The word “Catholicism” comes from the Greek word catholikismos. This means “according to the whole”.
The word “Catholicism” is often used to tell the difference between the beliefs of Catholic Christians and the beliefs of Protestant Christians. Catholic and Orthodox churches use church leaders, called bishops, to determine beliefs. Protestants, however, often use each member’s own understanding of the Bible to determine beliefs. Protestants use guidelines from the 16th-century Protestant Reformation to understand the Bible. It is the world’s second largest religious denomination after Sunnism.
Basic Requirements for Catholics
As a Catholic, you are required to live a Christian life, pray daily, participate in the sacraments, obey the moral law, and accept the teachings of Christ and his Church. The following are the minimum requirements for Catholics:
Attend Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation.
Go to confession annually if not more often or when needed.
Receive Holy Communion during Easter and at Christmas. Receiving each Sunday. Receiving daily is encouraged.
Observe laws on fasting and abstinence: one full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.
Obey the marriage laws of the Church.
Support the Church financially and otherwise.
Knowing the faith is the first step to being Catholic, accepting the faith is the second step, and practicing the faith is the third — and most difficult — step. Obeying the rules involves appreciating the wisdom and value of the various rules and laws. And, you’re asked to put that belief into action, to practice what you believe.
The Ten Commandments
In Exodus in the Old Testament, God issued his set of laws (the Ten Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai. In Catholicism, the Ten Commandments are considered divine law because God himself revealed them. And because they were spelled out specifically with no room for ambiguity, they’re also positive law. Hence they’re also known as divine positive law.
The ten commandments, in order, are:
“I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any any gods before Me.”
This commandment forbids idolatry, the worship of false gods and goddesses, and it excludes polytheism, the belief in many gods, insisting instead on monotheism, the belief in one God. This commandment forbids making golden calves, building temples to Isis, and worshipping statues of Caesar, for example.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
The faithful are required to honour the name of God. It makes sense that if you’re to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then you’re naturally to respect the name of God with equal passion and vigour.
“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”
The Jewish celebration of Sabbath (Shabbat) begins at sundown on Friday evening and lasts until sundown on Saturday. Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians go to church on Sunday, treating it as the Lord’s Day instead of Saturday to honour the day Christ rose from the dead.
“Honour thy father and thy mother.”
This commandment obliges the faithful to show respect for their parents — as children and adults. Children must obey their parents, and adults must respect and see to the care of their parents, when they become old and infirm.
“Thou shalt not kill.”
The better translation from the Hebrew would be “Thou shalt not murder” — a subtle distinction but an important one to the Church. Killing an innocent person is considered murder. Killing an unjust aggressor to preserve your own life is still killing, but it isn’t considered murder.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
The sixth and ninth commandments honour human sexuality. This commandment forbids the actual, physical act of having immoral sexual activity, specifically adultery, which is sex with someone else’s spouse or a spouse cheating on their partner. This commandment also includes fornication, which is prostitution, pornography, group sex, rape, incest, paedophilia, bestiality, and necrophilia.
“Thou shalt not steal.”
The seventh and tenth commandments focus on respecting and honoring the possessions of others. This commandment forbids the act of taking someone else’s property. The Catholic Church believes that this commandment also denounces cheating people of their money or property, depriving workers of their just wage, or not giving employers a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion, and vandalism are all considered extensions of violations of the Seventh Commandment.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
The Eighth Commandment condemns lying. Because God is regarded as the author of all truth, the Church believes that humans are obligated to honour the truth. The way to fulfil this commandment is not to lie — intentionally deceive another by speaking a falsehood.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.”
The Ninth Commandment forbids the intentional desire and longing for immoral sexuality. To sin in the heart, Jesus says, is to lust after a woman or a man in your heart with the desire and will to have immoral sex with them. Just as human life is a gift from God and needs to be respected, defended, and protected, so, too, is human sexuality. Catholicism regards human sexuality as a divine gift, so it’s considered sacred in the proper context — marriage.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods.”
The Tenth Commandment forbids the wanting or taking someone else’s property. Along with the Seventh Commandment, this commandment condemns theft and the feelings of envy, greed, and jealousy in reaction to what other people have.