Tuesday 28th February 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

I Believe — We Believe

August 16, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Over the past three weeks of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we have been reflectively examining the characteristics of the indescribably wonderful gift of faith that Almighty God has so generously availed mankind.
As so adeptly summarized in the Compendium of the CCC, we know that faith is “the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it. The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person — prompted by the will moved by God — who freely assents to divine truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of God; it works ‘through charity’ (Gal. 5:6); and it continually grows through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a foretaste of the joys of Heaven” (n. 28).
Clearly, then, “faith is a personal act — the free response of the human person to the initiative of God Who reveals Himself” (CCC, n. 166). At the same time, however, how true is an insightful spiritual maxim that I’ve often heard preached: You don’t get to Heaven on your own — either you bring others with you or risk not making it yourself. Just as we have not given ourselves life, we have not given ourselves faith; just as others have formed us in faith, it is our duty to hand that precious gift on to others. If we are authentically living out the twofold Gospel message of love for God and love for neighbor, we cannot help but speak to others about our faith.
As the Catechism so succinctly puts it, “each believer is…a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith” (CCC, n. 166).
Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, describes the societal character of faith as follows: “Faith is a social virtue because every believer has received his faith from other believers. Moreover, we have the duty to share our faith with others. Finally, our faith supports the faith of others, even as their faith sustains us in our believing in the Word of God” (The Faith, p. 38).
Put another way, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, all believers are called to support one another in building up the Church by assisting each other in learning, living, and spreading the faith. Is not this a key element of the New Evangelization as called for by Blessed John Paul II and embraced by Pope Benedict XVI?
The text of the Catechism sets before us, in side-by-side fashion, two Creeds of the Church by which we profess our faith personally and publicly, the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (or Nicene Creed), respectively.
The Apostles’ Creed, the prayer with which we begin the rosary, is “the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism” (CCC, n. 167). On the other hand, the Nicene Creed, which the congregation prays in community immediately after the Liturgy of the Word at each Sunday Mass, is “the faith of the Church confessed by the bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers” (CCC, n. 167). A careful examination of these two forms of the Creed reveals that they profess one and the same faith of the Catholic Church, the Apostles’ Creed in more brief form.
When making our profession of faith at Holy Mass, we all simultaneously say, “I believe . . . ” As Christoph Cardinal Schönborn points out in Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Here, each one speaks for himself personally, since believing is a quite personal act. Nevertheless, what we express in the Creed is not our ‘private’ ideas but something shared by all of us in the Faith. We could also say, ‘We believe . . . ,’ as is done in the Greek version of the ‘major’ profession of faith” (p. 31). He goes on to say that “the expression ‘I believe…’ refers in the first instance to the ‘I’ of the Church. I, as an individual, can join in saying the ‘I believe…’ only within the communion of the Church” (ibid., p. 32).
Hence, as the Catechism tells us: “It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes, and sustains my faith. . . . It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism” (CCC, n. 168).
The Catechism goes on to tell us that “salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother…[and] because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the Faith” (CCC, n. 169).
How can this be? Just as our mother in the natural order carries us in her womb and gives us physical life, nourishes and cares for us, and teaches us about life, so too, it is the Church who gives us spiritual life through the saving waters of Baptism, who sustains, nourishes, and strengthens us through the other sacraments, and who is constant and vigilant in safeguarding, defending, and teaching the faith for all generations.
“Our salvation comes through the Church,” says Fr. Hardon, “because she nourishes and sustains our faith through her teaching, her sacraments, and her treasury of merit as the Mystical Body of Christ” (The Faith, p. 97).
The third-century bishop and martyr St. Cyprian of Carthage powerfully puts it this way in his treatise De Unitate: “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother” (chapter 6).
What we profess in words, then, whether personally in the Apostles’ Creed or communally in the Nicene Creed, are formulations which permit us to express and hand on what we believe in faith. However, it is critically important to realize and take to heart that “we do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch” (CCC, n. 170). St. Thomas Aquinas expresses this fundamental principle as follows: “The act of the believer does not terminate in a proposition, but in a thing. For as in science we do not form propositions, except in order to have knowledge about things through their means, so is it in faith” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 1, art. 2, ad 2).
In his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul states with great clarity that there is one, unchanging body of truth that the Church faithfully defends and proclaims throughout the ages: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, Who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6). Indeed, the Church is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). “She guards the memory of Christ’s words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the Apostles’ confession of faith” (CCC, n. 171).

One House

St. Irenaeus, a second-century Early Church Father, touched on this very topic in his famous work Adversus Haereses that he wrote in defense of the early Church against the heresy of Gnosticism. Says St. Irenaeus:
“The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and their disciples this faith….As if occupying but one house, [she] carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same” (book I, chapter 10, nn. 1-2).
Historically speaking, St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. So, most assuredly, it is beyond question that this unwavering doctrine of the Church dates back to apostolic times.
Next week, we’ll begin an article-by-article journey through the profession of the Christian faith as expressed in the Creed.

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Leaders call for Catholic sanctuary movement to blunt deportation crackdown

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements. Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: If a Bishop or Pope Commands Me to Sin, “I Have to Refuse”

Bishop Schneider: Aspects of Second Vatican Council Might Be Corrected in the Future; Priests Must Also Come to Resist at Times On 16 February 2017, Rorate Caeli published an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, conducted in Mexico by a very…Continue Reading

Pro-Abort . . . Kaine discusses refugee crisis with Pope Francis during Vatican visit

Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineWashington-area lawmakers request GAO report on DC MetroKaine discusses refugee crisis with Pope Francis during Vatican visitA guide to the committees: SenateMORE (D-Va.) met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing refugee…Continue Reading

Trump to Drop Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Obama’s controversial mandate attempted to force schools to let boys into girls’ locker rooms WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – President Donald Trump is expected to revoke Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate insisting that students be allowed in opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms. The…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke is ‘de facto’ suspended, claims Knights of Malta condom promoter

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Knights of Malta official at the center of controversy over the Order’s Catholic identity and sovereignty says its patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been “de facto” suspended. Albrecht von Boeselager, a German aristocrat, was…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Vatican is betraying Catholics living their faith out clandestinely in China. In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, he says he has been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Martin Luther: True Reformer or Defender of Erroneous Conscience?

The key issue in debating Luther’s legacy on conscience in the Catholic Church entails whether the teachings of the Church are subordinate to one’s own conscience or whether conscience is bound by the teaching of the Church. Two trials, two appeals to conscience. Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. Trial 2:…Continue Reading

Why is there a resurgence of infidelity among Catholic leaders?

Earlier this week, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus stressed the need to “discern” the meaning of Christ’s teachings rather than simply accept the way Catholic doctrine states these truths. This triggered an email from an obviously same-sex attracted reader who ecstatically thanked God that someone “besides the Pope” was finally willing to express the truth about the teachings of the Church: “They must be discerned!” The email was so wild that I…Continue Reading

The loss of this one key distinction is fueling much of the confusion around Amoris Laetitia

February 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A rather stark and sobering teaching of the Church is that everyone of adult age on the face of this good Earth, and that means all who can discern between good and evil (which occurs sometime soon after the dawn of reason), is either in a state of grace or in a state of mortal sin, which means that should we all die this instant by some cataclysmic disaster, each…Continue Reading

Virginia bishops lament veto of bill defunding Planned Parenthood

Feb 22, 2017 – 04:35 pm .- The bishops of Virginia’s two dioceses on Tuesday decried Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of a bill which would have redirected state funding away from abortion providers and toward community health centers.

San Diego’s Catholic bishop urges citizens to be ‘disruptors’ and ‘rebuilders’ in Trump era

Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.” “Well now,” McElroy told almost 700 community organizers and social justice advocates meeting in Modesto on the weekend that “we must all

A Book Review… A Methodical Plan For Spiritual Reading And Growth

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN How To Read Your Way to Heaven, by Vicki Burbach (Sophia Institute Press: Manchester, NH, 2016), 275 pp., $18.95. Available from www.SophiaInstitute.com. Because faith is like a mustard seed that needs to grow, it requires cultivation and nourishment to bloom and flourish. One of the traditional ways to nurture Christian faith comes…Continue Reading

From A Former Member… Pope’s Overhaul Of Vatican Pro-Life Academy “Heartbreaking”

By JUDIE BROWN (Editor’s Note: Judie Brown is the president of the American Life League and a former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. She wrote this commentary for all.org and LifeSiteNews reprinted it. All rights reserved.) + + + The Pontifical Academy for Life is undergoing an overhaul by Pope Francis and his…Continue Reading

Stop And Go, But Don’t Think

By DONALD DeMARCO It may very well be that my philosophical nature inclines me to value the Stop Sign above traffic lights. This may seem to be an odd and arbitrary preference, but there are good reasons for it, especially if one thinks symbolically. The latter represents a mechanical stop-and-go instruction that reminds me too…Continue Reading

St. Catherine Of Bologna . . . The Patron Saint Of Artists

By RAY CAVANAUGH There are patrons of the arts, and then there’s St. Catherine of Bologna — the patron saint of artists. She was a nun, mystic, painter, and author whose feast day occurs on March 9. Born in the northern Italian city of Bologna on September 8, 1413, she entered an aristocratic family. Her…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… Stalin’s Bitter Harvest

By REY FLORES Bitter Harvest is a powerful film; but where do I begin to tell you about it? The first 11 minutes give us the background of the main characters who are shown enjoying somewhat of the last vestiges of a peaceful and idyllic existence before the Holodomor, which was a deliberate famine created…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Silence Implies Consent

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why are protests breaking out all over the USA and almost every week? People know in their hearts that silence can imply consent; they vehemently deplore the resurgence of common sense and America First and thus are speaking out. We’ve seen the annual March for Life joined this year by the Women’s (pro-abortion) March on…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… The Consequences Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 26 In a previous article I mentioned some of the amazing gifts that God granted to mankind through our first parents. If they had not messed up the works, we would have inherited those gifts. Among them, the most important gift they lost was none other than sanctifying grace. Yes, sanctifying grace, whereby they…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER Part 2 The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist, as was pointed out last week, is composed of two main parts — the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist — which “form a fundamental unity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1346). They “are so closely connected with each other,” teach the fathers…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: For those who wonder about the value of praying the rosary daily, consider the following anecdote from Fr. Roger Landry about Fr. Sal Ferigle, an Opus Dei priest who passed away in 1997 and whom many described as “the holiest priest I ever knew.” During a meditation once on the last things, said Fr. Landry, Fr. Sal “confessed…Continue Reading

“Get Away, Satan!”

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: Gen. 2:7-9, 3:1-7 Romans 5:12-19 Matt. 4:1-11 In the readings today, we hear about Adam and Jesus. In the second reading, St. Paul compares the two of them, recognizing that by one sin many became sinners and by one righteous act many became righteous. So, we have the correlation…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading