Sunday, June 1, 2008

We Believe (Creed 1)

The very first line of the Nicene Creed is "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen." Below is my first installment of a series of posts about the Creed: "We believe..."

Today I attended Mass at a parish out of town. I was a stranger there; I didn't know anyone in the large crowd. Even so, I was part of the "we" in "We believe..."

Who is the "we?" All who have faith in the truth of the Creed. All who claim the name "Catholic" and live what that means. In a broader sense, all who hold to ancient Christian beliefs as carried forward through the centuries.

At Mass this morning, the universality of the Church was apparent. (The priest was from Kenya, the woman next to me from India.) If I participate in Mass anywhere in the world, even in a language I do not understand, I am no less part of the "we" of the Creed than I am in my home parish. We all say it together, we all believe, we all hold to the sacred tenets of our faith as set forth in unwavering declaration.

The "we" also includes Christians who have gone before us and will follow, those already in Heaven and those who will be there one day. The Communion of Saints is timeless, a brotherhood of those who believe: past, present and future.

The people of my own parish are a more personal component of the "we" for me. We claim our "we-ness" as we pass the peace at Mass (I can't help but smile after that!) and as we receive our Lord in communion together. We are a "we" that shines Christ's light when we serve our community together in His name. We are a "we" that lives out our admonition to love one another when we work through difficulties and misunderstandings. We are truly brothers and sisters, bound together in Christ.

Years before my interest in the Catholic Church was a conscious thought, I saw a stone cross pendant from the 6th century in an antique store. I couldn't stop staring at it. The symbol under the glass in front of me was worn centuries before by someone connected to me through our shared faith! My awe in that moment was caused by the power of the "we."

What about the "believe" part of it? Today's Gospel reading (from Mark 7) addresses this very thing:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

That's what it means to believe. Let our lives declare the Creed.

Next time: " one God..."

(For more info about the Creed, see the post so titled from May.)

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