Andrew Parker

20 Catholic Beliefs That Aren’t in the Bible

Catholics believe in many things, but did you know that some of them aren’t even in the Bible? It’s weird to think there are so many traditions and ideas that have completely changed the face of Catholicism, yet there’s technically no basis for them in scripture. Of course, that doesn’t make them any less impressive, and we’re not suggesting that anybody should stop believing in them. Here are 20 Catholic beliefs that don’t actually exist in the Bible.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception

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Lots of people confuse the idea of Immaculate Conception and think it’s about Jesus being born without sin. But in reality, it’s actually about Mary, Jesus’s mom, being without sin, and it’s a pretty important Catholic belief. Even so, you won’t find it in the Bible since it wasn’t until 1854 that the Church actually declared it as a belief.

Mary’s Assumption

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Speaking of Mary, many Catholics believe that Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven instead of just passing away. In the Bible, there’s no mention of such an event, but that hasn’t stopped Catholics from making a big deal about it. In 1950, they made this event a holiday on August 15th every year.

The In-Between Space

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For Catholics, purgatory is the place between Heaven and Hell, where souls get cleaned before they move on. Technically, this isn’t in the Bible as it comes from bits and pieces in scriptures like 2 Maccabees, which isn’t in the Protestant Bible. Who would’ve thought that two different groups could read the same texts so differently?

The Pope’s Always Right

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Papal infallibility is the idea that whenever the Pope makes a decision on important Church matters, he’s always right. The Bible does talk about Peter, the first pope, being an important foundation for the Church, but it doesn’t say anything about future popes making no mistakes. The Catholic Church didn’t actually create this idea until 1870.

The Pope’s the Leader

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Likewise, the Catholic Church sees the Pope as being the spiritual leader and successor to St. Peter. Today, he has a sense of authority that just doesn’t compare to anything in biblical times, including being the guiding force behind Catholic global leadership. But the Bible doesn’t actually mention anything about these papal duties.

Rolling the Rosary

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Many Catholics use a kind of bead necklace, known as a rosary, to help them pray. It’s important because it helps them to meditate and focus on Jesus’s life, but it’s not actually in the Bible. This practice started with the Desert Fathers and eventually became an important symbol for Catholics worldwide.

There’s No Holy Water

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Catholics like to splash some Holy Water around to feel a little more protected or blessed, and it’s become part of many Catholic ceremonies. Even so, there’s no specific mention of it in the Bible, as it’s based on different purification rites from the Old Testament. The Catholic Church later tweaked it to fit their new goals over the centuries.

Confessing Your Sins

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One of the most important parts of Catholic life is confessing sins to a priest, and the Bible does encourage this. But the Bible doesn’t say anything about the whole booth-and-priest setup, which came about much later. The Catholic Church made this idea of confession a little more personal and private so people could get their forgiveness.

Celebrating Saints

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Catholics really look up to saints, and you’ll find quite a few of them asking for saints’ help and celebrating their lives with special days. Of course, the Bible does respect these holy people. But praying to them or having feast days? That comes from years of tradition instead of actual instructions in the Bible.

Canonizing Saints

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Likewise, the process of making someone a saint isn’t in the Bible either. It’s a pretty detailed process that the Church developed to recognize someone’s holy life and miracles, which includes verifying their life of virtue. It’s become an important part of Catholicism, even if it’s not explicitly in the Bible.

The Special Seven

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Catholics believe in seven sacraments, including baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist. Although they’re key parts of Catholic life, the Bible has no key outline. Instead, many Catholics believe Jesus created them, and the Church organized them to guide Catholics throughout their lives.

The Holy Day

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Sunday might be the Holy Day for many Catholics, but it wasn’t always this way. They actually used to celebrate the Sabbath on a Saturday before changing it to Sunday to honor the day that Jesus rose. There’s no mention of this in the Bible, as it was just a way for Catholics to set their new Christian faith apart.

Priests Being Celibate

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Have you ever wondered why so many Catholic priests don’t get married? They’re meant to stay single so they can focus all their energy on their community and spiritual duties. While the Bible does talk about being single to focus on religious life, it was the Catholic Church that made it a strict rule much later. Even so, studies suggest that only 50% of them are actually celibate.

Using Incense

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If you’ve ever been to a Catholic Mass and smelled that sweet scent of incense, you’ll probably know that it’s not just for ambiance. The Old Testament mentions it being used in ancient religious rites, but it wasn’t until later that the Church started using it differently. To Catholics, incense represents prayers going up to Heaven.

Being Baptized Young

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Baptizing babies is pretty much a standard part of Catholic life because it’s meant to wash away original sin and welcome them into the faith. Of course, the Bible does say we should get baptized, but it doesn’t give us an exact age on when to do this. Instead, the Catholic approach includes everyone from the start, although the number of baptisms is decreasing.

Transubstantiation Troubles

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When Catholics take Communion during Mass, they believe the bread and wine literally turn into Jesus’ body and blood, a process called Transubstantiation. This idea comes from Jesus at the Last Supper, though he doesn’t give us the specific details. Over the years, the Church fleshed out the details and made the Eucharist a key point of faith.

Indulgence Issues

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Indulgences have been a hot topic for a while, especially during the Protestant Reformation. They’re meant to reduce the penalties for sins, and they have some basis in biblical penance. But the whole thing about selling them for cash? That wasn’t in the Bible, which caused some major changes and drama within the Catholic Church.

Liturgical Colors

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You might’ve noticed how priests wear different colored robes throughout the year, like purple for Lent or white for Easter. It’s not in the Bible, so where did it come from? The Catholic Church actually created this to mirror how our spiritual mood changes with the seasons and to make the service feel a little more important.

Station of the Cross

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Many Catholics will walk the Stations of the Cross to help them think about Jesus’ final hours, although this isn’t exactly in the Bible. Believers created this pilgrimage because they wanted to connect with Christ’s suffering on a more personal level. Eventually, it became a pretty powerful tradition, especially during Lent.

Guardian Angels

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Around 77% of people find comfort in the idea that a guardian angel is watching over them, giving them protection and guidance. For Catholics, it’s pretty important, even though it’s not directly mentioned in the Bible. They believe it teaches them to think about the personal care we all get from the heavenly realm.

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