Fr. Mark Francis, a liturgist at the St. Anselm Pontifical College in Rome and superior general of the Viatorian Fathers, once told to me why seemingly insignificant things in the mass can sometimes cause a great uproar when changed.
"As we pray," he explained, "so we believe."
The Nicene Creed and the Apostles creed we recite at Mass will be getting some small, significant changes so that our prayers better reflect what we believe. The Nicene Creed used to begin with “We believe in one God”. However, it originally began with “I believe in one God” an was changed so congregations could recite it together. With the new translation of the Mass, the older form will once again be used -- we will say “I believe.” In Latin, the creed begins with the word “Credo”, which literally translates to “I believe”. Using the first person singular instead of the “we” reminds us of promises made at baptism.
The other small but significant change to the creed is the word “consubstantial.” The line that used to be “one in being with the Father” is now “consubstantial with the Father.” Aside from being startling at first, it better reflects the fact that Jesus is “of the same nature as God” and is God himself.
Similarly, the line “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man” undergoes some small changes and becomes “and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” An element that is sometimes forgotten or not explicitly carried out is the bow that we are supposed to make during that line. The rubrics of the Apostle’s creed also indicate that we should bow as we recite the line “our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”
The new Mass has one added change for Canadians: we are encouraged to use the Nicene Creed during ordinary time and the Apostles Creed during Advent and Lent. For those of us who grew up solely using the Apostles Creed, it will take some getting used to.
For more about the changes to the Nicene Creed visit the Archdiocese of Ottawa website
and read reflection #9, "Changes to the Creed" by Fr. Geoff Kerslake.
Photo credit: Mike Crupi