Truths of Faith in the Creeds

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 166-84 and 185-97:

  • Although faith is a personal act, it is not isolated, but by its very nature is inculcated, nurtured, and lived in communion — that is, the Church.
  • The Church communicates the truths of the faith to its members, through word and sacrament; therefore the Church precedes us in belief, and by instilling the divine life within us, serves as our mother in faith.
  • By articulating these truths, the Church teaches us the language of faith.
  • The most elemental truths are summarized in what we call creeds, a term deriving from the Latin credo, “I believe,” typically the first word of these statements.
  • Creeds were first composed as a preparation for the profession of faith at Baptism.
  • There have been a number of creeds promulgated over time, and all have enduring value as testimony to our faith; two have been especially significant in the life of the Church, the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
  • The Apostles’ Creed, which we say at the beginning of the Rosary, is the ancient baptismal formula of the Church of Rome.
  • The Nicene Creed, which we profess at Mass, was published as the result of the first two Ecumenical Councils of the Church (Nicaea in 325 and Constantinople in 381) and is technically termed the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
  • The Council of Nicaea was called in response to the heresy known as Arianism, after its founder Arius, who denied the divinity of Christ; the Council Fathers condemned that notion and lyrically described the truth that Jesus is fully divine.
  • The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed remains the touchstone of belief for most Christian denominations, even many of those who otherwise deny the authority of bishops.

Live Your Faith

The background on the Apostles’ Creed and Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed illustrates the importance of knowing Church history. If you have ever struggled with an aspect of our Catholic faith, or wondered why we believe and worship as we do, delve into our 2,000-year heritage, dating back to Christ himself.

As Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman famously said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”


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