Preparing the Way for the Roman Missal 3rd Edition, Part 8: The Creed

We discover right out of the gate in the new translation that the Creed is a personal statement, Credo / I believe. Yes, we profess the faith of the Church in one voice with all of her members, but the Creed must be our own personal acceptance of that faith.

And so we say, I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

The former words which spoke of all that is seen and unseen were clearly deficient.

There is a real difference to be considered between things unseen and those that are invisible. Maybe you’ve never seen Jupiter, for example. However, it is possible, you know it’s there, but it is as yet unseen to you. This is not what the Creed means to address.

When we speak of things invisible, we are acknowledging that there is yet another reality of which God is Creator; the angels for instance (e.g. the thrones, dominations, principalities, and powers of which St. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16), and the souls of humankind. These are indeed created things, and our God is Lord of them all.

We continue, I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.

Once again we state I believe… and similar to the Gloria, we are once again saying that there is a relationship between the “begotteness” of the Son and the fact that God is Father before all ages.

The Son’s begotteness further indicates that both Father and Son are of the same divine substance, and we articulate this even more clearly as we say, “God from God, Light from Light, etc…” culminating in the new translation with the phrase, “consubstantial with the Father.

Jesus, in other words, is of the same substance as the Father.

In Latin we say, consubstantialim Patris. Con – meaning “with,” substantialim – meaning “substance.” So when we say that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father, we are saying that He is in some way with the substance of the Father. We are professing that the Father and the Son are the same in glory and the same in divinity. The Son, in other words, is not the lesser divinity – the Son is God with the Father, not two gods, but one God of one divine substance – consubstantial.

We continue: For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man…

Incarnate – to become or to be in the flesh. The old translation wasn’t just insufficient as far as translations go; it also hinted of grave error.

Question: When did Jesus become man? Before you answer, know that the Latin text reads, et homo factus est / He became man. Homo – meaning “human.” So asked another way, when did Jesus become human? Was it when He was born of the Virgin Mary?

That’s what we’ve been saying for more than 40 years now, but isn’t this exactly the lie of the pro-abortionists?

Lex orandi, lex credendi. The law of prayer is the law of belief. As we pray, so too do we believe. For more than four decades now even the most committed pro-lifers among us have unwittingly been saying that even Jesus became human only at his birth, but the truth is that Jesus, like all of us, became a real man at the moment of his conception by the Spirit – when he was incarnate of the Virgin Mary.

We continue, “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 suffered death… Have you ever heard it said that this person or that had “a peaceful death?” This particular expression is not meant to deny whatever suffering may have been present for the individual; rather, it’s meant to describe the manner of death.

When we say that Jesus suffered death, we are likewise giving heed to the manner of his death; a violent immolation. In fact, Jesus suffered death with an intensity that exceeds that of any other person. We know this because suffering and death can only be understood in relation to sin. Indeed, they are a consequence of sin. And so Jesus who took upon himself the sin of the world; i.e. the sin of every man, woman and child who ever lived or will ever live, suffered death in a manner that exceeds our comprehension.

Now, while there is nothing inherently wrong with the current phrase in fulfillment of the Scriptures, the properly translated Latin text, in accordance with the Scriptures, makes more sense from the standpoint that the Scriptures are as yet not entirely fulfilled.

We are a pilgrim Church that “waits with joyful hope for the coming of our Savior” and his return in glory. We await the new heavens and the new Earth that are promised in the Book of Revelation, etc. It is more fitting, therefore, to say that everything we have professed thus far has happened in accordance with the Scriptures.

There are two more statements in the old translation that begin We believe that are no longer prefaced as such in the new translation. Instead these statements employ the personal affirmation, I believe…

One such statement regards the Holy Spirit.

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.

This is essentially the same as the old translation, but the threefold addition of the personal pronoun who seems to underscore the distinct “personhood” of the Holy Spirit. We also say adore as opposed to worship; just as it is stated in the original Latin.

We once more assert our personal acceptance of the faith when we say I believe for the fourth and final time in the Creed as we profess, I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church…

We then conclude by professing, 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.

Where once we said, we acknowledge one baptism, we now say I confess; again, a personal statement of faith, but in this case one that goes beyond simply acknowledging baptism. To confess in this sense means that we not only acknowledge this doctrine, we also personally endorse and submit to the truth of its teaching.

We now no longer say that we look for the resurrection of the dead; we say that we look forward to it. This manner of speaking more perfectly reflects the theological virtue of hope, and it is much more in keeping with Romans 8 where St. Paul tells us that the entirety of creation longs for the resurrection and the renewal of all things in Christ.

The Creed is both a profession and a prayer, and so we conclude with the Amen that means to say that we confirm and adopt as our very own before God and one another the faith we just professed.

Our series will continue in Part Nine as we begin our examination of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

* Excerpted from the book: And with Your Spirit – Recovering a sense of the sacred in the English translation of the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition. (© 2010 Salve Regina Publications – available at www.HarvestingTheFruit.com)

Author and speaker Louie Verrecchio has been a columnist for Catholic News Agency since April 2009. His work, which includes Year of Faith resources like the Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series, has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, England; Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, USA and others. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com.