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The Catholic Church

The word Catholic means universal. It means that the Catholic Church is the universal church, spread around the world, and we are united in the one faith. In almost every country, you’ll find a Catholic Church. 

When Catholics are baptised, we are adopted into God's family, which is the spiritual catholic church. All followers of Jesus are brothers and sisters in Christ, because we all are in God's family. 

 

The Catholic Church teaches the same faith throughout the world. So, if you go to a different country; even if the language is different from your own, you will notice that they have the same belief. 

 

There are many different Christian churches and beliefs now a days, Anglican, Uniting, Presbyterian, and many more; but when Jesus was here on earth, He only started one Church, and one Christian faith. 

 

The Holy Spirit is very important in the life of the Church. It inspires and guides church leaders to teach what is right, and helps people who come to Mass have a very powerful experience.

 

Just after Jesus left earth to go back into Heaven, there was an event called Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, because on that day the disciples of Jesus had the Holy Spirit come to them, and then they were very excited and unafraid to share their faith with the world. Many thousands of people became followers of Christ on that day, and the Church grew massively. 

 

So I tell you, you are Peter. And I will build my church on this rock. The power of death will not be able to defeat my church.

Matthew 16:18

 

 

The Catholic Church has a very long history. Many times were good, but many times were not so good. In the first few centuries of Christianity, many world leaders did not like the Christians; they saw them as being harmful to society. They thought this so much that they made the lives of so many Christians very difficult, and even put some Christian followers to death. 

 

These times in history were very hard; although there were some Christians who cared and loved God so much that they were willing to give their lives up for God. These people are very special, they are called martyrs. 

 

There were many people who wrote about the teachings of the faith in the first few hundred years after Christ. These people are called the Early Church Fathers. They had an important role to play in the early Christian Church, because they helped people to know what Christ taught, and they helped people to grow in their faith.

 

Up to 1054 AD, all Christians were Catholic. In 1054 however, The Church had a disagreement about some matters in the faith, and the Church split into the Eastern and Western Church. The Western Church is now known as the Orthodox Church.

 

In 1517, there was a Catholic monk named Martin Luther. He liked some parts of the Church but was upset about how the leaders acted and taught the faith. Martin Luther tried to tell the Pope at that time that the Church wasn't going well and that the Church needed to fix the problems. In the end, Martin Luther was so sad about the Church, that he left Catholicism and started a new church. This was the start of the period in history known as the Protestant Reformation. 

Even in hard times and trials, the Catholic Church continues to grow and thrive. It grows because we grow. We are the Church and the church wouldn't be the same without you and I. 

The Church has a special church calendar, called the liturgical calendar. You can check out the different seasons of the year and see what colours the priest wears during that season.

You can also check out some of the main events in the time of Jesus, such as the resurrection of Jesus and Pentecost.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

We give thanks for the cup of blessing. It is a sharing in the blood of Christ’s death. And the bread that we break is a sharing in the body of Christ. There is one loaf of bread. And we are many people. But we all share from that one loaf. So we are really one body.

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The Mass

It is very important that we go to Mass on Sundays, because we are uniting with our family in Christ - the Catholic community. Also in Mass, we connect with our friends in Heaven - the Saints and all worship God together. ​Through the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit, we receive the gift of grace to go out and proclaim the Good News of Christ. The Mass is the public profession of our Catholic faith.  Mass can seem boring sometimes but the Lord is really happy to see us when we turn up. It is very important to be respectful in the church because it is God's special house, and other people like to talk to the Lord in silence. 

When you first come into a church, Catholics genuflect and make the sign of the cross. Genuflecting is very special because we are bowing down to the Lord in worship; and we make the sign of the cross to aknowledge the Trinity is in our mind, heart and upon us. 

The Catholic Mass is spilt into 2 parts; the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both of these parts are very important in the Mass because we are given the opportunity to listen from God in the Scriptures, and we get to be in the presence of the Lord Himself in the Eucharist. 

The structure of the Mass follows the story of the walk to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke. In the story, the risen Christ walks with the two disciples, and explains the Scriptures with them. The disciples didn't recognise the resurrected Jesus, but the disciples are moved by the Scriptures and they invite Jesus to eat supper with them. When they are eating, the disciple's eyes are spiritually opened when Jesus breaks the bread. 

We learn more about Jesus and become closer to God through going to Mass.

In the Mass, we stand, sit and kneel a lot, which can be confusing to some people

 

We stand for the opening and closing prayers of the Mass, and we stand for the Gospel as it is on the life and teachings of Jesus. We also stand for the "Gloria" and the "Our Father"; because we are giving thanks and proclaiming the Scriptures.

 

We sit for the first two Scripture readings and the sermon. We do this so we can reflect on the Bible readings and the sermon by the priest; and how they impact our lives as a Christian. We then kneel in front of the Eucharistic host, and when the priest says the words from the Last Supper. Catholics believe that it is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, so it's very special to kneel down in front of it. It is very important that before receiving the Eucharist, we must reflect on ourselves and our actions. If we have done anything we shouldn't have done we should say sorry to Jesus before receiving Him.

 

Many aspects of the Mass are for quiet prayer. We are encouraged to use this quiet time to talk to God and listen to Him. 

In the Mass we receive many blessings from God. God loves to give us blessings because we are His children. 

Some things that we might see in a Church during the Mass are the altar, the tabernacle, candles, and the pulpit. 

The altar is the big table that is directly in front of you when you look inside a church. It is where the bread and wine are consecrated into the Body and Blood of Jesus. 

The tabernacle is usually behind the altar, and it is where Jesus lives in the church. This is the most sacred place in the church, and we should respect this space as much as we can by being quiet and genuflecting in front of it. 

Check out below the things you might see during Mass. Maybe you could even ask your priest to show it to you in person. 

Image by Josh Applegate

In Holy Communion, bread and wine are used, and are transformed into the real Body and Blood of Jesus. The bread and wine still looks, feels and tastes like bread and wine, but they have become the real presence of Jesus.

Image by Josh Applegate

A priest is the person who would normally celebrate the Mass. We call a priest father because he acts like a dad to the parish community. When you go to reconciliation, a priest listens to your confession and forgives you, on behalf of Jesus. 

Image by Greg Willson

An altar is at the front of a Catholic Church. It is where the priest consecrates the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. 

Image by Cecilia Milagros León García

A tabernacle is usually behind the altar in the Church, and it is where the consecrated bread and wine are kept. When we genuflect in a Church, we genuflect to the tabernacle, because Christ is presently there.

Image by Andrew Seaman

The seats that you sit on in a Catholic Church are called pews.  The pews also would usually have a kneeler attached to them, which is what you kneel on during Mass.

Image by Kelsey Todd

The cross that has Jesus on it is called a Crucifix. It is a symbol in the Catholic faith, and reminds us of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for us.

Image by Grant Whitty

The Bible is the Word of God, which is perfect. We read the Bible all during Mass, and many of the songs that we sing in Mass are based on the Bible. 

Image by Josh Applegate

A monstrance is what holds the Eucharistic Host in Adoration. Adoration is a form of worship in the Catholic Church. The monstrance is so special that even the priest who holds it, covers their hands with the ends of their veil. 

Philemon 1:6

I pray that the faith you share will make you understand every blessing that we have in Christ.

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Who are Protestants?

Protestants are a group of Christians who do not follow the Catholic Church. The name protestant refers to people who protested against the Catholic Church, like Martin Luther did. In 1517, Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation because he didn’t like how the Church was teaching the faith. 

 

There are many Protestant churches throughout the world now-a-days, some have different beliefs to each other. Some Protestant churches include the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Episcopal Church and the Baptist Church. The different Protestant Churches are called denominations.

 

Catholics and Protestants have many similar beliefs, but we have some different beliefs. Protestants don't believe in the Pope, they don't believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and don't have a strong relationship with Mary like Catholics do. Even though we have different beliefs, Catholics and Protestants are both followers of Christ, and aim to do His Will. It’s important to remember that even though Protestants aren’t connected to the Catholic Church, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, because we all believe in, and follow Jesus.

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