Monday, April 30, 2007


In my previous post, I commented on the reasoning behind the forthcoming change in the English translation of the creed, from "We believe..." to "I believe..."

The basis for what I wrote is explained in
Liturgiam authenticam,

65. By means of the Creed (Symbolum) or profession of faith, the whole gathered people of God respond to the word of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures and expounded in the homily, recalling and confessing the great mysteries of the faith by means of a formula approved for liturgical use.[42] The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular, by which is clearly made manifest that “the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith.”[43]

This is also found at the USCCB site in the article "Draft Translation of the Ordo Missae

The explanation I attempted to apply to this was based on a text of an address by Cardinal Arinze, and I appologize that I have not yet found that to pass it along.

St. Peter of Verona: The assassin struck him with an axe on the head with such violence, that the holy man fell half dead. Rising to his knees he recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles, and offering his blood as a sacrifice to God he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground the words: "Credo in Deum".


  1. Thanks, Mark. I see what they're saying about everyone speaking as if with one voice from the person of the Church. In one sense, this works. We're speaking together as one, in one voice, a profession of faith. That much is right on target.

    But like most theological constructs, it has its limits. If you notice the words "as coming from the person of the whole Church." Does this mean "as if one person" or "as one person"? One suggests a simile, the other a reality. (The English you posted is itself a translation. I'm curious about the Latin text of it whether it's posed in a way to suggest a greater unity.)

    As a likeness of one person, we profess our faith as one. As a reality, we act individually. As the Body of Christ, well I've already mentioned the problem there. If we're truly the Body of Christ and He is our head, then there is no belief. We already know.

    As many traditionalists are fond to point out (and they're quite right), the liturgy reveals a theology. I think the credo represents a desire for communion in the Body of Christ and an anagogical projection of it. When it is realized, there will be no need for a credo.

  2. Theocoid,

    I'll give you my best understanding of how to see it as expressing the reality rather than a simile.


    + The mystical body of Christ, the Church, is a real body, ensouled by the Holy Spirit.

    - The Mystical body of Christ is His bride, as St. Paul explains in Ephesians 5:30-32:

    Because we are members of him, body, of his flesh and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother: and shall cleave to his wife. And they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the church.

    So it is proper that the body is united to it's head, and sacramentally one, and whereas the head does not believe, but knows, the body, one and real, is at the same time made up of believing members who speak with one voice;

    Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind, one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: That with one mind and with one mouth you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rm 15:5-6)

  3. How about this...

    We translate "credo" as "believe," but as others have mentioned, even Satan believes that God exists. However, credo can also be translated (according my admittedly archaic Latin-English dictionary) as "to entrust."

    Now since our faith is more than simple belief, it makes perfect sense for the Body of Christ to entrust itself to Christ, its head. So our profession of faith is a profession of trust, rather than a simple claim of intellectual assent. It's our unified assent to put our trust in these things, or to submit to these claims of our faith.

    So "I believe" is not mere intellectual assent, as a lesser to a superior, and a limb to the head, as a servant to our master.

  4. St. Bede said that there are three levels of belief; to believe in God, to believe God, and to believe towards God.

    The first has no salvific value, because to believe in God but not to believe God is an outright rejection of God. The second, to believe in God and to believe God is St. Jame's "even the demons believe and tremble" and Bede says, "so you have the faith of a demon, big freaking deal" (sorry for the anachronism). it is the final belief, belief towards God, which is salvific, and is the summation of the short gospel coming up Sunday... :)

    with this faith I thee wed?

    BTW, "credo" translates to not just "believe", I am told that it is first person singular, so it is "I believe."

    This is a hard thing to get wrapped around, I realize, but consider:

    normally 1+1+1+1...+1 = sum(1..n)
    this is equivalent to I+I+I=WE

    but in the body of Christ,
    equivalent to I+I+I=I

    We are on the receiving end, and Nicea was the delivering end, and yet, it is still one body. remarkable.

  5. I only know what I google on the Internet, but it looks like there may have been a custom in Rome of reciting (some variant of) the Apostles' Creed -- with "credo," "I believe" -- prior to Nicea. If so, the conversion for liturgical purposes from the conciliar "We" to the liturgical "I" would have been perfectly natural.

    Liturgiam authenticam, by the way, is quoting St. Thomas (ST II-II, 1, 9); his original Latin is "confessio fidei traditur in symbolo quasi ex persona totius Ecclesiae, quae per fidem unitur."

    The idea that Mark is advocating, as I understand it, seem to go well beyond St. Thomas's "quasi ex persona." But then, St. Thomas's concern was to counter the argument that it is wrong for the Creed to be in first person singular, for which his narrow defense sufficed.

  6. Tom,

    (ST II-II, 1, 9) - answer to Q3?

    I hope I'm not going beyond what the Church holds, perhaps you can explain in more detail how you see it.

    If so, the conversion for liturgical purposes from the conciliar "We" to the liturgical "I" would have been perfectly natural.

    by conciliar, are you refering to Nicea?

    Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate it.

  7. I hope I'm not going beyond what the Church holds....

    I just mean that St. Thomas speaks of an "as it were" person of the Church. His interest in answering that objection is more semantic than theological.

    If I understand you, you're speaking of a real person, an "I" that is not merely a lingustic formalism but the Church as an actual individual. That's certainly consistent with what St. Thomas wrote, but I think it says a lot more than he was.

    by conciliar, are you refering to Nicea?