The Catholic Faith

What and Who is a Catholic?

Catholics are Christians, this means that they are followers of Jesus Christ.  They believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, the Son of God, their friend, liberator, Lord and Saviour.  Catholics believe that Jesus Christ set up the Church (Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 16, verse 18) to pass on the fullness of his teaching, his life, and to carry on his work.  They are ordinary people who have many different jobs, faces and interests.

A Family

Catholic means universal.  There are over one billion people worldwide who are members of the Catholic Church which was founded by Jesus Christ in the first century AD.  It is made up of a large family of people from every race, colour and social Bishop Michael Evans giving a Blessingbackground, who share a common vision and beliefs.  Whatever part of the world they live in, they are in communion (united) with one another in a special way through their leaders, who they believe to be chosen and appointed by God.

The head of the Catholic Community worldwide is the Pope, currently Pope Francis.  Locally, the Church is led by bishops and priests.  The Pope is the Head of State of The Holy See - the Vatican in Rome, Italy.  His mission is to share the Good News that God loves us unconditionally and is merciful.  It’s this reality – of God’s love and mercy – that is his primary message and is one that lies at the heart of the Catholic Faith.  Click here to find more information on Pope Francis on the vatican website.

Church

‘Church’ means the gathering of the people of God.  The church building is the focal point for Catholic community gatherings, and is a place where friendships are made and lives shared.  People gather there to pray, and to learn about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

The ‘sacraments’ are a very important part of Church life.  These are God-given spiritual channels through which life flows.  The ‘Eucharist’ is a very special sacrament.  When Catholics come together to celebrate ‘Mass’ they share a holy meal and believe that through it they are fed, under the appearance of bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ. 

During the Mass a miracle takes place.  When the priest saysArchbishop Vincent Nichols celebrating The Eucharist a special prayer over the bread, it is changed by God’s power, so that Jesus is present in it in a unique way.  Though it still looks like bread, Jesus’ living presence is there, and this is what Catholics call ‘Holy Communion’ because they are united with God when they receive it.

The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders.

Jesus’ Teaching

Jesus taught that we should love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark’s Gospel, chapter 12, verse 31).  Catholics try to put this into practice and find it to be a life-giving and fulfilling way to live.  They are involved in a wide variety of charitable works such as running hostels for the homeless and caring for the elderly.

From The Gospels, contained within The Bible, some of the core parts of Jesus’ teaching are:

  • God loves us
  • Believing in him is the way to true freedom, peace and happiness
  • We should love God and one another, especially the poor and needy
  • Our messes, mistakes and wrongs can be put right - we can be forgiven and know peace
  • We can be healed from deep wounds and hurts by calling on the name of Jesus
  • If we believe in Jesus we will inherit eternal life and live with him in heaven

In Summary 

A summary of the Catholic Faith can be found in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed.

The Apostles’ Creed contains brief statements which express the fundamental basis of Christian belief. According to tradition, it is considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles’ faith; the apostles were the first followers of Jesus Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 194). Article from the Catholic Encyclopaedia 

Christ and Our Lady sculptureThe Nicene Creed was adopted at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 to be used as a simple summary of the Christian Faith. Such a summary was needed because during the fourth century A.D. a number of groups were teaching errors and were distorting the message of Christ (known as heretics). The Nicene Creed is accepted by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and major Protestant churches. Article from the Catholic Encyclopaedia

"This Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul." (St. Ambrose, Expl. symb . I: PL 17, 1193)

Catechism

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the Church's teaching document. It is arranged in four main parts:

  • The Profession of Faith (the Creed)
  • The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Sacraments)
  • Life in Christ (including the Ten Commandments)
  • Christian Prayer (including The Lord's Prayer)

When presenting the Compendium of the Catechism in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI described it as being for: "every human being, who, in a world of distractions desires to know the Way of Life, the Truth, entrusted by God to His Son's Church."

Your Choice

Jesus has many amazing things to offer you and those you love. His life and message is about wholeness, love and freedom.  Jesus will not force you to get to know him and receive all the good things on offer.  You are free to choose.  It is up to you...

First Steps

If you are interested in finding out more about the Catholic Faith or if you are a Catholic and have lost touch with your local parish, you are very welcome to come along to St Peter's and speak to Fr John.  The best time to visit may be to a Mass which are usually every day of the week.  Mass times for the week ahead can be found under the 'Services' tab above.  Alternatively, if you would like to contact Fr John, details can be found under the 'Contact Us' tab.

Further general information is also available at the Catholic Enquiry Office at www.catholicfaith.org.uk. For free publications and general enquiries please email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  or tel: 0207 901 4863. All enquiries are confidential. Free materials are sent in a plain envelope and there are no callers or obligations.

Catholic Already?

If you are a Catholic, please see the wide range of resources which are designed to help you share your faith, at CASE Resources (Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation): www.caseresources.org.uk  Alternatively, telephone them on: 0207 901 4863, or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it   You may wish to discuss any resources you require with Fr John or Claire in the parish office.


Links

The following is not exhaustive, but aims to give a general insight into Catholic life and beliefs.

Catechism of the Catholic Church
www.vatican.va/archive/eng0015/_index.htm
Catechism means "teaching". This book provides an authoritative summary of what the Catholic Church teaches. It explains how Catholics can live out the Bible today.

Documents of Vatican II
www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council
The Second Vatican Council, commonly known as Vatican II, was the Church's twenty-first Ecumenical Council. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 8 December 1965.

Catholic Faith Website
www.catholicfaith.org.uk
Website of the Catholic Enquiry Office, with a great resource of further information on the Catholic Faith and how to become a member of the Catholic Church.

The Gift of Scripture - Bishops’ Conferences of England and Wales, and of Scotland [PDF - 1.68MB]
www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resources/Scripture/GoS.pdf
‘You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8) The Lord’s words to his disciples have echoed across the centuries. They are addressed to us today.

Cherishing Life - Bishops’ Conferences of England and Wales [PDF - 514KB]
www.catholicchurch.org.uk
We share many values with other Christians and those of other faiths, and none, and together we can strive to ensure that life is cherished.

Saving Hope (Spe Salvi) - Pope Benedict XVI
www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals
“SPE SALVI facti sumus” - in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption” - salvation - is not simply a given.

God is Love (Deus Caritas Est) - Pope Benedict XVI
www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny.

Splendour of the Truth (Veritatis Splendour) - Pope John Paul II
www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals
The splendour of truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26).

Human Life (Humanae Vitae) - Pope Paul VI
www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals
The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

Proclaiming the Gospel (Evangelii Nuntiandi) - Pope Paul VI
www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_exhortations
The effort to proclaim the Gospel to the people of today, who are buoyed up by hope but at the same time often oppressed by fear and distress, is a service rendered to the Christian community and also to the whole of humanity.