What is essential about being Catholic?


Hey guys

I got this letter from the leader of my RCIA program from a year ago:

Would you come to the last session for this year’s RCIA process next Wednesday, April 25, 7PM in the cafeteria and share what you think is essential about being a Catholic. Something short, sweet and to the point. We will invite about 15 others to do the same.

She wants me to talk to the new RCIA class. I was thinking about talking about the Eucharist, but I didn’t really know what to say about it in the life of a Catholic. Just something hard about putting what it means into words. Does anyone have any suggestions or maybe another route to take it with what is essential?

God bless


Four words: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. :thumbsup:


Definitely talk about the Eucharist.

Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist initiate one fully into the Catholic Church. The Eucharist, as the sacrament of unity, where we receive Christ himself–even bodily–is the closest unity we can have with the Catholic Church, which is the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is rightly called the “source and summit” of the Christian life because it is Christ himself. Our salvation, our whole life is about being connected to Christ, the whole Christ: Body, Blood, soul, and divinity. In the Eucharist, we have that connection already on earth. We are not satisfied to learn about Christ, we are not satisfied even to know Christ personally. We need that personal, bodily encounter with him more than anything!


I think I would highlight points found with in Deus Caritas Est, found here. To Inquirers who come from varied backgrounds, much of Catholicism is foreign. I think that anyone would be able to relate to the God’s love and be inspired by it.

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John’s Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should … have eternal life” (3:16)



I led my parishes RCIA team for five years. This first meeting is not about Catechesis so don’t get into too much detail about matters that require more explanation than you are allowed that night, will be later covered, and deserve great explanation.

Just pray about it asking for guidance to understand where they are now and why they might be interested in making this bold and brave step. Then speak to them from your heart about how being Catholic has brought you closer to Christ.

At the risk of stepping in front of the guidance the Holy Spirit remember what will likely be some common perspectives the prospective Catholics will bring.

*]They will have some preconceptions about our faith that are obstacles. The process of RCIA will address many of them. Just don’t reinfoce the perceptions before class begins. For instance, don’t talk about Mary, the Pope, confession, etc. as you will confuse or scare them. Your class will talk about these matters in context and completely.

*]They will likely have resistance or opposition from their family. Don’t talk about bing in the “true faith” as they will hear criticism of their faith tradition and their family.

*]They will be intimidated by the devotions and rituals.

By the way you asked the question, in your preparatory prayers, you show an attitude where you will hear what you need from the Holy Spirit. Just remember you want to talk for him and not yourself. God Bless you on what you are doing.


The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so helps us God (and He does help us! :smiley: ). That is what is essential to being Catholic. As for why it is essential to be Catholic, St. Jerome sums it up in his letter to Pope St. Damasus I:

“As I follow no leader save Christ, so I am in communion with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! This is the house where alone the Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.”


To me the main essential is you must believe EVERYTHING THE CHURCH TEACHES. Remember on Easter Vigil they have to go before the whole parish and God, and state that they believe everything the church teaches that it is revealed to it by God.


Here are the things that one believes that makes them “Catholic” (in my opinion):

The Seven Sacraments

The Nicene Creed

The hierarchy of the Church


Is anyone else amused and slightly disturbed that their RCIA class is in the cafeteria? I hope God’s not foreshadowing something. :eek: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:


This is not a very good explanation, but it has a lot of significance to me. I have studied Catholicism just enough to know it has an immense history and scholarship behind it. Saint after saint; miracle after miracle; theologian after theologian. I remember, years ago, seeing the Vatican microfilm collection in a library at St. Louis University. Even in microfilm, it was immense. All those documents. All that wisdom. All that faith.

And am I one, then, to reinvent that wheel? Am I so smart that I can outdo the Doctors of the Church and all the theologians who have expounded so much wisdom for these 2000 years past? Can I really be holier than all the saints whose numbers are so huge that the calendar is nowhere near sufficient for them all to have a feast day?

Yet, I reflect, that the Church, for all its wisdom and for all its holiness is a gentle teacher. It has one objective only; to get me to heaven. Yes, there are many others, but its specific objective is each soul, individually. The Church really wants to get me there, and has expended all those centuries of effort and all those prayers and all those sacrifices to do that. The Church doesn’t shoot fireballs at me, or require that I blow myself up or sacrifice my children or sacrifice forty bulls each week. It gently tries to persuade me that I owe a debt of gratitude to Him who made me, and made me only for my own happiness. It tries to persuade me that every other person is equally the object of God’s love and must be treated as such.

I think of the foregoing as my “don’t reinvent the wheel” justification for my faith. Aleksander Solzhenitzyn (Orthodox himself) reflected more than once on the humility of Catholics; how accepting they are and so often possessed with a titanic humility. I allow myself to think of “not reinventing the wheel” as perhaps a small part of that humility. I admit I have a long way to go. But, as I said, I have a gentle teacher.


Here is an idea from the Second Vatican Council which might spark a fresh approach to your presentation:

[Full and active participation in the liturgy] is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit. Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 14.

Spiritus Sapientiae tecum.

John Hiner


It’s probably just because it has a coffee machine and running water. And probably a fridge, with some donuts and pop in it. :wink:


Since other religions have part of what the Catholic Church teaches, there is only one thing they don’t have. And that is complete union with the Pope. A Catholic is one who is under the leadership of the Pope, because that is what Jesus commanded.

Next the Popes teach that Jesus is the center of everything and the focus of everything, because ONLY JESUS can free us from the slavery to sin.
And Jesus is the fullness of revelation, Jesus taught all this, the fullness of this reveltion revelation, to the leaders of His Church, the apostles. They handed down this source of all saving truth, (the Gospel) to their successors, the bishops of the Catholic faith.


The New Testament never allows us to lose sight of the truth that the Catholic Church alone is the home of grace. The Church is the company of the redeemed - the society of those, through the Passion of Christ Jesus, have been delivered from the bondage of sin, and reconciled with God. But this deliverance from sin consists in the possession of sanctifying grace. It is this that reconciles us with God, that elevates us to the dignity of His children, that procures for us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christ, our Lord, purchased these benefits for all mankind. Through His messengers He offers them to the whole world. But the greater part of men reject them; they have little desire for the blessings which belong to another life. Their whole interests are centered on this present existence; and they will have nothing to say to privileges which, as far as this life is concerned, entail self denial and sacrifice. Some, however, welcome the offer, and desire to partake of the blessings. The conditions imposed on them are simple. They must believe the message, and enter the Church. Faith is an essential prerequisite, for God deals with us as rational beings. Our acceptance of salvation must be a free act of our own. We cannot be saved unless we seek salvation, nor can we seek salvation unless we believe the message which announces it. Baptism admits us into the Church; and in admitting us to the number of Christ’s followers, incorporates us into Him. We become members of His mystical body, branches of the true Vine, partakers of all that He won for man at Calvary.


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