YOUCAT Series 6 – What We Believe: The Christian Profession of Faith

Questions 25 to 29
Here we look at why we need to have a definite profession of faith. We look at the origins of the Creeds and what they say.

The best source that I’ve come across regarding the Creed is the General Directory for Catechesis. I have used parts of it below that correspond to the questions. Although it may be directed at the role of catechesis surrounding the Creeds, nevertheless, I think it is beneficial to study them in that context anyway.

Q. 25 – As the YOUCAT states, the Creeds are ‘the foundation for the Church’s unity’ and prevent Christ’s message ‘from misunderstandings and falsifications.’ Moreover the Directory says,

[a] Who has encountered Christ desires to know him as much as possible, as well as to know the plan of the Father which he revealed. Knowledge of the faith (fides quae) is required by adherence to the faith (fides qua). (252) Even in the human order the love which one person has for another causes that person to wish to know the other all the more. Catechesis, must, therefore, lead to “the gradual grasping of the whole truth about the divine plan”, (253) by introducing the disciples of Jesus to a knowledge of Tradition and of Scripture, which is “the sublime science of Christ”. (254) By deepening knowledge of the faith, catechesis nourishes not only the life of faith but equips it to explain itself to the world. The meaning of the Creed, which is a compendium of Scripture and of the faith of the Church, is the realization of this task.

[b] St Cyril of Jerusalem affirms with regard to the Creed: “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 a mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too the summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments”.

Q. 26 goes on to discuss the Creeds as the common Christian confession of faith;

The object of catechesis is expressed in profession of faith in the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

82. Catechesis is that particular form of the ministry of the word which matures initial conversion to make it into a living, explicit and fruitful confession of faith: “Catechesis has its origin in the confession of faith and leads to confession of faith.” (240)

The profession of faith inherent in Baptism (241) is eminently Trinitarian. The Church baptizes “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19) (242) the triune God to whom the Christian entrusts his life. Initiatory catechesis—both before and after the reception of Baptism—prepares for this decisive undertaking. Continuing catechesis helps to mature this profession of faith, to proclaim it in the Eucharist and to renew the commitments which it entails. It is important that catechesis should unite well the confession of christological faith, “Jesus is Lord”, with the trinitarian confession, “I believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, in such a way that there are not two modes of expressing the Christian faith. He who is converted to Jesus Christ and recognizes him as Lord through the primary proclamation of the Gospel begins a process which, aided by catechesis, necessarily leads to explicit confession of the Trinity.

In the confession of faith in the one God, the Christian rejects all service of any human absolute; “power, pleasure, race, ancestors, state, wealth…”, (243) and is thus liberated from the enslavement of any idol. It is the proclamation of his will to serve God and man without any ties. In proclaiming faith in the Trinity, which is a communion of Persons, the disciple of Jesus Christ shows at once that the love of God and neighbour is the principle which informs his being and his action.

83. The confession of faith is complete only in reference to the Church. All the baptized individually proclaim the Credo, for no action can be more personal than this. However, they recite it in the Church and through the Church, because they do so as members of the Church. ‘Credo’ and ‘Credimus’ necessarily imply each other. (244) In fusing his confession of faith with that of the Church, the Christian is incorporated into her mission: to be the “universal sacrament of salvation” for the life of the world. He who makes the profession of faith takes on responsibilities that not infrequently provoke persecution. In Christian history the martyrs are proclaimers and witnesses par excellence. (245)

Furthermore, as an appendage to Q. 27, some information on the use of the Creed,

In the patristic period properly, catechumenal formation was realized through biblical catechesis, based on recounting the history of salvation; immediate preparation for Baptism by doctrinal catechesis, explaining the Creed and the Our Father which had just been handed on, together with their moral implications; and through the phase following the sacraments of initiation, a period of mystagogical catechesis which help the newly baptized to interiorize these sacraments and incorporate themselves into the community.

Then Q. 28, on the Apostles’ Creed:

– The Apostles’ Creed demonstrates how the Church has always desired to present the Christian mystery in a vital synthesis. This Creed is a synthesis of and a key to reading all of the Church’s doctrine, which is hierarchically ordered around it. (393)

Lastly, see The Nicene Creed- A Roadmap For Our Faith for a quick overview of the Nicene Creed for Q. 29.

Reflection Questions
• What does the word ‘catechesis’ mean?

• What would you say to a Christian who said they didn’t need to go to Church to have a relationship with God?

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Posted on January 17, 2012, in Apologetics, Catholicism, Christianity, Prayer, Youcat, Youcat Study Group and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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