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What Do Catholics Believe? Core Beliefs of Church Faith In Christian Catholicism

Updated on April 2, 2013

What Do Catholics Believe?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church | Source

What do Catholics Believe?

This article will explore the basics of the faith and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the first article in a series related to Catholic Faith. In this article I will discuss the core beliefs of the Catholic Church and the Order of the Catholic Mass as well as the hierarchy within the church government. The word Mass refers to the Church Service and the celebration of the Catholic Faith.

The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church

The Catholic religion is headed by the Pope who resides in the Vatican City. The Pope is the highest authority figure in the church. The title of Pope, often referred to as the Holy See, is an elected and lifetime position. The Pope is considered to be part of the continued lineage of Bishops since the times of Christ. This is often a debated subject among non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Cardinals are appointed by the Pope and are assigned to pick the next Pope when the sitting Pope dies. The Cardinals are considered to be Princes, with Jesus Christ as the King. They are also considered to be Senior Bishops. They also reside in the Vatican.

Bishops are appointed to run and oversee demographically localized areas called Dioceses. The bishops oversee the Priests and Deacons within their diocese, which is made up of independent churches.

Priests act as the head of each individual church. They lead the faithful in the celebration of the Mass and perform many pastoral duties including spiritual counseling, mentoring, assisting families, and many other duties depending on location and needs of the community.

Deacons are not priests but are ordained. This is the only position in the Church where the person may be married. No priests can be married as they are supposed to dedicate their life to Christ and the Church.

Lay Ministers are ordinary people in the church who partake in certain duties and rituals during the Mass. There are several different types of Lay Ministers.

Eucharistic Ministers distribute the Holy Communion during the Mass. Eucharistic Ministers also go to the homes of the sick and infirm and people who are shut-ins and can't go to Mass.

Liturgical Ministers are the people who read to the congregation from the Bible during the Mass, which is the book used by all Christians as the source of their faith. The bible is believed to be inspired by God; the Word of God.

Parishioners are the people who attend the Mass and are the faithful believers in Christ and the Catholic Church. These are the people that go to Church Services and share in their faith. They listen to the Word, share in Communion, and are the foundation of the Church as a whole.

Catholic Traditions

Source

Funny Nun Video

The Catholic Mass

The Catholic Mass is celebrated every day. Many people attend Mass on Sunday as this is the "Church Day" for many Catholics. Most Masses run for about an hour, depending on the occasion and also the priest. Some priests are fast-paced, while other priests give lengthy Homilies, which is a reflection of the reading from the Bible. The Catholic Mass is divided into two parts:

The Liturgy of the Word is the first part of the Mass where the readings from the Bible are read. The Liturgical Ministers read two readings from the Old Testament and the Priest reads one reading from the New Testament. After the Gospel reading, the priest gives a Homily which explains what was read and how it applies to our own life. Sometimes this is referred to as a sermon. After the Liturgy of the Word is completed, the second half of the Mass begins.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the second part of the Mass. This is where Catholics pray together to ask for God's forgiveness and to prepare us to receive Holy Communion. The communion is a bread which is blessed by the priest, and through the act of Divine Intervention and Conversion, the bread becomes the Spiritual Body of Christ. This is the core of the Catholic Faith. To be worthy of consumption of this Communion, one must have received the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. This will be discussed later in another article in this series.

This article serves as a brief explanation of the Catholic Church and the Catholic Mass. There are many rites and traditions, as well as Sacraments and Law that the church observes. Please follow me in this series of the Catholic Faith, as I touch upon the key elements of the faithful.

This article is part 1 of a series. To continue the series, follow the links below.

The Christian Bible

Source

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    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Rob Lattin: Hi there. I appreciate your clarification. You really dug deep and laid out all the different rites and their practices. Thanks for the insight!

      JSMatthew~

    • Rob Lattin profile image

      Rob Lattin 4 years ago from Born in Chicago, now I'm in Mostly Michigan

      Just started reading your hub and wanted to clarify a few things at the beginning. The pope is not the head of the Church. Christ is the Head of the Church and the Pope is the visible head in union with the bishops. He is not "considered" a descendant of Peter, his office is that of Peter and from the laying on of hands his authority from the popes before him to Peter came directly from Christ.

      Also, the Cardinals have titular Churches in Rome but reside at their own doicese or arch-diocese. Cardinal Geoge lives in Chicago, Cardinal Dolan lives in New York, etc.

      All bishops are called Princes of the Church as St Paul had called them that. They are princes to their King, Jesus Christ. The Pope is a bishop, i.e. a prince of the Church, not a king.

      Married Priests: Only priests of the Western Rite take a vow of celibacy and cannot get married. Some priests got married after they were laicized but do not function as a priest anymore. Anglican ministers who are married and convert can become Catholic priests. Priests of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches can get married. No married priest can become a bishop. There are two types of deacons - one is a permanent deacon who be be married and the other is a deacon studying for the priesthood.

      Just wanted to help clarify things -- keep writing!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience AlexDrinkH2O! My wife is from Cambodia and was raised as a Buddhist. She came to church with me a few times and felt a calling. She converted and completed the RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults) and all 3 of her kids are in CCD programs and will soon be confirmed. Thanks for sharing your inspiring comment!

      JSMatthew~

    • AlexDrinkH2O profile image

      AlexDrinkH2O 4 years ago from Southern New England, USA

      Good stuff - my wife was brought up as a Protestant a but started attending Mass with me when we were dating. We took a trip to Rome and I took her to the Vatican where, as it happens, there was a Mass in the rear of Saint Peter's. After the Mass, she announced she was converting to Catholicism. I asked her if she was doing this for me or because she felt it in her heart - she assured me it was the latter. The power of the Blessed Sacrament! As we lived in Europe at the time, we were able to attend services in some of the most beautiful cathedrals and churches in existence. One Mass at Notre Dame in Paris particularly stands out- simply beautiful! Voted up.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you so much tillsontitan! I tried to be as "factual" yet realistic as I could. There is a lot of heat on the church these days and I am trying to explain the faith in a non-in your face way. As always, I really appreciate your comment!

      JSMatthew~

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I really enjoyed this hub and the information you provided. Your explanations simplify concepts a lot of people don't understand. While the Pope is considered a "direct descendant of St. Peter" and head of the Church, he is only infallible in matters of faith. So he is a Church leader and can make mistakes in other areas.

      I like the way you explain Cardinals as being "Princes" of the Church.

      There are many young Catholics who could read this hub and learn!

      Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome for it's usefulness.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello Painted Seahorse! My Catholic School days are still with me as well! I appreciate your comment and glad you enjoyed the read!

      JSMatthew~

    • Painted Seahorse profile image

      Brittany Rowland 6 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Very well presented overview of the Church hierarchy and the Mass. I think it's great for Catholics to learn about their faith or get a "refresher" course. All those years in Catholic school stay with you though. Apologetics class was especially useful, because you do come across people who want to challenge you about your faith, and it's good to actually have a clue about your religion! Thanks for the read.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you all for your insightful comments! I appreciate it!

      JSMatthew~

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi J.S. I find your hubs entertaining and informative. I have a little factoid for all denominations of christian sects Catholic Protestant Baptist etc to many to list.

      I think you will all agree that the most important time of the year for Christians is Easter? The risen Christ! and you know that Easter kinda moves around a bit March April, have you ever wondered why? The reason for this movable date is that the Pope has to wait for the new moon to rise over Mecca and this observation is carried out by members of the Muslim faith. They then pass it on to Rome and the Pope declares Easter is upon us. Now my point is if the most important date in Christendom is revealed via our Muslim brothers...don't you think it's about time we all got along? pax vobiscum

      PS I preferred the Latin mass.

    • Shaisty-Chase-Tea profile image

      Shaisty-Chase-Tea 6 years ago from The Outskirts

      LOL @ JT ... did you get it.... cause i get it...

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      I don't know that Catholism needs a defense. You are either Catholic and you get it or your are not. It is the least grey area of any subject there is. For those who attack your faith they have no right until they join your faith. As Catholics we only believe in Catholism. Therefore there is no other religion and definetly no one to criticize the Catholic church.

      Whe people turn and pull religous arguments with me I tell them that Catolism is no loner into converting others as they use to be and we re not. And critizingt he Catholic church is one of the surest ways never to get in. So my aswer is join and learn or be silent as I don't entertain non-catholics. But I have friends from every faith as long as they don't tear into mine.

      Religious freedom is allowed in the USA. And Catholism reigns supreme.

      JT

    • inaniLoquence profile image

      inaniLoquence 6 years ago from Singapore

      I have just recently pushed myself to know more about my church, Catholic church, and that made all the difference. The papacy, for instance, is a very popular issue for anti-Catholics to grill you with. I did not know how to defend my faith before and I just stay silent, let them ramble and throw all verses that support their stand. One could just easily be swayed. However, as I got more interested in learning more about my own faith, I learned the answers and it solidified my faith even more. I came close to "jumping over the railings" but I am glad I stayed on and delved deeper.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you kimh039! I appreciate your comment!

      JSMatthew~

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      What an incredibly clear and concise summary/overview of Catholicism and the Mass. Nicely done, J.S.Mathew:)

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello again ThoughtSandwiches! I really appreciate that comment. I try very hard to help fellow Hubbers. It is people like you that make the HubPages Community the awesome place it is! Thanks so much and I also appreciate the votes!

      JSMatthew~

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      So apparently...I am quite the uninformed Catholic...lol. It doesn't matter, however, due to your excellent research and presentation! I appreciate all the good work you do throughout the Hubville community. Voted Up, useful and interesting!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello Shaisty-Chase-Tea! I appreciate you sharing your insightful comment. I have had the opportunity to celebrate with a variety of Christian sects and denominations and find that most often the believes are the same as they all come from the bible. There are some differences in translation and meaning but a true Christian knows the word as it comes from God. Thanks you for adding to this Hub!

      JSMatthew~

    • Shaisty-Chase-Tea profile image

      Shaisty-Chase-Tea 6 years ago from The Outskirts

      I align my christian views with Pentecostalism (the indwelling of the holy spirit) and do not doubt that other denominations have individuals within their leadership with high Pentecostal gifting just as i would assume that some Pentecostal leaders may be lacking in the submissive gifting of surrender but account for their position through other areas in which they are accountable ... there are two Catholic leaders on the Internationale catholic television network that i perceive in this decree... one leader is a bishop who has a strong voice and speaks with both power over my flesh and authority to my spirit, (spirit man: Pentecostal slang) ... ... ... in the way he enunciates the word through prayer and meditative speech... and Sister Mary Rose... she lets the guests talk and then justifies their scripture by validation with submissive conformation to practical scriptural substantiation

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
      Author

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Danette Watt: haha! I have been back and forth over the years. Always be a "Cradle Catholic" though! Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comment!

      JSMatthew~

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @EMWynnwritessews2:Thanks for reading and commenting! I hope that you read the rest of the series and enjoy!

      JSMatthew~

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Once a Catholic, always a Catholic - speaking as a lapsed one. Nice series.

    • EMWynnwritessews2 profile image

      EMWynnwritessews2 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent piece! Looking forward to reading more.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
      Author

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Amen!

      JSMatthew~

    • whoisbid profile image

      whoisbid 6 years ago

      Ave Maria!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
      Author

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      seriousnuts, I am glad that you have learned from my Hubs! Thant gives merit to my efforts! I appreciate you stopping by. I agree that God doesn't have a preference of religion; as long as we follow Him and His Son, he loves us! I doubt that when we get to heaven we will have to wear name tags describing which religion we practiced on earth!

      JSMatthew~

    • seriousnuts profile image

      seriousnuts 6 years ago from Philippines

      Good job J.S. Matthew! I learned a lot from your hubs about the Catholic faith. I was born a Catholic, but my parents aren't active churchgoers, so I didn't know much about the Church Mass. I also studied in a Protestant school. Because of my lack of knowledge of Catholicism, I almost converted my faith to Protestantism. But then, I finally realized, religion isn't really important. God wouldn't ask us anyway what our religion was when we go to heaven. Keep it up J.S.! I'll be reading more hubs from you.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      That's very nice SaMcNutt! I love hearing church bells! I have not seen that movie you mentioned but I will have to check it out sometime. Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for the comment!

      JSMatthew~

    • SaMcNutt profile image

      SaMcNutt 6 years ago from Englewood, CO

      There is a Roman Catholic Church a block from my house that sounds the bells on the hour. What a wonderful sound when I am out in my garden. I am Protestant, but I appreciate that church because I know it is a meaningful church in the community.

      I love your hub. I really appreciate learning about other denominations in the Christian Faith. Have you seen "Of Gods and of Men"? An incredible movie about French monks. Thanks for sharing your information.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Yes, thanks! I had a 24 hour stomach bug-it was nasty! I should start my research today and hopefully publish the next article in the series by tomorrow. Thanks for asking, Ancillotti!

      JSMatthew~

    • Ancillotti profile image

      Ancillotti 6 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

      Matthew you feel better?

    • PK2010 profile image

      Anthea Kwaw 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Anytime J.S. :)

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
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      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      PK2010, that's awesome! I totally agree with you on the uniqueness of the Catholic Mass! I might join the choir although I always wanted to be reader. I am not sure yet! Wow, the Catholics are sure coming out of the woodwork with this one!

      I am starting to feel a little better now. I am hoping to publish another Hub in this series this weekend. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      JSMatthew~

    • PK2010 profile image

      Anthea Kwaw 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      J.S. I didn't realise this was the start of the series. I have already read your hub about the sacraments. I have totally enjoyed this hub. I am a liturgical minister in my parish, and I take absolute joy in this role, because I believe its one small thing I can do to show how proud I am to be a catholic. I love the mass. I think the Eucharistic service makes catholicism unique, granted other faiths practise this too.

      Look forward to reading the next one in the series.

      Hope you get better soon :)

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
      Author

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thanks again, Ancillotti! I am sick today with a flu so I am not doing anything as far as writing. I just wanted to stop by and thank you!

      JSMatthew~

    • Ancillotti profile image

      Ancillotti 6 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

      Great Hub! Want to read the whole series of hubs that you do about it!

      I am sure everyone will be useful!

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
      Author

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @ Cogerson: Thanks for the comment and the vote! I appreciate it!

      @Fucsia: Thank you, too! I am glad that even though you are not a believer, you still took the time to read. I appreciate that!

      JSMatthew~

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 6 years ago

      Very interesting page. I am not a believer but I am always fascinated by these topics. I look forward to read the next Hubs!

      Fucsia

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Very interesting information that you have provided...well written and explains things very easily...voted up

    • J.S.Matthew profile image
      Author

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      It is the same here, jpcmc. There are a lot of "small" parts of the Mass I have omitted for the purpose of brevity. Sometimes the first readings are from Paul's Letters; it depends on the Liturgical Season.

      I am planning on publishing the next part of this series, "How Do I Become Catholic?" with the focus on the RCIA program, or the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, within the next 24 hours.

      I appreciate you following this series.

      JSMatthew~

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Great start for the series of articles. In the Philippines, liturgical ministers read the first and second readings. They also read from the book of Psalms in between the first and second readings. The priest reads the Gospel and give the Homily. I can't wait to read the next installment to the series.