Understanding The Catholic Church

Hi, I’m a Baptist and I want to learn more about the Catholic Church. I’ve never been to a Catholic Church before but I was thinking about joining one to have a better understanding of the faith. Some things I’m particularly curious about is RICA courses and what they’re for, holy communion(no idea what it is), mass(is it similar to going to Baptist’s church on Sundays), rosaries, and why Catholics pray to saints as well as the emphasis on Mother Mary. Anything else about the Catholic Church or faith is up for discussion. The reason I’m interested is because I’ve noticed that there is some tension between Catholics and Baptists and I believe the cause of this is that we don’t understand what each other stands for. I would like to break the tradition by being more knowledgeable about both faiths. I want to be clear that I have no interest in converting, I just want to understand. If I seemed offensive at all, I’m supremely sorry, not here to judge. Thank you for listening. God Bless!


will teach you everything you’re asking about, The Eucharist (Holy Communion), the Sacraments, The Rosary, Baptize, the service, the mass, the roles of the people in the church (priest, pope, bishop), it will give you an introduction to the Catholic Catechism. It is very helpful classes who want to become Catholic.

it will also explain why Catholic pray to saints and Mary, but its not a requirement to pray to saint or Mary to be Catholic.

Welcome to CAF

Here are a few tracts that should get you started.





If your really interested here ya go…



Fair enough but know that what the Catholic Church teaches goes back to Apostolic tradition. It is what Christians have believed through the centuries. You are right that there is some tension between Catholics and Baptists, but in my experience Baptists want to brush off the history of Christianity and focus on the Bible alone. Well, sorry but Christ and the Apostles walked the earth in the 1st century while the Baptist Church dates to the 17th century.


A book that has a good basic synthesis of Catholic teaching would be a good place to start. Two good starting places:

Catholicism for Dummies
The US Adult Catechism

RCIA is a series of rites in an unbaptized adult’s journey to baptism in the Catholic Church. There are some rites that baptized people from other faith traditions receive on their way to joining the Church.

This process also includes classes to teach inquirers and those preparing to enter the Church what the Church teaches.


Thank you so much! I’m sorry if I offended you or your faith that is not my intention. I know it’s a very serious matter and I’m not in any way taking this lightly. I don’t want to covert like I said but I do want to make a change in my life and strengthen my faith and I thought by learning more about different aspects of Christianity it could help me on my search as well as breach the gap between Catholics and Baptists. I appreciate your help and feedback!

I took a Discovering Judaism class and had no intention of becoming Jewish.
I learned a lot. I don’t know if they would let the person sit in on a few classes.
There could be others who go through RCIA, but aren’t ready to convert yet.
I would have the OP contact the person in charge of RCIA.

Thre also i sva good book Catholicism for Dummies I would recommend and
the Catechism of the Catholic church.


I agree with the above - contact your local Catholic Church about attending RCIA. Those classes are generally open to anyone with no obligation. Note that most (not all) follow the school year, so they would be at about the halfway point now.

I might also suggest that if you have more than one church in your area, visit them all before you settle on classes with one. We are a universal Church, but it’s not always uniform.

Finally, another book suggestion that is short and simple to read: Why We’re Catholic by Trent Horn. It hits the highlights in a way that’s good for anyone to follow.

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I spent a number of my teenage years in a Baptist church because that was where my mother chose to go, so I understand what you mean by there being many misconceptions between the faiths.

If nobody has mentioned it yet, the book Why We’re Catholic has very good information in it.

There are some aspects of a Catholic mass which will seem at least somewhat similar to what you are likely familiar with. Reading of scripture, a homily and communion for example. But the experience is vastly different. Especially communion. Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is only a symbolic gesture. You are of course welcome to attend mass any time you like, you would just be asked not to receive communion unless you did go through RCIA and decided to receive the sacraments.

Remember you are always welcome to attend mass even if you do not wish to convert at this time. All parishes will have mass on Sunday and many will have daily mass as well.

The lengthy Catholic Answers tract, Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth, was created to introduce non-Catholics to the basics of the Catholic faith.

The “CCC” references in the tract refer to paragraphs in Pope John Paul II’s 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.


I’ll try (and probably fail) to be brief.

  1. RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is how you learn the basics of the Christian faith.
  2. Holy Communion is bread and wine which has been consecrated to God (think Last Supper) and becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, exactly as He said in the bible.
  3. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is what Jesus commanded us to do until He comes again. At the Mass, we offer Christ to the Father in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. Since we are members of Christ’s Body, we also include ourselves in that offering. He used sacrificial language at that Last Supper, indicating that it is indeed a sacrifice - but NOT a “re-sacrifice” that is a) impossible and b) not true and c) is a claim made by those who do not know the Church.
  4. The Rosary is a contemplative prayer in which we contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life. We also ponder Mary’s assumption into heaven and her coronation (Revelation 12). What it is NOT: It is NOT “vain” repetition - if such were prohibited, the Psalms would have to be ripped out of the bible. The Psalms are very repetitive. Look at Psalm 136 for example.
  5. Catholics pray to Saints because it is biblical. You have to look for it, but check Revelation 5:8 and 2 Maccabees 12 (in Catholic and Orthodox*** bibles).
  6. We honor Mary because God in Christ honored her first. She brought Him to us and now leads us (like pastor does) to Him.

The charitable Catholic view of Baptists is that they lack the fullness of the Christian faith. Many aspects of Christian belief and practice were discarded in the reformation and thereafter. Practices which had been held to since day one. This is sad, as it makes things look like the Catholic Church “added” things. Not true.

A copy of Catholicism for Dummies is a simply excellent idea.

*** The Eastern Orthodox Church is 95+% identical to the Catholic, having common apostolic origins. Have you ever heard anyone badmouth the Orthodox? Why not? That is food for thought.

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Get the iPieta app. It has all kinds of resources. The Roman Catechism (of Trent) is a great resource as well.


You gave no offense to me or my Faith and I’m sorry if I was off putting with my response. The way you said it to me at least, it just sounded like you could just join the Catholic Church by observing. I misunderstood your wording. The Catholic Faith has many aspects to it that need to be understood and if serious about becoming Catholic there is a (sometimes) lengthy process. This lengthy process is because it is very important that the Catholic Faith and what the Catholic Church teaches must be fully understood and should be actively practiced. To some non Catholics this may seem like a bunch of rules but it isn’t just a bunch of rules it’s the way we worship Our Lord and Savior and follow Him through His Catholic Church. The books I listed will help you a great deal to understand the basics of our Faith. Again I took NO offense to what you said and I certainly hope you didn’t take offense to what I said. Being Catholic is in my DNA. I would die for my Catholic Church/Faith. It is what makes me , me. I can’t be separated from it. God bless you and if there is anything else any of us can do here to help you just ask. I have many non Catholic friends and I’ve answered every question “under the sun” about the Catholic Faith for them. I love being Catholic and my ONLY goal in this life is to be in Heaven for eternity with my Lord and Savior.

The main thing is that as Catholics we have a “3 legged stool” of belief. We have

Sacred Tradition: Not everything Jesus said and did is written in Sacred Scripture. If it were it would take semi trucks to carry it all around. Also Sacred Scripture wasn’t written for hundreds of years until after Jesus lived, died and rose so it was all carried on and continued by the Apostles and their followers by word of mouth. Joh21:25 “There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written.”

Sacred Scripture: God’s word inspired by the Holy Spirit written down by man

The Magisterium: Set up by Jesus Christ Himself because He knew we needed ONE person here on Earth to lead His Church. This one person is inspired by the Holy Spirit to not make error in any official teaching of the Church. God said the gates of hell would not prevail over His Church and they won’t.


I understand and I posted an updated reply to the Original Poster.

The more I learn about the Catholic faith, the more I see this to be true. I always devoted myself to God personally but I sometimes felt something was missing. This was very helpful, thank you!


I also took no offense to your words, no worries. I should have been more sincere in my topic so I understand why you responded that way. Also, I feel the same way about my faith which is why I’m searching for more ways to serve my Heavenly Father. Thank you for your explanation on your beliefs, I deeply appreciate it.

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This is an important distinction. The word Mass is derived from the Latin ‘Missa’ which denote the Mission that we have been nourished for by what we have just done. So important is this aspect of ‘mission’ that that is why the remembrance is referred to as Mass. We have been nourished by the Word of God, by the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist but they are not for nothing. When the Priest says “the Mass is ended. Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord”, we experience that commission profoundly. We leave the Church building renewed for the work of being witness to Christs love and mercy, calling others Home by Gods grace.


One thing I do want to share about the Catholic Faith—a Priest has been ordained by a Bishop, a Bishop received his authority from the Pope who we believe is the leader in a direct line from Saint Peter—St. Peter who was chosen to be the leader of the Catholic Church by Jesus Himself. An Ordained Priest receives special Graces and abilities by his Ordination. Because of this He can Consecrate the bread and wine into the actual Body Blood Soul Divinity of Jesus Christ at Mass. He is following in the footsteps of the Apostles that Jesus gave this authority to at the Last Supper. A Priest is doing exactly what Jesus did at the Last Supper. We aren’t receiving a symbol we are receiving Jesus’ Body Blood Soul Divinity. Also we go to Confession to a Priest because Jesus gave this authority to them just as He did to His Apostles when he breathed on them and told them what they hold bound on Earth is bound and what they loose is loosed. The Mass, The Priesthood, The papacy, The Sacraments are all directly from Jesus.


Many non Catholics think we believe these things but of course we don’t:

and we don’t re-crucify Jesus at every Mass. His Crucifixion is re-presented at every Mass—it is the very same Crucifixion as on Mount Calvary.

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