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Who Are The Catholics And What Do They Believe?

The Catholic religion is the world's largest faith with over 1,025,585,000 members. This is about 20% of the world population. It is from the Catholic church that all of the other branches of Christianity has sprung. The beliefs can be stated simply through the Nicene Creed:

"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again 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. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

The best known form of Catholicism in the Western world is from the Roman Catholic. Other churches are of the Eastern Orthodox groups such as the Syrian, Russian, White Russian, and Romanian Churches.

Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity. Within the unity of this God there are three personalities, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three Persons are the One God. This is the essence of the Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Ghost are the united nature of God. All have their unique duties and persona, but are united in purpose, soul and mind. Much in the way a corporation is made up of CEOs, stockholders, and the workers. They all make up this corporation, but they are truly not the same in duty and personality. Their combined effort makes them one corporation.

They believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus and the need of Him to be born and then to die and to rise again in order to save the people from eternal damnation.

They honor Mary as the mother of Jesus, but she is not worshipped. There are also many Saints which are in positions of honor, but they are not being worshipped.

They believe that faith in Jesus along with their works is essential to the life of a follower of Christ. They do not believe that you can earn your salvation through works alone. Those who are faithful, but do not show the works to prove their faith will not make it to Heaven. They stand by the scripture in 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, "But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.''

They believe Heaven is a place of reward for those who are deserving of this afterlife. They believe Hell is the place of eternal damnation and punishment who die unrepentant of their sins. They have an afterlife aspect which is different from most Christian beliefs called Purgatory. This is for those who are sinners who have not had a chance to reconcile their sins, but are not that far from grace. Those in Purgatory still have a chance of repentance to make it into Heaven.

They believe in the Seven Sacraments which are needed to help them live the accepted path of Jesus. These Sacraments are Baptism, Penance, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Last Rites.

The Catholics also have a Pope which is the head of the Catholic Church. They believe Peter was the first Pope. Although the word "Pope" is not in the Bible, the meaning of what a Pope does is exemplified by Peter. A Pope, like Peter, is a leader and a shepherd, one who is under great responsibility from God to protect His flock. According to St. Matthew 16:17-19, Peter was pronounced the rock of the foundation of Jesus' Church. That tradition has stayed with the Catholic Church from the beginning. They believe the Pope is infallible only in his duties as the Pope, but realize he is human and capable of personal error. He is not perfect, but only in the capacity to lead and direct the Church which Jesus gave him the responsibility.

They believe that all life is a sacred gift of God and to take the life which He has assigned is a Mortal Sin. Therefore Catholics do not believe in abortion, euthanasia, suicide, death penalties, and most forms of birth control. They feel that since God is the one that assigned the life, God is the only one who can take the life.

They believe the Catholic Church is the only true Church of Jesus. Citing St. Mark 3:25 which states, "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." They believe Jesus never sanctioned interdenominationalism and since He founded the Catholic Church with Peter, it would never be divided against itself. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would never prevail against His Church in St. Matthew 16:18. They do not believe there was ever a need for the Reformation movement and the errors made by the Church were more to do with nepotism, political favor, and personal bias instead of by direct Papal sanction.

Contrary to the belief of many Protestants, Catholics do read the Bible and believe that, according to 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach ... to instruct in justice.'' In fact, the Christian Bible was first produced by the Catholic Church by scholars in 393 during the Councils of Hippo. They are the ones who decided which of the Sacred scrolls should be used by the Church. Each of those scrolls make up the Bible we all use today. Many Protestants do not use all of the Scriptures which were originally compiled, but all of the Scripture in a Protestant Bible are in the Catholic Bible.

The Catholics have a rosary which is a progression of many prayers consisting of the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Gloria, the Hail Mary and the Salve Regina. The rosary is meant as a meditation to reflect on the life of Jesus.

Catholics also believe that their priests, monks and nuns are to remain celibate and unmarried as they are married to the Church. In communion, the bread is transformed to the body of Christ and the wine His blood. They believe in confessing sins to a priest to take the burden of their souls and to obtain forgiveness through prayers. They baptize babies more as a dedication of their child to Christ instead of forcing a binding promise on the child. In the exception of abuse or adultery, they also disapprove of divorce. They believe all of Creation is a deliberate act of God therefore do not believe in Evolution.

There are many holidays within the Church that are observed. Every day, there are feast days in honor of at least three saints. Then there are the other observations which are more commonly known such as All Saints Day, Annunciation, Ascension Day, Epiphany, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Good Friday, Maundy Thursday, Nativity of St. John the Baptist and Palm Sunday.

Catholicism is a religion rich in ceremony and tradition. The history of the Church is the foundation for every Christian Church. They are also known for good works around the world when it comes to helping the poor, the homeless, the widows, the orphans, the dying and the unborn. It may not be perfect, but over 1.5 billion people are satisfied and can't all be wrong.

Catholics Resources Online

Orthodox Church In America
Eastern Orthodox Resources
Russian Orthodox Church
The Vatican
The Augustine Club
Catholic Online
Catholic Information Center on Internet
The Catholic Encyclopedia

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