Religion & Spirituality

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The Catholic Sacrament of Penance

Catholics believe that the Church heals in the Sacrament of Penance. The Sacrament of Penance (or Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession) is for spiritual healing. Catholics believe Jesus left the Sacrament [more…]

The Role of Catholic Bishops and Archbishops

In the Catholic Church, archbishops and bishops rank below cardinals. Becoming a bishop is the third and fullest level of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The first level is the ordination of a deacon, the [more…]

The Role of Priests in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, a parish priest (also known as a pastor) is a priest appointed by the bishop to represent him to the local parish, which is a collection of neighborhoods in one small region of [more…]

The Role of Catholic Monks and Nuns

Monks and nuns inhabit the lowest rung of the hierarchy in the Catholic Church. Religious brothers and sisters aren’t members of the clergy, but they aren’t members of the lay faithful, either. They’re [more…]

Vatican City, Home of the Catholic Church

The head of the Catholic Church, the pope, is also the head of the smallest independent nation in the world — Vatican City. Vatican City covers only 0.2 square miles [more…]

Catholic Gestures Explained

Catholics express reverence and respect with several gestures. If you’re Catholic, you perform the sign of the cross, you kneel at the proper times during Mass, and you genuflect as a matter of course. [more…]

Catholic Symbols Explained

Every religion has its sacred symbols, and Catholicism may have more symbols than other religions. The cross that represents what Jesus suffered for his followers is a common Christian symbol, but Catholics [more…]

The Catholic Church and Contraception

The Catholic Church believes that artificial contraception is sinful and immoral and may frustrate a divine plan to bring a new life into the world. Instead of using birth control methods such as the pill [more…]

The Catholic Church and Homosexuality

The Catholic Church respects and loves the homosexual person the same as it does the heterosexual. Catholicism teaches that homosexual people must be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. [more…]

The Catholic Worship Service: The Mass

The Mass, the formal, official worship service of Catholicism, is the most important and sacred act of worship in the Catholic Church. Going to Mass is the only way a Catholic can fulfill the Third Commandment [more…]

A Look at Key Catholic Prayers

Catholics say many of the same prayers other religions do, with some variations. The key Catholic prayers are either part of the Mass, during which many prayers are sung, or part of praying the rosary. [more…]

Celebrating Catholic Mass in the Local Language

From 1563 until 1965, the Catholic Mass was said entirely in Latin. Now, Catholics worldwide celebrate the Mass in their own native language. That huge change resulted from Vatican II, more formally known [more…]

Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church

On holy days of obligation, Catholics are obliged to participate in Mass. Every Sunday is a holy day of obligation, as are six other days throughout the year. In the United States, these holy days of obligation [more…]

The Eightfold Path of Buddhism

The Eightfold Path of Buddhism, also called the Middle Path or Middle Way, is the system of following these eight divisions of the path to achieve spiritual enlightenment and cease suffering: [more…]

Islam’s Five Pillars of Worship

The Five Pillars of worship provide the foundations and basic support of Islam. These fundamental acts of worship and rituals are obligations for every practicing Muslim with the hope that each pillar [more…]

Four Affirmations of Shinto

Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, emphasizes living with sincerity and virtue, possible only by an awareness of the divine. The fundamental beliefs in Shinto are the Four Affirmations [more…]

People of Great Religious Importance

All religions have important people whose teachings and lives embody the spirit of the faith and present models of faith’s promise. This chart shows the founders, teachers, and key leaders of major religions [more…]

Religion For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Knowing the people who founded and shaped major religions of the world — along with fundamental beliefs and practices of Buddhism, Islam, and Shinto — will lead you to a better understanding of religion [more…]

Wiccan Holidays: Celebrating the Sun on the Sabbats

Wiccan holidays, or Sabbats, are timed to the seasons and the Earth's natural rhythms. Sabbats celebrate the Earth's journey around the sun, called the [more…]

Basic Design Steps for Wiccan Ritual

For Wiccans, ritual is a ceremony performed for a specific purpose such as feeling a connection to Deity, and the essence of Wicca. During ritual, Wiccans honor or worship the Divine, many work magic, [more…]

Wiccan Holidays: Celebrating the Moon on the Esbats

The Esbats, or Wiccan lunar holy days, celebrate the moon's passage around the Earth. The Esbats offer Wiccans a chance to regularly put aside time to step away from the ordinary world and dedicate time [more…]

Wicca and Witchcraft For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Wicca, a sect of witchcraft, is centered in ritual that Wiccans perform for specific purposes, such as communicating with or honoring Deity. The Sabbats are Wiccan solar holidays focused on the Earth's [more…]

The Split that Created Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Catholics

Eastern Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics are the result of what is known as the East-West Schism (or Great Schism) of 1054, when medieval Christianity split into two branches. [more…]

Catholicism and the Ten Commandments

According to Exodus in the Old Testament, God issued his own set of laws (the Ten Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are considered [more…]

Catholicism and Natural Moral Law

A pillar of the Catholic set of laws is its understanding of natural moral law, which addresses laws that aren’t written but nevertheless known by all men and women who have the use of reason. It uses [more…]

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