Summary of the Catholic Religion


The Catholic religion is a monotheistic religion that is very similar in many ways to Judaism and several of the other Christian religions. Monotheistic means believing in only one God. Along with these religions, Catholics believe in God and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I conducted an interview with a priest of the catholic religion, who asked to remain anonymous. This interview was conducted in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Anderson, South Carolina. During this interview several key elements were discussed; elements such as major holidays, the history of the Catholic religion, challenges of practicing the Catholic religion, the role the Pope has within the church, the effects the Catholic religion has had on people, and what role the Bible plays in the Catholic religion.

Easter is more important to Catholics than Christmas. Easter is around the time of the year of Christ’s resurrection. Catholics believe that when Christ rose from the dead he brought the invitation for all too someday rise with him. Easter weekend is celebrated as a holy weekend as the catholic salvation, basically Christ’s teachings and the example of the way he lived is a fundamental law for all Catholics to follow. Catholics believe that by Christ’s death, all Catholics, upon death, will live for eternity with a god himself. Good Friday is observed in remembrance of Jesus' execution by the occupying Roman army, and his burial in a cave-tomb. Easter Sunday is the date when a group of his female followers first noticed the empty tomb, and concluded that he had either been resurrected, or his body had been stolen (Robinson, 2007). The timing of the Christian celebration of Easter is closely related to the Jewish celebration of the Passover.

As a young boy being born and raised in a Catholic family and attending all catholic schools, Father wanted to be a priest from a young age. At the age of thirteen, Father attended the Franciscan Order. At that time they were accepting young students from high school, which they no longer do. After completion of high school and then junior college, Father completed a spiritual year in which he became a member of the Franciscan Order. It is customary to say that St. Francis founded three orders, as we read in the Office for 4

October:
Tres ordines hic ordinat: primumque Fratrum nominat Minorum: pauperumque fit Dominarum medius: sed Poenitentium tertius sexum capit utrumque. (Brev. Rom. Serap., in Solem. S.P. Fran., ant. 3, ad Laudes)

These three orders -- the Friars Minor, the Poor Ladies or Clares, and the Brothers and Sisters of Penance -- are generally referred to as the First, Second, and Third Orders of St. Francis (Robinson, 1909). At this point Father began to understand the commitment that he was making. The biggest change the catholic religion has made in his life is being able to accept his limitations. Father stated during this interview “You grow up and then go into the ministry or you go into the ministry and then grow up”. Father has learned through this whole process to be more compassionate and understanding towards people, and at the same time overcoming his own temptation and weaknesses as a young person. Through the 45 years that Father has been a priest; he has learned from the Catholic Religion and other Christian religions that there are many good people in this world. Basically people that just want to do good things for others. This life lesson that he got from the many people that he served, taught him a lesson that no book, school, or teacher could have ever taught him. The world is full of very compassionate people that are more than willing to give themselves to help another.

In the earlier years of priesthood, one difficult challenge was being told to go to a place and serve the people of a place that one would not normally choose to go. The challenge was to overcome that obstacle and serve the lord to the best of our ability. In the 1960s the Catholic Church went through what is called the Second Vatican Council. Pope John XXIII wished the Council "to increase the fervor and energy of Catholics, to serve the needs of Christian people." To achieve this purpose, bishops and priests must grow in holiness; the laity must be given effective instruction in Christian faith and morals; adequate provision must be made for the education of children; Christian social activity must increase; and all Christians must have missionary hearts. In Italian, he was bale to express his desire in one word -- Aggiornamento -- the Church must be brought up to date, must adapt itself to meet the challenged conditions of modern times. More than words, Italians appreciate expressive gestures; so also Pope John, when asked to reveal his intentions, simply moved to a window and threw it open, to let in a drought of fresh air (Vatican II, 2008). During this time frame the Catholic Church went through many different changes, one of these changes was preaching in the language of the people instead of in Latin as it previously was done. Many Catholics still have resistance towards these changes; they don’t see it as a good step in the right direction. The second Vatican council played a huge role in the number of people entering into the faith, and the number of people wanting to serve others through the faith. Due to the decline of people entering into the faith, many catholic schools did not have sufficient teachers to fill the slots. In recent times the challenges have become society in general. Much of society bases their life on material goods, sexuality, and values that are contrary to the traditional catholic beliefs. An example of this is the person going into a bar or public establishment after work, meeting someone and spending the night with that person. The next day is the same routine, but with a different person.

The catholic religion is the same as Judaism and Islam in the fact that it can trace its roots back to Abraham. Abraham is the first person that Christianity can find a date in history for. There are places in the holy land where Abraham was believed to have visited. In one of the Uchistic prayers, Abraham is called “Our Father in Faith”. Saint Francis, was vary devoted to the crucifixion of Christ, and founded the Catholic order. Saint Francis, together with Friar Leo and Friar Bonizo from Bologna, an expert in canon and civil law, composed the Regula Bullata (the Approved Rule of Life) of 1223. On 29 November 1223 Pope Honorius III formally approved the Rule by the bull “Solet annuere” (The Rule of the Franciscan Order, 2006).

The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church and Catholic religion. Next there are Cardinals, in Latin cardinal means hinge; the Cardinals are the advisers to the Pope, who have their perspective territory or region of the world. Some cardinals stay in Rome and work a certain department of the church instead of a territory of the world. These cardinals have control over a specific department of the church such as the department that names new Bishops, the department that reviews new sacraments, and the department that looks into appeals such as individuals wishing to have a marriage annulled. Below the cardinals there are Bishops, a Bishop is in charge of a certain territory throughout the world. Then there are minor members of the hierarchy, more of an honorary type of member known as Mont Senior. They do not play a significant role in the church, but it is more of an honorary title given to a priest who has given good service to the church.

The Pope is the Bishop of Rome and is known as the Holy Father of the church, he is also referred to as the Victor of Christ. The role of the Pope is to oversee the entire Catholic Church, obviously that is too much of a job for one specific person; therefore the job is delegated down to Cardinals and Bishops. The Pope also protects the truths of the Catholic Faith. Peter is believed to be the first Pope of the Catholic Church followed by another and so on. At one point there was some conflict between the Church and the person appointed to the Pope position, so there were actually two Popes. The word Pope comes from many languages meaning Papa, Poppy, or Father.

During the Holocaust, many Catholic priests served as gateways to save thousands of Jews from persecution and death. As we have learned in this class, the Germans believed the Jews to be an inferior race; and millions were needlessly enslaved and slaughtered. Catholic priests, as did many others throughout the world, believed that this should not be happening; so many Jews were given safe haven inside churches until it was safe for them to travel to safer locations. Unfortunately, when it was discovered what these Priests were doing, they were killed by the Germans. Another example is of an Archbishop in El Salvador, who had ties with many rich and powerful people in the country. Many of the rich people of the country were trying to hold down the poor people; soon the poor people started demanding their rights. Several poor people were getting killed in these conflicts and the Archbishop was trying to maintain peace within the country. Because of his somewhat allegiance with the rich and powerful, the Archbishop was reported to Rome by some of the other Bishops in the country. He was called to Rome several times to explain what he was trying to do in the country. On one of his trips to Rome, a close personal friend of the Archbishop, a priest, was killed in El Salvador, upon his return he started to take a more courageous stand and started preaching on behalf of the poor people. He no longer made the trips to Rome, he basically said let me do what is needed to be done here. Shortly after he made this change in his life he was assassinated in a hospital where he would hold his sermons. Because of his assassination, a new life was breathed into the poor people, so to speak, and the conflicts continued, but the poor people never gave up and eventually the voices of the poor were heard and many changes were made to give the poor the rights they were entitled to.

The bible is the history of the Christian religion. It is the story of Jesus and even before Jesus when you include the Old Testament. The bible explains the creation of the world and mankind, and the trials and tribulations of many important figures of the Christian religion. Many elements, accumulated through a long series of generations, go to compose the sacred books of the great religions of antiquity -- the traditional myths and legends; the stories of the providential dealing of the Deity with His people; the sacred chants, hymns and prayers; the great epic poems; the laws governing social and domestic activity; the texts of the sacred rites and the prescriptions regulating their exact performance; speculations on the nature of the Deity, the soul, retribution, and the future life (Aiken, 1911). The bible is not as closely followed as it was 200 years ago, and the reason for this is most likely the changes in society. Society in general has evolved to be more forgiving of individuals who do not follow the faith closely. There are still many people around the world that follow the faith very closely, but that number is gradually declining.

In comparison to Islam, the Catholic religion is similar in the aspect of being a monotheistic religion, both religions believe in only one God, both trace their roots back to Abraham, and follow the principles of loving God and humanity. Differences however are many, Catholics follow the Ten Commandments, whereas Muslims follow the Five Pillars, but both generally have the same principles towards God and humanity. Muslims hold prayer several times every day, Catholics do not. Fathers of the faith do pray or meditate every day, but not the general followers of the religion. Muslims have several fasts throughout the year, whereas Catholics do not.

In conclusion, the Catholic religion is among the oldest religions in the world and is one of the most widely practiced religions today. Millions if not billions of people hold fast to the traditions and beliefs of the Catholic religion; making it, along with the other Christian religions, the most well known and popular religions of the world. Upon completion of this interview and paper, I have a new found respect for the Catholic religion. Many Catholics have done many great things for humanity, to many to name. On the other hand, the Catholic religion has also been to blame for a tremendous amount of bloodshed; but so have many of the other religions throughout the world. No group or entity is perfect, all we can do is stay true to our beliefs.

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