Basic Questions

Ok, so a little background, I was technically raised catholic, went to catholic school, and apparently did the sacraments up to my first communion. My parents always have been irreligious, my mother having a problem with all organized religion, my father never mentioned it. I retained pretty close to nothing from catholic school, I was abused and purposefully forgot nearly everything. In my maturity, I realized that a few people shouldn’t have ruined religion for me. So I have some questions for you guys.

  1. Could someone explain prayer?
  2. What are the Saints?
  3. What is the Holy Ghost?
  4. Sacraments… What are their significance and what are they?
  5. What is the significance of the Rosary?
  6. What/Where is heaven?
  7. What is the Catechism?
  8. The church I live near by was the place I was abused, is it possible for me to go to a different one?
  1. A suggestion I have heard for adults who want to pray for the first time, and have no real experience of praying before, is to imagine Jesus is sat next to you and just tell him what’s on your mind. Some even suggest positioning an empty chair to help with this. You can tell him about your concerns about praying even! The idea is to just start that conversation. Where it goes from there is very open ended, but if you’re really starting from scratch this might be a way in.

Is that the sort of thing you wanted to know? Were you more interested in some of the standard prayers that Catholics often recite? Or were you more interested in some sort of theoretical understanding of what prayer is?

God be with you.

That’s perfectly fine! What about the other things?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (your question #7) would be a great place to start getting answers to these. You can read it online, but personally, I prefer to have a printed copy (you can order one online or purchase from a local Catholic bookstore, if available). If you check the index, you should be able to find references to all of the topics you asked about–for instance, prayer (CCC 2558 - 2565).

You might also call the parish you want to attend and ask if Catholics can “sit in” on the RCIA classes to help with your understanding of the faith. Or perhaps they have another adult faith formation class or group in the parish that you could attend.

As for question #8, yes, you may go to any Catholic Church. However (depending on the way parish boundaries/territories are handled in your area), you might still be considered a “member” of a certain parish’s territory even if you are “registered” elsewhere. Sometimes in those cases, special permission is needed for a few certain things–for instance, if you wanted to have your child baptized in your “new” parish, you might need the permission of the pastor from the old parish (if you are still living within that parish’s territory). Your “new” parish priest can let you know, when necessary, whether this is the case.

Also, please be aware that you should NOT receive the Eucharist (Body or Blood) at communion until you are in a state of grace–that means after you have spoken to the priest and sorted out any special situations, and have gone to confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance).

Will pray for you! :gopray2:

I think your first question was very well chosen, by the way, as a first question :slight_smile:

I’m going to put really short answers to your other questions here, just to get you started. I expect you’ll get longer answers later on, and you are free to ask for more detail or speak up if it isn’t answering the question you’re really asking.

  1. The Saints are those who died before us and made it to Heaven. They lived all sorts of different lives, but each of them chose God. Because they are in Heaven, they are completely pure and righteous now. They pray for us, up in Heaven. We know who some of them are, but there are many more who we don’t know. Any of us can become saints.

  2. The Holy Ghost is the same person as the Holy Spirit: it’s just an older English version of the name. The Holy Ghost is God, just like Jesus is God and the Father is God. This starts to touch on the Trinity, which is a fun but mind-boggling topic.

  3. The seven Sacraments are ways Jesus gave us to access God’s Grace, so that we could become saints and be with him. They are Baptism, Reconciliation (Confession), Holy Communion, Confirmation, Holy Orders (being ordained as a deacon, priest or bishop), Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick. You’ve probably had at least three of these, maybe four depending on where you live.

  4. The rosary is a particular form of meditative prayer that is very popular among Catholics. It has a strong folk following, and lots of Catholics have stories about powerful experiences they had praying it, but it isn’t an official thing required as part of being a Catholic. There are lots of variations, and the usual prayers used in it are very old prayers that most Catholics know. Plenty of Catholics have good prayer-lives without including the rosary.

  5. Heaven is being with God. We don’t know a lot of specifics, except things like nothing impure can enter, we will be in the presence of God, things like who we married won’t be relevant. We will be happy there, if we make it!

  6. A catechism is a text used to learn the faith. People usually mean something in a question/answer format. These days, people talk a lot about “the Catechism of the Catholic Church”. This is a big text document, easily available for free online on a lot of websites, or you can buy a book. It is designed to be a dense document that lays out what Church teaching is in a comprehensive manner, so that people can use it to write easier-to-understand guides to the faith that are accurate.

  7. You can go to any Catholic church you like. You are welcome to attend Mass, or go and pray when they’re open, or go in and make a Confession. Since you’ve been away for a long time, you shouldn’t receive Communion until you’ve been to Confession, but once you’ve done that you’re free to do so. But however long it takes to screw up the courage to make your first Confession after so long (it took me months, and I didn’t have the same issues you have), you’re very welcome to attend Mass and visit to pray. Feel free to talk to the priest at any church you attend: they often stand by the doors after Mass, so it’s easy to say hello and ask quick questions.

I hope this is okay as a brief start. I’m going to give a few suggested resources now: A simplified version of the Catechism. You can browse by clicking headings, or searching for a word. The Compendium of the Catechism. Basically a shorter question and answer thing, covering the basics. Not the most user-friendly site: you can buy it cheaply in a little booklet. One of the many websites where you can read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with a rather good search function. This website doesn’t have the most intuitive design, but it has a lot of exactly the sort of things you want to know, written in a friendly style.

I also hear that the book “Catholicism for Dummies” is actually really good, and I personally think the “Youcat” is good.

I’m not saying this to discourage you from asking questions, or to assign you reading :slight_smile: I just thought you might like to know some places to learn more, apart from this website of course.

That’s a pretty tall order. I’ll take a crack at it. Realize there is only so much room allowed in a single post, and there is always more to learn, so this is by no means a ‘final’ answer, rather a beginning.

1.) Prayer is nothing more than conversation with God. Sometimes we use ‘standard’ prayers (Such as the “Our Father” or “Hail Mary”) Other times we simply speak to God from the heart, about anything and everything. We give thanks for the things we have, we pray for the health of others, we pray for souls in purgatory. We give praise. We lay our problems before Him and ask for help. Above someone mentioned speaking to the Lord as though he was sitting next to you. That’s as good a place to start as any.

2.) Saints are souls that we know are already in heaven. Not everyone gets a straight path to the heavenly kingdom. Some have to spend time in purgatory. Others may have to wait for judgement. Because Saints are already in heaven, they can hear our prayers, intercede for us, and give aid to those of us still on earth. Basically they are friends who we talk to and ask for prayers.

3.) The Holy Ghost (aka Holy Spirit) is the third member of the Holy Trinity, and plays a vital role through the Old and New Testament. (See the story of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and filled them)

4.) Sacraments are tools that help us spiritually. The seven are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. I’ll let you google to find out more about each one, as I’m trying to keep this reasonably short.

5.)The Holy Rosary is many things, actually. In a way, it is the entire story of our salvation, but I’ll try to keep this simple. A rosary is a string of beads used for praying and meditation. It is also the prayer itself. So I can pick up my rosary from the table, and then kneel and pray a rosary. As a person prays, they reflect upon certain mysteries. I could talk about the rosary all day, but that’s the absolute basics of it. There are plenty of books and websites that you can visit to learn more, and I hope you do.

6.) I’ll leave the question of heaven to someone more qualified.

7.) The Catechism is a declaration of beliefs of the Catholic Church. It is based upon 2000+ years of careful study, interpretation, and tradition going all the way back to the first century. Most Catholics have a copy of the Catechism in their bookshelf, because if you come up with a question about “What does the Church say in this matter?” you can look it up.

8.) You should be able to attend whichever Church you choose (anyone else can correct me if I’m wrong. I’m still new to the Church, but I don’t believe there should be any issues with relocating down the street)

Again, these are short answers to very DEEP questions. You could literally write a book on any one of these topics and still not cover everything, but that should be enough to get you started on learning more. Hope it helped.

Everyone has given you a wealth of information. All I could add is this.

Try this site. I found the videos and information very useful.

Good answer!!

Here is a great book that I just recently read to understand my faith better:

Although I was raised Catholic, there is a lot in there I never knew.:shrug:

There’s also contemplative prayer. Believe it or not when you sit and look at the night sky, or wildlife, or anything of Gods beautiful creation and think about how awesome God is etc., that is a form of contemplative prayer.

I hope you find all the answers you’re looking for and am sorry that you feel religion was ruined for you, but I think as you delve deeper you will absolutely love it.

PS: Rediscovering Catholicism is a great book by Matthew Kelly

I have that same book in my bookshelf:thumbsup:


  1. Prayer is talking to God, whether in the form of Jesus, or the Father, or the Holy Spirit.

  2. “Saints” are people who, according to the church, are in Heaven.

  3. I’m not qualified to say anything beyond “God”.

  4. Sacraments are very important events, held by the Church to have been started, or approved of, by Jesus. Not all of them are for everybody: for instance, not everybody has to get married.

  5. Some people find the Rosary a good form of prayer, while others don’t. It is not a necessary part of Catholicism.

  6. Heaven is the place you were made for, and, whether you think you do or not, the place you yearn for.

  7. The catechism of the Catholic Church is a big piece of text that details practically everything the Church holds.

  8. You can go to any Catholic Church.

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
“I plead with you! Never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
“If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much.”

  • St Pope John Paul II

Hi there,
I think everyone else has answered most of your questions - but I wanted just to add that I was abused too (thank God, not in or by a church) - and the prayers of the church literally saved my life. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be abused by someone associated with the church and my heart goes out to you. One thing I have held on to, in some of my darkest moments, is being able to sit with Christ in the chapel of the blessed sacrament - he knows what it is to suffer, and he is with you, always, holding you in love. He knows. God bless. - And you don’t have to go back to places that trigger memories - that can be dangerous, I know. God bless you and may you experience peace and healing.

:thumbsup: Great answers…

Also, great answers. If you have more questions I’ll try to help…

Thank You everybody!

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