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Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Have you felt the awkwardness of the Creed at Mass?

Not only does it not seem to have any connection with the rest of the service, it does not have a liturgical format.

That is partly because it is not part of the development or evolution of the liturgy, but something inserted in the era when the priest “said” the Mass and laity were required to merely “attend”. In such an era, it made sense that a desire to assure the orthodoxy of the clergy would insert a requirement that the clergy regularly recited a statement of orthodox belief. Because it was meant as a discipline for the cleric, the original Greek beginning of “We believe” was changed to “I believe” in Latin, “Credo”.

As others have pointed out, the Nicene Creed is based on an antiquated cosmology, archaic philosophical system, and third century theology. In addition, despite it having been composed in Greek, the Roman Curia has insisted on an English version be translated from the Latin translation rather than from the original language. This is the sort of thing which makes language scholars groan.

  1. At the very minimum, liturgical use of the Creed requires a liturgical consideration of its placement in the Mass. Perhaps it belongs among the introductory or sending rites rather than being dropped into the middle of things.

    In addition, it need formatting to make its insertion more liturgical in style, something similar to how the presider no longer just begins the Lord's Prayer and everybody is expected to know to join in. Now we have introductory words which invite the assembly to say the entire prayer. [Even though there are too many still practicing old habits and not beginning until, “who art in heaven”.]

    I suggest that it would be better to ask the assembly to recite the segments of the Creed by having the presider ask, “What do we believe?” To which the natural response would begin,” We believe in … “
  2. The more difficult problem is to bring the ancient and carefully argued theological points into our contemporary English language. Words like “con-substantial” are carefully defined in theology courses, but remain almost meaningless to the average American.

    Here is a draft version of an American English Nicene Creed for liturgical use. Please critique it in terms of its compatibility with the Nicene Creed and offer suggestions on what needs work. Even better, offer alternative phrasings.
Presider: What do we believe about God?

All: We believe that:
God alone has always existed.
God is impossible for humans to understand.
God has self-revealed that God exists as Three Persons.
God created everything which is not God.
God created all to be good.
God called Israel into covenant.

Presider: What do we believe about Jesus?

All: We believe that:
God became human as Jesus.
Jesus taught that all humans are God's people.
Jesus taught that all humans are saved despite the evil in the world.
Jesus taught us how to live in love.
Jesus demonstrated love for us and our salvation by suffering, dying, and rising into new life.
Jesus taught us about the Trinity through associating himself with the Father as Son and sending the Advocate.

Presider: What do we believe about the Advocate?

All: We believe that:
The Advocate has always been active in all the world.
The Advocate provides guidance, comfort, and strength for following the teachings of Jesus.

Presider: What do we believe about the followers of Jesus?

All: We believe that:
God sustains the followers of Jesus
through a single, universal community.
The faith of that community is protected by the Advocate.
The faith of that community is based on
the teachings of those sent out by Jesus.

Because of our faith we say,
Glory be to God,
Three-in -One.
Thanks be to God
for our community of faith.

Please offer a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. I do not like saying the Creed at Mass because to me it sounds too political. I stopped chiming in with it a long time ago. The current liturgy was in effect when I began school years ago (I am 76 yrs. old) and I was so happy when Vatican Council II came and gave us permission to use our own vernacular, and now we've gone backwards yet they call it the "New Roman Missal"! Who is deceiving who?