I am Catholic...*GASP!!!* With some people, this phrase hits a nerve like a dentist performing a root canal without Novocaine lol! I'd like to explain some common misconceptions about my beliefs...
First, we don't think that all we have to do is go to church once a week to get into heaven. I don't know who in their right mind would ever think that!! I was verbally attacked my an acclaimed Born-Again Christian once, and she told me that true Christians live by faith alone (she did tell me it tells us so in the Bible, but I can't remember what she was quoting from). But, it tells us in James, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill", and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if has no works, is dead." (2:14-17).
Also, not only must we live the faithful life, obey the law, perform good deeds and love thy neighbor, we must be baptized in the name of Christ. "Jesus answered (Nicodemus), "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." (John 3:5). This is what born again truly means in the Catholic faith...being baptized! And for those who think it's wrong to baptize a baby since they cannot announce themselves that they accept Jesus Christ, we as parents make a promise not only to God but to our children, to teach them the ways of the Catholic faith. We raise them the best we can to follow Christ. Then, typically in 8th grade, each young Catholic is able to make an informed decision to follow our faith. This is called Confirmation. They are confirming the choice their parents made for them as infants. I hope this makes sense to those who are not Catholic!
Another very common mistake pretty much all non-Catholic people have about us...we worship Mary and the saints. This is totally not true. We worship God. We follow His Commandments. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, the Trinity. We believe that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ. But we pay homage to Jesus' Mother, the Virgin Mary. For if it weren't for her, we would have never had the Messiah!! We thank her and ask her to pray FOR us...we don't pray TO her, she prays WITH us!!! This is also true for all the saints and angels. We ask them to pray with us. In turn, our prayers are not only said by us, but by many!! If you are ever interested in learning more about Mary, teach yourself about her appearances at Fatima to the 3 children and read her prophecy to them. It is remarkable!!
We do believe that the bread and wine transform into the Body and Blood of Christ. Yep, you heard that right, every mass we have a miracle performed right in front of our eyes!! This was a hard concept for even me to grasp, and I'm a "cradle Catholic". I cannot see it change, how can it be true?! See with Christ's eyes and not with our human flesh. If you are curious and want to understand more, you can check out different Catholic websites to grasp this concept...
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm These are a few sites for you that I like to look at!
We also believe that we need to read and follow the scripture, and also to put the scripture to work in the mass. It takes both, not just one or the other. The Catholic faith is all scripture based, even though many Catholics do not read the Bible (which is unfortunate!). Come to a Catholic mass and really (really) pay attention. It is all scripture based. A good book to read, and very knowledgeable couple, is Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn. They were very anti-Catholic and converted to Catholicism due to their final feelings that our faith is the true faith! There is a saying I've heard recently, and I am not writing this to insult anyone so please take no offense! "Other Christian religions have a great menu, but the Catholic Church has the meal." I think unfortunately, too many bad things and people are associated with the Catholic Church. Sex scandals with priests, money laundering, misinformed Catholics, non-practicing Catholics, and fallen away Catholics. We are all clumped together. The good with the bad. And a misconceived view of the Catholic Church and what we believe is what has happened. I hope to change that if you'll only let me! We live to love in Christ's footsteps!!
I love to learn about others' beliefs and am totally open to start a civilized conversation about our differences. Many times I've come to realize we all share a common denominator...God.
He is...that's it...just is. :)