Monday, July 22, 2013

The Mirror of Faith

The Church…guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches, and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth.

-St. Irenaeus of Lyon

The Church carries with her a creed, for communion “in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 185). In one brief formula, gathered from the Scriptures and summarizing the whole of the Good News, the people of the Church are able to declare their one love for the one Truth in Jesus Christ.

The word “formula” might seem off-putting, and earthily out of place when it comes to things above this world. The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church explains why this formula is necessary, though:

Without fixed forms, the content of the faith would dissipate. That is why the Church attaches great importance to definite sentences, the precise wording of which was usually achieved painstakingly, so as to protect the message of Christ from misunderstandings and falsifications. Furthermore, creeds are important when the Church’s faith has to be translated into different cultures while being preserved in its essentials, because a common faith is the foundation of the Church’s unity (25).

We call these forms, “professions of faith,” “creeds,” or “symbols of faith,” and they stand as points of reference for catechesis (CCC, 187). 

The first “profession of faith” is made during Baptism. In His missionary mandate, Jesus said, “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” (Mt 28:19). Therefore, the profession is divided into three parts, given the three points of reference in the persons of the Holy Trinity.

A number of creeds have developed in the history of the Church, but there are two that stand out. The Apostles’ Creed is considered to be a summary of the apostles’ faith. This is the one that we can say personally, like when we begin a rosary. The second is the Nicene Creed, which stems from the first two ecumenical councils in Nicaea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD). It is common to all great Churches in both the East and West, even today. This is the creed we usually say together at Mass.

“To say the Credo with faith is to enter into communion with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe” (CCC, 197). Therefore, let us recite it with deep and loud faith next Sunday at Mass, and each time that we are blessed with the opportunity to say it. Let us do it together, as we walk through each part of the Apostles’ Creed here on Open Wide the Doors. This way we can follow the guidance of St. Augustine:

Let the Creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in your faith.

This is our seventh Year of Faith reflection on the Catechism of the Catholic Church here on Open Wide the Doors. See our first post here

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