Jan 272010
 

Members of the Deacon Formation Class for the Diocese of Davenport and their wives pray during Mass earlier this month at Assumption High School in Davenport. (Photo by Barb Arland-Fye)

By Deacon Frank Agnoli

In my last column, I commented on some of the more obvious changes that we will see with the Nicene Creed that we profess at Mass. The Creed is a theologically rich text. In this column, I want to finish our review of the Creed by pointing out that the new translation highlights some important nuances that might have been less obvious in the current version:

“Visible and invisible” is more accurate than “seen and unseen” — there may be things that we don’t currently see (they are outside our field of vision, but are capable of being seen); that’s different than referring to things that are, by their nature, visible or invisible (e.g., the angels). Also, the reference to Col 1:16 is made more explicit.

In reference to the Holy Spirit, the word “power” — which does not appear in the Creed — is absent in the new Missal. The incarnation is the act of a person (Holy Spirit) not an impersonal force; the new translation makes this more obvious.

We should note that the word “death” is not in the original Creed. Approved by Rome, this addition makes clearer what Jesus suffered.

Our beliefs in regard to Jesus Christ are not only a fulfillment of the Scriptures (Old Testament) but are also attested to in the Scriptures (New Testament). Therefore, “in accordance” is a more inclusive phrase.

We do more than “acknowledge” baptism. To confess baptism has multiple levels of meaning: we believe in its efficacy, we have faith in the one who promised to act through it, and we proclaim it and invite others to it.

“Looking forward” suggests that we are straining towards the Reign of God, like Paul’s reference to all creation “groaning” in anticipation (Rom 8:22). The current translation suggests a more passive stance.

Much of what we said last time about the Nicene Creed applies to the Apostles’ Creed.

Here, I would like to point out an important change in the new translation. What the current translation renders as, “he descended to the dead” the new version splits into two phrases: “he descended into hell (Latin: inferos; the abode of the dead; the underworld; not the permanent state of separation from God that awaits those who completely reject the offer of divine love); on the third day he rose again from the dead.” As a result, the new translation emphasizes that through his passion and resurrection Christ overcame death itself.

(Deacon Agnoli is director of liturgy for the Diocese of Davenport.)

Apostles’ Creed

Present Text

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son,

our Lord.

He was conceived

by the power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand

of the Father.

He will come again 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 the life everlasting. Amen.

New Text

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;

on the third day he rose again

from the dead;

he ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand

of God the Father almighty;

from there he will 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. Amen.

Previous column on proposed changes to Nicene Creed http://www.catholicmessenger.net/2010/01/in-new-missal-nicene-creed-would-go-from-plural-to-singular/

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