It's always kind of puzzled me when I have heard other Christians say that Catholics are only focused on works or that in anyone's life there must be a specific moment in time when a person became a "believer" in Jesus. Since I never had that "altar call/come to Jesus" experience, for a long time I thought that maybe something was wrong with me. I absolutely cannot answer the question "when did you first believe?" because the answer is that I don't know. I cannot remember a time that I didn't believe, and it only occurred to me very recently that this is likely due to my Catholic upbringing.
Each week in mass we would recite The Nicene Creed. The second text on this page is the one I remember (it took a little time to track it down; the other versions I found just weren't quite right).
Read through it. No, really, read through it. What do you notice? Is it about how people must work for their own salvation? Is it about anything that we do? No. It is all about belief. It is about belief in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. It is about believe in what they each did and do. It is about belief.
This is something that I recited every single week, and before I knew how to say it myself, I heard it recited. It was something I knew before I even knew that I knew it. It was the teaching of belief.
There have been many times I have wondered (and continue to wonder) why I believed as I did, and times I have wondered and struggled with whether or not my beliefs were wrong, but somehow, deep down, I always held on to these deeply ingrained beliefs, even if I could not articulate them, and even if I was clinging to them only by a the thinnest fraying thread.
I'm not sure I ever, until writing this, thought about the part this creed may have played in my faith journey, but I am now fairly certain that it had something to do with it. Even though repeating the same thing every week can become boring and rote, there is still value to it. We do not have to be completely certain about each and every thing that we believe, and we can waver, and we can question, and we can have doubts, because God doesn't require that we have it all figured out in our brains before we decide to follow Him. And somehow, those years of repeating those words must have given me something to hang on to, something to connect me to God when it seemed as if nothing at all made sense.
So the next time I hear that Catholics have nothing to do with belief but are all about works, I can definitely explain why that is not the case.