This post is our ever evolving guide on things you should know about and do to become a better Catholic. None of the recommendations are mandatory for being a good Catholic, they are just that, recommendations. Often times god calls us or we feel like we should improve in our faith, but we don’t know where to start.
We hope this page will help you find a place to start.
Why be a Good Catholic?
“All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love”(Lumen Gentium)
God calls us all to be holy. The of goal life is to sanctify oneself within the Church of Christ. In the west we call it Divination and in the east Theosis. In order to sanctify ourselves in our ordinary lives we must grow in our spiritual life, especially through prayer, fasting, and work.
In this article we’ll go over those three sections: prayer, fasting, and work. As they are the cornerstones of active faith. And then give you concrete ideas for how to add these practices to your life so you can grow in holiness.
“Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit – indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born – all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives.”
Life of Prayer
Prayer is an important part of living a good Catholic life and growing in your Catholic faith. It’s often said that our holy father wants to have a relationship with us. We build this relationship through prayer.
There are may forms of prayer available to you as a Catholic. But learning to talk to God through prayer and to sacrifice your time to him is an important step in spiritual growth.
“Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray. Through a living transmission (Sacred Tradition) within “the believing and praying Church,” The Holy Spirit teaches the children of God how to pray.” (CCC 2650)
We learn to pray by growing in our understanding of the faith and joining into the Pascal mystery and Biblical narrative. but that doesn’t mean we can only grow in faith during the Mass or when we’re reading holy scripture.
The Holy Spirit is always available to us. We can pray at anytime throughout the day.
As Catholic, we are taught that there are four types of prayer:
Prayer of Blessing and Adoration (praising God)
Prayer of Petition (asking for what we need, including forgiveness)
Prayer of Intercession (asking for what others need)
Prayer of Thanksgiving (for what God has given and done)
It’s common to fall into a routine of only doing one type of prayer, and usually that’s prayers of petition. It’s important to try other forms of prayer especially prayers of thanksgiving. There have been many studies that show gratitude and thanksgiving are vital for mental health.
All of the information about the Rosary and Novenas on The Catholic Handbook, fall into one of these four forms of prayer.
“Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to “little children,” to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom.” (CCC 2660)
Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church call us to live a life of self-denial and moderation.
Throughout the year there are may seasons of fasting like Lent or Advent. These seasons help us grow in our Catholic faith journey.
Many sins are based on over consumption. Gluttony is the over consumption of food. Lust can be the consuming of beauty. By denying ourselves food or other worldly pleasures we habituate ourselves to relying on God for what we need in our lives. Think of it as spiritual bootcamp. by deny ourselves fleshly or worldly desires we are forced into spiritual growth, and also when we’re done fasting we come to appreciate those worldly desires in a properly ordered fashion.
“The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes” (CCC 2015)
Fasting is at its most powerful when it’s done for charity. So when you fast, don’t focus on the discomfort. Realize it is a sacrifice. You are willingly experiencing pain and discomfort. Dedicate it to something or someone.
In this way too we can relate to Jesus Christ. Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross. and while giving up meat or abstaining from food for a few hours pales in comparison, it gives us the faintest glimpse of what our Lord went through.
Life of Study and Work
“Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.” Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.” (CCC 2427)
The existence of work and knowledge is for man’s sanctification.
We are called by God to subdue the things of the world to name all the plants and animals and to work by the sweat of our brow. While this seems like a punishment, it is a part of our redemption.
The Lord Jesus Christ has imbued all of us with various gifts and talents. Use those talents to become a better Catholic and in Christian worship. This requires us to learn more about our faith. Through reading the Catholic Bible and other spiritual reading, we can learn what God is calling us to do.
And through this we can sanctify the world and ourselves.
Summary of Catholic Beliefs
That there is one supreme, eternal, infinite God, the creator of Heaven and Earth.
That the good will be rewarded forever in Heaven, and that the wicked who die unrepentant will be punished forever in Hell.
That in the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, coeternal, coequal; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
That the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became man and died on the Cross to save us.
The Tenets of the Apostles’ Creed
In the Commandments of God and Precepts of the Catholic Church
That the Seven Sacraments are instituted by Christ to give us grace, especially, that Baptism is necessary and that Eucharist is a pledge of our future glory.
That Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, which together form one sacred deposit of the Word of God, are entrusted to the Church
Whatever God teaches us by his Church, who in her teaching cannot deceive us or be deceived.
“‘The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals…. the infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,’ above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine ‘for belief as being divinely revealed,’ and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.” (CCC 891)
Spiritual Ideas and Strategies
This can all seem overwhelming for anyone who is just getting started in wanting to be a better Catholic.
The Catholic faith is lived. We are called as the laity to sanctify the world. We quoted from Catechism of the Catholic Church to show how important and fundamental these things are to the faith. However, you don’t need to get hung up on the theology.
The truth is everything that’s expounded on earlier in this article can be learned over time if you start to live a life of holiness. Becoming a better Catholic, like everything, takes time. And it gets easier the more you work at it.
But how does one begin to live a life of holiness and become a better Catholic?
Whether you’re just curious in the Catholic faith, a recent convert, of raised Catholic. Here are some specific practices you can begin to do to improve your own faith.
Live life on a routine schedule – Wake up and go to bed at consistent times making sure you get enough sleep.
It’s funny that we start with sleep. But when you’re tired you’re more likely to succumb to the sins and you’ll have more energy throughout the day to live a holy life. Improving you spiritual life is a choice, and you’re more likely to make good choices if you’re well rested.
Offer you day to God with a morning offering prayer
The are many different morning offering prayers. The Morning Offering to Mary is a classic prayer you can say every morning while you’re having your cup of coffee or getting ready for the day. By starting off your day in prayer, you set the tone for the day.
Attend Mass, receive holy communion as often as possible.
While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to attend daily Mass everyday. Finding time every so often to go to Mass during the week is a great way to spend time with the Lord.
Spend time in Prayer
Find a prayer habit or devotion that works for you. Dedicating just 15 minutes a day to praying can sound daunting and at first can feel ridiculous. But prayer is one those things that can only feel worthwhile after months of doing it.
Pray the Angelus
Traditionally the Angelus is prayed at sunrise, noon, and sunset. The Angelus is a great way to add more structured prayer into your day.
Pray the Rosary
Do Spiritual Reading
Lectio Divina is a way to work in reading scripture and prayer. But you don’t have to read scripture. You can draw inspiration for your faith life from the lives of the saints.
We would not recommend doing all of these habits everyday. Instead pick one, maybe two, and start to incorporate them into your life. You can also view this as a list of options for what you can add to any particular day to make it more holy.
Center all activities around the Holy Mass on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.
The Catholic Church teaches us that Sunday is a day of rest and spiritual growth. Make going to Mass an event. Celebrate Mass by having a nice meal afterwards, and try to take it easy. Dedicate the day to serving the Lord. The rest of the week is for work, but Sundays are for God.
Observe Holy Days of obligation
There are feast days throughout the year that the Catholic church believes are vital for people to attend Mass. Go to Mass and get communion on those days. Holy Days of obligation celebrate important traditions in our faith. Each country has its own Holy Days of obligation, so do your research on if there’s one coming up.
Saturday is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday is dedicated to Mary because Saturday is the day she mourned the death of Jesus who died on Good Friday. Take time on Saturday to say a Hail Mary or a Hail Holy Queen
Go to Confession
At least once a month is a good minimum for confession. God forgives our sins. The Sacrament of Penance “is the ordinary way of obtaining forgiveness and remission of mortal sins committed after Baptism.” Every mortal sin must be stated in confession in order for you to receive absolution, so you can receive the blessed sacrament in a state of grace.
Try to do a few Holy Hours
Catholic Churches are usually open during the week. Go to one and spend an hour praying or reading the Bible in front of the Holy Eucharist.
Attend a Spiritual Retreat
Many Catholic churches host or sponsor spiritual retreats. They’re a great way to gauge your spiritual progress. Often times these are silent treats and they can be quite challenging.
Stay in the presence of God
God is always near. Remember that and try to please him in everything you do. If you’re unsure about something consult the Apostles’ Creed or Ten Commandments.
Thank God for the graces he constantly gives you
Life is hard. And it’s easy to only turn to God when life gets hard. But the good things of this world come from God, so thank him.
Do everything for the Love of God
It’s okay to do good things because you don’t want to go to Hell. But ideally you should be living a holy life because of pure intentions. Make Acts of contrition throughout the day and work to be pure of heart.
God Bless you in your journey to becoming a good Catholic!