Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What Catholics Believe, an Introduction

I have been contemplating how to defend our Faith--the Faith passed down from Jesus Christ through the Apostles down to us today.  I contemplate how fellow Christians, those who belong to traditions that have departed from the Church founded by Christ, or who belong to no tradition at all, can and do believe that Catholics are not Christians.  Contemplating how my journey of faith brought me from an early faith in a Baptist tradition to my passionate love for my Lord as a member of His Body--the Catholic Church, I do not understand the hostility or anti-Catholic bigotry.  Since, I became a Catholic 15 years ago, I have met more "Christian" bigots than in all my 30+ years as a Baptist.  I'm still a Christian.  I still love the Gospel--in fact, I love it even more passionately.  So, I thought I'd begin a series on Christ's Church.  Unlike Protestant Apologists, I don't intend to reinvent the wheel I will be using the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Church documents along with the Scriptures in my articles.

So, to begin.

The Nicene-Constantinoplian Creed

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.

This is what we believe--Catholics.  It is virtually the same as the Orthodox version of the Creed (yes, I do know the difference), and similar to the Creeds used by the Lutherans and many other Protestant faiths.

"In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son."26 Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:
In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.27
26 Heb 1:1-2.
27 St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel 2,22,3-5 in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC:Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979),179-180:LH, OR Advent, week 2, Mon.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 65 (CCC 65).

Next, a look at the Creed step by step.

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