Monday 26th January 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Creeds

August 23, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

In last week’s column, we laid the groundwork to begin an in-depth exposition of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that we, as Catholic Christians, are called to believe: the one, true faith we profess in the Creeds of the Church. For it is in the formulas of the Creeds that, “through the centuries, in so many languages, cultures, peoples, and nations, the Church has constantly confessed this one faith, received from the one Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in the conviction that all people have only one God and Father” (CCC, n. 172).
Why is this so absolutely essential? Precisely, it is because “communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith” (CCC, n. 185). In other words, it does not matter in what age, in what culture, in what circumstances and conditions one lives — the faith we profess is one and the same. It is that faith which St. Paul refers to when he says, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century bishop and doctor of the Church, superbly explains this teaching about our faith as summarized in the Creeds: “This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments” (Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524, as cited in CCC, n. 186).
Before proceeding, it would be good to define some terms. The word “creed” comes from the Latin credo, which literally means “I believe.” In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, defines credo as a “code of belief” (p. 137). The term creed, then, as applied to the Catholic faith, is a “profession of faith” that summarizes the faith that Christian Catholics hold to. The Catechism goes on to tell us that creeds may also be referred to as “symbols of faith” (CCC, n. 187). The word “symbol” comes from the Greek symbolon, which Fr. Hardon defines as “a token, pledge, [or] a sign by which one infers a thing” (ibid., p. 528). In The Faith, Father refers to symbolon as “a collection or summary” (p. 39). The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, then, are “symbols of faith” or summaries of the principal truths of the faith and therefore serve as the first and fundamental point of reference for catechesis (cf. CCC, n. 188).
Let us now consider the most ancient and first “profession of faith” that Christians make: the baptismal creed. Recall the words of our Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Just as “the truths of faith professed during Baptism are articulated in terms of their reference to the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity” (CCC, n. 189), so too, is the baptismal creed divided into three parts.
As expressed by Fr. Hardon, the three core elements of the faith we profess from the very initiation of our life in Jesus Christ are: 1) faith in God the Father and the creation of the world; 2) faith in God the Son and the redemption of the human race; and 3) faith in God the Holy Spirit and the sanctification of mankind (see The Faith, p. 39).
It is interesting to note that the CCC now makes direct reference to the 16th-century Roman Catechism (RC), a fruit of the Council of Trent, to explain further this truth of our faith. “These three parts [of the Creed] are distinct although connected with one another. According to a comparison often used by the Fathers, we call them articles. Indeed, just as in our bodily members there are certain articulations which distinguish and separate them, so too in this profession of faith, the name articles has justly and rightly been given to the truths we must believe particularly and distinctly” (RC, I, I, 4).
In other words, the articles of the Creed “are the individual truths of faith, each distinct from the others, like the separate members of our body that are united in one whole” (Fr. Hardon, The Faith, p. 39).
Is not the CCC’s usage of text from the Roman Catechism a fitting example of a principle expressed early in this series, namely, that the essential teaching on faith and morals as articulated in previous ages is unchanging? It shows, once again, that the purpose of the Catechism of Vatican Council II is not to redefine the faith, but to simply hand on the enduring truth in a way more accessible to modern man in the times and conditions in which he finds himself. When the language of prior teaching is clear for contemporary readers, the CCC simply incorporates and cites the exact words of prior magisterial documents.
Text in this section of the Catechism, in fact, acts to reinforce that very point: “Through the centuries many professions or symbols of faith have been articulated in response to the needs of the different eras: the creeds of the different apostolic and ancient Churches” (CCC, n. 192). Special note is made of several formulations of the profession of faith that have appeared since apostolic times. However, it goes on to say in very clear and exacting terms that “none of the creeds from the different stages in the Church’s life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it” (CCC, n. 193).
Is that not precisely why the CCC so often either directly includes or cites Sacred Scripture, teachings of prior ecumenical councils, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, papal encyclicals, and other earlier doctrinal teachings of the faith? Truly, we can be assured that during the two millennia of the Church’s history, the one true faith remains unchanged, but is simply more clearly illuminated by more contemporary teaching.

The Creed Of
Our Life-Giving Faith

As touched upon in last week’s column, two Creeds among all that have emerged throughout the history of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church hold a special place in expressing the unity of all her faithful: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
The Apostles’ Creed is “so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the Apostles’ faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome” (CCC, n. 194). It is, as expressed by Fr. Hardon, “a formula of belief, in twelve articles, containing the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, whose authorship (in substance if not in words) tradition ascribes to the Apostles. . . . At a very early date the Western Church required catechumens to learn and recite the Apostles’ Creed before admission to Baptism” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 34).
The Nicene Creed gets its name from two fourth-century ecumenical councils, Nicaea I in AD 325 and Constantinople I in AD 381, and was written to address a great heresy of the time. Arius, a priest of Alexandria, denied the divinity of Christ — the Arian heresy taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of the Father, but “only a creature, made out of nothing, like all other created things” (ibid., p. 41).
The Fathers of these two early councils added more explicit and detailed language to the foundational truths contained in the Apostles’ Creed so as to better explain the nature of the Trinity and the only begotten Son of God who is coeternal with the Father. It is “common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day” (CCC, n. 195).
A comprehensive explanation of the Creeds, which will be the topic of this column for the next several weeks, will, like the CCC, follow the Apostles’ Creed but often draw upon references to the more detailed Nicene Creed. As the Catechism exhorts us, “let us embrace the Creed of our life-giving faith” (CCC, n. 197) and so enter into closer union with Jesus Christ.

+    +    +

(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

Comment on this Article:

Notre Dame theologian known for books, liberal stands, dies

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian known for his unabashed liberal stands on various church teachings and his popular books on Catholicism, died Sunday in his native Connecticut, according to the…Continue Reading

Bankruptcy case brings financial fears for Catholic schools

As president of an inner-city Catholic grade school that depends critically on donations, Helen Dahlman admits to an unconventional fundraising strategy. “We believe in miracles, so we pray a lot,” said Dahlman, who leads Risen Christ School in south Minneapolis,…Continue Reading

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Federal judge strikes down South Dakota’s gay marriage ban

SIOUX FALLS – A federal judge has declared South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but has stayed the decision pending appeal. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  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 subscribe 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 145 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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Women First And Foremost In Transmitting Faith

pope714

(Vatican Radio) The primary and indispensable role of women in transmitting the faith to new generations: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. On the day when the Church celebrates the memory of Saints…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Jesus Wanted United Christians

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday and before the Angelus, the Pope recalled the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and its theme, “Give me a drink”, the sentence uttered by Jesus to the Samaritan woman. He told the faithful gathered that the “desire for unity” of the disciples of Jesus is part of our “thirst not only material for water, but…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Religious who pray for Christian unity an “invisible monastery”

(Vatican Radio) The vital role that men and women religious of different Christian Churches play in the ecumenical journey was at the heart of Pope Francis’s meeting on Saturday with participants in a conference on consecrated life and the search for Christian Unity. The three day meeting, which concludes on Sunday, comes in the context of both this Week of…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Thursday Mass in Santa Marta

pope713

(Vatican Radio) The most important thing is not the grace of a physical healing, but the fact that Jesus saves us and intercedes for us: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Thursday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Commenting on the Gospel of…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s Heroic Witness In Perilous Times

By STEPHANIE BLOCK My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Translated and edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby, Image Books (2014); $28.00; 335 pages. My Battle Against Hitler, a posthumously published memoir and collection of essays by “20th century Doctor…Continue Reading

“I Can’t Breathe”… The Plight Of The Preborn

By REY FLORES (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from www.all.org, the website of American Life League. All rights reserved.) + + + This past year has seen race relations decline as a result of a well-orchestrated attempt by a corrupt government that wants to divide us at all costs. And the propaganda peddlers known…Continue Reading

“Flee Immorality,” Church Unity, & Right To Life March

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his January 18 blog…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Christianity’s Gift To The World

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Siedentop, Larry. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2014. Pp. viii + 434. Does it still make sense to still talk about the West in what some call a “post-Christian world”? Larry Siedentop, emeritus fellow of Keble College, Oxford, asks, “Can the West still be…Continue Reading

Author And Monk Thomas Merton Turns 100

By RAY CAVANAUGH The most famous Trappist monk of the 20th century was not originally a Catholic. Thomas Merton, born 100 years ago this January 31, was baptized first in the Church of England. Both of his parents were artists: His father was from New Zealand and his mother was from the U.S. Merton was…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World.. Papal Bloopers And Catholic Teaching

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis continues to grab headlines, not only by setting a new record for drawing the largest crowd in history, but also by his question and answer sessions on the planes to and from his pastoral visits. On the plane to the Philippines, the Pope responded to questions about free speech and violent responses to…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

I Believe — We Believe

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…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I remember a nun telling us back in Catholic school that after God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He promised that He would eventually send them a Messiah. Where is that in the Bible? — M.R., Indiana. A. In chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis. Actually, the promise was made before God expelled our…Continue Reading

Joy And Fulfillment

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Deut. 18:15-20 1 Cor. 7:32-35 Mark 1:21-28 In the first reading today God makes a promise and a command. He promises that He will raise up for the people a Prophet like Moses. At the same time, He requires that the people will listen to that Prophet because…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Stephen, Protomartyr

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the popular Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, a different gift is given for each of the twelve days of Christmas. This celebration of twelve days begins with December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen, and ends with the Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6. The Catholic Church celebrates the Christmas octave, eight days of…Continue Reading