What does it mean to be a Devout Catholic?

I have seen many different ‘definitions’ of a devout Catholic before, and I wondered what people here think.

When you hear someone say that they or someone else is a devout Catholic, what does that mean to you?



One Human’s opinion.

A Devout Catholic is one whom follows through ALL the RULES of the Catholic Church without question to achieve their individual spirituality and relationship with Jesus Christ.

To me, it’s about much more than going to Mass.

A devout Catholic goes to Mass as often as they can - even when they have a good excuse not to.

A devout Catholic sees prayer in what they do, not just what they say.

A devout Catholic obeys ALL of the Church teachings, not just the easier ones, without acting like a martyr while doing it. They don’t look for reasons/excuses/loopholes/opinions/scientific advances/social norms/comparisons to other religions to get out of obeying. They simply ask and follow church teachings with a meek and humble spirit, asking only to serve in the vocation they have be led to.


Attending Mass regularly.
Accepting and obeying with love and humility all the doctrine and dogma of The Church, with enthusiasum.
Living our everyday lives according to the teachings of The Church.

I get angry when I see the news on TV about someone who is described as “a devout Catholic” whose “fiancee” and 2 kids by him/her are being interviewed for the news piece.
Or someone who is being held for a string of robberies but is described by the media as “a devout Catholic”
Happens all the time.

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My wife and I are Devout Catholics for 40 years pluse and I think if you just keep Jesus in your heart he will guid you to an answer.

Brother in Christ

A do-it-yourself Catholic as described by the major media. :wink:

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I most often hear the term Devout Catholic in this way, “They refused to even speak to their son ever again, and they are Devout Catholics!” The usage here indicates that Devout Catholic ususally indicates some sort of inadequate moral response or hypocrisy when used by a non-Catholic to describe a Catholic. I am not talking about media usage, but everyday ordinary people usage.

If I (a Catholic) called someone devout, I would probably mean the type who has integrated their religion into every corner of their lives. If I mean they go to daily mass, that’s what I’d say, “They are a daily-mass-goer.”

What is the purpose of mans life? To imitate the Holy Trinity. How do we do this? Love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your might and all your strength. And love your neighbour as yourself.
This is the sign of a true Christian, at his core. How is this imitating the Holy Trinity? Answer follows.
As God the Father loves God the Son. So we love God the Son. And as the Son loves the Father. So we love the Father. And as the Father and the Son love the Holy Spirit. So we love the Holy Spirit. As the members of the Holy Trinity love eachother. So God loves Himself. And so we love ourselves. And as God loves all men. So we love all men.
A quote from St Josemaria.
Let us ask ourselves once again, here in the presence of God: ‘Lord, why have you given us this power? Why have you entrusted us with the faculty of choosing you or rejecting you? You want us to make good use of this power. Lord, what you do want me to do?’ His reply is precise, crystal-clear: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind.’

Don’t you see? Freedom finds its true meaning when it is put to the service of the truth which redeems, when it is spent in seeking God’s infinite Love which liberates us from all forms of slavery. Each passing day increases my yearning to proclaim to the four winds this inexhaustible treasure that belongs to christianity: ‘the glorious freedom of the children of God!’ This is essentially what is meant by a ‘good will’, which teaches us to pursue ‘good, after having distinguished it from evil’.

I would like you to meditate on a fundamental point, which brings home to us the responsibility we have for our own consciences. Nobody else can choose for us: ‘men’s supreme dignity lies in this, that they are directed towards the good by themselves, and not by others’. Many of us have inherited the Catholic faith from our parents, and, by the grace of God, supernatural life began in our souls from the moment we were baptised as new-born infants. But we must renew throughout our lives, and every day of our lives, our determination to love God above all things. ‘He is a Christian, a true Christian, who subjects himself to the rule of the one and only Word of God,’ without laying down conditions to his obedience, and being ever ready to resist the devil’s temptings by adopting the same attitude as Christ did: ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and serve none but Him.’

The reason I posted this thread/poll has more to do with what I think and do lately than the word devout. It is interesting that the term “devout Catholic” has so many different connotations to it. I read something recently that referred to someone as a devout Catholic and in parenthases it said ‘attends mass at least once a month.’ What surprised me about that, was that was not what I thought a devout Catholic was. To me, a devout Catholic is someone who has their faith so intertwined into their lives that you know almost immediately that they are committed to God.

I can still picture the elderly woman who attended daily mass and always sat in the front row near the aisle. I was 14 at the time, going to daily mass myself before school. I would watch her from my near-back-row seat and think - wow - she’s got it, she knows what this Catholicism is all about!

Today, I am wrestling with how one grows in faith, practices their faith daily, grows more committed to God and seeking His will, and still maintains daily life - work, school, family, etc. I wrestle with this because it seems that my spiritual life is strangely separate from my “normal” life. How do they become intertwined? I work all week, I’m a wife, mother, and student in college. And lately, all I want to do is sit in the church and pray. That doesn’t get the laundry or homework done!

I don’t want to feel like I turn on and off my spiritual life and I don’t want to get caught up in comparing myself to other Catholics - I want what God wants for me. Sometimes it’s just so confusing as to how the spiritual life and earthly life come together!


PS - Thanks again John, as you have provided good food for thought!

1.) you believe, accept, embrace, and love all the Catholic Church teaches.

2.) you try to have a good prayer life, and try to resist sin- and when you do fall, you acknowledge it and go to confession (if need be).

3.) you share your faith with others.

I’m guessing that the average Catholic would define a devout Catholic as anyone who is more religious than the average Catholic!

In other words, a devout Catholic is a person who does more than Sunday Mass and volunteer on a few committees.

A devout Catholic, as Pug said, “has integrated their religion into every corner of their lives.” You see them practice their religion not because they are showing off but because they have woven these practices into their everyday activities. To a devout Catholic, being Catholic is not just a Sunday activity but a lifestyle, so to speak. I also think devoutness is a matter of degree…

A devout Catholic goes to Holy Days of Obligation and a really devout Catholic goes to Masses other than Sundays and Holy Days (like daily Mass whenever possible and feast days).

A devout Catholic prays the Rosary, and a really devout Catholic will lead the Rosary before Mass.

A devout Catholic goes to confession at least once a year, maybe a few times a year. A really devout Catholic goes frequently.

You get the idea…

devout - to me means:

all my daily thoughts and actions are for the glory of God.

i find God in every aspect of my daily interactions with people

i look for the meaning behind all of my suffering and thank God
whether I understand it or not

Have I got a book for you!! Please do yourself a favor and check out:


It’s called “Introduction to the Devout Life” and it was written by the man I choose as my patron saint, St. Francis de Sales. It was written at a time when few believed that one could be truly “devout” and still live in this world. St. Francis wrote it specifically for people like you and I who are not nuns or monks and must find a way to integrate our faith with our vocation in life.

Really. Check it out. You will be glad you did. :yup:
In His love,

Going to Mass regularly – at least once a week – maintaining, or trying hard to maintain, a good prayer life, submitting totally to the teaching of the Church.

When I was young, I use to think devotion was qualified by how often one attended mass or the number of prayers of devotions they pursued. Now I think it is better perceived by actions taken in life in general, becuase these are much easier to be faked. I know many seemingly devout people who attend mass frequently, and know all the intricacies of apologetics and practises, but they are so nasty to individuals, that I don’t think they would qualify as devout. Francis de Sales remarks that the pratice of charity is a hallmark of a devout life. It is more difficult to feign charity. Of course any qualification is best left to God alone.

“He is a practicing Catholic” is another strange term for me that I have heard over the years. But in another thread on one of these forums, it was explained that being Catholic and practicing it (Catholicism) can be two different things; the first being cultural in nature (getting your child baptised because it’s always been done in the family) and the latter, actually living and witnessing the faith.

Anyway, a quick check of someone professing to be a devout Catholic would at least have to meet some observable criteria like having a crucifix hanging in their home, daily prayer, scripture or spiritual reading, receiving the sacraments, and of course, Sunday mass. Without these, it becomes difficult to make the case.

May His peace be with you…

I flunk. I’ve never had a crucifix on the wall in my home. So, naturally, I suggest that it not be one of the criteria.:wink:

That’s why I suggest that there are degrees of devoutness. Some people would be considered devout because they go to daily Mass and a Bible study. Others are more “extreme” (a poor word choice, I know) because they do the aforementioned and have holy water in their home and pray a family rosary, and do this and do that, etc.

The main definition though (in my opinion), is that a devout Catholic does more in his/her religious practices than the “average” Joe Catholic – who typically only attends Sunday Mass and an occasional parish function.

A devout Catholic to me is one who practices their faith by going to mass each week, praying daily, and treating others with the same love and respect that you want from them.

It also means that you believe in all the major moral issues taught by the church, and you don’t pick and choose which ones you think are right or wrong. You also don’t go around making justifications for everything you disagree with.


To be a Devout Catholic is to be in love with God! :heart:

When we are in love with God we want to live **HIS ** ways. When we are in love with God all the other things (go to Mass, prayers, etc) comes of itself (not always without struggling and not without following the Church’s teaching)!

I want to put it this way:** If we love God, we don’t create our own rule to live by **, but try to find out what is HIS wishes for us and try to live his will! :heart:

“To try” is not the same as to be perfect or sinless: It’s about knowing about ones own imperfection, - to know that we owe him everything!

“To try” is to try to practise catholisism in daily life. A mother with four children to take care of, perhaps don’t have the time to go for Mass more often than at Sundays. She practise her faith through the way she behaves in front of her children, teaching them charity, forgivenes love for God and so on, - beieng a good example for them.