Religious Studies

Posted: November 26th, 2013

How do you understand the term Catholicism? Or, what is meant by the content of Catholicism?


Catholicism can be defined as the state of being a Christian, religious human being. This is further broken down to show that a human being can be described as religious, which is a person of faith who believes in something greater than him or her. It continues to describe the person as a Christian, which is a believer in Christ and a follower of His teachings. The word catholic is derived from the Greek word katholikos, which means universal. It was first used by St. Ignatius in a letter to the Smyrnaeans where he advised that where Jesus Christ is present, so is the Catholic Church. Therefore, Catholicism is thus primarily a state of being human.


Catholicism is also not to be considered as an opposition to protestant, but to sectarian. The sectarian is the part of the church that has separated itself from the worldwide church and from the world itself. Proof of this is belief in Providence that only God’s grace has the sole power to save souls, give life and all good and perfect things. Providence is believed to be God’s way to care of man and to save him from affliction and persecution. Miracles, signs and wonders are considered also to be God’s providence. In addition, there lies in the faith, the primacy of free will. This is the understanding that all human beings have free will as is given to them by God. It is also believed that the use of free will in daily judgment and living does not reduce God’s sovereignty or reduce the ability of His Providence over human lives. This shows that God’s grace is a function of human faith.

There are certain characteristics of Catholicism that are outstanding. One such characteristic is sacramentality. This is the view of God, who is invisible in visible things. It considers reality to be an expression or representation of God. It teaches that divine presence enters into nature and transforms it. One example of this is the coming of Christ, His life, death and resurrection. This is represented in the Holy Communion and other physical sacraments that are a reminder and a celebration of the greatest sacrament, which is Jesus Christ. Another characteristic is mediation. This is the act of focusing prayers on behalf of one person to God for example the practice of confession, the use of the rosary and prayers by the priest. Protestant views consider a risk in both practices. This includes a tendency towards idolatry and magic. However, the idea is not to reduce but to increase the link between God and man.

A third characteristic is that of communion. Catholicism teaches that the link between God and man is strengthened by the gathering of saints and believers in communion. This practice is also seen by the protestant view to have a level of risk. The protestant view considers that excess focus on the function of communion will inhibit the free will and freethinking of individual believers. Such ones can then fail to experience God on a personal level. In addition, the protestant view is that a group will suffocate the ability of the individual to know the truth and judge by it. He or she will simply obey what the mass is told to be the truth. The Catholicism view denies this and seeks only to strengthen faith, as two are better than one; for if one falls, his neighbor picks him up.


In conclusion, Catholicism embraces the marriage of faith and culture. It places great emphasis on tradition-drawn largely from bible-based practices. Even before the writing of the bible, such practices were passed down by teachings, stories and worship. It believes that God speaks His will through avenues such as this and the deeds of fellow Christians. Observation of the history of earlier saints teaches us how to live in this world as we follow Christ. Catholicism is in conclusion universal in nature. All Catholic Christians in the nations of the world share the same faith, teachings, practices and traditions. This is a binding and unifying thing.

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