We believe in one God
With these words we begin the Nicene Creed, the faith we profess as Christians. Too often the words come off our lips quickly and with little thought as we stand during Sunday Mass.
Yet each tenet of the creed should be a monumental, life-changing affirmation in our lives. Many religions say there is one God, but only Christians proclaim him as Three Persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What has God done to merit our worship? He is maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
Perhaps the tenets of the creed would be more a part of our consciousness if we incorporated portions into our prayer life, as quick aspirations.
What do I mean?
Recently, when contemplating what seemed to be a hopeless situation in a friends life, I began to think how our Catholic faith should provide help. What part of our faith would be especially relevant when faced with tragedy? Immediately the words came to mind, on the third day he rose again.
Now when negative thoughts or vexing situations enter my life, I picture Jesus coming from the tomb and say in my mind, on the third day he rose again. After all, what more hopeful and life-giving article of faith is there than the resurrection? And it is not something simply hidden in the mists of time; it is a reality for us today, just as Jesus is living and breathing in his Church. In addition, each believer is destined to rise after death, just as we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
If these articles of faith do not give us hope, how fully do we really believe them?
Lets try a few of lifes situations and see how the creed can give comfort and hope.
If I say: I feel that nobody loves or cares for me.
The creed says: For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven.
Jesus loves you so much that he left heaven to be one with humanity. He would have done this just for you alone.
If I say: I have been betrayed and refuse to trust.
The creed says: We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
God has not left us without guidance. We have the sure rock of the Catholic Church, a community of believers and a body of teaching and teachers, to give us assurance in all the ultimate questions in life.
If I say: I have done wrong and feel unworthy of forgiveness.
The creed says: We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
This tells us that it is Gods great desire to forgive even the worst sins, and it should lead us to the Sacrament of Confession, by which sins after Baptism are forgiven.
If I say: My life has been ruined by my upbringing. I will never recover.
The creed says: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Some parents are less than ideal, and some do harm to their offspring. But there is a Father who is always good, to whom we can look even in the darkest of times. Jesus loved and trusted his Father, and he has adopted us as children of the same God to live with him in heaven.
If I say: Life is not fair and evil seems to win.
The creed says, He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
God is not mocked, fooled or sleeping. He sees all and will judge everyone. Good will be rewarded with eternal life and beatitude. Evil will be cast into darkness. Justice will prevail in our lives and in the world as a whole. Our sights should be set on being among the righteous of God.
If we pray the creed in this way, we will be able to grasp better its tenets and seek to live them out from day to day.
* Brian Caulfield is editor of the website Fathers for Good, an initiative by the Knights of Columbus that features regular articles, videos and other multimedia on the subject of Christian fatherhood. A father of two young boys, Brian writes on the spiritual truths found in daily life and the issues men face while striving to live out their vocation.
Thank God we, as church, will be praying "I believe" throughout the Creed this December!