What does it mean to be Catholic?
See Also: Christianity
Catholics are, first & foremost, Christians. A Christian, is, quite simply, one who believes in & follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity has the most members of any Christian Church at 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide according to the Census of the 2019. At 2000 years of age, the Roman Catholic Church is also the oldest religious institution in the world.
Catholicism - A Closer Look
In the beginning, under Christianity, Jesus Christ taught his disciples (those who followed him, also known as the apostles) that there is but one God. Within that one God are three “beings”: The father (God), the son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. This is also known as the Holy Trinity. He taught that God created the heavens & the earth & that God sent Jesus, his only son, to save the world from sin. Jesus did this by being crucified on a cross. He arose from the dead three days later & ascended into heaven. Christian’s believe He will come again to judge the living & the dead.
For almost a thousand years, Catholicism & Christianity were one (www.bbc.co.uk accessed 9/15/19). In 380 A.D., Emperor Theodosius I declared Catholicism the official religion of the Roman Empire, with the Pope serving as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1054, due to disagreements over certain beliefs, Christians split into two separate denominations-Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. Then, in the 16th century, more groups split from the Roman Catholic Church & formed a new branch of Christianity called Protestantism ((Bokenkotter, A Concise History of the Catholic Church, 1966).
Catholics are guided by their beliefs. These beliefs are summed up each time they recite The Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth (there is only one God & He made everything).
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, (Jesus is the only son of God)
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (Jesus was conceived by Immaculate Conception).
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended to hell (Jesus was crucified on the cross).
On the third day, he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead (Jesus will come to earth again).
I believe in the Holy Spirit (7 gifts that each of us possesses),
the holy Catholic Church (the original church),
the communion of saints (the coming together of all saints - those on earth, those in purgatory, & those in heaven - with us in the Church),
the forgiveness of sins (that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins),
the resurrection of the body (that Jesus rose from the dead),
and the life everlasting (that if we follow Jesus & live for him, we will have eternal life after death). Amen.
Editor: Kimberly Smith