When I was taking the required classes for the FTCM (Formation Toward Christian Ministry) program I really looked forward to subjects like Christology, Old and New Testament, Prayer and Spirituality, and many others. Church History was REALLY interesting and we’ll definitely get to that another time. But Church Doctrine scared me. I expected dryness and copious words to explain every single thing we Catholics believe.
When I sat down that first day I was given a trim little packet with an outline of…wait….the Nicene Creed? That’s it? The profession of faith that we proclaim at Mass and that so many other faiths claim was our primary focus of study. Huh. I thought, where are the fancy hard to understand documents? As it turns out, the Nicene Creed is a beautiful expression of what we believe. It was developed from the first two ecumenical councils in 325 and 381, and summarizes the essentials of our faith.
“Essentials” is a key word. As Catholics, we believe many things and have a full expression of faith practices, but our perspective is ordered in a “hierarchy of truths.” This means we place a priority on the importance of some things over others. The Blessed Trinity is of utmost importance to us. It all starts here. When we stand together and proclaim the Nicene Creed, we acknowledge God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator of all. We acknowledge Christ who saved us. We acknowledge the Holy Spirit, who was sent to us and stays with His church. We acknowledge the whole church, which is the mystical Body of Christ. We stand together and proclaim this Creed often in the safe confines of our respective churches. I wonder ~ if I was asked to stand in a public place and proclaim it, would I passively say the words, as I find myself doing too often, or would I proclaim it boldly? Just thinking of the scenario causes me to go back and look at it with new intent. The next time I stand with my brothers and sisters to proclaim this creed, I will say it like I mean it. I believe!
The Nicene Creed
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.
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