'Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit.' (CCC 154).
What is a Creed?
A creed is a profession of faith. In reciting the words ‘I believe’ or ‘We believe’, Catholics give their assent to the divine truths, revealed by God, in Sacred Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church. While creeds do not contain everything about the faith, credal formulas do provide us with something of a distilled summary.
|The Apostles' Creed
|The Nicene Creed
|The Apostles' Creed is a synthesis of the faith passed down from the Apostles. It is often recited as part of an individual’s prayer, for example at the beginning of the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
|The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (or Nicene Creed) emerged from the ecumenical councils of Nicaea (AD325) and Constantinople (AD381). It is recited at Mass (though occasionally, for example during Lent, the Apostles’ Creed is sometimes used).
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
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.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
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 God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father 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 men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
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, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
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.
The Three Parts of the Creed
Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed echo the Trinitarian Baptismal formula we find in Matthew 28:19: ‘baptise all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Both Creeds help us to understand who God is as opposed to who God is not.
‘The first part speaks of the first divine Person and the wonderful work of creation; the next speaks of the second divine Person and the mystery of his redemption of men; the final part speaks of the third divine Person, the origin and source of our sanctification.’ (Roman Catechism I, I, 4).
Part One - I Believe in God the Father
In the Creed, the unity (oneness) and simplicity of God are expressed. We believe that human reason can point anyone to the existence of God. However, learning who God is (e.g. loving, fatherly, Trinity) depends on him revealing himself as such to humanity. The existence of only one God was divinely revealed to Israel in the Old Covenant (Dt 6:45, Is 45:22) and was later reaffirmed by Jesus in the New Covenant (Mk 12:29-30).
The Creed begins with the first person of the Blessed Trinity. 'By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children.' (CCC 239).
The term 'Father' expresses the intimate relationship between God the Creator and his creation. In particular, 'God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.' (1 John 4:9) This is the Good News.
Part Two - I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God
The second section of the Creed is a synthesis of the Gospel. It answers the question: who is Jesus?
The word ‘Christ’ derives from the Greek word 'Christos' which means 'anointed One.' Therefore, to profess like St Peter, that Jesus is 'the Christ, the Son of the living God,' is to profess Jesus to be the fulfilment of the promised Messiah (Mt 16:16).
To believe Jesus to be the 'Only Son of God' is to affirm his divine sonship. The Nicene Creed developed this by adding that the Son was 'begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.' This was in response to the Arian heresy, which claimed that the Son was the first created being and thus, different in being to the Father.
Having recognised the Son to be of the same divine being (substance) as the Father, the Church upheld the eternal existence of the Son in the Godhead. By invoking Jesus as Lord, we also acknowledge Jesus’ divinity, as Lord was often used as a substitute for the Hebrew name of God – YHWH – a name too great to be expressed or described in words.
The Creed also professes the Good News of Christ's mission of salvation: that God became man to give us new life, a transformed life, through him, though his Passion, death, and his resurrection on the third day. We believe that Jesus, having ascended to heaven, now reigns at 'the right hand of the Father' and will return 'in glory to judge the living and the dead.'
Christianity is not simply good advice, do these things and you will be happy, do this and you will get to heaven. This is earth-shattering news, great Good News of a world transformed by the presence of God among us. A God who promised to remain intimately connected to our lives out of the sheer love he hold for us.
Part Three - I Believe in the Holy Spirit
The third section of the Nicene Creed affirms the divinity of the Holy Spirit since it professes that the Holy Spirit along ‘with the Father and Son is adored and glorified.’ This was confirmed by the Church, at the ecumenical council of Constantinople, again in opposition to a heresy or a wrong belief (Pneumatomachian), which denied the divinity of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit dwells in all baptised believers and continues to preserve the Church from error. This unity articulated in our shared profession of faith is joined with the belief in 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church' and in 'one baptism.' The Creed concludes with the profession of hope for 'the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.' This is based on Romans 6:4, where those who have been buried with Christ in baptism can hope to also be raised to new life with him.
As professed in the Creed, God is a Trinity. This means that God, by his very nature, is eternally relational. Since humans were created in the ‘image of God,’ we were made to be in relationship, particularly with our Creator. We are called to not merely know about God, but to know him personally and intimately.
If you would like to know more about Jesus, read about him in the New Testament of the Bible. Speak to Jesus and ask him to reveal himself and the truth of his Church to you. Jesus’ mission was and is to seek out and save each one of us. He will answer. You might like to use the prayer below:
I have heard of you Jesus but I do not know that what I have heard is true. I would like to know the truth about you and whether you are important to me and my life. Is it possible that there is more to life than what I know now? Is it possible that I was created for eternity with you? Can I be forgiven? I am willing to learn and would like to know the truth. If you are God then I know that you will speak to me somehow. I will wait for your answer.
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