It is said that to better understand what Catholics believe you should listen to what they pray. The liturgy of the Church is of fundamental importance to understanding Her beliefs. Liturgy is the public prayer of the Church. It is the participation of God’s people in His work. It is through Her liturgy that the Church teaches Her people, and directs them to action.

One prayer encapsulates the basic beliefs of the Catholic Faith. The Nicene Creed was promulgated at one of the very first Church Councils, in the city of Nicaea, in the year 325. For almost two thousand years this statement of beliefs has been the bedrock of Catholic faith.

 

NICENE 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. Amen.

 


Below are some reflections on the statements included in the Creed.


 

 

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty…

Our God is an all-powerful God who has created each one of us. He has created everything that we can see and know, as well as everything that we cannot see or comprehend.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ…

God sent His Son Jesus to reveal Himself to us. Jesus has told us that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. Jesus revealed the Father’s love for us.

The only begotten Son of God… true God from true God…begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…

These words bring us into the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Begotten means that the Father and the Son are of the same nature. The Son was with the Father before all ages, and is equal to the Father, “true God from true God.”

For us men and for our salvation, He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary…

Jesus came to save us from sin and death. In this statement of belief we acknowledge that Jesus became like us in every way. He has a real human nature formed in the womb of Mary. He also has a divine nature, conceived by the miraculous power of God. He is true God and true man.

And became man…

Jesus is like us in every way but sin. He had to grow up and learn just like we do. He has known all of the joy, sorrow, anxiety, and every other emotion that we experience in our lives. Jesus liked people and they liked Him. He was born like us and He died like each of us will.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate…

God’s love is the only power that can overcome sin. He sent His Son to die for us, so that each of us might be saved and united to God as His son or daughter in Jesus.

And rose again on the third day…

By His resurrection from the dead Jesus has also conquered death. In His resurrection, we, too, will be raised up to live forever with Jesus in heaven.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father…

Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us. Sitting at His right hand, Jesus intercedes for us with God the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead…

The full meaning of our life will only be known at the end of time. Jesus will judge each of us according to our deeds. We do not know when the end of time will come, so we must always be prepared.

His kingdom will have no end…

Christ’s kingdom is not limited by earth’s boundaries. This is called the communion of saints. This communion of saints includes those believers living on earth called the Church Militant, those who are already in heaven with Christ called the Church Triumphant, and those who are undergoing purification before going to heaven called the Church Suffering. We are all one Body in Christ.

I believe in the Holy Spirit…

The teaching on the Trinity holds that the Holy Spirit is the love eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son. Jesus told us that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us strength and courage to live our lives in communion with Jesus.

I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church…

These are the four marks of our Church. The Church is one in that we are called to be united in Christ. The Church is holy because Christ is holy, and we are called to share in that holiness. The Church is catholic because it is universal. It refers to Christ’s Church throughout the world. The Church is apostolic because it can trace its roots back to the apostles.

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins…

In Baptism we die with Christ and rise to a new life with Him. We become the sons and daughters of God. The original sin of Adam and Eve is removed, and we are filled with the life of Christ which is called Sanctifying Grace.

And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead…

Jesus died and rose so that we might have everlasting life. He wants us to live with Him forever. At the end of time our bodies will be resurrected just like Jesus’ Body. Exactly how this will happen we do not know, but we know that we will be fully alive.

And the life of the world to come…

Jesus leaves no doubt about the reality of eternal life. We believe that if we choose Jesus we will live with Him in heaven. We also believe that we are able to choose eternal separation from God. We call this hell. Catholics also believe that the mercy of God reaches beyond death in a temporary state of purification called purgatory. Purgatory will be an after-life experience of God’s forgiveness.

Amen.

Yes! So be it!

 

For a more in depth study of the Catholic Faith and beliefs please go to the section on Spiritual Growth.

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' Luke 15:4-6