Our Catholic faith comprises what we believe and how we live that belief. For 2,000 years, this Catholic faith has been handed down from one generation to next, starting with Jesus Christ passing the faith to the Twelve Apostles. In our own lives, we may receive that faith from our parents, from friends, or even a stranger we meet.
Living as a Catholic includes many wonderful beliefs, practices, and devotions; too many to catalog here. But we hope to provide you with a brief overview of what we believe and how we live that belief.
We hope this resource will be valuable to both interested non-Catholics as well as to those already Catholic who might be looking to deepen the practice of their faith.
If you want to know more about discovering our Catholic faith as a newcomer to the Church or re-discovering the Catholic faith you received at baptism, you may want to start by exploring our Newcomers section.
To learn about what we believe as Catholics, you will want to start with What Do Catholics Believe? But if you want to learn more specifically about the seven sacraments, visit the Sacraments area of our site.
BEING CATHOLIC TODAY
The beginning of Catholic belief is God’s revelation. We believe that God loves us and desires to be in relationship with his creation. We believe that God’s reveals himself in numerous ways, but particularly through the revelation of his Word, which comes to us in two forms – Sacred Scripture (written) and Tradition (unwritten). The ultimate sign of God’s revelation is the Incarnation – God becoming human in Jesus Christ. The Incarnation is the ultimate sign of God’s love for God’s people.
Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity, God revealed as three divine persons of one nature: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Church was founded by Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and carried forward through the ages by the Apostolic Tradition. The Paschal Mystery – the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – is the central mystery of every liturgical celebration, most especially the Mass, which is the “source and summit” of our lives as Catholics.
The Mass is the central, binding celebration of the Church. We live out the sacramental life most fully in community. Christ calls us to the forgiveness of sins and we recognize the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a way to repair sin and return to right relationship with God, ourselves and others. We are nourished and fed by the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The presence of the Risen Christ is revealed throughout the sacred liturgy and in the community gathered as the Body of Christ, in the Word, in the Presider, and most especially in the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Jesus).
As the living Body of Christ, Catholics are called to live a “countercultural” life. We are called to serve one another, just as Jesus served. We stand up for our faith and beliefs even if this means suffering in the world. The Catholic social teachings call us to care especially for the dignity of the human person – from the moment of conception to the end of natural life. We are called to tend to the poor, care for our environment, ensure just working conditions for all and work towards an economic system that allows for equal treatment of people.
We believe that we are united with all of the angels and saints, especially Mary, the Mother of God, and we model on lives on their holy example. We pray to Mary and all the saints to intercede for us. Personal and communal prayer is a hallmark of the Catholic faith. We pray to strengthen our relationship with God and to grow in faith and love. We are united with all believers throughout the world – the universal Church – each week as we gather for communal prayer, the Mass.
WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
The Catholic Church was founded by the person and mission of Jesus Christ. The word “Catholic” means universal. Today’s Church is truly universal – it is the largest in the world with more than 1 billion members around the globe.
The mission of the Church is to spread the gospel message, administer sacraments and reach out with charity and justice to people in need. The Church is led by the Pope, who is the successor of the Apostle Peter, and the Bishops, who are also in the line of apostolic succession.
We recite our Catholic beliefs in the Nicene Creed each Sunday at Mass.
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
WE ARE THE CHURCH
The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful,’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.
WHAT ARE THE SACRAMENTS?
The seven sacraments — Baptism (Infant Baptism Preparation and Adult Baptism), Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick — are the life of the Catholic Church. All of the sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself, and each is an outward sign of an inward grace. When we participate in them worthily, each provides us with graces with the life of God in our soul.