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What exactly do Catholics believe?

Now there’s a big question! Here’s a Top 10 list:

1. Who God is. There is a sentence that sums up the whole Bible: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

2. What God did. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Son, abandoned his godness, as it were, and became a real human being, Jesus of Nazareth, one in flesh with the whole human race.

3. Who Jesus is. On earth, Jesus was still the Son of God, eternal God. Jesus is one Person with two natures—one human, one divine—perfectly joined, not mixed. He is just as truly human as he is truly God.

4. What Jesus did. Jesus died the most shameful of criminal deaths—nailed to the cross. Three days later, he rose from the dead with a new but real body. He told his followers to go to the whole world and tell everyone that Good News of salvation. Jesus’ resurrection is our hope for resurrection.

5. Who the Spirit is. Jesus promised his followers that after his death/resurrection he would send his Spirit to teach them, and remind them of all he had told them. The Spirit would be their Comforter and Defender.

6. Who we are as Christ’s Mystical Body. There is a flow of life between Jesus and his followers, a mystical union, forming the “inside” of the Church. It is called grace because it is totally gratis, a gift, unearnable. As a result of sharing God’s own life, the love in Jesus’ followers is actually God’s love literally “indwelling” in them.

7. Who we are as visible Church. At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed intensely that his followers would be one, not a multitude of isolationists. Their visible love for each other would be the proof they were his. The “outside” of the Church obviously can be imperfect—and has been, through history. But this must not obscure the fact that there have been millions of holy people, generous love, heroic work for the sick and poor, the oppressed and abandoned—even martyrdom for Christ.

8. What we are called to do as followers of Jesus. Vatican II reminded us that there is only one holiness in the Church—God’s. What does God ask us to do? Simply to be wholeheartedly centered on responding to his initiative of love—loving. praising, pleasing him—and showing this love by the way we treat others.

9. What we do as the whole Church. The greatest action we perform as Church is to celebrate the death/resurrection of Jesus, which is made present in the Eucharist, the sacrifice/meal we call “Mass.” Other acts of God are made sacramental too—that is, visible, assured, “provable.” These, with the Eucharist, form the seven great sacraments. The Church is called to be a “sacrament” of Jesus, that is, the Church “makes Christ present” to the world.

10. ”As we wait in joyful hope…” Like Jesus, we each have our passion, death and resurrection. Faith sees death as the summing up of our great life-decision—made far ahead of time. Faith sees through the veil of death to the resurrection with Jesus. Our bodies—our persons—will be raised to new life—real, glorious, eternal—like that of the risen Jesus.
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