Just a thought


On Sundays and solemnities the assembled community is invited to say the Creed. The spiritual significance of the Creed is summed up in the word: renewal, witness and profes-sion. The Creed is a individual (hence, “I believe”) renewal of the faith of our baptism; it bears witness to our belief and it is a public profession of our commitment.

The oldest form of the Creed used as Mass is called the Apostles Creed. This creedal formula is named after the apostles because of a tradition in the early Church that it originally had twelve articles, a contribution from each of the twelve apostles. The Apos-tles Creed predates many of the great Christological controversies of the early Church.

We really should distinguish two versions of the Nicene Creed. There is the original Ni-cene Creed, issued by the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. In this first Nicene Creed the Greek word homoousios (same substance) is used to describe the relationship of Jesus to the Father, From this Greek word we get the English consubstantial which has been restored in the new translation. The earlier “one in Being” expressed the same thing but did not use the classical term.

The other Nicene Creed should really be called “Nicene-Constantinopolitan” as it was given by the General Council of Constantinople in 381. This new edition expanded on the original version and is the version we use today.

Apart from the change back to “consubstantial” there is one other significant change in the new translation. Instead of saying “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man” we now say “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” Apart from being a more literal translation, this new version avoids any ambiguity about when the Son of God became man: not when he was born but when he was con-ceived.

There are other smaller changes of a word or two here or there and I under-stand that even the new version which we are currently using will be further pol-ished for more elegant recitation.

Fr Seán Wales, C.Ss.R.

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