How Do You Know That You’re Catholic?

30 May 2010 Trinity Sunday
Proverbs 8, 22-31, Romans 5, 1-5, John 16, 12-15

The 1st Reading and the Gospel focuses on the wisdom that our faith provides. The 2nd Reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us that this wisdom is a foundation — as an anchor to a ship — assuring us hope in a troubled and confused world.

First, the wisdom we have acquired is carefully placed on Creeds. For example, there were short creedal statements the early Church communities affirmed, such as “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Cor 12, 3; Romans 10, 9; Ph 2, 11; Col 2, 6). These statements of belief presupposes three more others: 1) God exists; 2) God rewards the just; 3) in God, there are three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The statement, “Jesus is Lord” is a creedal statement. The word, ‘creed’ derives it from the Latin verb, credere, meaning ‘to believe’. A creed therefore is a summary of the basic tenets of belief.

Two of the most ancient elaborations of “Jesus is Lord” are the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. In the Philippines, we traditionally used the Apostles Creed on Sunday; but most of the world uses the Nicene Creed. Church creeds are precious statements, each word in a creed in important; it is there a good reason. For example, the Nicene Creed profess belief in the resurrection of the flesh; thus it says, “We look for the resurrection of the dead” while the Apostles Creed say the same thing, “I believe in … the resurrection of the body.” These statements say explicitly and exactly what we mean by the resurrection of the body, a doctrine essential to our faith. Even the name, Pontius Pilate is important. Our faith tells us the Jesus suffered and died under the rule of Pontius Pilate. Therefore, this incident tells us that we were saved by the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus during the time of Pontius Pilate. Our faith then is historical — not poetic or an imagery. It actually happened in time, in history!

Second, this faith becomes anchors in a very pluralistic and confused world. In the Philippines, there are many Christian denominations that evangelize or proselytize. They come to convince many Catholics to embrace their own religion by confusing the young. There are even television programs that are dedicated to question the Catholic faith. Thus there are people who ask the question: “How do I know that I am still Catholic?” The best and surest way is look at the creeds. All the creedal statements in the Apostles creed are our basic belief — thus, any disbelief in one may account one’s Catholicism.

Whenever we recite the Creed sincerely like the Rosary and other devotions, we are reminded that the Creed is the most important foundation of the faith. We are saying that the Creed has been the faith of our fathers, and by this we make our strong stance; and it what we all believe. In October 22, 451 at Chalcedon in Asia Minor, the Nicene Creed was formulated, and all present recited them in unison. These creeds, say what we believe, in a very precise way, — thus when ask by someone about what we believe as Catholics, say the Apostles Creed because the creed says it best.

Thus, when we celebrate Trinity Sunday — or other feasts and holy days — we are celebrating — and re-affirming — some words in the creed: “I believe in God the Father. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the Holy Spirit: One God, three Persons.”

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