Beliefs and Teachings

The Second Vatican Council declared that "the future of humanity is in the hands of those men who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and optimism." (GS, no 31). No one can live without the hope that life has ultimate and lasting meaning beyond the concerns and struggles, the joys and satisfactions of each day. Catholics find that meaning and hope in Jesus Christ, whom God the Father has sent into the world for the salvation of all peoples.Catholics find that meaning and hope in Jesus Christ, whom God the Father has sent into the world for the salvation of all peoples.

But the world can be a disturbing place. There is war and anxiety because of terrorism. There is the fierceness of competition and the injustices that come from greed. There are continuous distractions that come from the media, the numerous hours given to television, radio, and Internet. There are the unrelenting demands of work and family life.

Yet in the midst of all this, people are generously loving within their families, with their friends, and for their communities. Nevertheless, a nagging question remains: Where is all this going? There is a persistent thirst for meaning and hope.

Many people find refuge in various types of spiritual activities and communities that promise serenity in a hectic world and refuge from its pressures. They look to meditation techniques and to well-publicized personalities for ways to find tranquility and some hope for themselves.

In the midst of such a culture, the Catholic Church offers a message that is not its own, but comes from God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, yet is ever new and renewing as it is received, celebrated, lived, and contemplated today. The Church offers to all people the possibility of encountering the living God today and finding in him lasting meaning and hope.

God continues to be present in the Church as the Gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ, is proclaimed and received by her members through the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.

God continues to be present in his Church as her members are brought together by the Holy Spirit to celebrate the Seven Sacraments, most especially the Eucharist.

God continues to be present in the Church as her members strive to live according to the example and teaching of Jesus Christ.

God continues to be present in the Church as her members contemplate the great things God has done through his Son by the power of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of all people.

The Church is a community of human beings who are still subject to sin, and so it is with humility that she offers herself as the meeting place with the living God. Her existence for two thousand years demonstrates the unceasing mercy and love of God in maintaining her in his grace as a faithful and repentant people. In a world of passing fads and transitory ambitions, she offers the substance of the wisdom of the Gospel and her growing understanding of it through two millennia. She offers the possibility of enriching the present moment with the gifts of a tradition rooted in God's self-revelation and with the hope and meaning for human life that come from God himself. In a world torn by war and injustice, she celebrates the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the gift of himself made eternally present and effective, to make all peoples one with him as head of a reconciled and healed community. In a world of violence against human life, the Church mightily defends life by her works of justice and charity as well as by her advocacy for the protection of all human life.

---excerpted from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults