The 1942 Catholic Layman's Guide: A brief outline of what he should know and do. (Copyright, 1942)
Necessity Of Faith
Faith is absolutely necessary for salvation:
"Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6);
"He that believeth not shall be condemned." (Mark 16:16).
Suppose a person who is ignorant of his religion were dying and you had only a few minutes to instruct him.
- How many truths would he be obliged to accept by faith before he could hope to save his soul?
- There is but one God, Creator of Earth and Heaven.
- In God there are three Divine Persons:
- God, the Father
- God, the Son-God, and
- God, the Holy Ghost.
- The Second Person became Man and died for us.
- God rewards the good with Heaven, and because of their earthly choices, punishes the wicked in Hell.
The fact that such a man would be asked to make an act of faith in four truths does not mean that the other truths of our religion are unimportant. These four truths contain implicitly all the other truths and, in danger of death, faith in them suffices. We ourselves should make frequent acts of faith in these four truths by reciting often the Act of Faith which contains all four.
Of course, faith alone is not sufficient for salvation. In addition, we must:
- be baptized, or
- absolved from sin in the Sacrament of Penance, or
- make an act of perfect contrition
and perform good works.
Qualities Of Faith
Our faith should have the following characteristics:
- We must believe all the truths which the Catholic Church teaches. To believe some truths and reject others would be an insult to God whose infallible word covers each and every truth revealed by Him.
- We should believe without any hesitation or doubt. Let us often recall that God struck Zachary dumb for doubting the words of the Angel.
- We should manifest our faith by our daily conduct that is, we should be guided in our daily actions by the truths which we accept on faith.
- We should be ready to surrender all, even our life, rather than deny our faith.
Loss Of Faith
The following are the most frequent causes of the loss of faith:
- Pride and unwillingness to subject our mind to God's truths.
- Neglect of one's prayers and of making frequent acts of faith.
- Neglect of one's religious duties.
- Not listening to sermons.
- A wicked life which gradually leads us to think and believe as we live.
- Companionship with irreligious people, scoffers at religion, infidels, and atheists.
- Marriage with those of other faiths can oppress our faith, especially in the raising of children as Catholics.
What Everyone Must Believe
- Everyone must believe that there is one God and only one God;
- that He is infinite, eternal and unchangeable; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent; infinitely good, holy, just, merciful and all-wise;
- that He created the universe, and everything that is in it, without anyone's help and without the use of pre-existing matter — in other words, that He created the world by His omnipotent word out of nothing.
We must believe that there are three persons in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
- that the first is unbegotten and proceeds from no one
- that the second proceeds from the first as Eternal Word by intellectual generation
- that the third proceeds by love from the first and second as from one principle
- that all three Persons are coeternal, coequal and consubstantial, all possessing the same wisdom, goodness, power, majesty and dignity; that the words first, second, and third (Persons) merely indicate the order in which one proceeds from the other from all eternity.
We must also believe that God created an invisible world of spiritual beings called Angels.
- that the Angels are endowed with an intellect and free-will and with superior knowledge and power;
- that they were constituted in sanctifying grace and placed on probation;
- that some rebelled against God and were cast into Hell whence they come forth as demons to tempt men on Earth;
- that the others, who remained faithful, were taken into the Beatific Vision and are sent by God as our guardians and protectors.
We must believe that Adam, the first man, the parent and head of the whole human race:
- was constituted in a state of innocence and holiness;
- that he was endowed with the supernatural gifts of the Indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in his soul, sanctifying grace, the virtues, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- that he was also endowed with such extraordinary gifts as freedom from concupiscence, freedom from ignorance, freedom from sufferings and death;
- that tempted by Satan. a fallen Angel, he freely threw away these great gifts in the Fall;
- that by committing a mortal sin of pride and disobedience he lost these gifts not only for himself but for the whole human race;
- that all of Adam's descendants are born in the state of original sin with guilt on their soul and deprived of the gifts.
We must believe that Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity:
- became man to make up for the injury to the infinite majesty of God by a finite creature;
- that Christ is truly God coequal and consubstantial with the Father by whom He was eternally uttered and begotten;
- that He is also true Man having a true human nature consisting of a body and a human soul;
- that Christ is our prophet, priest and king, that is, teaches us, makes us holy, and rules us.
About Jesus' Earthly family:
- We must believe that Christ did not have a human father but that St. Joseph was only His foster-father;
- that His Mother was immaculately conceived, that is, by a singular privilege and in view of the merits of Christ, free from all stain of sin and full of grace from the first moment of her conception;
- that Mary was a Virgin at the conception of Christ since Christ's body in her womb was formed through the supernatural and miraculous working of the Holy Spirit;
- that Mary was a Virgin at the birth of Christ, and that she always remained a Virgin after the birth of Christ.
About Jesus' redemptive work:
- Everyone must believe that Christ liberated us from sin;
- that He redeemed us by His love and obedience which took the form of sufferings and death;
- that by His love and obedience He expiated the guilt of sin, and by His Passion and Death the penalty of sin;
- that at each stage of His redeeming work Christ acted as our Head and Representative so that we expiate our sins and regain our supernatural heritage in and by Him;
- that the precise period in history in which these events took place was under Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea;
- that the reality of Christ's death was attested by His Burial.
After Jesus' Death:
- We must believe that Christ after His death descended into Hell which was not the Hell of the Damned nor Purgatory, but the Limbo of the Just where the patriarchs, prophets, and the Just of the Old Testament after having expiated their venial sins and temporal penalties, were awaiting the coming of the Redeemer to open to them the gates of Heaven;
- that Our Lord preached to these souls in the Limbo of the Just the glad tidings of their approaching deliverance;
- that all the while that Christ was in the Limbo of the Just His Divine Person remained united to both His Soul and to His Body in the grave.
The significance of Jesus' Glorious Resurrection:
- We must believe that on Easter Sunday Morning, the third day after His Burial, Christ made Himself alive again, that is, He Rose from the dead, and kept appearing for forty days to His Apostles and to many others in proof of this fact;
- that His Resurrection is the final and all-convincing proof that Jesus was what He claimed to be, namely God;
- that the merits which the Redeemer won for us by His Passion and Death are stored up in the Risen Christ Who distributes these graces to us through prayer and through the channels of the seven sacraments;
- that it is the Risen Christ who dwells in our tabernacles;
- that our own resurrection and entrance into Heaven is made possible only because Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
On Jesus' Glorious Ascension and perpetual intercession to this day:
- We must believe that after He spent forty days upon Earth Christ of His own power ascended into Heaven where He sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, and enjoys equal power and honor with Him;
- that thence He sent, as He promised, the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles and their successors until the end of time;
- that as the God-Man, by continually showing His Glorious Wounds to the Blessed Trinity, He is making constant intercession for us.
On Jesus' Second Coming and our Judgment:
- We must believe that the Risen Christ will come from Heaven in glory at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead;
- that on this day both the good and bad will rise from the dead and in their risen bodies be consigned to eternal glory or to eternal punishment;
- that at this final or general judgment men will be judged in so far as they are members of society and that their eternal lot will be made known to all;
- that there is a particular judgment, which takes place immediately after death, at which the person is judged as a particular individual and at which his lot is irrevocably determined.
On the Holy [Spirit|Ghost], the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity:
- We must believe that there is a Third Person in the Blessed Trinity
- the "Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life
- Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son
- Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified
- Who spoke by the Prophets;"
- that the Holy Ghost is the Author of our sanctification and spiritual perfection, and that He dwells in the just as in His own temple.
On Jesus and the Church He founded on St. Peter and his future successors:
- We must believe that Our Blessed Lord, before He ascended into Heaven, founded a society, the Catholic Church, to carry on His work among men;
- that the Church is made up of those who, being baptized, profess the doctrine of Jesus Christ, share in the same sacraments, and in their religious life are ruled by their lawful bishops under a single and supreme leader, the Pope.
About the Catholic Church:
- We must believe that the Church is Apostolic, because it was founded by Christ on the Apostles and is governed by their successors;
- One, because all its members are one in the same faith, have the same sacraments and sacrifice, the same visible head, the Pope;
- Holy, because its Founder, Jesus Christ is all holy, its doctrines are holy, its means of sanctification are holy its members are holy;
- Universal or Catholic, because it will carry out until the end of time Christ's command to teach the truth to all nations.
- We must also believe that the Church is Indefectible, because it will last, as Christ founded it, until the end of time; and
- Infallible, because, by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, it cannot err when it teaches or believes a doctrine of faith and morals.
About the Holy Father, the Pope:
We must believe that the:
"Roman Pontiff, when he speaks Ex Cathedra, that is, when, fulfilling the charge of Pontiff and Teacher of Christians, and in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held by the universal Church, possesses in its fullness, by the divine assistance which has been promised to him in the person of the blessed Peter, that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished His Church to be provided, when defining His doctrine touching faith or morals; and consequently, that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irrevocable essentially, and not in virtue of the consent of the Church."
(Vatican Council I)
Source of the Church's Teachings:
We must believe that the sources from which the Church derives and infallibly proposes to us her teachings on faith and morals are the Scriptures and Tradition.
On Renewing our Sunday Covenant at Sunday Mass:
- We must believe that Christ instituted The Sacrifice as a memorial of His Passion and Death; that this Sacrifice, called the Mass, is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because:
- the Victim is the same, and
- the principal priest, Jesus Christ, is the same,
but that only the manner of offering is different.
On the Seven Sacraments of the Church:
We must believe that Christ instituted seven Sacraments, seven outward signs to give grace, viz:
- Holy Eucharist
- Penance or Confession
- Anointing Of The Sick
- Holy Orders
On the Communion of Saints:
We must believe that in the Church Catholic and universally there is an interchange of assistance and interest between:
- the Church Militant on Earth
- the Church Suffering in Purgatory, and
- the Church Triumphant in Heaven;
- that the Saints can aid those on Earth and in Purgatory;
- that the Souls in Purgatory intercede for those on Earth;
- that the members of the Church on Earth can aid each other and the Souls in Purgatory by their prayers and good works;
- that this interchange of interest and assistance is known as the Communion of Saints.
On Indulgences and the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance:
- We must believe that the Church has the power of forgiving sin, and the power of granting Indulgences for the remission of the temporal penalties due to sin;
- that Baptism and Penance are the Sacraments instituted by Christ for the forgiveness of sins;
- that Baptism remits all the sins of which the person is guilty;
- that Penance removes the sins committed after baptism.
- We must believe in the existence of divine grace which is a supernatural gift granted by God to angels and men with a view to eternal life;
- that [uncreated|increate] Grace is the Blessed Trinity Itself dwelling in our soul;
- that sanctifying grace is a permanent quality entering into the soul and making it pleasing to God;
- that actual grace is a supernatural help granted to us by God for the enlightenment of the mind and strengthening of the will for the performance of good works;
- that all graces were merited for us by Christ and are communicated to us through prayer and the Sacraments.
On our bodies at the Second Coming:
- We must believe that all men will rise from the dead on the last day;
- that the bodies of all men will be restored to life, but that their manner of life will be very different;
- that the bodies of the just will be glorious and beautiful;
- that the bodies of the wicked will be incorruptible but devoid of all splendor;
- that these risen bodies will live forever:
- in a state of absolute bliss if they belong to the just
- in a state of misery, if they belong to the wicked.
On Everlasting Life with God and our families:
Finally, we must believe that:
- God has prepared life everlasting or a special bliss for those who served Him faithfully on Earth and died in union with Him through sanctifying grace;
- that the first and foremost cause of this bliss will be the beatific vision and love of the Triune God;
- that we shall also enjoy the company:
- of our loved ones
- of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- the angels and the saints of God;
- that this happiness will not be equal in all but proportionate to the intensity of their love of God while they were on Earth;
- that this Heavenly Joy will never diminish or come to an end.