A creed is a summary or statement of what one believes. "Creed" comes from the Latin credo, which means I believe; that is, I accept or hold true something on the word of another. "I believe," with relation to The Apostles' Creed, means that I firmly assent to everything contained in it. I believe it exactly as if I had seen those truths with my own eyes. I believe it on the authority or word of God, Who cannot deceive or be deceived.
The Apostles' Creed is so called because it has come down to us from apostolic times, and contains a summary of the principal truths taught by the Apostles. The Apostles' Creed is repeated at Baptism, as a declaration of faith. In ancient times it was required before Baptism, as a sign of fitness for reception into the Church.
The Apostles' Creed has come down to us intact, except for a few clauses added by the Church later, in order to counteract various heresies. These additions, however, are not new doctrines, but a clarification of what the Creed already contained. Thus the words "Creator of Heaven and earth" were added to counteract the Manichaean heresy that the world was created by the principle of evil; and the word "Catholic" was added, to distinguish the True Church from churches springing up around it. As our Lord said, "And you also bear witness, because from the beginning you are with Me" (John 15:27).
There are several other creeds used by the Church, in substance identical with The Apostles' Creed. The Nicene Creed, which is said in the Mass, was mainly drawn up at the Council of Nicaea, in the year 325. The Athanasian Creed is said by priests in the Divine Office on the feast of the Blessed Trinity.
The Apostles' Creed may be divided into twelve articles. All the articles are absolutely necessary to faith; if even one article is omitted or changed, faith would be destroyed. It is symbolical to divide The Apostles' Creed into twelve articles, because the Apostles numbered twelve; thus we are reminded that the Creed comes to us and was taught by the Apostles of Our Lord.
The following are the articles:
The twelve articles of The Apostles' Creed contain the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, one God in three distince Divine Persons, - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, - with the particular operations attributed to each Person. The Creed contains three distince parts. The first part treats of God the Father and creation. The second part treats of God the Son and our redemption. And the third part treats of God the Holy Ghost and our sanctification.
When we say the Apostles' Creed we make an act of faith. Christian faith is a supernatural gift of God which enables us to believe firmly whatever God has revealed, on the testimony of His word. By it we believe in the truth of many things which we cannot fully grasp with our understanding.
For examply, we believe in God, although we cannot see Him. We believe in the Trinity, although it is beyond our understanding. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith does not require us to believe in anything contrary to reason. When we believe what we cannot perceive or understand, we act according to reason, which tells us that God cannot err, lie, or deceive us. We therefore put our trust in God's word. In many natural things we often believe what we do not see, as sound waves and atoms, on the testimony of scientists who have studied them. Thus we act within reason; but how much more reasonable it is to believe on the word of God!
A great reward in Heaven awaits those who suffer persecution or die for the faith or some Christian virtue. The number of martyrs who have died for the Catholic faith is estimated at more than tens of millions.
Neglect of the study of the truths of our religion is frequently the cause of lukewarmness, a bad life, and final apostasy and impenitence. We should be zealous in studying the Christian doctrine, in the catechism and religion lessons, in sermons, missions, and retreats, in prayer groups, confraternities and sodalities. If we have any doubts, we should consult our priests; God will not forgive ignorance if we voluntarily neglect the means He has granted to dissipate it.
Although the Pope did not mention the specific attacks, these include the new concept of "families" promoted in some U.N. international forums, which hope to get legal matrimonial recognition for all kinds of arrangements for living together.
In face of this situation, and on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which will begin on Christmas Eve, John Paul II called for "reflection that helps not only believers, but all those of good will, to rediscover the value of marriage and the family."
The Pope emphasized the importance that roles in the family hold "in the reciprocal spousal relationship and in the communal responsibility of the parents, figures of man and woman in how they are called to live out their natural characteristics within the bounds of a profound, enriching and respectful communion."
He added, citing his 1994 Letter to Women, "To this 'unity of the two' God entrusts not only the work of procreation and the life of the family, but the very construction of history."
Therefore, the child is not a weight, or a stranger who comes to disturb the comfort of the couple. According to the Pope, the child "must be understood as the maximum expression of the communion between man and woman, the reciprocal acceptance/donation that is realized and transcended in a 'third,' who is that child. The child is God's blessing. He transforms husband and wife into father and mother. Both 'go out from themselves' and express themselves beyond themselves in a person, the very fruit of their love."
Present in the Paul VI Audience Hall were several newly married couples. The Pope took advantage of the occasion to invite them to be generous and welcome the great gift of life. ZE99120103
"I ask our Muslim brothers of Nazareth to build the mosque at a different location in the city. This insistence has no value and is displeasing to Allah and his Prophet," he stated.
Considering whether or not the construction of the mosque as planned would give renewed strength to Islam, the Grand Mufti replied: "Islam's strength is in its tolerance and justice. I ask myself, what difference is there between that location and another? We must return to logic and respect the wishes of our brothers and fellow-citizens with whom we are united in relations whose interruption God would not forgive us."
"Those who pray in that mosque would take on a measure of responsibility for fueling the 'fitna' [internal dissensions between Christians and Muslims] and will have to answer to God and his Prophet for the evil he would inflict on the citizens. This goes for all those who give their consent to the construction. We would also be responsible for keeping silent in face of all that is happening, for which we shall have to answer before the Eternal Judge on the Last Day," the Mufti warned.
According to Egypt's highest religious authority, the Nazareth issue has nothing to do with Islam, which is "a religion of tolerance and peace, and the secret of its greatness is that it grants peace and security to the members of the other religions. We must not give our enemies a pretext for driving a wedge in our ranks, as we are one nation. We should be aware of the existence of hidden hands that fan the flames of this 'fitna.' We all know who it is who works to divide us for the purpose of defeating us separately," the Grand Mufti concluded.
Muslim leaders in Nazareth, nonetheless, are not heeding the Mufti's words. Suleiman Abu Ahmed, the chairman of the United List in the Nazareth municipal council accused "as-Safir" of being hostile to the Islamic Movement in Israel. "It is possible that the paper fed the Mufti false information to the effect that the mosque will be built on land that was plundered from the Christian community," he alleged, adding that the Mufti should himself visit Nazareth before passing judgment. ZE99120101
The problem with the WTO is that it is concerned with attending to its accounts without paying attention to civil society, according to the Bishop. "The protest is an obvious sign of unrest. Although violence, which never produces the desired effect, must be condemned, we must consider the reasons for the unrest. The WTO cannot continue giving orders and speeches from the top without the support of civil society. Civil society must participate. Citizens are the owners of the great plans for development," Bishop Martin said.
According to the Vatican representative, the limited functions relegated to NGOs only exacerbate the problem. "They have a right to participate and have greater influence. The presence of NGO's should be institutionalized in the WTO's Secretariat." In addition, Bishop Martin believes it is necessary to launch a publicity campaign in all countries, so that citizens become aware of global questions.
In referring to the WTO's work, Bishop Martin spoke about the usefulness of "a multilateral organization to develop the rules of international business." However, he said, "the rules are not sufficient. Even in a common juridical framework, poor countries do not have ready access to resources and benefits, and their capacity to negotiate is not in proportion with the strength of the rich countries." Because of this, these countries must be given guarantees, eliminating protection measures for Western States in the agricultural and textile sectors.
"Fides" explained that that in the past, the industrialized countries established import quotas on textile products of Third World countries. In the Uruguay Round (1986-1993) they promised a significant reduction of protective measures. Despite this, the European Union and the United States have only reduced these measures by 5% in the textile sector, which translates into unemployment and poverty for countries like India and Bangladesh.
In agriculture, observers speak of "hypocrisy wearing the make-up of credibility": rich countries invest $350 billion a year to protect their own industry destined for export. As a result, agricultural products invade the markets of poor countries and destroy the local agricultural economy. According to U.N. data, such protectionism causes losses in the vicinity of $700 billion a year to developing countries. "Because of this, unless markets open to the products of the poor countries, even the cancellation of foreign debt is useless," Bishop Martin explained.
Finally, the secretary of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace" said that there is a certain imbalance among the various international organizations, since they tend to concentrate on particular aspects of their sector: business, labor, environment, family, etc. "What is needed is greater cohesion in international policies," he asserted. "The only thing these organizations have in common is absolute economic growth. Although this is important, it must go hand in hand with justice, safeguarding of the environment, stability, and human and social benefits. The 'global good' must be taken into account, including protection of workers and their families, social cohesion, and respect for the environment. Businesses in the private sector must also assume responsibilty to improve human capacities and social infrastructures. We cannot forget man in the name of profit."
"The Jubilee is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the idea of humanity considered as a 'big family,' and the need to create just and harmonious relations among people and with nature," Bishop Martin concluded. ZE99120206
While EACW appeals to Vatican II and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, in many cases, it makes pastoral suggestions that go beyond what is contained in the official documents. However, many liturgists have taken the document as binding.
As a result of EACW, many churches removed all the statues and liturgical art in an effort to make the church building "a shelter or 'skin' for liturgical action" that "does not have to 'look like' anything else, past or present," as suggested in that document. The document further suggested that the tabernacle be removed from the main church, so that the building could be used for other functions than just the Liturgy.
The new document, which is not yet publicly available, as it is only a working copy, is being created to address these concerns. Over 30 Bishops spoke on the matter at the meeting. Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe reported that the congregation in one parish broke out in applause when he asked them if they would like to have the Blessed Sacrament more present among them.
Not all the reactions to the proposed document have been so positive. In the October 9 issue of "America," Nathan Mitchell, associate director for research at the Center for Pastoral Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame praised EACW, criticizing the new document as being part of a movement "to reassert those ancient beliefs, liturgical rules, and devotional practices that once made Catholicism synonymous with certitude."
Others criticized the document for maintaining a functional understanding of the church -- a place where Liturgy is celebrated, rather than deeply considering the theological ramifications of the church as an image of heaven, the dwelling place of God.
The final document will not come out without a large amount of discussion, but the effects will be felt in parishes throughout the country. The vote on the new document should take place at next year's Bishops' Meeting, in Fall 2000. The National Council of Catholic Bishops can be contacted at 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194. ZE99120220