The Catholic Faith in a Nutshell
The Catholic faith cannot be put into a nutshell. Christ's teachings are just too big. John writes at the end of his gospel, "But there were many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (20:25). The Catholic Church follows every one of Christ's teachings, and it continues to learn and to grow after two thousand years. Nevertheless, here are a few words to briefly express what Catholics believe.
Catholics believe that God created the human race to know, love, and serve Him. Through the disobedience of the first man and woman, the human race separated itself from the grace of God. In his infinite love, however, God sent his only begotten son to die for their sins. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross opened abundant grace and reunited mankind to God. Men are saved by the grace of Christ alone. To accept this grace, they must have faith and a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
A deep and personal relationship with God is meaningless without actions to back it up. Christ says, "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Christ's commandments are to love God above all things and to love one's neighbor as one's self. Love for God is manifested through worship. Catholics worship God through prayer and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Love for one's neighbor requires "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Luke 6:31). Catholics follow this command by holding a high moral standard.
Putting the law of Christ completely into practice is beyond the strength of fallen human nature. However, "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). God provides the necessary strength to those who ask for it. Catholics receive spiritual strength through prayers and the Sacraments.
Jesus Christ instituted the Catholic Church to administer the sacraments and to give instruction in the practical application of God's law. The Catholic Church has faithfully performed this duty for two thousand years. As members of the human race and creatures of God, it is the duty of every human being to belong to the Catholic Church.