What is the Catholic Faith?
“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est)
Catholic faith finds doctrinal expression in Creeds and other authoritative statements endorsed by the Pope and Church Councils. Whilst these play an important role in precisely defining our understanding of God’s message, they often use technical language and address issues which are difficult to understand without theological training. At its heart, however, the Catholic faith is a belief in the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has died and been raised to life by God the Father. St. Peter summarised:
“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power… [was] crucified and killed. … But God raised him up, having freed him from death” (St. Peter, Acts 2:22-3)
Christ’s death and resurrection are wonderful news because by them, God has generously provided the means to repair our broken relationships with Him and with one another (sin) and our own physical brokenness (death). We receive this restoration when we are joined to Jesus’ death and resurrection by trust in Him and His teaching, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our lives so that we love God and one another more fully. God Himself has always existed as a loving fellowship of three divine persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and through Christ He makes us part of the eternal story of His love.
Since we are physical creatures, we are called to unite ourselves to Christ through visible signs and ceremonies (“Sacraments”) which allow us to concretely accept the gift of God’s love and to tangibly share it with one another. Belonging to God through Jesus means having a visible unity with the community of believers who are connected to God through the Sacraments (the Church). The Church is historically linked to Christ by the succession of bishops from the first leaders chosen by Jesus to lead the Christian community, and in particular by our unity in communion with the Pope, who is the successor to St. Peter as the Church’s chief bishop. United in Christ’s Body, Catholics seek to continue Jesus’ work to spread the good news of God’s love.
“The Church’s closeness to Jesus is part of a common journey; ‘communion and mission are profoundly interconnected’.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium)