Creed Exercise

Drill Sergeant Boot Camp

Do not be unbelieving, but believe. (John 20:27)

These signs are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the One Who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. (Revelation 1:17-18)

The fact that Jesus lives: we believe it. That Jesus lives is an article of our holy Catholic faith.

Fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II means that this year is officially the Year of… Faith! Pope Emeritus Benedict promised an encyclical letter on faith this year. Not to criticize anyone, but we know what happened. He… handed off the baton!

Now, I was looking forward to covering the Year-of-Faith encyclical on faith during our Lenten study sessions. As it happened, we couldn’t do that, so we covered the teaching of…St. Thomas Aquinas!

Again, as it happened, the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the virtue of faith proved to be somewhat mystifying to some people. Certainly that was not owing to St. Thomas’ teachings themselves. Rather, the priest who gave the classes was to blame.

ENGLISH VERSION OF YEAR OF FAITH LOGONow, all that aside…Let’s consider this: St. Thomas teaches that we Catholics believe in one thing, namely…God! By believing in God, we believe in everything that God has revealed. Which consists in two fundamental things which we believe, namely 1) that the one Almighty God is triune, three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And 2) that Jesus Christ is a man Who is also the eternal, divine Son, i.e. God.

So we believe in one thing: God. God has revealed two fundamental mysteries of faith, which we believe in order to believe in God, namely:… give me one word…come on…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a.k.a… Trinity! And God become man, a.k.a…Incarnation! We believe in God. We believe in the Trinity and in the Incarnation.

Okay. Good. Are we done? Or should we keep going?

Right. Yes. Indeed, there’s a whole lot more. How do we know exactly all the stuff that we believe—everything we believe in order to believe God, Who has spoken; everything we believe in order to believe in a God Who has revealed Himself; everything we believe in order to believe in the God Who can give us heaven?

Where do we look for the short summary of all that we believe? What’s it called? Nicene… Creed! And what do we read if we want the whole story, soup to nuts, Genesis to Revelation? The Bible!

Okay. Listen. Forgive me. Let’s talk memorization. Memorizing the Bible is difficult, no doubt. St. Augustine did it, and St. Thomas Aquinas. But most of us are not so equipped. That said, we can memorize the Creed.

Now, okay. If I say, Yes, soy catolico. Yes, I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ. Yes, I’m a God-fearing believer, qualified to enjoy country music.

If I say that—and of course, I do say it about myself—if I claim these things, and, meanwhile, I do not frequently meditate on the Creed—I mean, for instance, go over it in my mind while I’m driving, or while I’m folding laundry, or stirring my soup—I mean, if the Creed is not my daily mental companion, the object of my thoughts and reflections when I take a little walk, or exercise, or do some chores—in other words, if the Creed is not my buddy, my friend, companion, something I treasure and hang out with, cherish, own…If I call myself a Catholic and a believer, and I’m not interacting with my Creed like this, then, honestly: What the hell do I think I’m doing?

How am I supposed to make any spiritual or moral progress at all if I do not have the Nicene Creed tattooed on my soul by daily reflection on it?

God. His incarnate Son. Suffered and died for my sins. Rose again! Ascended to heaven. Pours out the Holy Spirit. Calls a Church together. Forgives sins. Gives eternal life.

I mean, this is the heart of life. This is what makes life make sense, and makes it worth living.

So here we go. I’m the coach; I’m the personal trainer. This is the gym.

Believe, man! Believe, woman! Believe and profess!

And after our workout here, go home and do 100 reps. 100 Nicene Creeds between now and Pentecost Sunday.

Don’t be a brat, burn that spiritual fat! Commit to be fit! No pain no gain. Rest for a little while then run a spiritual mile. Hustle hustle to gain more spiritual muscle. Too faithfully fit to slothfully quit! Just do it.

Rosary vs. Evil Spirits

Our Lord’s words in today’s gospel reading illuminate the spiritual battle between the Holy Spirit of Christ and the Enemy.

The battle unfolds inside our souls. The evil spirits work for our destruction, mainly by tempting us to commit sins. The Holy Spirit and the good angels urge us to, and support us in, wisdom, prudence, justice, kindness, and truth.

We cannot control the actions of the good spirits or the bad ones. I cannot force a demon to stop tempting me, nor can I command an angel to come to my aid.

But to some extent we can control our dispositions to the influence which the spirits try to have on us. On the one hand, I can reduce the power the evil spirits have over me by cultivating good habits and by filling my mind with good things. On the other hand, I can pray and beg the Holy Spirit, the good angels, and the saints to help me resist temptation.

Reciting our Lady’s Rosary includes all of these helps for winning the battle. Regularly praying the Rosary fills our minds with the light of Christ’s mysteries; we begin to think about Christ and the saints habitually. Plus, in every Rosary we beg for help from heaven at least 58 times.

[Click HERE for Our Lady of the Rosary homily ’09.]