What is Catholicism?
It’s more than a list of rules. It’s a way of life.
It’s more than an organization. It’s a universal family.
We follow Jesus Christ, who is more than a wise man who lived 2,000 years ago. We believe he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The Nicene Creed
Our Catholic beliefs can be summarized in our profession of faith, the Nicene Creed, which we recite at every Sunday liturgy:
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”
The Catholic profession of faith begins by saying “I believe,” reaffirming our personal proclamation of belief. We worship one God, as revealed to the prophets in the Old Testament. We believe that this one, true God created all things both physical and spiritual. God the Father is the first Person of the Trinity.
“I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.”
Jesus, whose name means “God saves,” is the Son of God, and the second Person of the Trinity.
“God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.”
This means that Jesus was not created, but in fact existed with God the Father for all eternity. In saying that Jesus was “begotten, not made,” we state that there was never a time that Jesus did not exist. “Consubstantial” means that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father, who as we mentioned above, created all of heaven and earth.
“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
The human race, referred to as “man” here, fell out of obedience and into Original Sin in the Garden of Eden through our first parents, Adam and Eve. Purely for our salvation, God the Father sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to repair the barrier humanity had built to separate ourselves from God. God the Son, by becoming “incarnate of the Virgin Mary,” became fully human while remaining fully divine. His conception in the womb of Mary happened through the Holy Spirit, so Jesus had no biological human father.
“For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
The barrier separating man from God prevented humanity from any hope of entering the gates of heaven. Humanity could not regain its own salvation, so this had to be done through the suffering and death of God’s innocent Son, Jesus. Pontius Pilate’s decision, as a representative of Caeser, was the determining factor that led to Jesus’ condemning to death.
As Catholics we believe that Jesus truly rose from the dead, through his own power, after being buried for three days.
“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.”
After 40 days of preaching to the people after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father, in accordance with Psalm 110:1. At the end of time will be a final trial that will “shake the faith of many believers” (CCC 675) and culminate in the Last Judgment. The Church will enter the glory of God’s Kingdom following these trials.We do not know when the world will end, and so must live each day as though we are prepared to meet God.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.”
God the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, and is equal with God the Father and God the Son, the two other Persons of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit inspired our scriptures, leads our Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium, and puts us into communion with Jesus in the Mass.
“I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
Here, the lowercase word “catholic” refers to its direct meaning, that of being “universal” — open for all people who wish to join the Church. “Apostolic” refers to the faith that was passed on from Jesus to his apostles, and is guided by the pope, the direct successor of St. Peter. We as Catholics believe in one Baptism being necessary for the washing away of the stain of Original Sin. We also believe that at the end of time, all the dead will be resurrected and we will join God and all the saints to live, body and soul, in heaven for all eternity.
Want to learn more?
Check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church online!