I Believe

The beginnings of the Apostles' Creed can be traced back to the second century in the profession of faith at Baptism. The origin of our profession of faith is found in the Lord's final command to His Apostles: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28.19) The Apostle's Creed evolved over the centuries until it reached a unified form in the Church of Rome in the ninth century. Today, we know the Creed of the Church of Rome as the Apostle's Creed. The Nicene Creed, which originated from Church councils held in the fourth century, further clarifies the beliefs expressed in the Apostle's creed

The whole of the Apostle's Creed is divided into three parts, reflective of the Trinity in Whose Name we are baptized. The account of the baptism of Jesus testifies to the action of the Trinity through the profession of the Creed: "After Jesus was baptized, He came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3.16-17)

The praying of the Creed is not a bland recitation of a memorized list of abstract thoughts; it is a fundamental bearing witness - a professing - of sacred teachings which we hold to be true. The credo (Latin for "I believe") -- arises out of a heart turning from its old ways of sin to receive and cherish the gift of God's merciful love and new life.

"Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ." (Romans 10.17) Faith does not have its origin in the ideas of the mind; it is borne of the acceptance and understanding of truths which are heard. The truths, in turn, have their origin in the proclaimed Word of God. Belief is the product of a personal and reflective search for truth which freely accepts pre-existing truths into the depths of the heart in such a way that these truths become part of the heart's foundation.

Belief is born and nurtured in the community of believers. We are members of one another united in "one body and one Spirit, …one Lord, one faith, [and] one baptism." (Ephesians 4.4-5) In of itself, the Creed is a means of unity for the faith community. We profess our shared beliefs before God and one another. Individually, each believer holds a fragment of the complete faith of the community. The faith of the community is but a fragment of the complete faith of the Church. The faith of the Church, in turn, is but a fragment of the Truth, which finds its completion in God.

The purpose of faith professed in the Creed, is good works sanctified by the grace of God. "So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2.17) Good works alone, without the grace of faith are fruitless. Faith infuses good works with God's grace, that our world may be sanctified in Him through good works. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works." (Ephesians 2.8-9)

St. Teresa of Jesus emphasized the importance of bearing the fruit of faith in good works: "This, my daughters, is the aim of prayer: … good works and good works alone… Far greater profit comes from conformity between our deeds on the one hand and our resolutions and the words we use on the other… If His Majesty revealed His love to us by doing and suffering such amazing things, how can you expect to please Him by words alone?" (St. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle, 7.4)

This poem expresses the origin of the Creed in Baptism and the purpose of professing and living the Creed.


From waters of Baptism, surged
The grace of truths which we profess;
From these same waters He emerged -
The One to whom we bear witness.

We profess, with our hearts engaged,
Our Creed, as a community;
With words that are expressed, not staged,
Our beliefs build our unity.

The faith which we profess bears fruit
In good works, sanctified by grace;
Without good works, our words are moot -
Hollow sounds which the winds efface.

Without belief, all works deceive;
As one, in Him, our hearts believe.

Holy Spirit, help us to bear
True witness to the truths we hold:
In works, it is our faith we share;
With eyes of faith, our hearts behold. Amen.


New American Bible - Catholic Edition

St Teresa of Jesus, The Interior Castle

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 185-197

Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity,
© 2004 Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 82-100

prepared by:

Paul Buis

(c) Paul Buis, 2006