THE APOSTLES' CREED
The Apostles' Creed was originally a profession of faith required of converts to Christianity before they were baptized. As a formula of belief, it goes back in substance, if not in words, to the twelve Apostles.
Following Christ's declaration that, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16), the Apostles' Creed was the precondition for baptism. Only believers could be baptized. Even when children were baptized in the early Church, someone had to profess the faith for them.
Since the Apostles' Creed was first formulated, there have been many other Creeds approved and used by the Church. But this creed still remains the most common profession of the Christian faith in the world.
There is no other place to start talking about Christianity than with the Christian faith. "Only faith," we are told, "can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen" (Hebrews 11:1).
What the Apostles' Creed tells us is what everyone who calls himself a Christian must accept on the Word of God, that is, on faith.
We accept three fundamental truths in the Apostles' Creed:
What needs to be emphasized is that belief in these revealed truths is the foundation of Christianity. We can hope only in what we know to be true; faith provides us with the guarantee that our hope is not in vain. We can love only what we know to be good; faith provides us with the vision that God is so good we should love Him with our whole heart and soul.
This chapter will be a short one. It covers only the factual information of what the Apostles' Creed is and what are the principal truths it contains.
Since this is a manual for Catechists, all the chapters-beginning with the first will be aimed at helping you share with others what you learn about your faith.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the foundation of Christianity is the faith; that this faith can be expressed in plain, ordinary language; and that the Apostles' Creed is the most ancient and widely used summary of what Christians are to believe.
Article of Faith
Credo of the People of God
Faith, Act of
You should explain to your pupils that the Apostles' Creed is a living proof of the Church's stability since the time of Christ.
What keeps a society, any society, stable for any length of time? It is the agreement among its members on certain basic principles. As long as they agree on the fundamentals, the society continues to exist and to prosper. But once they disagree among themselves on these basics, the society weakens and finally disappears.
One of the reasons why the Catholic Church has remained constant over the centuries is that her members have continued to believe the same revealed truths, as contained in the Apostles' Creed.
But remember that the Creed is not just a collection of words. It is a set of convictions about the most important realities in life. When the ideas in our mind agree with realities outside the mind we possess the truth. That is why the Apostles' Creed is a series of twelve truths about God, about Jesus Christ, about the Church He founded and about our eternal destiny.
As a Catechist you want to help those you catechize to put into practice what you teach them. Here are some recommendations for living the Apostles' Creed.
1. Memory Have your students learn the Apostles' Creed by heart. Have them recite the Creed out loud with no memory aids. Have them also write out the Creed on paper. And in both cases, make sure that what they recite or write is word-perfect, with not a single word missing or changed.
2. Meditation. Tell your students to think about the words of the Apostles' Creed for a few minutes in God's presence. Have them first become aware of God. Then, in prayerful conversation with Him, go over one article of the Creed after another while asking Him, "What does this mean?"
3. Sacred Song. While in India, St. Francis Xavier would teach the faith by putting some of the Christian mysteries into song. Someone with musical talent can make the Apostles' Creed into simple melody.
4. Comparison. For the more advanced students, you might have them compare the Apostles' Creed with other famous Creeds. The Nicene Creed is regularly used in the Eucharistic Liturgy, and the Credo of the People of God was formulated by Pope Paul VI in 1968, on the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
"The twelve Articles of the Apostles' Creed are the first things . . . that Christian persons must hold. For these take their origin from the holy Apostles, the authorities and teachers of the faith, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When they received their mandate from the Lord to go forth into the whole world as His representatives to preach the Gospel to every creature, they thought it proper to compose a formula of the Christian faith, so that all might be 'united in the same mind and the same judgment' (I Corinthians 1:10). By this statement of the faith the Apostles intended that there should be no division among those called to the unity of faith, but that all should be perfectly united in the same internal meaning and the same outward profession" (The Roman Catechism, Introduction).
There is special value in having at least a few questions on the Apostles' Creed because it is the basic summary of our Catholic faith. All the following questions can be answered from the sources at your disposal. But if you have access to The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom (edited by the author), you will profit immensely from reading the Commentary on the Apostles' Creed by St. Thomas Aquinas. It will give you a deeper understanding of your faith, since everything we believe as Christians is enshrined in this fundamental Creed.
1. Indicate whether the following statements are true or false.
_______ 1. The Apostles' Creed was originally a profession of faith for converts to the Church.
_______ 2. The truths of faith professed in the Apostles' Creed were taught by the twelve Apostles.
_______ 3. There have been various creeds among Christians since the Apostles' Creed.
_______ 4. To be professed by Catholics, a creed must be approved by the Bishop of Rome.
_______ 5. Each of the twelve Apostles contributed one article to the Apostles' Creed.
_______ 6. Among Christians, only the Roman Catholics profess the Apostles' Creed.
_______ 7. The foundation of Christianity is charity.
_______ 8. The foundation of Christianity is faith.
_______ 9. The Apostles' Creed should be memorized by every Catholic.
_______10. The term Creed comes from the Latin word Credo, I believe.
_______11. We are to believe, but not try to understand, the articles of the Apostles' Creed.
_______12. The Nicene Creed is part of the Eucharistic liturgy.
_______13. The Nicene Creed is really the Nicene-Constantinople Creed.
_______14. All the articles of the Catholic Faith are explicitly stated in the Apostles' Creed.
_______15. An article of faith is whatever a Catholic must believe, as revealed by God.
_______16. An Act of Faith is an assent of the will to what God has revealed.
_______17. We believe with the mind, but we love with the will.
_______18. In the Apostles' Creed, we profess to believe in the Holy Trinity.
_______19. We can prove, from reason, that what we believe in the Apostles' Creed is credible.
_______20. We can hope only in what we believe is true.
|III. Match the terms in the following columns.|
|_______21. Pope Paul VI||21. The blessing that we hope for|
|_______22. He who believes and is baptized||22. I believe|
|_______23. Our faith can guarantee||23. Truth|
|_______24. Conformity of mind and reality||24. Arianism|
|_______25. Credibility||25. Credo of the People of God|
|_______26. Credo||26. Apostle|
|_______27. Nicene Creed||27. Reasonable grounds for believing something to be true|
|_______28. Messenger and authorized representative of the sender||28. Will be saved|
|_______29. The Apostles' Creed||29. Our faith|
|_______30. Can prove the existence of the realities||30. Precondition for Baptism that at present remain unseen|
|_______31. We believe that the world||31. The Apostles' Creed|
|_______32. The most common profession of the Christian faith||32. An assent of the mind to what God has revealed|
|_______33. Act of divine faith||33. Infants baptized|
|_______34. Someone else professes the faith||34. Endurance of the Apostles' Creed|
|_______35. Living proof of the Church's stability since apostolic times||35. Did not always exist|