The Creed is a prayer which we recite at Sunday Mass, week in, week out, but do we really think about what we are saying? This is one of many great videos made by Outside da Box, who strive to bring the Lord Jesus to young people through digital media.

A deeper look

The Creed is a summary of our Catholic Faith, which is the result of many hours, in fact many years, of prayer and study. The Apostles’ Creed, which may be prayed at the beginning of the Rosary, is fairly short, and is said to be a statement of the faith of the Apostles. On Sundays we normally pray the Nicene Creed, which is the fruit of two Councils held by the Church over 1500 years ago, at Nicea in 325AD and at Constantinople in 381AD. These cities are now known as Iznik and Istanbul and are both in Turkey. The New English Translation (or perhaps the Improved English Translation would be a better name) is no exception to this: not one single word is in it by accident.

In his Apostolic Letter launching the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that early Christians had to learn the Creed from memory. They would pray it every day in order to remind themselves of the commitment they had made when they were baptized. The Holy Father quotes St Augustine of Hippo, who talked about the Creed in one of his homilies, saying, “You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts.”

It is very easy, with prayers we know well and say often, to become the ‘robots’ talked about in the video, to just say or read the words but not think about them. How often do we recite the Creed without thinking about it? Or the Our Father? Or even the words of the Mass? Do we really pray them, or do we just say them aloud when in actual fact we are looking forward to our Sunday lunch, thinking about that movie we saw last night, planning what we’ll wear tomorrow, or even plotting revenge against an annoying younger brother or sister?

St Augustine told the early Christians that they shouldn’t just say the Creed in Mass on Sundays, but should have the words in their minds and hearts all the time. To have it in our minds we need to learn the words, and to have it in our hearts we need to really understand what those words mean. Some of the words in the Creed are not ones we use very often, if ever, but they have been carefully chosen to explain very deep truths. We should take the same amount of care to find out what they mean. If we do this, we will be able to put our faith into action. For example, in the video it talks about the fact that Jesus was born, lived, suffered, died and rose from the dead for us out of love. If we truly realize the love that God shows for us, we will want to live and share that same love with other people.

So, I invite you to join me in a challenge I have set myself for the Year of Faith: to find out what all the words and phrases in the Creed mean, and to learn the words (of both versions) off by heart (text available here). And, as Lent starts tomorrow, I’m setting myself a target to do this by Easter. Let the Catholic-Link team know how it’s going: leave a comment!

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