Skip to comments.We Believe in One God...: The Nicene Creed at Mass [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Posted on 05/26/2008 5:54:51 PM PDT by Salvation
We Believe in One God...: The Nicene Creed at Mass
Issue: What is the Nicene Creed? Where did it come from? When must we pray the Nicene Creed (the profession of faith) at Mass?
Response: The Nicene Creed is a summary of the Deposit of Faith as handed on to the Church from Christ Himself through His Apostles. The Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) formulated the Nicene Creed as a means of condemning the Arian heresy. Because of the continued threats of Arianism, the Fathers of the First Council of Constantinople (381) reformulated the Nicene Creed to express clarity and fidelity to the previous Councils definitions.
To express Catholic unity, The Creed is to be sung or said by the priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities. It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character. The Apostles Creed may be used for childrens Masses, but the children should also gradually become acquainted with the Nicene Creed.
Discussion: Unity is the first of the Four Marks of the Church. Profession of faith is the first of the visible bonds of this unity. Whoever professes the fullness of faith will necessarily embrace the Catholic Church herself, submit to lawful Church authority and recognize the sacraments as the ordinary means of salvation. The Nicene Creed is the ordinary expression of faith and unity within the celebration of Mass. As described by Pope Paul VI, the Nicene Creed is the formulation of the immortal tradition of the Holy Church of God.
Christians have always used creeds to express profession of faith, encourage unity and address heresy. As noted by St. Cyril of Jerusalem,
This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments.
The Apostles Creed is representative of this fact. Because it is probably the oldest of the creeds, it was used by the Early Church Fathers in a variety of situations, including liturgy, catechesis and correction of error. Throughout the second and third centuries, different Fathers would emphasize different truths in response to the differing issues of their day. Other creeds written in the early centuries of the Church include the Athanasian Creed and the Creed of St. Epiphanius. Most recently, Pope Paul VI wrote the Credo of the People of God, raising his voice to pronounce the strongest testimony to the divine truth which is entrusted to the Church precisely that it may be proclaimed to all the nations.
The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, usually referred to as the Nicene Creed, gets its name from the two ecumenical councils of the fourth century, Nicea I and Constantinople I. It was written to address the Arian heresy, which taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of the Father. The Nicene Creed was and still is used to instruct the faithful on the immortal truths of the Catholic Faith. The more ancient Apostles Creed provides the foundational truths used in the Nicene Creed, but the Fathers of these councils added more explicit and detailed language to explain the nature of Christ and the Trinity. Because of its more comprehensive nature, and the fact that it is common to all the great Churches of both East and West today, the Nicene Creed is used in the liturgy as an expression of unity and profession of faith.
From antiquity, praying the Creed during Mass has been an opportunity for the community of the faithful to renew their faith in Christ and His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Profession of faith expresses the unity signified by the Mass. Consequently, the faithful must pray the Nicene Creed during Sunday liturgies and on solemnities. Although not required, the Nicene Creed may also be prayed during the celebration of Mass on other special occasions. Except in the cases of Childrens Masses as noted above, the Apostles Creed is not to be substituted for the Nicene Creed.
On March 28, 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments promulgated Liturgiam authenticam, the Fifth Instruction for the Right Implementation of the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. This instruction on the use of vernacular languages in the publication of the books of the Roman liturgy provides explicit guidelines about future vernacular translations of the Nicene Creed in the sacred liturgy. The Instruction teaches:
65. By means of the Creed (Symbolum) or profession of faith, the whole gathered people of God respond to the word of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures and expounded in the homily, recalling and confessing the great mysteries of the faith by means of a formula approved for liturgical use. The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular, by which is clearly made manifest that the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith. In addition, the expression carnis resurrectionem [resurrection of the flesh] is to be translated literally wherever the Apostles Creed is prescribed or may be used in the Liturgy.
Unfortunately, there are many who change the words of the Creed or omit it altogether. Just as the Nicene Creed expresses the Faith of the Church, so do these new creeds express the faith of those who recite them. An omission of the Nicene Creed when required gives the impression of separation from the Catholic Church. Changing the words of the Creed or omitting it altogether when required is a serious violation of liturgical norms.
Let us pray the Nicene Creed. Let us profess the eternal truths of salvation to the world. Let us offer this prayer for the conversion of hearts. Let us ask the Eternal Father to continue guiding us to knowledge of His Word and Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Ratzinger Report; Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with V. Messori
Précis of Official Catholic Teaching on Worship and Sacraments
Catholic for a Reason, Hahn, Scott, et al.
Available Faith Facts:
One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic: The Marks of Christs Church
Defending Our Rites: Constructively Dealing With Liturgical Abuse
Dont Play with the Word of God: May Laity Read the Gospel and Give a Homily at Childrens Masses
Eucharistic Consecration: Kneeling or Standing
Approved Biblical Translations for Mass Use
The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
© 2004 Catholics United for the Faith, Inc.
Last edited: 3/24/04
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What bugs me is that we say “We believe” instead of “I believe”. Yet, in the original Latin Mass, it was “Credo”, which means “I believe”.
It bugs me too. Have patience. I believe it is sometime in 2009 that we get back the “I believe ....”
Check out the link about the upcoming changes. I vaguely remember it is in there.
Ditto. From a linguistic standpoint, it’s just plain wrong to translate “credo” as “we believe.” And, besides, it doesn’t make much sense. I, as an individual, can honestly only proclaim my own beliefs. I’m not a mind-reader, so how do I really know that the person standing next to me truly believes those things? And if I don’t know that, then how can I use the collective “we”?
We always use the Apostles Creed at my church; I have never heard the Nicene Creed used since I have attended this church. I notice that some versions say Descended To The Dead and some Descended into hell. And some use Holy Ghost and some Holy Spirit. Is there a liturgical argument for one form or the other?
As to Holy Ghost/ Holy Spirit, Spiritum Sanctum are the Latin words and Πνυμα το `Αγιον are the Greek: therefore I think Holy Spirit is the far better translation into modern English.
Bigg Red, I love you. That was the exact thing I was going to post. Plus, I learned it as a child (Lutheran) as “I believe.”
It seems to me that we have CHANGED the Creed, and I do not like that at all.
Credo — seems non-negotiable to me.
It seems to me that we have CHANGED the Creed, and I do not like that at all.
And much more....
I apologize, my FRiend, for hijacking your post to gripe. I realize now that should have thought before posting my complaint, as you inteneded your thread to be for reflection. Again, I am sorry.
“For us men and for our salvation”
they drop the men and just say, “for us and our salvation”
Is this wrong? It bothers me and my husband - so we say “men” and keep on going...
**Is there a liturgical argument for one form or the other?**
Not sure on that. I do know that they are both in the missalettes.
Watch for the series on the Apsotles’ Creed [Ecumenical] which I will post shortly.
No offense taken. It’s a good discussion. The “I believe” is coming back.
Check out the link on proposed changes above.
First time I have heard that. My version says, “us men”
Hooray! Let’s go for the politically incorrect.
Check out your missalette and point out the omissions. Only way things get changed back to the correct translations!
You have to say ‘MEN.’ It is just feminist revisionist history to do otherwise, and it is done in the name of that very thing.
We sang “I am the Bread of Life” last week. The words had been changed in the dumbed-down Missal: “And I will raise HIM up” — to ‘you’. The whole blasted thing was ‘you’ and ‘we.’ I sang HIM and wrote it into the words.
Credo seems non-negotiable to me."
Actually, when the Ecumenical Council set out the Creed, the first word was "Πιστευομεν", We Believe, which is sensible because it was a group of hierarchs making a dogmatic statement of Faith. Its use in the Liturgy started first in the East and only later in the West but in both instances the word had been changed to "I" believe, "Credo" or "Πιστευω".
I can certainly appreciate your reluctance to change the Creed, though the We/I controversy really has no particular meaning. Has your parish or have you stopped using the filioque, the most egregious change in the Creed?
Yes - the We Believe is my pet peeve.