In the history of the church numerous Saints have been given the stigmata, the physical wounds of Christ, as an outward sign of how they are living their lives. Jesus told his disciples 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me' (Luke 9:23) In order to become holy we must become like Christ, and this includes making sacrifices.
Catholics follow the Ten Commandments because Christ, Himself, followed them and because He told others to follow them (Matthew 19:16-19). We also follow them because they were given to us by God. In the book of Exodus we read how God himself gave these commandments to the Israelites through the help of Moses. However there is more to following the Ten Commandments than just because 'God told us to.'
We obey God's commands because He loves us! Because God loves us and loves us perfectly we can always trust His word. Also, because God created us we can trust that He always knows what is best for us.
Only Catholics can receive the Eucharist at Mass because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of our unity in Christ; those who receive it need to have unity in the Faith.
The practice of excluding some people from Holy Communion is a Biblically based, ancient Christian discipline observed by both Catholics and many Protestants.
In the outward sign of crossing our forehead, lips, and heart, we are asking that the Word of God to pierce our mind, lips, and hearts.
We cross our forehead so that the Word of God may be in our thoughts and purify our minds. We cross our lips so that our speech may be holy and incline us to share the Gospel with others. And we cross our hearts to invite God to strengthen our love for Him and others. All of this is so that we might know, proclaim, and love Jesus Christ all the more.
Catholics make the sign of the cross because it is a brief profession of the Christian faith, which we received from the Apostles. 'Through the Sign of the Cross we place ourselves under the protection of the Triune God.' (CCC 2157)
As often as we make the sign of the cross in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we are saying that we believe in God, a Trinity of three persons, and the Redemption of the Cross.
According to Catholic tradition, Our Lady gave the scapular to St. Simon Stock, the Father General of the Carmelite order, in the thirteenth century. Mary appeared to St. Simon in a vision, held out a scapular and said to him, ' . . . he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.'
Does this mean if you wear the scapular you get into heaven no matter what your actions? Of course not!
The scapular is not a “get out of hell free” card or a magical charm. It is an exterior sign of an interior fidelity to Christ and trust in his Mother's love and intercession for her children.
Fasting is all about the 'disposition' of your soul. That means the 'condition' or 'state' that your soul is in. In order to prepare the soul, we have to prepare the body.
We are physical beings. When we force our body to do something hard, like not eat or drink, it reminds us that hunger and thirst for spiritual food is even more important.
Since the body and soul make up the one person that you are, they have to do things together . . . like get ready for Jesus in the Eucharist.
But you know as well as I do that it usually doesn't last long. It usually doesn't take more than a week back at home, experiencing everyday life, for us to feel just like our regular, uninspired selves. What's the deal?
Catholics believe in indulgences because ultimately we know we're all sinners and need God's mercy. When a person commits a sin, there are two kinds of punishments that they have to deal with as a result of that sin. The first is called 'eternal punishment' which means the sinner can't enter heaven because of a grave sin that is not repented from. Through Christ's sacrifice we don't have to suffer eternal punishment if we repent. The second kind of punishment is called 'temporal punishment' and every sin we commit carries a temporal punishment with it.
Catholics genuflect in Church in order to show our reverence to the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Genuflection is defined as 'A reverence made by bending the knee, especially to express adoration of the Blessed Sacrament' (CCC 1378). As we walk into the house of God, a Church, we show our adoration for Him by kneeing before Him.
Only Catholics are able to receive Communion at Mass because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of our unity in Christ; those who receive it need to have unity in the Faith. Those who reject Catholicism including Protestants and non-Christians, reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation. We Catholics believe that Jesus does a miracle in every Mass and turns our offerings of simple bread and wine into His Own precious Body and Blood, but others do not believe this. The Catholic Church isn’t doing something mean or intolerant.
Catholics do not pray to statues.
That would be idolatry and therefore, a violation of the First Commandment. If a person prays to a statue out of superstition, believes that the statue has special powers or is even God – that is idolatry.
However, this is not what Catholics do when they pray in front of a statue. Catholics worship with their whole person and all of the senses. A statue, or any other piece of religious art, is intended to draw the soul deeper into prayer by helping the senses to recall the mystery that it represents.
When we skip Mass on Sunday, we are violating our covenant with God. We are saying to God, 'I don't need to be united to you. I don't need to worship you.' It may seem innocent, but we are actually declining His marriage proposal. We are not showing up for our own wedding.
When we make a decision to deny His invitation to covenant we are saying we don't want a relationship with Him. Because our God loves us and is a gentleman, he allows us to do this.
However, it’s a grave sin to miss Mass.