The Essential Creed Exploring the Apostlesâ€™ Creed in the Year of Faith
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by Genevieve Cox
All booklets are published thanks to the generous support of the members of the Catholic Truth Society
CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE
Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Article 1: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord . . . . . 17 Article 3: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Article 4: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Article 5: On the third day he rose again from the dead . . . . 40 Article 6: He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty . 44 Article 7: From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Article 9: The Holy catholic Church, the communion of saints. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Article 10: The forgiveness of sins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Article 11: The resurrection of the body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Article 12: And life everlasting. Amen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Endnotes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 All rights reserved. First published 2013 by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road London SE11 5AY Tel: 020 7640 0042 Fax: 020 7640 0046. This edition © 2013 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society. ISBN 978 1 86082 828 7 Inside images: Page 8: The Eternal Father by Perugino © Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive/CORBIS. Page 16: Christ as Pantocrator Mosaic from Cefalu Cathedral © Mimmo Jodice/CORBIS. Page 20: Annunciation by Filippo Lippi © Francis G. Mayer/CORBIS.
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Introduction The Holy Father has described the Year of Faith as a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the World”.1 The most fundamental profession of our faith, the faith professed in our baptismal promises, is the Apostles’ Creed. If we are to harvest the spiritual fruits of the Year of Faith, we must search within ourselves to ensure that the “I believe” of the creed in firmly rooted in our souls. We should strengthen our belief by immersing ourselves in the understanding of these twelve foundation stones of faith, offered to us in the Scriptures, and by saints, theologians and councils down through the ages. A British Catholic may often feel isolated, trapped by a secular society and without the tools and training to defend the faith. The great truth, however, is that every Catholic is surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) who offer their advice, teaching and prayers. To be a Catholic is to be an heir to a treasury of spiritual wisdom and theological knowledge. The purpose of this guide is to connect you with these counsellors of faith so that your faith can burn ever brighter and lead others to catch the living flame of God’s love.
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11th October 2012 marks the opening of the Year of Faith. You may be wondering why this is to be specially called a “Year of Faith” as opposed to any other year in the life of the Church. Pope Benedict’s meaning and intention for the Year of Faith is expressed by the chosen date, 11th October, a significant one in recent church history. Two momentous anniversaries fall on this day: it is fifty years since the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council, and twenty years since the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These teachings constitute the Pope’s Porta Fidei (door of faith), which he wishes us to open in the year ahead. To model the Year of Faith around Conciliar decrees and a heavy Catechism might at first seem too demanding, dogmatic and of little relevance to the everyday life of a lay Catholic. What, then, do we mean by faith, and why might the Pope think that we need to hear what this recent Council and Catechism have to say? We are probably all familiar with the saying, “faith is a gift”, and perhaps pray for the continual gift of faith with the first Hail Mary of every rosary. When we consider the nature of our Christian faith, we can recognise that God’s way of giving faith has two aspects. First, faith as an act of trust rests on God’s grace that touches our hearts and assures us of his truth: “happy are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Secondly, whether it was whilst sitting on our mother’s lap, listening to a sermon, being given a Bible for a birthday or on a walk with a
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friend, we can each tell a story of receiving the message of Jesus Christ from someone. We hear the Good News from believers who belong to a long golden chain that links their proclamation to the witness of the apostles. The revelation of Jesus Christ has been passed down to us through the Scriptures, which are read and interpreted in the living tradition of the Church community. The beauty of the Council and Catechism as a door to faith is that these resources extend the golden chain so that it can be grasped by minds and hearts in the modern world. Their wisdom is as water springing up from the depths of the Church’s apostolic history to give life to the faithful in this desert landscape of secularism. In this Pope Benedict XVI echoes the sentiments of Blessed John Paul II, who wrote: “I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great gift bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.”2 We have said that faith as trusting in Christian truth is a gift from God, that the message of faith is proclaimed through the men, women and children who are his disciples through the ages. Yet, there is a third aspect to faith: faith is united to love. To be a Christian is to be in love with Jesus Christ. To love him, to follow him, to take up our cross; all this means to pour out God’s love on our world. A living faith formed by love desires to be shared. Today, more than ever, Britain needs you to be a missionary! We must
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heed St Peter’s advice: “always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect.” (1 P 3:15-16) The Year of Faith calls us to offer “a fresh impetus to the mission of the whole Church and to lead human beings out of the wilderness in which they often find themselves to the place of life, friendship with Christ that gives us life in fullness.”3 We might feel that unless we are a street preacher, we lack the credentials to be a missionary. Faith enables all Christians to be missionaries. This is because faith unites Christians to Christ so that when we meet our neighbour in the street, our neighbour can meet Christ in us. When we cross ourselves on the foreheads, mouth and heart before hearing the Gospel, we pray: “May the Lord be in my mind, on my lips and in my heart”. If we cross ourselves in this way every day, we place ourselves in God’s service as his modern-day missionaries. We pray that all we think, say and feel towards those around us might proclaim his Word, Jesus Christ. It is as St Peter says: “Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others” (1 P 4:10-11). The role we have in the Church might be public and impressive, or it might be that we simply offer “tea and sympathy”. Words of sympathy which come from faith in Christ’s love are the missionary work Britain needs most. Blessed John
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Paul II believed that “the challenge facing us” is “to make the Church a home”.4 This can only be done if we make a home for the faith in our hearts, if we feed our families with the meal of this apostolic faith, and if we welcome the stranger to warm themselves at the hearth of our faith. I hope that this meditation on the Apostles’ Creed will aid the Holy Father’s wish that the Year of Faith will deepen Catholic education “in our homes and among our families so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times”.5
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I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. What do Christians mean by God? We begin with Moses’ request for the name of God and God’s revelation in the burning bush that “I am who I am” (YHWH). This might seem like a non-answer to Moses’ question but it actually proclaims the nature of God as the creator of all that exists. God alone is the one who truly is. If we were not held in God’s hand, our lives and the whole world would cease to be. Yet, Christians dare to address this almighty God as “Our Father”. To call God “Father” speaks of God’s care for his creation. The title “Father” also proclaims that this relationship is an expression of loving relations within God’s self. To call God “Father” points to the Christian’s experience of God as the threefold relationship of love, the self-giving life of the Trinity. Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Listen, Israel: the LORD our God is the one LORD.You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.”
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Catechism of the Catholic Church: Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and the Last, the beginning and the end of everything. The Credo begins with God the Father, for the Father is the first person of the Most Holy Trinity; our creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works.6 Biblical References: Dt 6:4-5; Mk 12:29-30; Ex 3:13-15; Ex 34:6; 1 Jn 1:5; Mt 28:19; 2 Co 13:14; Jn 14:23; Gn 49:24; Ps 24:8-10; Gn 1:1; Jn 1:1-3; 2 M 7:22-23; Ws 8:3-4. Naming God Ex 3:13-14: Moses said to God, “I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’. But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?” And God said to Moses, “I Am who I Am.” Eamon Duffy: But for the authors of the Catechism the heart of this mysterious Name is its revelation that God alone IS, that he alone possesses the fullness of being and of every perfection, without origin and without end. All creatures borrow their existence from him, he alone is.7
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Pope Benedict XVI: He is there for us and from his own firm standing he gives us firmness in our infirmity. The God who “is” is at the same time he who is with us; he is not just God in himself, but our God, the “God of our fathers.”8 Maker of heaven and earth The Canticle of Daniel: O let the earth bless the Lord To him be highest glory and praise for ever. And you, mountains and hills, O bless the Lord. And you, all plants of the earth, O bless the Lord. And you, fountains and springs, O bless the Lord. To him be highest glory and praise for ever. And you, rivers and seas, O bless the Lord. And you, creatures of the sea, O bless the Lord. And you, every bird in the sky, O bless the Lord. And you, wild beast and tame, O bless the Lord. To him be highest glory and praise for ever. And you, children of men, O bless the Lord. To him be highest glory and praise for ever.9
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St Augustine: And what is this God? I asked the earth and it answered: “I am not He”; and all things that are in the earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps and the creeping things, and they answered: “We are not your God; seek higher.” I asked the winds that blow, and the whole air with all that is in it answered: “Anaximenes was wrong; I am not God.” I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, and they answered: “Neither are we God whom you seek.” And I said to all the things that throng about the gateway of the senses: “Tell me of my God, since you are not He. Tell me something of Him.” And they cried out in a great voice: “He made us.” My question was my gazing upon them and their answer was their beauty.10 St Thomas Aquinas: Hence creation is God’s action by reason of his existence, which is his very nature, and this is common to the three Persons. So that creative action is not peculiar to any one Person, but is common to the whole Trinity…Power, which is supremely manifested in creation, is especially the Father’s, and so we stress that he is Creator. Wisdom, through which an intelligent cause operates, is especially the Son’s, and so we declare that through him all things were made. Goodness is especially the Holy Ghost’s, and so we acknowledge that he vivifies and guides things to
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their fitting ends: life is an inner spring, and its source is the end and the good.11 Meister Eckhart: Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature - even a caterpillar - I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature. C S Lewis: There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.12 Pope Benedict XVI: It is essential that we look beyond sheer factual reality and to recognise that man was not just thrown up into the world by some quirk of evolution. The underlying truth is that each person is meant to exist. Each person is God’s own idea.13 “The Father”: One God and Trinity Gn 1:26: God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves”.
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Mt 28:19-20: Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time. St Gregory of Nazianzus: I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me with splendour. I have not even begun to think of Trinity when unity grasps me…14 St Augustine: Oh but you do see the Trinity if you see charity. …Now love means someone loving and something loved with love. There you are with three, the lover, what is being loved, and love.15 Wolfhart Pannenberg: On the lips of Jesus the name “Father” indicates the particular way in which the almighty God of Israel, whose mighty coming was expected in the imminent future, has been revealed through his sending of Jesus: he is the one who wants to save men from the judgement towards which they are moving.16
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Pope Benedict XVI: God has all the essential characteristics of what we mean by a “person”, in particular conscious awareness, the ability to recognise, and the ability to love. In that sense he is someone who can speak and who can listen. That, I think, is what is essential about God…And the whole of God, so faith tells us, is the act of relating. That is what we mean when we say that he is Trinity, that he is threefold. Because he is in himself a complex of relationships, he can also make other beings who are grounded in relationships and who may relate to him, because he has related them to himself.17
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Christ as Pantocrater. This image is intended to be the icon of the Year of Faith that accompanies the Nicene Creed as the Prayer for the Year of Faith.
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And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord Naming a child takes a great deal of loving consideration, but the name Jesus Christ is different. The name “Jesus Christ” is not like the name “Augustine”, however fond I am of my younger brother’s name! Jesus Christ is a revelation both that “God is with us” and of the Messiah who will save the world from sin. The name “Jesus Christ” is therefore similar to titles like “Dr”, “Sir”, or “King”, but the Lordship it proclaims is divine, and the fulfilment of Israel’s messianic prophecies. Mt 16:16: Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Christ,” he said “the Son of the living God”. Jn 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God…Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him.
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Catechism of the Catholic Church: The name Jesus means “God saves”…The title “Christ” means ‘Anointed One’ (Messiah)…The title “Son of God” signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father…The title “Lord” indicates divine sovereignty.18 Biblical References: Jn 1:1-3; Mt 16:16; Mk 5:6-8; Mk 15:39; Jn 1:14. Catechism of the Council of Trent: When Jesus Christ our Saviour came into the world, he assumed these three characters of Prophet, Priest, and King, and is, therefore, called “Christ”, having been anointed for the discharge of these functions, not by mortal hand, but by the power of his heavenly Father.19 Bl John Henry Newman: When we confess God as Omnipotent only, we have gained but a half-knowledge of Him…He has, if I may so speak, the incomprehensible power of even making himself weak. We must know Him by His names, Emmanuel and Jesus, to know Him perfectly.20
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Ronald Knox: Now we’ve got to the real centre of the Credo; this is what the Credo is about. We oughtn’t, you know, to hurry over the words Jesus Christ, as if it was all one word. …And these two words are the real centre of the Credo, because when the holy Apostles first went out to preach the Christian religion these two words contained the whole substance of the message. They went about telling their Jewish friends, “Jesus is the Christ”.21
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