Synopsis: Ten Steps to the Catholic Faith
by Frank DeSiano, CSP
Step 1: There Is a God
How can someone come to reasonably see that the universe was created by a divine intelligence and not the product of mere chance? There is only One God–The God of creation (of the universe) and the God of revelation (of the bible) are the same; reason and faith are not in conflict
Step 2: What God Is Like
Images of God are varied, but ultimately we can sense around us an unexpected graciousness and beauty which reflects God most of all (why God must be understood as perfect and good). Our pain and suffering are understood against this background of love and graciousness. Hope springs in our hearts as a sign of the ultimate goodness for which we long.
Step 3: Jesus, the Image of God
No one captures the nature of God better than Jesus Christ–this is why billions have believed in him and why crucifixion only spurred his message. The kindness, mercy and grace of God show most clearly in him. No other person in history comes close to revealing God as does Jesus. (Jesus’ incarnation reveals the inherent good present within humanity and creation. The implication of this incarnation affirms the Catholic belief that creation has an inherent dignity for which man must acknowledge thorough one’s actions
Step 4: The Spirit, Connection with Jesus
Jesus would be only a memory were it not for the Spirit he gives us (or the means to connecting with the God and to the belief in Jesus as his Son), a spirit that leads us to the inner depths of God, joins us with God, and joins us with each other. The Spirit brings us to the inner life of God—Catholics understand God as a fullness that encompasses three personal presences, Father, Son and Spirit, an unending dynamic life of love. The nature of God is love and self-giving.
Step 5: Community, Life Shared in the Spirit
God is more perfectly revealed in community because God cannot be known without Love, as Jesus shows us and the Spirit evokes in us. God calls us into community so that faith can be lived, demonstrated and have the ability to grow. Moreover, the unity present within the Catholic Church allows for the faithful to share in the insights and blessings of the larger community.
Step 6: Wisdom, God’s Word
The living memory of Jesus was captured by those generations which immediately followed him. We have their memories and insights in the Christian Scriptures; these early Christians saw the writings of the ancient Hebrews as clues and signs of Christian life as well. The Old Testament and New Testament help expand our minds, give us the vocabulary and provide us essential perspectives on God. The Catholic Bible as being a compilation of the inspirational writings of the Church, for the Church.
Step 7: Sacred Meals, Sacred Deeds
Jesus was a real human being, walking around in a body like ours. He used bodily presence and bodily gestures to communicate his love and life. He touched people, fed them, consoled them, lifted them up. The community of Jesus enacts these saving gestures through sacred deeds, sacred signs and the most sacred meal which joins us to Jesus. Catholic Ritual as the personification of Sacred Mystery. It is in the Sacramental nature of the Catholic Church that one perceives and receives the grace required to foster unity and sanctity in Christian life. The Sacraments are the means for which Christ intended his Church to thrive. Thorough participation in the Sacramental liturgy one experiences the beauty, grace, and unity required to persist in our vocations and so more perfectly worship God in our daily lives.
Step 8: Live Heaven Now (through grace)
The Holy Spirit transforms us once we open our hearts. The transformation happens by our receiving new capacities by our union with God. We call these virtues–faith, hope and love actually connect us to God; the pursuit of peace and justice through our acts of generous kindness are share in the eternal life which we begin to live now. Moral life is not proving we are good or bad, but rather are the effects of heaven felt now.
Step 9: Community and Continuity in Tradition
Those who first remembered Jesus and proclaimed him formed communities of faith; these communities, though different, experienced a unity with each other through the scriptures and the sacred deeds they celebrated. Christian life is an experience of continuity with these earliest communities–we can see this continuity in the ancient Churches of the East and West, the Orthodox and the Catholic Church. The phenomenon of creating new churches on the basis of new readings of the scripture is a novel and strange development. Why would we think that the Spirit of God let Christians stray for a thousand or so years?
Step 10: A Catholic Vision
Catholicism is about unity and community. It’s vision is the Kingdom of God, when all human beings are joined in love and reflect that love to God and to each other. The Kingdom is not national, not sectarian, not elitist, not restrictive. The Kingdom is open to all and invites all. This is what every Catholic Church around the world does. Come see for yourself.