Father Matthew Buettner: The Creed: Stating our beliefs
Following the Liturgy of the Word and the homily or sermon are the Profession of Faith and the General Intercessions, completing the Liturgy of the Word.
The Profession of Faith is otherwise known as the Symbol of Faith or simply the Creed (from the first word in Latin, "Credo," or "I believe").
The Creed is an ancient summary of Christian beliefs, and a compendium of the truths of Sacred Scripture.
It is historical fact that the Profession of Faith was not originally formulated for use in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Rather, the Profession of Faith was framed in the early Church for two purposes: 1) As a list of affirmations recited by the believer before his or her baptism, and 2) as an antidote to the confusion and doubt caused by heresy (false teachings) about Christ and the articles of faith.
The Apostles' Creed was one of the earliest and most concise set of beliefs. However, due to rampant heresy and theological confusion, the elements of each symbol of faith were elaborated and given further explanation. Thus, the Church used the Apostles' Creed as a basis for the list of truths at the Council of Nicaea in 325, added to it at the Council of Constantinople in 381, and crafted the final composition at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
It was this more explicit symbol of faith that first entered the Mass at the Council of Toledo in Spain in 589: "Let the Creed resound, so that the true faith may be declared in song, and that the souls of believers, in accepting that faith, may be ready to partake, in Communion, of the Body and Blood of Christ." From Spain, the entrance of the Creed in the Mass spread to Western Europe, where it was eventually placed after the Gospel.
Like the Gloria, the Profession of Faith can be divided into three parts: 1) A confession of faith in God the Father, as creator of heaven and earth; 2) A confession of faith in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God; and 3) A confession of faith in the means of salvation, supplied by the Holy Spirit through the Church.
These three parts of the Creed unite to form a body of truths that establish the foundation of orthodox (true) Christian faith and, ultimately, give witness to the marvelous history of God's redemptive love. Below is the revised translation of the Creed (wording changes are bolded), which can be sung or recited:
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 all salvation
He came down from heaven, (all bow during these words up to and including "and became man")
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.
Following the Creed, the faithful speak on behalf of the Church in interceding for the needs of the Church and the world. It is important to note that the General Intercessions are by definition "general," that is, they refer to the broad needs of the universal Church and the world. By definition, they are also petitions, rather than prayers of thanksgiving or praise. The Church orders the sequence of intercessions: For the needs of the Church, for public authorities and the salvation of the world, for those oppressed by any need, and for the local community, including the faithful departed. The General Intercessions or "Bidding Prayers" close the Liturgy of the Word and complete our verbal response to the Word of God. But the Mass is not ended.
The Word must again become "flesh and dwell among us." The one, true sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the High Priest, must again be presented, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Father Matthew Buettner is the pastor of St. Dorothy Church in Lincolnton. This is excerpted from "Understanding the Mystery of the Mass – Revisited," available for purchase online at www.tedeumfoundation.org. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of land for a future seminary in the Diocese of Charlotte. Previous columns are archived online at www.catholicnewsherald.com.
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