RCIA Presentations

18. The Creed

The Catholic Catechism underlines two important facts about faith. The first is via a quotation from Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theol II-II, 1, 2 ad 2): ‘The believer’s act of faith does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities which they express’(n. 170). Words are important. The whole science of theology is about clarifying and making more precise the words in which we express our faith. But the point being made here is that it is not the words that we believe, it is the reality that is expressed (and partly veiled) by the words. Our faith is in God, who is always beyond that which reveals God, however sublime the medium.

The second truth is also via a quotation, this time from Irenaeus (Against the Heresies V.20.1): ‘We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God’s Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the vessel that contains it to be renewed’(n. 175). Our faith is never static, for the God in whom we believe is a living God constantly acting in our lives, constantly being revealed to us in ways that are old and new.

The Catechism (n. 197 and 194) quotes Saint Ambrose, who states: ‘The Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart’s meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul’(Expl. Symb. 1). Speaking of the Apostles’ Creed he writes: ‘It is the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter, the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith’(Expl. Symb. 7).

The Creed highlights the Christian belief in the Blessed Trinity. The Catechism n. 234 reminds us that the dogma of the Blessed Trinity is 'the most fundamental and essential teaching in the heirarchy of the truths of faith.'

Please look again at the first lecture in the RCIA program. It was on the subject of Religious Experience. Christianity is monotheistic. Jesus revealed that there is one God - that is to say that it is the one sacred mysterious presence that is at the hart of everything and everyone. We reflected also on God's self-revelation in the world around us (God's 'Word', the numinous); and on God's self revelation within us (God's 'Spirit', the mystical).

Reflecting on how God has chosen to communicate with us through Word and Spirit, Christians look to Jesus as the purest expression of both. Again and again the New Testament highlights the special, intimate relationship between Jesus and God, and the special way in which Jesus reveals God. In the New Testament Jesus of Nazareth is recognised as God’s perfect human ‘Word’ to us, God’s ‘Word-made-flesh’ (John 1:14, Catechism n.241). Jesus is also portrayed as the one who receives and gives God’s ‘Spirit’ without reserve (John 3:34, Catechism n.243). The Messiah Jesus, God’s beloved Son, is the image of the invisible God … God was pleased for all the fullness to dwell in him'(Colossians 1:15,19). 'In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself'(2Corinthians 5:19)'He [God’s Son] is the brilliance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being’(Hebrews 1:3).

When we act ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’, ‘Father’ refers to God, ‘Son’ refers to Jesus, ‘Spirit’ refers to Jesus’ intimate love-communion with God whom he addresses as ‘Father’. There are many texts in the Newer Testament that refer top the Blessed Trinity. These are a few examples: ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”’(Galatians 4:6) ‘God chose you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth’(2Thessalonians 2:13). ‘You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.’(1Corinthians 6:11) ‘There are varieties of grace-gifts (charisms), but the same Spirit; there are varieties of ministries but the same Lord; there are varieties of ways of exercising power, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good’(1Corinthians 12:4-7). ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you’(2Corinthians 13:13). ‘You are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him’(Romans 8:9). ‘You have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ’(Romans 8:15-17).

At the Last Supper, John has Jesus say: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father … I am in the Father and the Father is in me’(Jn 14:9-10). ‘I will ask the Father and he will give you the Spirit to be with you for forever’(Jn 14:16). ‘I am coming to you’(Jn 14:18). ‘My Father will love you and we will come to you and make our home with you’(Jn 14:23). To contemplate the wonder of the Triune God, and to learn to call this God ‘Father’ as Jesus did, we must listen to Jesus, and pray that his Spirit will help us to enter into his experience.

Knowing that God is Spirit reminds us to be attentive to the divinely inspired movements of our own heart: movements of longing as we yearn for closer communion with God whose Spirit inspires us; movements of wonder and praise as we rejoice in God being with us. It reminds us to be sensitive to these movements in every man and every woman. Knowing that God is Word reminds us to be attentive to the words and actions through which God speaks to us, and the words and actions through which we respond to God. We learn, too, to reverence the sacred ground of each person’s Spirit, and be attentive to each person’s Word, as together we journey towards God who is the Source (‘Father’, ‘Mother’) of all. Knowing that God is Father reminds us to open our hearts to God’s love and to treat every other person as our brother or sister.

With this as background, let us look now at the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God
the Father almighty
creator of heaven and earth,

 

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,

of all things, visible and invisible.

and in Jesus Christ
his only Son, our Lord,

I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Fathe before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven,

who was conceived
by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,

and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;


he descended into hell [Hades];

For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,

on the third day
he rose again from the dead;

and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.

he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father Almighty;
from there he will come
to judge the living and the dead.

He ascended into heaven and is seated
at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds
from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and Son
is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

the holy catholic Church

the communion of saints

the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.
Amen.

 

I believe in one, holy, catholic,
and apostolic Church.



I confess one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
and I look forward
to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.