Editor’s note: Throughout the Year of Faith, Rev. Mr. Christopher Seibt will offer a series of columns based on the reflection series “Catholicism Today” that he gave during First Friday devotions at St. James Church while on pastoral year. This is the third column in the series.
The Profession of Faith
By Rev. Mr. Christopher R. Seibt
Sun contributing writer
A little over a year ago on the First Sunday of Advent, you and I said, “We believe in one God” as we had done every Sunday before that. Then we stopped immediately, realized, “No, that’s not right,” picked up our shiny new pew cards, and started over with: “I believe in one God.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that when we say, “I believe,” we pledge ourselves to what we believe (CCC, 185). With faith we “enter into communion with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and also with the whole Church which transmits the faith to us and in whose midst we believe” (CCC, 197). What is at the heart of the faith that you and I, that we, profess? The Catechism provides us with 12 articles:
I. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth (CCC, 198-429). God is our Father, who loves and cares for us because we are his adopted children. God is also Almighty. He is the Creator of heaven and earth, the source of all life, who alone created everything out of nothing.
II. I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God (CCC, 430-455). The name Jesus means “God saves,” and this is exactly who Jesus is. He is the savior of the world, the very Son of God, who saves us from our sins.
III. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary (CCC, 456-570). At the proper time, Jesus, who was always with the Father, became Incarnate. This means that he became flesh. He took on our fallen sinful human nature — through the ever Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit — and raised it to a whole new level so that we might be able to live eternally with him.
IV. Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried (CCC, 571-630). Jesus’ whole life on earth was not simply about how to be a better person. It was centered on serving and giving his life as a ransom for many. He did so by suffering on the cross. When he died and was buried in the tomb his human existence came to an end. But his death was not the end.
V. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again (CCC, 631-658). After his death, Christ went down into the realm of the dead to open the gates of heaven for all the just who had gone before him. Then, on the third day, he rose again. His Resurrection is our hope that he has prepared a place for us, a place where — when our life on earth has ended — we will have new life with him forever.
VI. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father (CCC, 659-667). By his ascension into heaven, Christ’s humanity entered into divine glory and, as a result, so too did our humanity. Our human nature was brought into the very presence of God. And so, where Christ has gone before us, we too hope to follow.
VII. He will come again to judge the living and the dead (CCC, 668-682). In a sense, we are always in advent, in expectation for Christ’s Second Coming. We are awaiting Judgment Day when he will come in glory to triumph once and for all over good and evil, and to separate the sheep from the goats; to welcome us in or to turn us away. For this reason we must always rely solely upon his mercy and love.
VIII. I believe in the Holy Spirit (CCC, 683-747). The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning. He is present throughout the course of history, speaking through the writers of Sacred Scripture as well as the prophets, Incarnating the Son of God into the womb of the Virgin Mary, and guiding the Church on Pentecost, assuring the followers of Jesus that we are not alone.
IX. I believe in the Holy Catholic Church (CCC, 748-975). The Church is a divine institution given to us by Jesus himself. It is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Ultimately, the Church includes all of Christ’s faithful, the Communion of Saints — those of us on earth, those in purgatory, and those who are in heaven.
X. I believe in the forgiveness of sins (CCC, 976-987). Through the Holy Spirit Christ entrusted the power to forgive sins to his apostles. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we experience the forgiveness of sin for the first time when our sin, particularly original sin, is washed away. Still, we commit actual sins after we are baptized because of our fallen human nature. In order to experience God’s forgiveness for these sins we come to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
XI. I believe in the Resurrection of the body (CCC, 988-1019). Since Christ rose from the dead, body and soul, we believe that we too will rise with him, body and soul, on the last day.
XII. I believe in life everlasting (CCC, 1020-1060). God made us to know, love and serve him in this life so that we will be happy with him in the next life. Everlasting life with God is our purpose and our goal. The Catechism teaches us that our death is followed by judgment; particular judgment — when we die and go to heaven, hell, or purgatory, and general judgment — which takes place at the end of time when Christ returns and triumphs over all things.
Amen (CCC, 1061-1065). We end our profession of faith with “Amen” or “I believe” because we do, in fact, believe in all that we have just professed.
At the heart of the faith that we profess is God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These 12 articles remind us of this each time we say them. And so, as we conclude our reflections on the first part of the Catechism, The Profession of Faith, let us pray that the Lord will renew us in the faith that we profess and help us as we try to live it each and every day.
Next time we will begin our reflections on how we celebrate the faith that we profess in the liturgy and sacraments of the Church. For now, may we all cherish the gift of faith that God has given us. And may you and your loved ones have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas!
Rev. Mr. Christopher Seibt is a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Syracuse. He is originally from St. Daniel Parish. Currently, Deacon Seibt is a seminarian at Theological College in Washington D.C., studying at the Catholic University of America.