There are several "creeds" that can be recited in the Catholic Church. There is the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Anthanasian Creed. The word creed comes from the Latin Credo, which simply means "I believe." The creeds were the result of a group (such as the Nicene Creed finalized by the Council of Constantinople in 381) and their effort to overcome some type of heresy attacking the Catholic Church.
For me, these creeds help me to identify how God is active in our world. From time to time I will slowly read and pray these creeds to strengthen my faith and to better understand our Church. After all, I returned to this Church and I really do want to understand how to become a better Catholic. The better you can understand something the closer you can feel to it. And for me this is how I have come to love our rich Catholic heritage.
In the next few blogs, I wanted to look into the simplicity of the Apostle's Creed as a prayerful exercise for those of us who have returned, or are considering returning to the Church. Perhaps this meditation of the Creed will stimulate some thoughts and help us all to better understand our Church.
I believe in God the Father Almighty.
The words "I believe" are not just some pipe dream, or some fantastic thought of what might be one day. Rather, belief is the living out of your faith. It is hope in a reality that is promised to us by One who delivers on promises. Saint Paul puts this much better and more poetically when he says in Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is the realization of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen" (NABRE). Those two words alone, "I believe," took me on along journey away from and back to the Catholic Church. I left the Church mainly because I was not really well catechized as a child. Oh sure, I memorized the necessities of the old Baltimore Catechism in the early 1960's, but there is more to forming a child's faith than memorizing abstract thoughts and words. I had lots of questions and I actually had a decent prayer life as a young child, but the direction was not very strong for me in the early days.
It was what came after the "I believe" that took me a long time to rediscover. For almost 25 years after I left the Church I wanted to have something to trust and believe in. I found my way into Eastern thought and New Age philosophies. Some of them did tickle my fancy! They all played on my eagerness to analyze philosophies. I was a young man in search of something to stimulate my mind and not necessarily my heart and soul. By the way...there is plenty of things out there to trap you into thinking you are a magnificent genius and intellectual. On each of the roads, I found some relatiely short satisfaction, but ultimately I was left empty inside.
One day in late Spring of 2005, I was invited by a dear friend to attend a daily Mass. I agreed to go, and then I was immediately struck by the very real tug on my heart as I entered the chapel on a warm Friday morning. I had been away for nearly 25 years and I had actually become a Protestant pastor along the way. But when Mass began, I felt the presence of God the Father Almighty. It was a real and very clear presence. It WAS REAL! God the Father Almighty is real. I could say with certainty "I believe in God the Father Almighty. And in the days after that Mass the Father Almighty proved why we call him Almighty.
Within only a couple of months I felt led to resign my 5 year pastorate in my Protestant church and go to Confession and accept the divine mercy of God who can move mountains and hear prayers of the many people who wanted me back in the Catholic Church. God can work in and through so many people and events to complete His Will. And His Will included my return to the Catholic Church.
In my next installment I will continue to the next few sentences in the Apostle's Creed.
Peace and Blessings,