FOR US MEN AND OUR SALVATION
by Jen Ambrose
Some years ago, I was enrolled in a graduate course focused on Liturgy. Our professor assigned a paper and presentation based on one aspect of the Mass or other worship for the non-Catholics in the class. One classmate wrote about the Kyrie, another about the Eucharistic prayers used in the Episcopal church. I picked the Credo, hoping that it would be easy for me, then a new and inexperienced mother, to find historical and catechetical resources without spending much time at the library.
As I researched the development of the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds, one phrase struck me as really crucial to why these prayers must exist, for us and our salvation, which today we’ve returned to saying for us men and our salvation. The creeds were gifts from our Christian ancestors for us men and our salvation.
Ever since the early days of Christianity, a regular Profession of Faith has been part of our liturgies. These Creeds were not merely a summary of beliefs to be recited and agreed upon by the faithful. They were frequently developed and re-developed in the face of heresies and false doctrines of their times. The Apostle’s Creed was codified to battle Gnosticism. The Council of Nicaea had been convened by the Emperor to settle the violent arguments around the Arian heresy (which was when jolly old St. Nicholas notable broke Arius’ nose).
Our Creeds are defenses of Christ and His legacy, the Church. While at times it may appear that the controversies from which the creeds arose as theological hair-splitting and word games (must so much really hinge on “and the Son?” my Orthodox Christian friend and I wonder, and then agree that yes, it must), we really need to view them as protecting our understanding of Christ to assure that we can experience Him and his saving love. The Creeds are truly for us men and our salvation, essential truths to understand how we are to be saved. As Melanie’s series examining the Profession of Faith unfolds, we need to see the Creed not simply as doctrine that we memorize and automatically repeat, or even a laundry list of beliefs that we simply are in agreement with, but rather our way of continuing the defense of Christianity. The Nicene Creed, as well as others, are the embodiment of our Faith.
Additionally, we only need to look at when we recite our Creed during the Mass, bridging the Liturgy of the Word and the Litugry of the Eucharist, to remember constantly why it is for us men and our salvation. We have heard our Holy Scriptures, our Psalm, our Gospel. Before we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we are all called to make our Profession of Faith. We confess our belief in the holy words we have just heard, and the holy meal we are about to partake.
But what does it mean, our salvation? I must defer to Tradition beautifully brought together in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, though for brevity I quote from the Compendium this passage that explains the Incarnation.
85. Why did the Son of God become man
For us men and for our salvation, the Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. He did so to reconcile us sinners with God, to have us learn of God’s infinite love, to be our model of holiness and to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
To reconcile sinners, learn of God’s love, model holiness, and allow us to partake of the divine—these are what it means for us men to be saved. Just as Jesus Christ became incarnate for us men and our salvation, so too have our Creeds preserved our Faith for us men and our salvation.
What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “For us men and our salvation”?
Jen Ambrose is yet to be proven wrong that she is the only Catholic Steelersfan Mommyblogger in China. She lives on the outskirts of Beijing with her husband and children, though a few times a year she can be found in Western Pennsylvania. Her blog 韩娟狂想曲 can be found here .
Read all the entries in the Blog Series: Credo: Professing the Creed for the Year of Faith.