I Believe

The Creed

What Not to Miss

  • "Creed" comes from the Latin word for "I believe" at the beginning of this statement. We literally "stand up for what we believe in" because of the Creed's importance, and because it is not just a statement, but also a prayer.
  • What we commonly call the Creed is also called the Symbol. This Greek word refers to an object that verifies a person's identity. Acceptance of the Creed distinguishes those in communion with the Catholic Church from non-Catholics, heretics, and non-Christians.
  • The Creed is also called the Profession of Faith. We proclaim the contents of our faith in summary form after hearing and reflecting on the Scriptures and before beginning the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is similar to the Profession of Faith made by someone entering the Catholic Church through Baptism. Before we enter into the central mystery of the faith, the Eucharist, we recall our foundational identity as baptized Christians.
  • Most of the time we recite the Creed formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and amended at the First Council of Constantinople in 381, commonly called the Nicene Creed. It was written by the bishops to clarify the central teachings of the faith in response to widespread errors.
  • The Apostles' Creed, which is used less often, developed out of the question-and-answer Profession of Faith used at Baptisms in the early Roman Church. It is shorter and simpler.
  • Both Creeds have a Trinitarian structure: their three parts reflect our belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • We bow during the Creed to honor the mystery of the Incarnation, God becoming man, which made our salvation possible.
  • The Creed is said on Sundays and Solemnities—the most important and well-attended Masses of the liturgical year.

Next Time You Go to Mass...

  • Recall that you are a member of Christ's Body, the Church, by virtue of your Baptism.
  • As you recite the Creed, respond to what you have heard in the entire Liturgy of the Word with belief and affirmation.
  • Say the words of the Creed with attention to their meaning. If anything is unclear to you, look it up after Mass or ask your pastor or another knowledgeable person about it.

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.