What is a Catholic?
Catholics are Christians; this means that they are followers of Jesus Christ. They believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, the Son of God, their friend, liberator, Lord and Saviour. Catholics believe that Jesus Christ set up the Church (Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 16, verse 18) to pass on the fullness of his teaching, his life, and to carry on his work.
Catholic means universal. There are over one billion people worldwide who are members of the Catholic Church which was founded by Jesus Christ in the first Century AD. It is made up of a large family of people from every race, colour and social background, who share a common vision and beliefs. Whatever part of the world they live in, they are in communion (united) with one another in a special way through their leaders who they believe to be chosen and appointed by God.
‘Church’ means the gathering of the people of God. The church building is the focal point for Catholic community gatherings, and is a place where friendships are made and lives shared. People gather there to pray, and to learn about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The ‘sacraments’ are a very important part of Church life. These are God-given spiritual channels through which life flows. The ‘Eucharist’ is a very special sacrament. When Catholics come together to celebrate ‘Mass’ they share a holy meal and believe that through it they are fed, under the appearance of bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ. During the Mass a miracle takes place. When the priest says a special prayer over the bread, it is changed by God’s power, so that Jesus is present in it in a unique way. Though it still looks like bread, Jesus’ living presence is there, and this is what Catholics call ‘Holy Communion’ because they are united with God when they receive it. The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders.