Step-by-Step Walk Through the Mass

Do This in Remembrance of Me, Part 27: The Creed

“I believe in one God…” We all likely recognize these words as the beginning of the Creed which we say together after the homily. Besides needing to stand up and stretch our legs after the homily, why do we have the Creed?

What is the Creed?

According to the glossary of our Catechism, a creed is “a brief, normative summary statement or profession of Christian faith, e.g., the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed. The word ‘Creed’ comes from the Latin Credo, meaning ‘I believe,’ with which the Creed begins” (CCC, Glossary, s.v. “Creed”). As we will see, a creed is a collection of core truths in which we believe. As the Catechism teaches, there have been many professions of faith that have come from Church Councils or from certain individuals. “None of the creeds from the different stages in the Church’s life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it” (CCC, no. 193). The Catechism continues that two creeds have a special place in the Church’s life: the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. “The Apostles’ Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles’ faith” (CCC, no. 194). “The Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 325 and 381). It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day” (CCC, no. 195). Although either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed can be used in the Mass, many of us probably most often hear the Nicene Creed being used.

Young woman with head bowed in prayer

A Statement of Faith and Renewal of Belief

How did the Creed enter the Mass? As the Diocese of Peoria instructs, “The Creed, or Profession of Faith, stems from the Ancient Church. This statement of belief was not originally written to be recited at Mass; it was rather intended as a prerequisite ‘contract’ for adult baptism. One would profess these essential truths of the faith before being admitted into the Church through baptism. Eventually, the Creed would be inserted into the Mass as it is today” (A Study of the Mass, p. 9). Fr. Guy Oury says, “The Fathers of the Church recommended that Christians recite [the Creed] daily, morning and evening, as a renewal of their faith and safeguard against doctrinal error” (The Mass, p. 71). How many of you say the Creed when you get out of bed each morning?! Jokes aside, the Fathers of the Church were really on to something here. Because the Creed is a great summary of the truths of the Faith, especially the Holy Trinity (more on that to come), knowing the Creed is a wonderful way to know some of the basics of the faith and to keep them fresh in our minds and hearts.

For Reflection:

1. Per Father Luke’s advice, consider beginning and/or ending your day by reciting the Creed prayerfully.

2. Consider gathering with others to study the Creed, using the Catechism or another resource. One option is to study one line of the Creed each week in preparation for participation in Mass on Sunday.