We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; ... and also the source from which all its power flows” (Lumen Gentium). At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility.
To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year.
Not without reason, Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory. It served them as a daily prayer not to forget the commitment they had undertaken in baptism. With words rich in meaning, Saint Augustine speaks of this in a homily on the redditio symboli, the handing over of the creed: “the symbol of the holy mystery that you have all received together and that today you have recited one by one, are the words on which the faith of Mother Church is firmly built above the stable foundation that is Christ the Lord. You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts.”
Porta Fidei 9
Reflection - Well, here we have a nice little summary of what the year of faith is meant to achieve. Through this year, however we choose to enter into it and move through it, we are to profess the faith with greater conviction, celebrate the faith with greater intensity, especially in the Eucharist, and witness to the faith with integrity—live it out.
Profess, celebrate, witness—these are the three actions we do with faith. The Pope will go on shortly to explore how professing the faith implies knowing it, and so the importance of study, catechesis, taking the responsibility for educating ourselves in our Catholic faith.
In this passage, though, he starts with the Creed, that most fundamental basic proclamation of faith. Probably most of us do in fact know the Creed by heart, since we pray it in Church every Sunday. I wonder how much time we spend reflecting on it, though. Sometimes we can rattle it off like a list of dogmas we check off: ‘I believe in God… check! The Father almighty… check! Maker of heaven and earth… check!’
That’s not what it is, fundamentally, although we do certainly believe all these things to be true. But these statements call us into a relationship that should change our lives, a relationship that has profound implications for how we think, what we do, how we treat others.
If I believe in God the Father almighty, I have to act as his beloved son. If God is really God and Father, then the world is not a cold wilderness in which I have to scrabble, claw, and fight for survival. If God is maker of heaven and earth, all things visible and invisible, then I have to treat every created person and thing with reverence and great care. If I believe all that we say about Jesus in the Creed, then He is the most important person in my life, and everything else revolves around him, my Lord and Savior.