Someone please explain Catholicism to me?

Q: Someone please explain Catholicism to me?

My girlfriend is catholic and I’m protestant, so I want to know a bit about it like:
What was the origin of the pope and having a hierarchy within the church. What do you believe exactly leads to salvation? What would a catholic probably think about being married to a protestant. What is mass and confessions like. What’s with hail Marys and the other prayers, etc.

Plus do they believe you have to be baptised in order to be saved and anything else that might be interesting to know.

I’ve never been to a catholic church in my life.

A: It would be impossible to answer all your questions here, but there’s a link to the Catechism at the bottom, and plenty of links to other Catholic resources on this site.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive overview:

Catholicism is based on all the original authority, grace, and truth that Jesus obtained for us and and willed to us, and that the Holy Spirit delivered to the Church, the “People of God” and the “Mystical Body of Christ” at its’ birth, on Pentecost.

The authentic Church has been known as Catholic since at least 107 AD.

St. Peter was selected by God the Father to lead the Church, sworn in by Jesus, and accepted as the leader of the Church, by all the apostles.

The apostles shared the awesome power of binding and loosing, on earth and in heaven, and in governing the Church, but the holy office of Pope is charged with making the final decision, and the Pope remains at the top of the earthly hierarchy.

The authentic Christian Church was originally and eternally constituted by Jesus Christ as one (there are no other authentic Christian churches), holy (it belongs to God), catholic (universal – one for all) and apostolic (established and governed by the apostles, and later, by their duly ordained successors).

Absent all of these four marks, no church can claim to be the “true” church.

Jesus founded, authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed the Catholic Church to lead all to salvation in his grace.

The Holy Spirit is the eternal advocate of the Church, and the arbiter of all divine truth. The Holy Spirit guides the Church from age to age, by means of sacred Tradition.

“Tradition” defines how Catholics should live and worship. Tradition may be written or oral. The Bible is a portion of authentic Catholic Church Tradition reduced to writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Catholics, by nature of their baptism, are part of the Royal Priesthood of all believers in Christ.

Catholics are typically baptized as infants, relying on the faith of the Church and the power of God for their sanctification and their salvation. Baptism may be conferred at any age, but when received by infants, Baptism serves as the ultimate demonstration of personal salvation in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of God the Father, with absolutely NO works at all.

Baptism serves to remove all traces of sin … original sin and other … makes one a temple of the Holy Spirit, an adopted child of God, a citizen of Heaven, co-heir with Jesus Christ, and a member of the Church.

The Ministerial Priesthood is ordered towards service to the faith community, and sacrifice to God, and it complements the work and the mission of the Royal Priesthood.

The primary duty of the ministerial priesthood is pastoral in nature, and sacramental in application.

Catholics rely on 7 sacraments, each of them personally instituted by Jesus Christ, as the primary channels of God’s grace and peace, in this sphere of existence:

Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.

All of these are biblical, and most are essential to the salvation of the believer. All constitute a close encounter with the risen Christ, courtesy of the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the Church, and through the ministerial priesthood.

The Mass … where Jesus becomes truly present for us on the altar, and Holy Communion, where we personally receive the risen Christ … body, blood, soul, and divinity, constitutes the source and summit of all Catholic worship.

The Mass constitutes the eternal fulfillment of the Jewish Passover, and it also fulfills the command that Jesus gave us at the Last Supper, to “Do this in memory of me.”

The Mass also re-presents Christ’s one time, once for all, eternal sacrifice for sin, and makes possible our current day participation in that very same sacrifice … as well as our regular reception of all the graces that continue to flow from it.

The Catholic Church celebrates Mass every hour of every day, every day of every year, all around the world, as a holy propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

Catholics are blessed to receive the real and substantial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, as often as two times each day … three times in a day, if in danger of death.

Holy Communion constitutes the central point of our participation in the Catholic faith, personally uniting every Catholic with Jesus Christ, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and with every other faithful member of the Christian Church, whether they might be alive here on earth, awaiting admittance to heaven in purgatory, or already enjoying their eternal reward, in heaven.

First among these holy people of God, according to the order of grace, is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the New Eve, and Jesus’ first, best, and most constant disciple.

God honored Mary in a totally unique, equisite, and infinitely perfect way when he chose her to be the mother of his divine Son, Jesus. Any honors we Catholics might give to the Blessed Virgin, who remains a creature, as we are, pale in comparison to that which God has already given her. 

Catholics believe that Mary has already been admitted to Heaven, and that she has already received all of the rewards and promises that Jesus desires to share with those who manage to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, with the help of his grace.

Catholics rightly understand that Mary, though still a mere creature, already dwells with her divine Son in the eternal glory of Heaven, and that she has already received the recognition, the power, and the fullness of the eternal rewards that God generously offers to each and every one of the faithful. 

For specific details on all of these “rewards” read the Book of Revelation, Chapters 2,3,11,13,15,21, and see exactly what has been promised to all of “those that shall overcome”.

Catholics also understand that no one is truly “saved” until Jesus personally and finally invites them into heaven.

Until then, we remain in blessed hope, relying on a lifetime of full, active, and charitable participation in all the work, worship, sacraments, and devotions of the Catholic Church, to guide and sanctify us.

The Catholic Church is the ONLY Church that Jesus ever founded, authorized, and eternally guaranteed, for the purpose of our salvation.

Jesus remains the head of the Catholic Church, and faith in Christ necessitates faith in his authentic Church, even if some of those who belong to, and even govern the Church, are terrible sinners.

Catholics understand all this by means of a 2000 year old tradition of some of the finest theological scholarship and philosophy that the world has ever known. Scholarship, theology, and philosophy that is freely available to all.

The Catholic faith is clearly defined through Scripture, through Tradition, and through the authentic teachings of the Pope and the Bishops, who were charged with that sacred duty by Jesus Christ, himself.

These “3 witnesses” have always been in complete agreement, and are impossible to refute. This is itself a biblical concept.

For all these reasons and many more, the Catholic faith remains the most practical, complete, truthful, and fully documented faith on earth … or for that matter … ANYWHERE else.

The final proof of this divine practicality can be found in the broad, comforting, and remarkably effective array of pastoral and sacramental care that is available to the sick and the dying … care that is more than powerful enough to literally snatch the soul of even a heinous sinner away from Satan the devil, before he’s even had time to notice.

In short, from conception until natural death, Catholics enjoy all the best that God has to give, and we look forward with blessed hope, to someday receiving all that Jesus Christ has promised us, in the next life.

We Catholics like to do all this In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Link to the Catholic Catechism

Christians, how do you love God when you’ve never met him in a literal sense?

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This was the basis of a recent question, posted on the Yahoo Answers website:

Christians, how do you love God when you’ve never met him in a literal sense?

My reply: 

Catholics have a definite edge in that regard, since we “know” Jesus … in the biblical sense … body, blood, soul, and divinity … from about the age of 8 … through the blessed sacrament that Jesus instituted for that express purpose.

In one aspect, this works as a supernatural “souvenir” testifying to the reality of the earlier, original events (in this case, the Passover Meal, the Last Supper, the subsequent Crucifixion of Christ)  permitting one to participate in them personally, and much more completely.

And for another, eating the real and substantial body and blood of Christ results in a level of divine intimacy that is difficult or impossible for non-Catholics to comprehend.

The old saying, “The way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.” isn’t far from the truth.

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