Catholics in the United States are the representatives of one of the largest religious groups, and Catholicism has deep roots in the country’s history. That is why, the Catholic tradition and the views of Catholics on Word and sacraments can be discussed as reflecting the visions of the majority of Americans.
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The role of Word and Sacrament in the life of those Catholics who follow their religious tradition strictly is significant because Word of God is associated with main religious doctrines and principles of Catholicism, and sacraments can be discussed as the main rites of passage which determine the major stages in the human life and accentuate the connection of an individual with the faith.
Catholics focus on belonging to the community and church while following the fundamental religious principles and doctrines. The everyday life of Catholics should be based on spirituality, faith, and religious tradition. Moreover, Catholicism provides people with a set of moral norms and rules which are necessary to follow and live according to God’s laws (Allitt, 2003).
The principles of Catholicism are meaningful for Americans because they depend on the aspects of the historic development (Hemeyer, 2010). According to Corbett and Hemeyer, “Catholics were among the first, if not the first, Europeans to set foot upon the shores of America” that is why it is quite usual for Americans to share the Catholic tradition (Corbett & Hemeyer, 1997, p. 89).
As a result, “the majority of people in the United States consider Catholics to be a part of consensus religion. Catholicism is not viewed as ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ religion” (Corbett & Hemeyer, 1997, p. 92).
From this point, the main tendencies of the American society’s development are formed within the Catholic communities which can influence the life of a lot of Americans considerably. Thus, Catholics’ visions of Word and Sacrament become especially significant for discussing the Americans’ religious tradition and spirituality in relation to Christianity.
The guidelines to find the principles of religion and rules to follow can be reached with references to Word of God presented in the Bible. Catholics are inclined to discuss Word of God as God’s will or even as the equivalent of God. Thus, God’s will make Catholics act according to this will and according to the specific doctrines and codes presented in relation to the dogmas of Catholicism (Hemeyer, 2010).
Catholics follow Word of God because it can be discussed as the single truth presented directly by God. From this perspective, following Word, people have to provide the definite response to this will. Catholics react to Word of God with following the religious principles and building their life according to the Catholic tradition.
God’s truth is reflected in Word that is why people can grow spiritually basing on the visions provided in the Bible (Allitt, 2003). Furthermore, Catholics can draw conclusions about the aspects of religion only referring to Word of God.
However, to build the life according to Word of God and main Catholic principles, it is necessary to follow definite religious procedures known as sacraments. Thus, Word of God and Sacrament are the basic aspects of the Catholic worship. The American Catholic Church provides people with the opportunity to attend it as the centers for worship and for developing the community life (Hemeyer, 2010).
Church is significant during the periods of trouble and when people experience crises in their life. Those Catholics who cannot find the answer to the questions of spirituality with the help of interpreting Word of God are inclined to act and follow sacraments which reflect the main stages or passages in the human life such as the process of adopting the religion or marriage (Corbett & Hemeyer, 1997).
Sacraments are the meaningful rituals which can deepen the individual’s faith and connect the person with God more closely, developing one’s spirituality.
Thus, to accept God’s will and to participate in Sacrament, Catholics should follow a range of rituals. Moreover, the role of sacraments is incomparable because they help determine the main aspects of the life and accentuate the sacred fields of the human existence.
Catholics determine seven main sacraments which are Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Marriage, Eucharist, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. According to Hemeyer, the first and the main sacrament that Catholics participate in is Baptism. Thus, Catholics believe that “baptism is necessary for the removal of the inborn sin that is a part of all persons simply because they are human” (Hemeyer, 2010, p. 99).
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To become a Catholic, it is necessary to be baptized according to the principles of this religion. Baptism is an important stage of cleaning the soul and body from the sins, and it is a kind of protection for a human provided by the religion. Baptized Catholics begin to celebrate God and his will fully.
Eucharist is a ritual when Catholics share Christ’s Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine. It is an important stage of becoming closer to Christ spiritually. Sacraments are significant to teach Catholics the basics of religion according to God’s Word. Thus, God forgives the people’s sins, and Catholics are taught to forgive during the sacrament of Reconciliation (Hemeyer, 2010).
To develop the mature spirituality, Catholics are expected to follow the ritual of Confirmation. Holy Orders help Catholics join Church and share the basic religious doctrines.
Anointing of the Sick is a specific sacrament in which a priest usually uses oil to anoint a person “who is ill or in danger of dying from accident or old age”, and this sacrament is a way of “mediating the concern of Christ and the Church for the suffering person” (Hemeyer, 2010, p. 103). Marriage is one more Catholic sacrament.
Getting married in front of God, Catholics state their belonging to their spouses and accentuate the religious power of the union of persons who love each other.
Sacraments in the form of definite rituals and ceremonies help Catholics share the love of Christ and follow God’s will reflected in Word. Moreover, Word of God can be regarded as the single source of God’s will available for Catholics’ understanding.
The interpretation of Word of God presented in the Bible is the Catholics’ way to deepening their faith and spirituality. Furthermore, the Bible is the source of ethical rules and codes for the Christians.
Thus, Catholics receive the knowledge of God with references to Word of God provided in the Bible. Sacraments are extremely significant for Catholics because these acts help people connect their lives with God. According to the religious visions, Catholics can feel God’s grace and love while following these sacraments.
Allitt, P. (2003). Religion in America. USA: Columbia University Press.
Corbett, J. M., & Hemeyer, J. C. (1997). Religion in America. USA: Prentice Hall.
Hemeyer, J. C. (2010). Religion in America. USA: Prentice Hall.