I am a Catholic, which means I am an integral part of the universal Church founded by Jesus Christ himself. In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Jesus assigned authority of His Church, on earth, to Peter and since that day, the Catholic Church has an unbroken line of apostolic succession from the rock of the Church, Peter, through two thousand years of history to our current pope, Pope Francis. The Catholic Church is the universal Church, in fact, the very definition of “Catholic” is universal.
What do I believe?
As a Catholic, I believe that the Catholic Church is the one Church founded by Jesus Christ. I also believe everything the Catholic Church is founded upon, including all of the dogmas and teachings of the Church. I believe when I receive Holy Communion I am receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And finally, I believe my faith is universal, encompassing all that I am, all that I have been, and all that I will ever be.
I believe when I say “Amen” before receiving the Eucharist (Holy Communion) I am making a re-affirmation of my faith, telling God that I do indeed agree wholeheartedly with everything contained in Sacred Scripture, with everything the Catholic Church stands for and represents, and with everything His Church has taught, or will teach. If, for some reason, I find myself questioning or doubting Church dogmas or teachings, I pray for more understanding. I study Sacred Scripture, I delve into the teachings of the Church fathers, and I review two thousand years of Catholic Church tradition. For it is through these three things, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Sacred Magisterium (or the teaching authority of the Church), that I can find the answers I may be looking for.
In John, chapter 6, Jesus tells us that He is the bread of life (v.48), that He is the living bread and whoever eats this bread will live forever (v.51). He then takes it a step further and says that the bread He will give is His flesh for the life of the world (v.51). He continues by telling the disciples that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life, and will be raised up on the last day (v.54). Many disciples questioned this discourse because it was so shocking to them (v.60), and they returned to their former way of life because they could not accept this idea (v.66). The fact that many disciples turned away is important, because it indicates that Jesus was not merely talking about symbolism or a representation of his flesh and blood. He was speaking about His true Body and His true Blood, else no one would have been shocked and walked away. You really need to read John 6, in its entirety, to get the full picture.
Faith is a gift from God, and like any other gift we can choose to open it and enjoy it or we can ignore it, leaving it wrapped and untouched for all time. Faith opens the eyes of our hearts and leads us to a desire to understand the One in whom we have faith. In order to live and grow in my Catholic faith, I must nourish it by reading Scripture and remaining close to God. If I turn my back on God, or stop reading His Word, I risk losing my faith completely and falling away from God. Therefore, my faith is universal. It encompasses all that I am, all that I have been on my spiritual journey, and all that I will ever be as I grow closer to God.
Why do I believe it?
I am Catholic simply because I believe, without a doubt, that Catholicism is true. I believe that the Catholic Church is the one Church divinely established by Jesus Christ himself when He told Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” As a Catholic Christian I am obliged to submit to the authority of His Church.
There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Jesus Christ intended to build several churches, He built One Church, His Church. Alone, I cannot properly interpret all that Scripture reveals, let alone understand it. Neither can any other man or woman. The Catholic Church is the only Christian church on earth with apostolic succession with teachings from our Church fathers leading all the way back to Jesus Christ himself. The Catholic Church is the only Christian church with two thousand years of Sacred Tradition, again leading back to Jesus Christ himself. In fact, until the 1500’s there was no other Christian church except the Catholic Church.
The Word of God is revealed to us through human authors in a collection of Sacred Scripture we call the Bible. Every Christian church uses their own interpretation of the Bible, yet the Bible was written long before other Christian “denominations” even existed. Although every Christian church uses the Bible, the books of the Bible were determined at the Council of Carthage in 397 AD. Since that time, other Christian faiths have removed books they no longer felt were relevant to them. I cannot imagine feeling so powerful to tell God that His Word was no longer relevant to my beliefs. Either I believe it all, the Sacred Scripture, the Sacred Magisterium, and the Sacred Tradition, or I don’t. If I do not believe it all, then I am not Catholic. For this reason, I am all in. God is God, and I am but a man. This man, like any other man, cannot assume he has more supremacy than God.
When should I rely on my faith?
I should rely on my faith every single moment of every single day. There is never a time when I should not stay focused on God. If I pick and choose the moments I feel I should turn to God, then I am no different than those who pick and choose what to believe in Sacred Scripture. When I pick and choose, I strip the Bible of its moral power. Either I believe it all and live it all, or I don’t. Why run around in rhetorical circles when I can walk side by side with the One True God? As I said before, my faith is universal, it encompasses all that I am, all that I have been, and all that I will ever be. There is no room in my life for turning my back on God, nor is there time for “blind faith”. I must continually strive to increase my faith, to seek more understanding, and to grow closer to God. If my faith is universal, then it only makes sense that my Church is too.
Where should I proclaim my faith?
Everywhere. In every word I speak. In every action I take. In every breath I take. There should never be a moment that I do not take the opportunity to proclaim my Catholic faith.
Describing the “who, what, why, when, and where” of my faith is quite simple, but it can be very difficult to live in the secular world. No matter how difficult it is, I should never remain silent or inactive when it comes to matters of faith. If I bow to the pressures of secular society or remain silent when others are encouraged to do so, then I am no different than those who bowed to the pressures of secular society in the past and decided to “reform” the Word of God to fit their own needs. I am a Catholic and my faith is universal. There is nothing on this earth that can change this fact because the Catholic Church is the only Christian church that possesses indestructible unity, fundamental holiness, and an unbroken line of apostolic succession, all of which are characteristics that Jesus Christ himself said would distinguish his one true Church. I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The Catholic Church. As I said before, I am all in.