This is the first in what I hope will be an occasional series of my personal musings on one of my favorite prayers of the Church, the Nicene Creed. Comments and questions welcome.
As a child, I remember reciting this creed at least weekly during the Holy Communion services at my Anglican parishes (All Saint's in San Diego CA, and Holy Nativity in Los Angeles CA). At the age of 7, I asked my grandmother why we spoke about the 'Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church" when we weren't Catholic. She told me that were WERE catholic (with a small 'c') since the word means universal or wide ranging, but that we were not Roman catholic. I didn't find the answer particularly satisfying even then, but it was clear that she was not interested in explaining it further to an impertinent second grader.
What I plan to do with this series is to take the words of the creed in Latin, and ramble on about what they mean, and what they mean to me. I will start at the beginning, with the word from which the term creed comes, 'credo'.
Credo is Latin for I believe. In Latin, as in Spanish, it is not necessary to include a separate word for the pronouns I, we, you, they, etc. - as the verb form makes it amply clear who is speaking. In this case, the Fathers at the Council of Nicea used the first person singular which in English is 'I'. I think it very unfortunate that the ICEL mistranslates 'credo' as 'we believe'. I think that it may have been out of a hope to foster community and other warm fuzzies - but in reality a creed is an intensely individual statement. I can only speak for what I believe, and I cannot presume to speak for what my neighbor believes. I can hope that my neighbor (especially the one standing with me and praying together!) also shares the core beliefs stated in this prayer of belief - but I cannot presume. Not being God, I am not given to know the mind, heart, or soul of any other human being, not even my husband or my child.
A close friend of mine says it thusly, "God ain't got no granchilluns".
We are all His children - adopted - and we can cry out "Abba, father". I can call God my father, I can state my faith and try to work out my salvation. I can call upon the name of the Lord and ask His help for me and for others - but I cannot force salvation on any other person. To state "I believe" rather than "we believe" is for me also an acknowledgement of the precious gift of free will.