I Need Understanding

I am a 22 year old male, living in southern Louisiana. I have been seeing a woman for almost 7 years who happens to be Catholic. I, on the other hand, am Baptist. We are due to be married in a few months and I need some help with understanding what my soon-to-be wife and hopefully one day mother of my children believes. I’ve tried asking her for explanations but she hears my inquiries as objections to her faith. I honestly just want to understand the basics of Catholicism so I can know if I’ll be comfortable raising my children in it. Any help or advice is appreciated.

As with many Christians, the Apostle’s Creed is a helpful summary for a Catholic Christian:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

There are longer creeds available, but I picked the most common shorter one. It is a good starting point if you need a starting point.

Hello Mr Chris, and welcome!

Perhaps this is one way of learning about what Catholics believe:

For more detail:

God bless and guide you both.
Best wishes and a prayer,

The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Here is a compedium: vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

Catholicism for Dummies is one book also.

Also, I would like to suggest, if you open to it…to attend an RCIA class at your wife’s parish…which should start at around August or September.

Or listen/watch EWTN (ewtn.com/index.asp?myselection=us) or Catholic Radio.


Baton Rouge, LA WPYR—AM 1380 5-7 PM M-F (live)
11-12 PM M-F (tape)
2-4 AM M-F (tape)
Lafayette, LA KLFT—FM 90.5 5-7 PM M-F (live)
2-4 AM M-F (tape)
Metairie, LA Translator—FM 104.9 5-7 PM M-F (live)
2-4 AM M-F (tape)
New Orleans/LaPlace, LA WCKW—AM 1010 5-7 PM M-F (live)
2-4 AM M-F (tape)
New Orleans, LA WQNO—AM 690 5-7 PM M-F (live)
2-4 AM M-F (tape)

Thank you all for you responses. Although I sincerely appreciate the quick replies, I’m not sure my questions were alleviated. To simplify, I think the basis of my question is how does the Catholic faith differ from the faith I grew up learning, Baptist. Any and all details are appreciated. I want to learn about my fiance’s faith and want to understand as much as I can.


  1. Love God above all things
  2. Love Jesus above all things
  3. Love the Holy Spirit above all things
  4. Believe in the Triune God, father, son and Spirit
  5. Believe Jesus left to Peter the care of His Church (Catholic)
  6. Believe that St. Peter is our first pope and that todays pope is the continuation of papacy.
  7. Believe and trust in the leadership of the papacy
  8. Attend Mass regularly. Weekly for strong Catholics
  9. Follow all the Sacraments of the Church (see Catechism of the Catholic Church)
    10.Read Scriptures/Bible
    11.Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (at any good bookstore) for clearer info.

I hope that helps

I am not super knowledgeable about your specific branch of Christianity, but I can offer a few things that might be relevant.

Catholics will baptize small children and believe that baptism is more than just a symbol. We use the word “sacrament”. We believe Christ gave us more than two sacraments (we have seven). We are not Dispensationalists in the way that I have seen some Baptists be. We do not believe in the Rapture as I have seen some Baptists talk about it. We do believe there several things that happen in the end times, but we interpret passages about being caught up in the air, etc. differently than do some Baptists. Catholics do not believe in the doctrine of “once saved always saved”. It is possible to sin and no longer be in Christ, but there is a lot to say in that regard, so this is just a brief pointer.

Catholic parishes are not independent like a Baptist congregation. We have bishops and dioceses. The individual believer does not determine the meaning of scripture for themselves. Nor does a priest. The Holy Spirit guides the Church to hand on the deposit of faith. In this regard, Catholics will talk about both Scripture and Tradition. Catholics do read scripture, but of course this varies greatly by person. It is God-breathed (inspired).

We do not believe a person can merit being justified. We do talk about a type of merit after a person becomes a son or daughter of God, but that is not strict merit. We are not Calvinistic.

If you have been to a Lutheran or Methodist or Anglican worship service, a lot of the order of worship that they use is like ours.

These are just quick thoughts that might help point you to places you might find a difference that you might want to explore. I just wrote briefly, not trying to give a thorough description of these points.

Thank you all for answering. Pug, thank you especially. I found your input very helpful and I will pursue all of the avenues that were presented in this thread. Thank you all once again.

You’re welcome, mrchris17. :slight_smile:

I was just coming back to the thread because I realized I forgot two obvious things I meant to put in my last post. Catholics ask other believers to pray for them (not surprising to a Baptist), and also we will ask believers who are with Christ already (the saints in heaven) to pray for us as well. This is part of our understanding of the “communion of saints” line in the creed. We will also pray for those who have died, which is connected to our understanding of purification that sometimes happens before entering heaven. We don’t pray for those already in heaven.

Mr. Chris, I can relate to your situation. I am also from Cajun Country! My wife is Southern Baptist and I am Catholic. Prior to getting married we did not give our particular faiths too much consideration. We thought of it only enough to decide the wedding would be in a Baptist church; and I was granted a dispensation to marry outside the Church from the local bishop. Our difficulties began when our first child was born - how would we rear her, baptize her, and so forth. It is good that you are giving this serious thought at this point.

Folks have already provided very good resources. I would add just a few…

• Listen to Catholic Answers Live - you can also listen to old shows on the site - focus on “open forums for non-Catholics”, “open forum”, or particular subjects that interest you
• Patrick Madrid’s “The Right Here, Right Now Show” (Immaculate Heart Radio app is a good source for his saved shows).
Lighthouse Catholic Media – great talks on many different subjects CD or MP3 downloads & books for very cheap.
Crossing the Tiber by Steve Ray. The abridged edition of this book can be found at Lighthouse Media for about $5 and is still very thorough. Steve presents his conversion story from a Baptist perspective. He focuses on to things which are very distinct between Catholics and Baptists – Baptism and the Eucharist.

These are a few sources that have helped my wife & I understand the Catholic faith better. I encourage you to consider attending RCIA at your fiancé’s Church parish. It is free. Typically meet once a week starting the first week of September until the End of November. This is considered an inquiry period in which one can learn more about the Catholic faith without having to commit to the Church. It is something your fiancé can attend with you. My wife and I will be attending starting in Sept.

Continue participating on CAF, you will learn a great deal. Also, keyword searches on Catholic.com will provide a lot of info on any given subject.

Also, I see that you are located in DS. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is in your area. It is a very good parish. They offer classes weekly. I copied the below from their website

Fall Faith Formation
July 23 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Join us for this informed class and learn about interesting Catholic topics. Just show up. All are welcome.

Mr Chris,
We believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, at the Mass, Body and Blood,
Soul and Divinity. This is the heart and soul of our faith.
We believe in the powerful intercession of Mary, His Mother and our Mother.
Keep learning about the faith. An RCIA class at the church, you could just attend,
and listen to, for information.

I these series of Journals will get you started…chnetwork.org/resources/coming-home-journals/

My suggestion is start with Salvation and Justification, which is where you would immediately see the how the CC differ with protestant denominations.

I’ve retired not too long ago from working in religious education. This response from your wife is what we would often called the “puppy stick effect.”

A friend of mine once had a dog that was always perfectly happy until someone picked up a stick or a ruler or anything that was long and shaped like a stick. The dog would cower and hide whenever it saw someone do this. The reason? This was a rescue shelter dog. It had been beaten by a former owner with a stick over and over again when it was a puppy. So while those days of being beating with a stick were over, like the Pavlov effect, the dog responded in terror to all sticks for the remainder of its life.

While it is not unique to Catholics (I’ve seen the response in Protestants, Latter-day Saints, and very often in Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as a few Southern Baptists), some people have never had much of open and friendly dialogue with members of other faiths. All such discussions may have mostly been debates, and so these persons don’t know (and in some cases cannot) engage another calmly in an ecumenical setting. When someone tries to get them involved they, like the dog, react in the only way they know how. In your wife’s case it is as you describe: she projects past experiences upon your questions and sees them as objections in a debate…thus the “puppy stick effect.”

Unlike dogs, people can stop reacting to such questions in a defensive way–but it takes time and likely more time than you have right now to use her as your main channel to learn about Catholicism.

Your best bet would be to learn the Catholic religion on your own. It’s as simple as getting a copy of the United States Catechism for Adults (published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) or even the YOUCAT, which is short for “Youth Catechism”. I recommend the YOUCAT for adults of other faiths because it is simple and to the point whereas the Catechism for Adults is designed to make thinking and active disciples out of adults who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church (but it’s a good follow up to the YOUCAT). You will thus learn the basics without having to ask her a thing.

This could actually help diffuse the “puppy stick effect.” You can mention what you’ve learned after you read the Catechism (it might be best to go through it all first too before you try to pursue the subject further). Making sure to bring out the book and highlighting places you found interesting information can make her feel more comfortable as she can see you are not looking for anything more but discussion and understanding.

Be patient, especially if you learn she is not comfortable when the subject is broached. Eventually it should get easier, especially seeing that you’ve made a sincere effort to learn from the source.

My advice would be to join an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) group at your future wife’s parish as an inquirer. There are no strings attached and you can be very honest with them about your reason for attending. You can leave at any time or continue to delve deeper into the Catholic faith. The beauty of this is that you can have one on one time with Catholics and others who are interested in what we believe.

I admire you for wanting to know what your future wife believes. Too many never bother to ask these questions and many times families with mixed religious faiths just stop practicing their faith altogether.

Your future wife is a very fortunate woman.

God bless.



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