To have arrived at this page, you must be searching. Perhaps it is curiosity or perhaps you are facing a crisis or some uncertainty. What is it that underpins the life we live, with all its joys and sorrows, its exciting times and its boring times?
In the Roman Catholic Church we believe in God who is the beginning and the end of everything. How exactly the universe began we do not know. We believe that God kickstarted everything, that he is the creator. We also believe that all of us are called to be stewards of creation, to have a real care for our world.
Notice that I use the word “believe”. While it is the teaching of the Church that we can come to the knowledge of the existence of God by reason, God gives us the gift of faith to believe in him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is by faith that we have a personal relationship with God.
In the Church we talk about a journey of faith. That may begin by being born into a family of faith, or by a person with no faith beginning to search, and becoming open to God.
The God in whom we believe is revealed to us in the Bible, and most of all in Jesus Christ. For us Jesus is the Word of God. As Jesus tells us, “To have seen me is to have seen the Father.” Through Jesus we learn that God is our Father, that Jesus is the Son of the Father, and that the Father and the Son have sent their Holy Spirit to be the help and guide to the believing community, the Church.
Central to the faith of the community is that Jesus has died on the cross and risen to a new life. By his sacrifice he has won for us forgiveness however sinful or evil we think that we have been. By that same sacrifice we know that death is not the end of everything. He gives us the hope to live life to the full and bring us to eternal life with all the angels and saints in heaven.
Because the sacrifice of Jesus is at the heart of our faith, the service we call the Mass, in which the one sacrifice of Jesus is made present to us today, is essential for our lives as Catholics. Mass is celebrated every day but Mass on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the Day of the Resurrection, is a key celebration for the active Catholic community.
The Mass (or “the Eucharist”) is one of the seven sacraments of the Church through which we grow in our relationship with God and build up the family of the Church. Through our prayer and the sacraments we are strengthened to fulfil God’s will, to love him and to love our neighbour as ourselves, to live life to the full!
Around the world there are all kinds of Christian communities with different shades of belief. We are all trying to come closer to the unity for which Jesus prayed.
In the Roman Catholic Church we believe that the principle of unity in Jesus Christ is the connection of each of our churches with a Bishop, who is in turn in communion with the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, who is called the Pope. As Jesus taught with authority, we believe that he has given that authority to the Pope and the Bishops to teach his Way, his Truth and his Life.
This is necessarily the briefest summary of what we are about. This Faith section will expand over time to contain many pages dealing with different aspects of the Catholic faith. There are many other excellent resources on the Web to aid those seeking to understand what we believe. The “official version” of Catholic doctrine is called the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although - a word of caution - it was designed as an authoritative statement for catechists, not as a starter-guide. Links to these resources are given below.
Many of our parishes also run courses and programmes designed to share the Faith at various levels, and you would be welcome to join one ; ask about a “Journey in Faith” or “RCIA” course, for example.
May God bless you in your search,
Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton
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The Catechism of the Catholic Church
www.catholicfaith.org.uk - the new faith-enquiry website of the Catholic Faith Centre, an agency of the Bishops Conference
Bishops Conference publications - recent teaching documents issued by the English & Welsh Bishops