Assertions of the Faith
What the Church Actually Teaches...
In our time protestants, secular media, and/or atheists like to make a "straw man" of the Catholic faith. They misinterpret and then misrepresent the assertions of the Catholic faith by saying "the Church teaches (insert here any eccentric claim)", however, this is unjust and improper argumentation, which is usually what causes it to be inaccurate. If one is to really prove another wrong they restate their opponent's view to better understand their opponent's perspective and thereby are free to argue against their opponent with accuracy and skill. Here are some principle sources for doing so:
What we do believe? Why do we believe it?
These are the single two most important, inevitable, and unavoidable questions in anyone's life. No matter how we decide to live, if we believe anything or nothing, we answer these questions. Logically, it is best to make our decisions as seductively and not inductively as possible if we are to truly know what we think we do (epistemological systems result from what one believes constitues safe conclusions). This is to say if we do not thoroughly inform our beliefs, only will we struggle to defend them, but most critically we will not understand why we believe them ourselves. Here are some resources to help you know what Catholics actually believe and will arm you against what some think we believe and possibly even what uninformed Catholics think we believe.
How We Celebrate our Faith?
One of the clearest differences between sects of religions and religions is how we worship or engage with our beliefs. For most religions, there are principal engagements such as fasting, good works, pilgrimages, etc. For the Catholic Church, Christians are most Christ-like upon/immediately after receiving sacraments and principally the Eucharist. These sacraments all find their origin in Scripture and these moments were assimilated in Apostolic Tradition and passed down and developed ever since The Father and The Son sent the Spirit to dwell in the hearts of the Apostles. Our faith is ceremoniously encountered at every mass, the principal celebration of our faith. Moreover, it is intimately laden with what we believe and why we believe it.
What does life according to our Faith looks like?
Just as in every belief, there are so that generally assent to beliefs but do not actualize them. Saints are those that the Church is not only certain they are in heaven, but historically lived truly Christian lives on Earth. Were they sinners? Absolutley! However, we do not worship them. Neither, do we admire them or seek their intercession because of what/who they are, but rather for their example and in seeing them we see God. "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting but found difficult and hardly tried"(an uncited quote of G.K. Chesterton). Are we all sinners? Yes. Is Christian morality about seeking to be better? Yes! Ultimately the life of the Christian is bound in love and thereby all of Christian moral thought is divided into two main categories:
Love of God
Love of Neighbor (those made in the Image of God)
In both of these efforts, the Christian lives their beliefs not just in principle moments nor just conceptually as if it were only an abstract, intra-mental reality not correlated to something exterior to one's mind. On the contrary, it should invade every aspect of one's life, as love does.
What does it take to become a spouse of God?
"This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer." CCC 2558
We come to know God, we celebrated what we know, we are living it, and behold now we are to become it. Now we must "pray" and enter ever more deeply into a relationship with Him Who First loved us, "while we were still sinners". The gift of self in this relationship is fundamental, since He has loved us giving it all up for just us, we are called to do likewise. Let love given match the love received. Prayer is first an exchange between strangers, then friends, and then spouses. It begins first restrained by ourselves to words, then a change of life, and then ultimately a gift of persons. Receiving Christ's love and returning that love, when it is easy and blissful, and when it is difficult and filled with suffering.
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