by Father Bryan P. Babick, SL.L.
The Creed of the Mass is highly Biblical. It may be divided into separate sections that each declare truths about the Persons of the Trinity and the Church. The first section is about the Father and there we say He is the one “maker of heaven and earth.” This is an allusion to Genesis 1:1, which says “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth.”
One slight change to this section will be to what is now “of all that is seen and unseen.” The new translation will say, “of all things visible and invisible.” These are the words of Colossians 1:16 that say “all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible” were made by the Father through the Son.
The words “visible and invisible” are meant to better distinguish between the bodily and spiritual worlds. Many things unseen by our eyes are still able to be seen. A shark in the depths of the ocean is unseen by us, but the sea creatures see it. Other things are invisible. Angles and the moral law exist to people of faith, but remain invisible.
The second section of the Creed is about Jesus Christ. The first change here will be slight, but important. We currently say He is “the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father” but we will say “the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.” Begot is a term found prominently in Psalm 110:3, where God says, “before the daystar, like dew I begot you.”
This text was interpreted by early Christians as a foreshadowed description of the relationship between the Father and the Son. “Before the daystar” is another way of saying “before all ages.” The begetting, or birth of the Son, is not a sequential event like any other. Before there was even time itself, Christ existed with the Father. This is why Jesus says, “I am the first and the Last and the one who lives” in the Book of Revelation.
Another slight revision occurs where we currently say that Jesus “suffered, died and was buried” and “on the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures.” This will change to “He suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” “Suffered death” is from Hebrews 2:9 – “He suffered death, He who for a little while was made lower than the angels; that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
The Son suffered the greatest human enemy that is death, but He did so to enable His faithful to become victorious over it too. “On the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” is a direct quote of 1 Corinthians 15:4. The Lord’s Resurrection is not just the fulfillment of the Scriptures, but is rather mandated by them. In the Old Testament God had already revealed the Resurrection, although hidden, until the firstborn of the dead rose.
The Creed is loaded with references from the Biblical witness and they give clear expression to the eternal truths of our faith. There is no better way to express our Christian faith than to quote the Scriptures that give birth to it.