A practicing Catholic - what is it?

What does it mean (these days) to be a practicing Catholic. Mass attendance and the sacraments? Or, is there more. What are your thoughts on how we Catholics practice what we believe?


I would say that a practicing Catholic not only goes to Mass and receives the sacraments, though that’s part of it. The “practice” also includes your prayer life and nurturing that as needed, plus practicing the corporal works of mercy. You can add much more to it, but to me these are the minimum.


If somebody believes everything in the Profession of Faith, reasonably keeps the Commandments (Moses’ 10 and Jesus’ 2), attends Mass on Sundays and HDOs, follows the precepts of the Church, and does some sincere praying daily, they’re practicing Catholics in my book. That’s pretty much what my parents did.


In today’s day and age, if they go to Mass on Sundays and confess at least a couple times a year (probably in one of those reconciliation services offered during Advent and Lent), they are practicing Catholics to me.

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I would add that a practicing Catholic cannot claim conscience to defy or disregard what the Church definitely holds as true, a practicing Catholic doesn’t create his own truth but forms his conscience according to the Truth.


Going to confession. Attending Mass and receiving the Sacrament.
Sharing your time, talents, and treasure.
Giving glory and praise to God through your words and actions each day.
Trying to love and serve your brothers and sisters, especially those who cause you angst or pain.
This is what bring a practicing Catholic is.


In my opinion, at a minimum, its those who live out repentance, who are baptized, who make sacrifices for others and/or God (which can include Mass attendance), and who go to communion and confession at least once or twice a year.

I would note that doing all of the above can be burdensome, but a cross is a burden.

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This question is different enough from the thread title that the two could be juxtaposed.

I say that because the term “practicing Catholic” is only about checking boxes.

As for the other question, it seems like an incomplete question. Are you asking how Catholics ought to practice what they believe or how they are obligated to practice it? Or how they actually practice it?

This is the question.

Yeah that’s just hard to answer because it’s really an individual thing.

A practicing Catholic does just that - i.e. practicing and living the Catholic Faith.

Morning & evening prayer, attending Liturgy/Mass on Sundays and HDOs (and even those that are solemn but not HDOs), receiving the Mysteries/Sacraments frequently AND worthily, charity towards one’s neighbor, defending the Faith when attacked.

Gal. 5: 22-23.

Uffff. A lot to unpack here. First, a disclaimer or a correction. When I used the term “practicing Catholic”, I did not have in mind the definition, slightly pejorative, given by the popular media. They use the term precisely the way you put it; as someone checking off boxes, mindlessly repeating prayers, etc.
When I used that term, I meant it in the broad sense that a discerning Catholic might use to define what it is to practice one’s faith.
What you say about our faith penetrating every part of our lives is very true, but can it be realistically achieved? I find this difficult. If it were possible, we would be approaching some level of sainthood, and this would have to be through grace and not some individual effort. (I think)
Praise of the one true God - this should occupy every moment of our life, and once again, very difficult. Perhaps some spiritual exercises and ascetic life could get us closer to this.
Monasticism may be the right setting for such efforts, but what about us, mere mortals?
Ora et labora ad majorem Dei Gloriam - I only know of one person who lives and works with this in mind. I am certain that there are many Catholics who live and work for the greater glory of God.

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Actually, I was thinking of the way all of the parishes I’ve belonged to have used the term. Sort of like…a parish will say, “In order to X or Y, you must be a practicing Catholic.” I know exactly what they mean by “practicing Catholic”.

I used to think going to mass regularly and making the sacraments made me a practicing Catholic. Now I realize I have a lot of work to do.
For me, practice at this point includes daily prayer (I am not in habit of saying grace and need to work on that). I pray every night and morning and often on walks and in the car. Often I pray the rosary, often also pray to Angels, directly to God and to Mary. I am becoming more specific in my intentions and learning about saints.

I have adopted a habit of going to monthly confession…more often if needed.

I am reading the Bible for the first time beginning to end.

I am working on seeking virtue and avoiding sin as a conscious effort.

I have a long list of habits to improve upon.

Of course, some would say this all takes too long but it doesn’t. I believe in total I spend an hour a day in prayer and reading…time I would be lazing in bed or reading something else anyway.

To me the short answer is that a practicing Catholic simply and actively practices , daily, considering and acting per our faith in all we do, and develop mindfulness ordered toward God as taught by our Church.

I tend to do some or all of what you mention. Not as regularly as I would like, but still do it. The thing that I find lacking in much of what we have been discussing here is the idea of fellowship. I don’t believe that Catholicism can be practiced in isolation, but this seems to be the condition of today’s Catholics.

Someone who keeps working at their faith so they can eventually be perfect as God asked them to be.

my two cents…

I am very isolated in my faith and it upsets me. Very good point.

The Church has given us the basic precepts of the Church. Those who follow, to the best of their ability, those precepts are practicing their faith.

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In this day and age, when there is no longer much or any social stigma attached to not going to church, and when the priest is not going to be seeking out your house and giving you a stern talking-to if you don’t go, it is highly unlikely that someone making a concerted effort to “check all the boxes” is not truly living their Catholic faith. Sure, they will likely slip up from time to time, maybe by getting angry at someone or gossiping or not being as kind as they should, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t making an effort to live their faith. The Apostles for example engaged in all of the above sins from time to time, yet they were obviously full of zeal for the Lord and trying hard to live the Christian life.

I think it’s maybe time that we bury this myth that praying and going to church don’t signify anything, or that someone who “only” goes to church and tries to follow the commandments and precepts is “surely not living a holy life”. I’m not even sure why somebody would make that assumption.

Our faith should penetrate every part of our lives, every waking moment.

People who are busy trying to take care of their families and meet their responsibilities in society are living their faith by trying to live a good and just and fair life, regardless of whether they are specifically thinking of God or Catholicism every waking moment.

Of course, this does not mean we all need to join a monastery, but our Catholic faith should define all of our actions, and our actions should reflect and praise the One, True God of the Catholic Church. And on the topic of monasteries, St. Benedict’s saying of “ora et labora” (pray and work) is a fairly good representation of what much our time should look like.

I’m also not really encouraged by people telling me I have to live like a Benedictine monk in order to be a practicing Catholic. Benedictine monks are called to live the monastic life. Lay people in society are called to live in many different ways. I think maybe you ought to think more broadly and explore a few more ways in which Catholics live their faith.

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I’m a practicing Catholic like I’m a practicing euphonium player – I have to keep working at it until I get it right.