Article for August 23, 2020

THE CREED PART VII

“I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. 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.”

This week we finish up our study of the Nicene Creed.  This last paragraph talks about the Church itself, both on Earth and in the new world to come.

The first sentence is short, but packed full of meaning.  We profess that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.  These are not just neat sounding adjectives, but can be described as the chief characteristics of the Church. They are called the Four Marks of the Church.  First we say the Church is one.  Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that we might be one as He and the Father are one (Jn 17:21).  So, this is what Jesus intended for His Church: that we will be united in one faith, one way of worshiping, one leadership (the pope, bishops, and clergy), and united in Christian love.  Sadly, there are those who try to damage that unity in order to divide us, but we continue to strive for that unity.

The Church is holy.  Christ sanctified the Church through His death and resurrection.  He made the Church holy.  Through His grace, He has also given us saints to be examples for us.  The Apostle’s Creed mentions belief in “The Communion of the Saints”.  This communion includes all the saints in heaven and all of us who are baptized.  Because we are united in this communion we can also pray to the saints, not to worship them, but to ask them to pray for to God. 

The Church is catholic.  I doubt many Catholics are aware that the word “catholic” means “universal”.  The Catechism explains that the Church is catholic in two ways.   First because Jesus is universally present in her and makes her complete.  Second because the Church is on a mission to bring the entire human race back to God. 

The Church is Apostolic.  In other words, the Church is founded on the Apostles.  Christ chose His Apostles (include St. Peter as the first pope) and they chose others to succeed them.  Those successors have continued to choose other men to serve as bishops, priests, and deacons all the way to today.  So our Church today can trace its roots all the way back to the time of Christ.

The next sentence talks about how we believe that we need only be baptized once to be forgiven for all our sins and be saved.  We also believe there will be a resurrection from the dead and that those who are judged worthy by Christ will live with Him for eternity in His Kingdom.

Finally we end with “Amen”.  Simply put, “Amen” means “I believe”, but it has a lot more meaning than just that.  Amen means that we are saying yes to everything we have just stated.  We are not just “going along” with it until we hear of something better. We are saying it is true.  We are saying the saying the same thing when we receive the Eucharist.  We are saying, Yes, I know this is what we believe.

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