UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAITH:

THE NICENE CREED


By Vic Scaravilli


The Nicene Creed, our profession of faith, is an important part of the Mass. The Creed is recited at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist just after the Gospel reading and homily. In between the two main components of the mass is a statement of beliefs Christians have expressed for 16 centuries.

Creed is from the Latin credo which means “I believe.” It is a summarization of the faith that Christians profess. Jesus brought important information to everyone about God and His message of salvation. Our acceptance of this information is faith. A Creed sums up the truths that God gave us and allows us to profess our beliefs so that we can acknowledge the truths by faith.

Every person believes in some kind of a creed because this is what influences his whole life. This is the guiding principle that persuades a person in his thoughts and actions. As far as Christians are concerned, the Nicene Creed sums up our attitude towards God, man, and our religion. In our spiritual life, we need to have a set of guidelines that we know are true in order to focus on what God revealed to us through His Son.

The Nicene Creed was created as result of many heresies that were being circulated in the early Church. One of the major heresies that were being taught was called Arianism, which stated that Jesus was not truly God. In order to clarify this issue, the very first ecumenical council was convened to resolve this as well as other important issues of the time.

The Council of Nicaea met in 325 A.D. and established the Creed named for the location where it was formulated. Here the bishops composed a Creed to clearly state the beliefs of the Church and to reject many of the false understandings that were being taught. The Nicene Creed now stated the truths that the Church had been teaching since the time of the apostles. Since this was an ecumenical council that had the assurance of infallibility that was promised by Christ, we know that this Creed stated the truths about God and Jesus. This Creed was later reaffirmed in the next ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.

The Creed is divided into three parts. The beginning speaks of the first Divine Person, God the Father, and the wonderful work of creation. The first thing our Creed tells us about God Himself is that He is the Father Almighty. Here we affirm that there is only one God and He is the creator of everything.

The middle part speaks of the second Divine Person, Jesus Christ, and the mystery of His Redemption for mankind. Beginning with stating that Jesus is indeed God, this is the longest section where Jesus’ role in the salvation process is defined. Here, Jesus’ life story is told and how He came to save mankind.

The final part speaks of the third Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, who is the source of our sanctification. Again, there is emphasis that the Holy Spirit is also God. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that is able to dwell within us so that we can have the gift of the grace of God.

Another important component of the Creed is the definition of the four marks of the Church. Here, another truth of Christ’s true Church is defined for us. It states that the Church that Jesus established for all time must be one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic or having its authority derived from the apostles.

The Nicene Creed is a summary of the principle truths of our God given to us by the early Church and has been passed on to every generation. As we profess and reaffirm the common faith that is the foundation of Christianity, we today share in the same truths as did the earliest Christians.

The Writings of Vic Scaravilli