What Constitutes a Practicing Catholic?

What Constitutes a Practicing Catholic?

You might have heard of the term “practicing Catholic”. In fact, being a “practicing Catholic” becomes a “requirement” in some circumstances. For example, if you want to apply for a teaching position in a Catholic institution, one of the qualifications for you to be hired is that you must be a “practicing Catholic”. Or if you are to be a godparent for a child of your close friend, then being a “practicing Catholic” is a must.

But what does being a “practicing Catholic” mean? Standards for Educators in Catholic Schools and Parishes by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference defines a “practicing Catholic” as “a Catholic in good standing who participates fully in the worship and life of the Church, and who understands and accepts the teachings of the Church and moral demands of the Gospel, as articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Here is a detailed checklist for us to ponder on and assess ourselves if we are a “practicing Catholic”.


Daily Prayer

A practicing Catholic is someone who has an intimate relationship with God. The first and fundamental way of establishing this kind of relationship is constant and daily prayer. Prayer is essential in forming a "vital and personal relationship with the living and true God" (CCC, no. 2558). Prayer is primarily rooted in one’s love of God. As St. Augustine puts it rightly, "True prayer is nothing but love." We are also invited to pray and have devotion to the saints, most especially with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, and us, too.


Knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures

The Catholic Church gives honor and importance to the Sacred Scriptures. In them, the Word of God is contained. The Catholic Church firmly believes that the Scriptures are the words of God Himself, written by human authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of Scriptures is an indispensable part of being a practicing Catholic, for in having knowledge of Scriptures we are guided by God in the many circumstances of our life.


Participation in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist

A practicing Catholic is one who possesses an active sacramental life. He/she participates in the liturgy of the Church, most especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the “source and summit of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, no. 11; CCC, no. 1324). The Catholic Church teaches that “Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 7).


Adherence to the Teachings of the Catholic Church

A practicing Catholic listens to and adheres to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Lord Jesus Christ taught His Apostles, who in turn handed on these teachings to their respective disciples. These teachings are continued to be passed on to us through the teaching authority of the bishops, the successor of the Apostles. Such teachings involve all aspects of our life like the sacredness of life, social justice and liberation, human dignity, and care for creation, among many others.


Observing the Ten Commandments

God, who is all-loving, desires that all of us be with Him forever. And so, He provided us a set of commandments, or the Decalogue, which are our guide on how we ought to live as His followers. In the Catholic tradition, the Ten Commandments are:


  1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
  2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.


Follow the Five Precepts of the Church

The Catholic Church provides us with the Five Precepts of the Church. These are described as the “minimum effort” we must make in prayer as well as how to live a moral and virtuous life. These are: 

  1. “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.” (CCC, no. 2042); 
  2. “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.” (CCC, no. 2042); 
  3. “You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season” (CCC, no. 2042); 
  4. “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church” (CCC, no. 2043); 
  5. and “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church” (CCC, no. 2043).


Conclusion

Being a Catholic is easy. To be admitted to the Catholic faith, a person should simply be baptized in the Catholic Church. But being a practicing and devout Catholic is another story. The real challenge for a Catholic is how to live up to the faith into which he/she was admitted and incorporated.

 

Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit

 

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