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The Creed/ Profession of Faith
Part of our response and assent to the living word of God that we hear proclaimed and preached at Mass is to state again, with conviction, our belief in the fundamentals of our Christian faith which were first spoken by or for us at our baptism.
On Sundays and major feasts, we recite one of the Church’s traditional creeds after the readings. It is a communal statement and is said as one voice by all the people. That’s why I get a little cross when one booming voice in the assembly always races ahead of the rest or alone persists in keeping the word “men” in the phrase “for us and our salvation”. The profession of faith needs to have a certain pace and rhythm to be an effective communal statement.
I am sometimes asked if a different creed can be substituted for the two approved versions – the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds – because “people get sick of saying the same old words week after week”.
From a liturgical point of view, it is not just what the text says that matters, but also what it does. The profession of faith originated in the questions addressed to those about to be baptised, so the text here is meant to express the central doctrines of the universal Church. It is sometimes called the “symbol of faith”, that is, the expression of belief by which Christians can be identified. It is essential that the creed that is used expresses the foundational belief of the whole Church, not only of the people gathered at a particular time and place.
Using only approved texts for the profession of faith protects the assembly from the selective emphases of different groups in the Church. If a community could write its own creed, where would you draw the line and who would make the final decision on the content? The traditional creeds have a long history and their texts have been carefully worded over the course of many Church councils to express Christian faith accurately.
The conclusion to the form of profession of faith used in the rite of baptism provides a kind of litmus test: “This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord”.