WATCH: Don’t Recite the Creed Like a Robot

June 19 is the birthday of the Nicene Creed. Christians have been saying what they believe using these words since the year 325 …so, for 1,694 years. The video above is offered by the Digital Media Center at the Archdiocese of Kansas City-Kansas to inject new life into the tradition.

We need it. English speaking Catholics for the last four decades experienced a blip in the long Nicene tradition, when we would begin the Creed at Mass with the words “We believe in one God.” After Vatican II, English translators changed the opening Latin word of the Creed, Credo (I believe) with the plural “We believe.” No other languages translated it that way.

Since 2011, however, we have used a better translation and have now once again say “I believe in one God.” Fixing this problem in the Mass was meant to make the creed more personal and powerful. By saying “I believe” each believer own his belief in the creed. Other changes were also meant to add power and accuracy to the creed.

For instance, the word “consubstantial” better fights the theologial errors the creed was meant to defeat. The Catechism describes why:

“The first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 confessed in its Creed that the Son of God is ‘begotten, not made, of the same substance (homoousios) as the Father,’ and condemned Arius, who had affirmed that the Son of God ‘came to be from things that were not’ and that he was ‘from another substance’ than that of the Father.”

The Greek homoousios is consubstantialem in Latin and the new translation of the creed properly specifies that we believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, “begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.”

Likewise, the change from “Was born of the Virgin Mary” to “Was incarnate of the Virgin Mary” is truer to the Latin translation of incarnatus from the original creed that dates from 325. Jesus was not just born of the Virgin Mary, but he “became flesh” — or was incarnate — of her.

One helpful practice that Dr. Ted Sri recommends is to review the baptismal promises in prayer and make sure that we truly do assent to each one:

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who today through the Sacrament of Confirmation
is given to you in a special way
just as he was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost?

Do you believe in the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.