Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Symbolo Fidei

Derek Olsen has pointed to a post by Bosco Peters arguing against the use of the Creed in liturgy. Olsen objects, and so do I. My principle reason is essentially along the lines of one of the responses:
Third, I used to be in a parish that omitted the recitation of the Nicene Creed contrary to the American rubrics. One motivation might have been the publicly expressed doubts of some of the clergy and staff in what was proclaimed there. At some point, they also started to celebrate the Eucharist with prayers of their own creation that better expressed their faith in Christ. These prayers certainly had new energy, but they were a way of working out clerical doubts, not a way of better edifying the gathered community.
I notice, for instance, that Fr. Peters's "liturgical affirmation" edits away one of the points which most commonly gives rise to reservations: the doctrine of the Virgin Birth. Presumably other parishes would dispense with God the Father or with anything suggesting the physical actuality of Jesus' resurrection. The situation is worse than just "there are an awful lot of Christians [...] who do not grasp the basics of the Faith;" there are a lot of clerics who lack that grasp, or who have turned away from the catholic doctrines.

For the creed is the central symbol of our catholicity; it represents what binds into the faithful across the ages who were and are and will be linked into common worship within the Christian faith. It is the answer to the question, "why do we come here?" The anaphora answers a different question: "what worship did Jesus command?" It tells what to do, of a Sunday, but it is the Creed that explains why we bother to do what Jesus commands. Therefore one is not redundant to the other; I think it is also of some importance that the anaphora is prayed on our behalf, but the Creed is recited by all. It is a spiritual comfort to me, and a powerful affirmation of faithful unity, to think that all over the world, worshippers turn to the altar and repeat the basic principles of the faith, what we all believe.

I am glad to hear that Fr. Peters preaches on the creed; so do I, and so have most priests I have had as rectors; and all priests should do likewise. But I do not see this teaching as a substitute for saying it; it is necessary insurance that those who say it understand what they say. (An earlier version of this could be read as implying that Fr. Peters's own beliefs might be unorthodox. I regret this implication and have tried to remove it.)


liturgy said...


I’m more than a little concerned about your last paragraph and its publicly slandering of me.

My comment that “For decades I have sat in the pews of churches that religiously recite the Creed – I’m struggling to remember any occasion when it was preached or taught about.” follows directly on my saying that

“I regularly teach, catechise, and preach through the Creed. I am doing this currently in my community, and my post you point to is part of a series on the Creed that I have been posting for seven weeks and I’m really only up to the second line.”

Why would you quote the former and not only omit the latter but indicate I do the opposite? I’m afraid your conclusion is prejudice supported by dissembling.


Fr Bosco Peters

C. Wingate said...

I regret having missed that passage, and I hope my revised post is more accurate.