandments, the teachings of the church, and to be faithful to our brothers and sisters in Christ. As a Catholic, you probably believe that there is only one true religion, the one you were born into through your baptism. The apostles taught this religion to the early church, and it spread all over the world. In fact, the central belief of the religion is that there is only one true religion and that it is practiced by all Christians. By the time the 4th century came around, this religion had become known as Christianity.
- We realize that everything takes time – to grow into our identity as a Christian. The first thing we must grasp is that we are not only members of the church; we are Catholics. Catholics do not just attend or participate in the church; we are the church. We do not just belong to the church; we are the church. Being Catholic is more than just saying the rosary, lighting candles, and telling people you’re Catholic. You believe in God, and you accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. Our essence is what makes us unique and what makes us an individual.
- We believe in God’s power. Being Catholic means that we believe in the One God, and we believe that we can know Him through science and reason. Catholics believe that God exists and that through Jesus Christ, he has revealed God to be good and loving. We believe that God’s power is revealed in the lives of those who have been called his disciples. In other words, God’s love is manifested in those who have been called into the church.
- We believe in Christ, the Son of God. To be Catholic means, you believe in Christ, the Son of God. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord, you are born again. You are a new creature in the eyes of God. After accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior, you find peace in knowing that He will take care of you. In this life, you can expect to experience happiness and sadness, and in the next life, you will see the fulfilment of all your hopes and dreams.
- We learn and understand the scriptures and traditions. In order to be considered a “catholic”, one must follow the faith and beliefs of the Catholic church. There are several different branches of the Catholic faith. As a Catholic, you must believe in a few core principles: the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the seven sacraments, and, most importantly, the belief in the salvation of all peoples.
- We believe in the “communion of saints”. Communion is the belief that we all come from the same source and that the saints (people who have been blessed by God and then lived a life that reflects God’s love and kindness) are around us today and that we can contact them through prayer and other ways.
- We observe the liturgical calendar. Part of being Catholic is observing the liturgical calendar. The calendar is a set of liturgical celebrations that are practiced by mendicant orders of the Catholic Church. It is said to have been established by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century to ensure that the church remained centered on Jesus Christ. The calendar can be divided into two categories: the liturgical year and the ecclesiastical year. The liturgical year is a sequence of celebration patterns that change every year. In contrast, the ecclesiastical year is a grouping of the liturgical year within the historical period of the church. The celebrations and liturgical texts change yearly, while the liturgical texts and celebrations remain the same every year.
- Being “catholic” means being open to all that God has given us to be while also valuing the teachings of the church. You are Catholic the moment you are born into the church because at that moment; you are already a child of God. While you are growing into your Christian identity, it is important to remember that you are not the sum of your parts but the whole of your being. As a whole, you are Catholic. You are Catholic in your family, in your friendships, in your church, in your work, in your community, in your state, in your nation.
It’s often said that the world is a complicated place, and the story of the Catholic Church is no exception. Although it’s difficult to understand why we’re Catholic if we’re not Catholic, the truth is that the Catholic Church has a very simple and powerful message: God loves you and wants you to be happy and whole.