How To Become Catholic


In order to become Catholic, you must first understand what the word "Catholic" means.

The word Catholic essentially means Christian but it's a little more specific. All Catholics are Christians, but that doesn't mean that every Christian is Catholic. The word Catholic is Greek in origin and it means "universal," or "to include a wide variety of things" or to be "all-embracing." This describes the type of Christianity that we practice. We are "all-embracing" Christians who "include a wide variety of things" in a "universal" way. This means there are many different traditions, customs and ways of being Christian, all of which are embraced by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not limited to a certain ethnicity, nation, people or culture. It is rather the universal Church, established by Jesus Christ on Peter the Rock, for all humanity. You can find Catholics in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The Catholic Church embraces the cultures of these areas and incorporates them into the Catholic Church. There are many ways of being Catholic as well. We are most familiar with Western Catholicism here in North America, but there are also many Eastern Catholic churches as well. All Catholics are united together, as one Church, under the Pope and through the sacraments.

The next thing you must understand is what the Christian faith is, according to Catholic teaching, and this can be done by following Seven Steps...

The Seven Steps

STEP 1
Understand that God is the source of all goodness in the universe and that the greatest good he has to offer is his personal love for each and every one of us -- both as a community and individually...

For thou didst form my inward parts,
    thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.
    Wonderful are thy works!
Thou knowest me right well;
-- Psalm 139:13-14

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
-- 1 John 3:1


In addition to God's love for us, he also has a plan for our future...

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
-- Jeremiah 29:11

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
-- John 10:10

Understanding that God is good and that God intends only good things for us is the first step. But why don't we fully experience God's plan in our lives? What is stopping this from happening? What's getting in the way?

STEP 2
Understand that our sin is what ruins God's plan for us and our sin is what separates us from God and his plan for us...

Illustration by the Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism

But your iniquities have made a separation
    between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
    so that he does not hear.
-- Isaiah 59:2

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
-- Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
-- Romans 6:23

Sin is when we choose to turn away from God and follow our own will instead of God's. The result is eternity without God, which is eternal death. Mankind cannot bridge this gap and return to God's plan by our own (human) efforts. It is impossible on our own. So then, are we doomed to eternal death and separation from God and his plan for us?

STEP 3
Understand that Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, came to earth and paid the penalty for our sins when he sacrificed himself on the cross. In doing so, he demonstrated the most perfect act of love in history. He serves as the perfect man, our highest priest, who bridges the gap between God and man, destroying the sin that separates us from God. Jesus' death on the cross restores our relationship with God. He alone bridges the gap that separates us from God.


But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
    and by his stripes, we are healed.
-- Isaiah 52:5

But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet
sinners Christ died for us.
-- Romans 5:8

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father except by me.
-- John 14:6

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.
-- 1 Timothy 2:5-6

STEP 4
Understand that Jesus offers salvation -- God's plan for us -- as a gift! It is not earned through our own efforts but rather received as a gift from God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is
eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-- Romans 6:23

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that
whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
-- John 3:16

As with any gift, this salvation is not ours until we accept it. This is a process which begins when we commit our lives to Jesus Christ and follow him.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this
is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.
-- Ephesians 2:8

So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
-- James 2:17

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
-- James 2:24

We do not receive God's gift by faith alone but by faith working through love. It is a process, just as life itself is a process. Faith requires action, just as faith itself is an action. It is an action because it is a choice, and choices require learning, followed by contemplation, followed by a decision. Faith itself is a type of work. So also, that faith needs to work itself out in the real world as well, by the actions (works) we show to God and to others. These things do not "earn" our way back to God's plan, but rather, they show God that we have accepted his plan for us.

So how do we begin this process of committing our lives to Jesus Christ? We begin by saying "Yes" to committing yourself to Jesus Christ and his teaching. It doesn't matter how big your sins are, or how messed up your life is. What matters is that you're willing to commit to him. God is not looking for perfect people with perfect lives. Rather, he's looking for people he can help, and for people who want his help. That commitment to follow Jesus can be made right here and right now. For Jesus said:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.
-- Revelation 3:20

The words of the following prayer are not as important as the intention of your heart. Nevertheless, the words do help point us in the right direction. Read through the prayer below silently, and if that prayer expresses the intention of your heard, then pray out loud for God to hear you say it...
Lord Jesus Christ, I want to know you personally. I admit that I have sinned and done things that I knew were wrong. Thank you for dying for my sins so that I can have eternal life. I now open the door of my heart and receive you as my personal Lord and Saviour. Please send the Holy Spirit to direct my life and make me into the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

STEP 5
Know that to strengthen our faith and to help us further receive his plan, God has given us the seven sacraments of his Church. As food is to the body, the sacraments are to the soul. The sacraments include; Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confession, Healing, Matrimony and Holy Orders. The sacraments are not just symbols. They are actual means of Grace through which God touches our lives and spiritually strengthens us. If the Church were to be compared to a ladder, leading us to heaven, then the sacraments could be compared to the steps on that ladder...

Illustration by the Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism


BAPTISM

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
-- John 3:5

He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.
-- Mark 16:16

God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark,
in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you - not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of
Jesus Christ.
-- 1 Peter 3:20-21


CONFIRMATION

On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
-- Acts 19:5-6

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
-- Acts 8:14-17

But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.
-- 2 Corinthians 1:21-22


EUCHARIST

So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.
-- John 6:53-54

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
-- Matthew 26:26-28

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
-- 1 Corinthians 11:27-28


HEALING

They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
-- Mark 6:13

Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up, and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
-- James 5:14-15


CONFESSION

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
-- John 20:21-23

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
-- James 5:16

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
-- 2 Corinthians 5:18


MATRIMONY

‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house, the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
-- Mark 10:7-12

Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church because we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.
-- Ephesians 5:22-32

Let marriage be held in honour by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.
-- Hebrews 13:4


HOLY ORDERS

Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.
-- Acts 20:28

What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
-- Acts 6:5-6

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint presbyters in every town,
as I directed you.
-- Titus 1:5

STEP 6
Understand that God gives us spiritual safety in the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ established it and shares his own authority with its leaders. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus compares his followers to sheep, and his Catholic Church he compares to a sheep pen. Some of his sheep live outside the safety of the Catholic Church. These non-Catholic Christians are still Christians, of course, but they are subject to all the spiritual dangers of the world. Only in the Catholic Church can one find safety from such dangers. Jesus is the head of the Church, but he continues to lead us and guide us through the leadership and teachings of the Catholic Church. No other Christian organisation has this assurance.

Illustration of the Catholic Church as a Sheep Pen
From My Catholic Faith Illustrated Catechism

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
-- Matthew 16:18-19

If I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar
and foundation of truth.
-- 1 Timothy 3:15

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. 
-- Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 8
(This letter was written in AD 105 by Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, who was ordained by the Apostle John, and martyred by lions at the circus in Rome.)


STEP 7
Act upon these things you have learned here, call a local Catholic parish and make an appointment to talk to a priest. All you have to do is tell him you want to be Catholic, and he'll direct you toward the right people. You can easily locate a parish near you by clicking here.

Then you must tell others! Tell your friends, family and neighbours what you have learned here. Bookmark this page and show them. Send it to them in a link. By virtue of our baptism, we are all evangelists for the gospel, and we all have the sacred duty, indeed the sacred right, to tell others what we have learned here. 

So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
-- 2 Corinthians 5:20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
-- Matthew 28:19-20


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