I'm New to Catholicism
A Little About the Church
So you’re wondering about the Catholic Church? You may have some ideas that you’ve gathered from school, movies or friends. As with anything in life, we should gain as much knowledge as we can before making judgments either positively or negatively. That’s even more critical when it deals with you, your life and all those with whom you come into contact.
The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago in what is now called the Middle East. Jesus was the foster son of Joseph, a carpenter from a small town in Galilee called Nazareth. The circumstances of Jesus’s birth are recorded in the New Testament, the portion of the Bible that deals exclusively with Jesus, his life, his mission and his meaning to all of us. (To read more about Jesus, go to our page “I’m New to Christianity”)
While on his mission, Jesus chose twelve men as his closest friends and teachers. These men learned from Jesus and passed on his teaching after Jesus died and rose into heaven. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, came to these twelve men, or apostles, and gave them the strength and wisdom to spread the message of Jesus’s love and tenderness. It was to the leader of these men, Peter, that Jesus promised the keys to the kingdom of heaven, thereby establishing a head on earth to represent Jesus in heaven.
These apostles knew that they needed help as this tiny church began to grow, so they passed on what they knew to others who were willing to give up their lives for this good news, or gospel, of Jesus Christ. Some of these teachings that were “passed on” eventually were incorporated into what we know as the New Testament. Other teachings have been handed down orally through the centuries.
The Catholic Church traces its roots and lineage to the teachings of Jesus, the passing on of the office of Bishop to Peter, the pre-eminent apostle. Today, we call this person the Pope, which means “papa”. That’s why sometimes you hear him referred to as Holy Father. The word “holy” in this case means that he is set apart for an important task. Just as we may “set apart” certain possessions for special purposes, so some people set themselves apart from everyday life for service to God and his people.
If there is something specific about the Catholic Church about which you’re curious, talk a stroll through our website and see if you can find an answer. If it’s not there, then don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We’d be happy to respond as soon as we can.
You're Welcome Here!
No matter where you've come from or what you've done, you're welcome in the Catholic Church. And we're so glad you came. You honor us by your presence.
Catholicism is a wealth of history, ritual and devotion. There is a canonized saint for just about any cause, occupation or situation. There is help for you in times of sorrow. There are relatives to share in your joys. As with anything, you get back what you put in. But even more so in Catholicism. There are so many places where your gifts can be used and expanded. Look around and see what interests you, then ask someone to learn more.
The history of our faith extends back to the beginning of man. We have a rich past that sees in the Old Testament the hidden mysteries that are revealed and fulfilled in the New Testament. We recognize that the ark of the old covenent is fulfilled in Mary who is the ark of the New covenent, Jesus Christ. This is just one example of the thrilling truths that lie at the root of all that we beleive as Catholics.
Ours is a lived faith that we want to share with all those around us. We want to have and to radiate the joy of the knowledge that we are redeemed by the blood of Christ and are made new in his sacrifice. We can offer that "good news" to others in simple, yet profound ways. We can be there when they suffer, offer help in times of need.
Upon entering the Catholic faith, some rituals and customs may seem foreign, or possibly weird. We understand that. But know that in most cases, there is a good reason for the things we do. Some of those things are critical to our faith, for example, the priest's consecration of bread into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Others are not so critical, like lighting a votive candle. Many things are great benefits to your faith journey, but they aren't necessary for everyone at every time.
The most important thing about the Catholic faith is to use it to grow into being a better disciple while evangelizing that "good news" to the world. And these two activities go hand-in-hand. In fact, they complement and enhance each other. As you grow in your faith and love in Jesus Christ, you will want to let others know. As you let others know and they find the same joy that you experience, your joy increases and you want to help others even more. It's a gracious cycle!
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would just like to pray and get to know God a little better.