A question that comes up from time to time is, ‘What do Catholics do?’. How would you respond?
Let me give this answer. Catholics throughout their lives aspire to listen to God's Word as they find it in the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition as proclaimed in the Church, and live accordingly.
Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, originates from God Who revealed Himself in creation, especially to man and woman. He chose Abram and his descendants as his own Chosen People.
Over the centuries God further revealed Himself in their history through prophets and kings and other sages.
Finally He revealed Himself through His Son born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, the Christ, founded His Church on the Apostles to continue to offer in all ages to all peoples the sure way to eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
We become members (incorporated) into the new People of God through Baptism and the other sacraments.
Catholics live by Faith, Hope and Love. ‘There are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love’ (I Cor 13:13).
Faith: We accept and believe on the authority of another; this other being responsible for making the mysteries of God known.
Hope: Buttressed by Faith we look forward to the fulfilment of Christ's promises to his People.
Love: Since God is Love (Cf. the First Letter of John) we need to and can respond to God's Love by loving God and our neighbour.
Catholics endeavour to keep God's commandments. ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’ (Jn 14:15). For example, they keep holy the Sabbath day (Deut 5:12) by going to church on Sundays giving to God the worship due to Him.
Catholics exchange marriage vows in the Church before a priest and two witnesses. Likewise they are faithful to their marriage vows for life.
Catholics present their children for Baptism and hand on the Faith to them.
Catholics consider life on earth as transient and a preparation for eternal life in Heaven.
Catholics trust in Divine Providence. Jesus said, ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full’ (Jn 10:10).
Catholics say daily prayers, alone or in the family circle.
Catholics regularly seek mercy from God in the sacrament of Penance (Confession), thereby being regularly reconciled with God, with the Church and with other believers.
Catholics live as law-abiding citizens while giving their first allegiance to God (Cf. Acts 4:18-20).
Catholics work for justice wherever possible, in the home and in society. They persevere in this activity despite frequent non-results.
Catholics listen to their pastors and shepherds whom they support and to whom they are loyal.
Catholics assist in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God in their daily living. ‘Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
Catholics encourage others to become Children of God through Baptism.
Catholics acknowledge human weakness in themselves and in others, remembering the teaching of St Paul on human weakness, ‘When I am weak É’ (2 Cor 12:9-10).
The Most Rev Luc Matthys is the Bishop of Armidale, NSW.