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Religion Introduction The present paper aims to explore the fundamentals of Catholicity. The paper examines the major teachings and beliefs in Roman Catholicism, based on the interview with the person of Roman Catholic faith and visit to one of the most famous places of worship of Christianity in Jerusalem. Finally, the paper compares and contrasts Roman Catholicism with other world religions in order to understand what is it that Roman Catholics believe, what is it that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, and many other important issues essential for understandings some of the foundational beliefs of Catholics as well as the grounds for those beliefs through examination of the sacramental character of Roman Catholic Church and its relationships to other religions and churches. Roman Catholicism Indeed, for the people, who are not familiar with Roman Catholicism, the beliefs of persons of that faith seem to be universally held and uniform, as they appear to have much in common with the other branches of Christianity. However, despite the fact that Christians use the same Holy Bible and practice almost the same religious practices, their dogmas and doctrines taught officially, significantly differ from each other. So, in order to understand the basic ideas of Catholic Church, we have conducted an interview with one of the Catholics, and additionally made some research to provide the most detailed and comprehensive data about Roman Catholicism.
So, according to the interviewee, Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian Church all over the world, as it represents more than one half of the Christians. Roman Catholics trace their origins to the first original Christian community that was founded by Jesus Christ and was spread through the famous Twelve Apostles. Fundamental theological beliefs of Catholics are articulated in the Nicene Creed. The original formulation of the Nicene Creed is traced back to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and undergone some insignificant changes in 381 A.D. during the Council of Constantinople. As it is claimed by the interviewee, and supported by the various sources, people, who belong to the Roman Catholic Church, continue to recite the Nicene Creed today during their participation in the Eucharistic liturgy. So, as it is articulated in the Nicene Creed, Catholics believe in one God also called the Almighty and the Father, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is seen and unseen. Roman Catholics believe in Jesus Christ, whom they call the Lord, and the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father (Gillis, 1999).
Roman Catholics believe that through Jesus Christ all things on the Earth were made for the people. They believe that Jesus Christ came down from heaven for people and for their salvation. Christ was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. He, then, became man, and for peoples sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Roman Catholics believe that Jesus Christ suffered, died, was buried, and on the third day rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures. Jesus then ascended into heaven, and is seated now at the right hang of the Father. Roman Catholics believe that Jesus Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end (Gillis, 1999).
Finally, as the "Nicene Creed claims, Catholics believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son" (Gillis, 1999). Holy Spirit is worshiped and glorified with the Father and the Son. They also believe that Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets. Finally, Roman Catholics confirm their belief in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church" (Gillis, 1999), acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come"(Gillis, 1999). To a certain extent some of the roots of Roman Catholicism beliefs and teachings spring from Judaism. Some researchers consider Judaism to be not only the predecessor of Christianity, but also a parent religion.
Indeed, the early Jewish sacred texts describe the human soul as a wind of spirit that was within people, but the identity of this spirit was "more of a corporate one - the spirit of the entire Jewish people"(Gillis, 1999). Later, during the time of Jesus, some followers of Judaism revised their notion of a human soul and started to relate the soul to the possibility of resurrection in the future, and continued life of the soul. At the same time, Christian (and Catholic) idea of immortal soul tends to be deeply influenced by the thought patterns of Greek philosophy (for example, famous Greek philosopher Plato spoke about the dualism of soul and body), and the Helenization of Christianity. However, what is really true (as it was confirmed by our interviewee), Roman Catholics indeed believe in a resurrection from the dead that was made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. In this respect, Orthodox Christians (as well as all other religions based on the fundamental principles of Christianity) also believe in immortal soul and are firmly convinced in future resurrection from dead. At the same time, similar with the Orthodox Christian Church, Catholics faith is Trinitarian, as it believes in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The only distinction between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, in this respect, is the relations between the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the relations of the Father and the Son to the Holy Spirit. Similar to the Orthodox, Catholics are baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Both religions believe in the dogma of original sin, according to which people were originally created by God to live in co-union with God in the Paradise, but because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve (the first humans created by God), the relationship was broken and God punished humans by throwing them to the Earth, and death and sin came into the world. The sacrament of baptism, according to both Catholics and Orthodox Churches, is the ordinary way to remiss the original sin. What concerns the authority and the right to teach, Roman Catholics, as it was claimed by our interviewee, and confirmed by the authoritative sources, the Catholic Church has the right to teach in the name of Christ the fundamental dogmas and truths of Christian faith and life, as well as everything important and useful for the proclamation of these Christian truths. This authority is given to the Catholic Church by God. Orthodox Christian Church has much in common with Catholics in this respect, as the persons, who belong to the Orthodox Church, also believe that the authority to teach basic Orthodox dogmas was given by God.
However, the very structure of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is quite different. Roman Catholics firmly convinced in the infallibility of the Pope. One of the most important, and often misinterpreted and misunderstood doctrines of Roman Catholicism is the charisma of the Holy Spirit that is given to the Roman Catholic Church and is exercised through the Pope and bishops. In their daily lives Roman Catholics are guided by the Holy Bible, the Catholic teachings the Catechism of the Catholic Church that provides Catholics with the complete exposition of the Catholic dogmas and doctrines, and offer a systematic presentation of their faith. So, Catholicism represents the major beliefs of orthodox Trinitarian Christianity, and places an emphasis on the Church as the church that was founded by Jesus Christ and is kept by the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit from doctrinal errors (Wilson, 1999). In addition, there are seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church that are 'a must' for every Catholic, and the most important sacrament is the Eucharist, which is the essential in obtaining salvation. Roman Catholicism: Places of Worship Traditionally, all Christians attend Christian churches, as they are traditional places of worship, sacred places for the Christians. Roman Catholics are no exceptions to the rule, as Roman Catholic churches are traditional sacred places of worship for Catholics.
However, there are several most sacred places of worship for Catholics, like Bethlehem the place where Jesus Christ was born, the Vatican City the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, where the Pope is seated, such beautiful churches like the Sistine Chapel in Rome, St. Frances and St. Peters Churches, and some others. However, one of the most important places for Catholics is the Church of Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of the Resurrection. The Church of Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of the Resurrection, is located in Jerusalem. This is the legendary place, where the Christians arrive every spring during the Passover to witness the miracle of the Holy Fire. The Church of Holy Sepulchre is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, and is surrounded by hundreds of souvenir shops, markets, and minarets. Although it is quite difficult to imagine how this sacred place can survive in a neighborhood with such incompatible places, the Church has luckily managed to survive and to preserve its incomparable meaning.
The Church of Holy Sepulchre was built in 335 A.D. by Emperor Constantine. The Christians believe that the Church is located on the very place of the Jesus Christs resurrection. Inside the church there are the tomb of Jesus Christ and the Calvary of Golgotha. Although the building witnessed numerous wars, destructions, fires, and even the earthquakes, it was restored and rebuilt, thus providing the pilgrims the opportunity to breathe in the holy wind of the ancient times and to visit the holiest shrine of Christendom. The pilgrim can enter the Church of Holy Sepulchre through the small door in the south transept.
The door is very narrow, and, as it claimed by our interviewee, it was done on purpose, to make the person stop for a while and to bow his head honoring the Christ. Immediately when the person enters the Church, he can see the Stone of Anointing. This is the stone, where, as it is believed by the Christians, the body of Jesus Christ was prepared for the burial after his death. The Rotunda of the Anastasis is to the west (Biddle, 1999). The most sacred place, the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre, is located in the center of the larger dome. All Christians, Roman Catholic, the Armenian Apostolic, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches have the right to enter the tomb under the status quo. The Christians can also visit the Chapel of Calvary, or Golgotha. This is the place of crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Another place of worship is the Roman Catholic Chapel of the Invention of the Holy Christ, as this Chapel is believed to be located in the place, where the True Cross was found.
Roman Catholicism and World Religions Now, let's try to understand the similarities and differences between Roman Catholicism and other world religions. As it was already mentioned, Roman Catholicism is Christian religion that has much in common with other branches of Christianity. Similar to the Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholics believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, with the only difference related to the relations between them, and some other differences that are articulated in their dogmas. However, one might feel embarrassed by the beliefs that are very different, such as non-Christian world religions. So, what concerns Hinduism, unlike Christianity, it is a belief in thousands (and even millions) gods, while Christians believe in one God. Christians believe that the people have only one life on the Earth, while Hindus believe that human life is only one life in a cycle of many. Christianity tends to make a distinction between God and God's creation, while Hindus consider that deity and the natural world is one and the same (this is also called pantheism). What concerns salvation, Christians do not have conception of karma.
However, there are some similarities between Christianity and Hinduism. Both religions claim their three gods share the same substance (for example, Christianity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and Hinduism Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), and both religions consider practicing goodness is very important. Finally, as it was already mentioned, the roots of Christianity teachings spring from Judaism, and Judaism is often considered the predecessor of Christianity, and even a parent religion. Similar to Christianity, Judaism is the religion of monotheism, as they believe there is only one God (Gillis, 1999). Both Jews and Christians believe that the Old Testament is a true holy scripture. Both religions consider Moses, Abraham, and David to be the key figures in Christianity and Judaism, and the stories in the Old Testament are the part of the heritage both in Christianity and Judaism.
Finally, both Jews and Christians believe in messiah. What concerns differences, Christianity and Judaism have different approach to the Old Testament: while Christians believe that Jesus Christ is messiah, Jews consider that messiah didn't come yet and wait for the messiah, who will come and will set a powerful kingdom on the Earth and will reunite Israel. References Biddle, M. (1999). The Tomb of Christ. Phoenix Mill: Sutton Publishing.
Gillis, C. (1999). Roman Catholicism in America. New York: Columbia University Press. Herrin, J. (1987).
The Formation of Christendom. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Wilson, B. (1999). Christianity. London: Routledge..
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