Headline: THE CREED WE CHERISHPosted on: 2013-11-17
Travelers need a Road Map
An explorer needs a compass, a traveler, a road map. Tourists going on complex journeys cherish the company of a guide and students who truly seek to learn need a teacher. Nations invent national anthems and pledges in which they couch the raison d\'etre of their nationhood. God, in the Old Testament, gave his people the Ten commandments to guide their relationship with him and with one another (Ex. 19). Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remind the disciples of what he taught them. He gave them a new commandment to keep them on righteousness road. The Apostles and the early Church then put together a summary of the faith they professed and practiced. That precious declaration, we, today, call the Creed.
The Creed is the Compass of Faith
The Creed of the Church is an externalized profession and an act of faith. It is not a statement by a committee from the comfort of a parliament house, nor is it a treatise written from a serene riverside haunt. It is the precious confession of faith of the ancient church lived out and often dearly paid for through suffering and sacrifice down the ages. The early Church put together first the Apostles Creed and then the Nicene Creed as a tortuous but prayerful submission on the Trinity, Church life and the experience of the Christian faith. The Nicene Creed is proclaimed every Sunday and at every solemn gathering of the Catholic Church today. By it the faithful gathered declare together their assent and fidelity to the word of God, which they have listened to and to the Eucharistic Jesus who laid down his life for God\'s children. The Creed is a summary of the history of salvation and the people\'s response to the Good News.
The Creed Unites the Entire Church
The Creed guarantees that believers do not simply engage in a speculative extraneous exercise to decipher or describe their faith. Too often these days people, motivated by private and unproven interests and revelations, act as teachers, guides and pastors for others to follow. They do not subscribe to any creed but to alleged inspiration from above. They deride the idea of one Church and one Creed in order to confer legitimacy on their private practice and adventure. The Acts of the Apostles puts a lie to their effort (Acts 2:42). True Christians know and share the one Creed and cherish the one Church. Wherever they are, they know exactly what to believe for the Holy Spirit guides them. Whatever stands in opposition to the unifying Creed of the Church cannot be welcome in the mind of true believers.
The Creed is a Spiritual Seal
\"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth maker of all things visible and invisible. And in Jesus Christ his only Son who was conceived by the Holy Spirit...\". Such a prayer formula as the creed is seen by some people as limiting and unnecessary. They are wrong by a long shot. Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to remind us of what he already taught (John 14:26), and \"no one knows the Father except the Son... \"(Matthew 11:27) Jesus Christ who knows God better than anyone else can ever claim to do taught us to use such formulae. Spontaneous prayers are useful but cannot substitute the clarity and conciseness of formula prayers. When the disciples asked him to teach them to pray Jesus taught them the \"Our Father\" formula so that they could pray as one family of God\'s children (Matt. 6: 7-15). Jesus taught the \"Our Father\" so that his formula of prayer might be the spiritual seal on all the words we might ever be able to say. It is therefore correct to say that no matter how eloquent we might be in using our own words to express our faith, condensed formulae of prayer given to us in the Creed of the church should still spiritually seal our prayers to God.
The Creed Confirms Christian Identity
In his letter on the Year of Faith Pope Emeritus Benedict taught that whenever the Creed is recited, it is the Church that is the primary subject of the faith we profess. The Creed, legacy of our fathers in faith is given to us in trust. That profession of faith is therefore both personal and communitarian. No true Church leader can therefore do his own thing and ignore the Creed and yet claim to be sent by Jesus Christ. The spirit of God does not ever work against his Son or against his Church even when it is sinful. (Rom. 5: 7-9). Christians must be wary of spontaneous and ad hoc spiritual direction and pastoral exercises that pretend to solve only immediate temporal problems but bear no connection with the mission of the Church of Christ to get us to love God, to know him and to worship him. Whenever the discipline of faith like, holiness of life, perseverance in difficulty, selfless service, family spirituality and marital fidelity are attenuated by a misinterpretation of unmitigated salvation through Christ, then evil is at work. St Paul clearly warned of the danger: \"The Spirit tells us clearly that in the last days some will defect from the faith and follow deceitful spirits and devilish doctrines, led by lying hypocrites whose conscience has been branded with the stamp of infamy\" (1Timothy, 4:1-2). So, learn the Creed, pray the Creed, live the Creed and that would be living the Faith of our Fathers which we all cherish.
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