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The Catholic Faith

So What Do Catholics Actually Believe?

Well, to describe that fully would take a book – the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in fact.
But to those of you new to the Church, or returning after a long absence,
this account may be helpful.

God’s Love for Mankind

When God created the world it was his intention that his creation would come to know and love him.
Mankind is the highest of all his creations, and we are made to live in communion with God.
However it seems to be mankind’s nature to turn away from God,
to look for the things of this world instead  – power, money, status and other distractions.
All of us suffer from these temptations in one way or another.

Since God wishes us to turn towards him, to be in communion with him, he chose to enter into his creation.
He was born as a man, Jesus. Both fully human and fully God, Jesus lived among us,
and taught us about his Father, and how we could come to share in his divine life.
He understood our temptations, but assured us of the Father’s unlimited forgiveness,
if we truly turn towards him.

Jesus and the Commandment to Love

Above all, Jesus taught us that his Father’s nature is love, and that we should love him with all our heart,
and all our mind, and all our strength, and love each other in the same way.
Jesus knew that following this teaching would be hard
– to love each other as God loves us means to even love our enemy, even those who do us harm.
This message of self-sacrificing love, of rejecting the ways of this world
in favour of turning towards God, led inevitably to his death.
However, even when arrested, tortured and put to death on the cross,
Jesus still forgave the people responsible,
and to the very end urged us to love as he had taught us.

Resurrection: the Promise of New Life

However his death was not the end. Jesus had promised his followers that anyone who believes in him,
who turns to the Father through him, will have eternal life in the presence of their Father who loves them.
When he was the taken down from the Cross, his body was laid in a tomb, and sealed with a great stone.
However three  days later the tomb was found opened, and empty,
and the women who had come to the tomb were told by an angel that he had risen.
His disciples, who had been scattered, witnessed the risen Christ,
and took the news of the resurrection far and wide.

This is our faith – that God became man in in order to save us, to restore our relationship with him. Taking the weight of mankind’s fallen nature upon himself on the cross, he saved us from it – by turning towards him, by joining ourselves to the life of his Son, in faith and prayer, we participate in the resurrection – we find that we have a new life.  We become a new creation because the risen Christ lives in us.

Where Do We Start?

It all sounds wonderful – that we can have a new life, a fresh start, whatever our past
– we can be free, forgiven for our past mistakes,  by turning to our Father who loves us.
But how?
It all sounds so remote from our ordinary day-to-day lives:
get up, go to work, get home, TV and bed.

The Importance of Prayer.

Prayer is how we let the deepest part of ourselves hear the word of God, and begin to respond to it.
We are not on our own – in fact we cannot do it on our own.
Jesus promised his followers that after his death and resurrection,
his Father would send the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit would lead us into all truth.
The Spirit is the love which connects us to the Son,
and the Son to the Father, and the Father to us.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, our prayers join the never-ending prayer of the risen Son to the Father,
and we are drawn up into relationship with the Father.
So, as St Paul tells us, even when we cannot find the words to pray,
the Spirit prays within us, deeper than words,
and the Father hears and responds.

Life in the Spirit

As our prayer life deepens, we begin to be aware of our new life in the Spirit, the Spirit of love and truth,
and it changes us. We become more patient, more generous, kinder to those around us.
We come to know that life here on earth can be a foretaste of heaven, if we only turn to our loving Father.
That is why we pray the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The way we live our lives really matters. By faith and good works,
we can bring our world closer to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Trinity

You will see from all of this, that God exists as a Trinity –
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The relationship between them is the divine love which we are invited to experience, to participate in.
The risen Son prays to the Father in love, and the Holy Spirit is our “way in” to joining this prayer.
The Trinity is about a relationship of love, and by prayer we enter into that relationship.

Prayers of the Saints

Catholics also believe that the Saints are in the presence of God, but are not remote from us.
Their love for us remains so great that they still listen to our prayers, and can bring us closer to God.
Highest of them all is Our Lady, Mary, who uniquely among all mankind, was conceived without Original Sin.
She was always turned fully towards God, “full of grace”, from the moment of her conception.
Her only desire was to do the will of God, to bring his Son into the world, to bring us face to face with Jesus Christ.
She continues to do so, never wanting praise for herself, but only pointing us to her Son.
Catholics do not worship Mary, she is not a goddess.
We revere her as the perfect disciple, the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church,
and we ask her to pray for us.

Catholics pray for the souls of the faithful departed, or the holy souls destined for heaven,
but who still await that final touch of healing from the Lord, to make them worthy to be with him.
In our prayers and masses we commend them to his love and mercy.

Participating in the Life of the Church

That great visionary, St Paul, understood that the risen Christ lives on in those baptised men and women
who believe in the risen Christ, and accept his presence within them.
Together they form the Church, which is the Body of Christ in the world.
Through the Church, Christ continues to be really present to us.

Even though he is always present, there are certain times when he is especially close to us.
These are when the Church perform certain actions known as “sacraments”
– baptism, confirmation, marriage, confession, anointing the sick, holy orders (Bishop, Priest and Deacon),
and most importantly, the Eucharist.
These are times when the curtain between this world and the next is stretched so thin that the light of God shines through
– God becomes especially present among us.

This is what makes the Catholic Church unique
– when we participate in the Mass, we are not just remembering Jesus as a wise man, or a great religious teacher.
We are not just recalling the past. We are actually allowing Christ to enter into our world
– he is really among us, and in us.
This why a Catholic Church is a sacred place at all times
– whenever we enter, we do so reverently, with a sense of occasion.
We are actually in the presence of our Creator.
You will always see a red light burning in a Catholic Church, in the Sanctuary, by the side of the altar.
This remind us that Our Lord is actually present.

Become a Part of our Family

We hope you have found this sketch of the Catholic faith helpful
– however there is much more to discover.
If you feel you want to know more about the faith, or are considering becoming a Catholic,
our Church runs programmes for adults, young people and children.
There is no cost for attending.
Just come to Church and ask the priest or any parishioner.

If you are a lapsed Catholic – please consider coming back.
The Body of Christ is incomplete without you.
Your Church needs you.

You are why we are here.