KNOW AND LOVE YOUR CATHOLIC FAITH 4.
I believe in God the Father.
Compendium nn. 33-49.
Outline (click on the links)
- What are the symbols of faith?
- What are the most ancient symbols (professions) of faith?
- What are the most important symbols of the faith?
- Why does the Profession of Faith begin with the words, “I believe in God”?
- Why does one profess belief that there is only one God?
- With what name does God reveal Himself?
- Is God the only One who “is”?
- Why is the revelation of God’s name important?
- In what way is God the truth?
- In what way does God reveal that he is love?
- What does it mean to believe in only one God?
- What is the central mystery of Christian faith and life?
- Can the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity be known by the light of human reason alone?
- What did Jesus Christ reveal to us about the mystery of the Father?
- Who is the Holy Spirit revealed to us by Jesus Christ?
- How does the Church express her trinitarian faith?
- How do the three divine Persons work?
The symbols of faith are composite formulas, also called “professions of faith” or “Creeds”, with which the Church from her very beginning has set forth synthetically and handed on her own faith in a language that is normative and common to all the faithful.
The most ancient symbols of faith are the baptismal creeds. Because Baptism is conferred “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19), the truths of faith professed at Baptism are articulated in reference to the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.
They are the Apostles’ Creed which is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed which stems from the first two ecumenical Councils, that of Nicea (325 A.D.) and that of Constantinople (381 A.D.) and which even to this day are common to all the great Churches of the East and the West. (SEE BELOW)
The Profession of Faith begins with these words because the affirmation “I believe in God” is the most important, the source of all the other truths about man and about the world, and about the entire life of everyone who believes in God.
Belief in the one God is professed because he has revealed himself to the people of Israel as the only One when he said, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy6:4) and “there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). Jesus himself confirmed that God is “the one Lord”(Mark 12:29). To confess that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also God and Lord does not introduce any division into the one God.
God revealed himself to Moses as the living God, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). God also revealed to Moses his mysterious name “I Am Who I Am (YHWH)”. Already in Old Testament times this ineffable name of God was replaced by the divine title Lord. Thus in the New Testament, Jesus who was called Lord is seen as true God.
Since creatures have received everything they are and have from God, only God in himself is the fullness of being and of every perfection. God is “He who is” without origin and without end. Jesus also reveals that he bears the divine name “I Am” (John 8:28).
In revealing his name, God makes known the riches contained in the ineffable mystery of his being. He alone is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the One who transcends the world and history. It is he who made heaven and earth. He is the faithful God, always close to his people, in order to save them. He is the highest holiness, “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4), always ready to forgive. He is the One who is spiritual, transcendent, omnipotent, eternal, personal, and perfect. He is truth and love.
“God is the infinitely perfect being who is the most Holy Trinity.” (Saint Turibius of Montenegro)
God is Truth itself and as such he can neither deceive nor be deceived. He is “light, and in him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). The eternal Son of God, the incarnation of wisdom, was sent into the world “to bear witness to the Truth” (John 18:37).
God revealed himself to Israel as the One who has a stronger love than that of parents for their children or of husbands and wives for their spouses. God in himself “is love” (1 John 4: 8.16), who gives himself completely and gratuitously, who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). By sending his Son and the Holy Spirit, God reveals that he himself is an eternal exchange of love.
To believe in the one and only God involves coming to know his greatness and majesty. It involves living in thanksgiving and trusting always in him, even in adversity. It involves knowing the unity and true dignity of all human beings, created in his image. It involves making good use of the things which he has created.
The central mystery of Christian faith and life is the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
God has left some traces of his trinitarian being in creation and in the Old Testament but his inmost being as the Holy Trinity is a mystery which is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of the Son of God and the sending of the Holy Spirit. This mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all the other mysteries.
Jesus Christ revealed to us that God is “Father”, not only insofar as he created the universe and the mankind, but above all because he eternally generated in his bosom the Son who is his Word, “ the radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature”(Hebrews 1:3).
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. He is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son. He “proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26) who is the principle without a principle and the origin of all trinitarian life. He proceeds also from the Son (Filioque) by the eternal Gift which the Father makes of him to the Son. Sent by the Father and the Incarnate Son, the Holy Spirit guides the Church “to know all truth” (John 16:13).
The Church expresses her trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the oneness of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature. They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which place them in correspondence to each other. The Father generates the Son; the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Inseparable in their one substance, the three divine Persons are also inseparable in their activity. The Trinity has one operation, sole and the same. In this one divine action, however, each Person is present according to the mode which is proper to him in the Trinity.
“O my God, Trinity whom I adore…grant my soul peace; make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling, and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.” (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity)
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son,
our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell; the third day
He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sits at
the right hand of God the Father
almighty, from thence He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed
I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
I believe one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father.
Through Him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation,
He came down from heaven: by the
power of the Holy Spirit He was
born of the Virgin Mary,
and became Man.
For our sake He was crucified
under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day He rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the
Father. He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and His kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the Giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and
the Son. With the Father and the Son
He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one Baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.