Icon of the Apostles Creed

Iconography is a sacred art form that is said to be “written”, not painted; icons depicting Scriptural events reveal what is “written” in the Word of God. While browsing the Web Gallery of Art, I came across an iconographic panel by an Italian artist, Giovanni da Rimini, c. 1305. As I looked at the events of the Lord’s life from left to right, row by row, I realized I was “reading” the core of the Apostles Creed…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit…

Life of Christ, Apostles Creed

…from where He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Amen!

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Ecumenism is NOT, by John Paul II

John Paul II“…the Decree on Ecumenism mentions the way of formulating doctrine as one of the elements of a continuing reform. Here it is not…

✝ altering the deposit of faith,
✝ changing the meaning of dogmas,
✝ eliminating essential words from them,
✝ accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age,
✝ or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today.

The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety.

✝ In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth.
✝ In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?”

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On Commitment to Ecumenism
Blessed John Paul II, May 24, 1995
READ THE FULL CHAPTER

“A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers His communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.” John Paul II

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Beauty in the Worship of the Church

The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).”

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“There is so much beauty in the worship of the Church, so much power to fill the mind with great thoughts and lift up the heart to heavenly things, that one who worships within the Mass with devotion cannot but feel in his soul an impulse to holier living. Such is the experience of those especially who begin each day by attending at Mass…they will grow in faith and fervor, and their holiness will be for all a source of edification.

“It is likewise consoling to see in our time a revival of the spirit which, in primitive ages, led the Christian to receive each day “the Bread that came down from heaven (John 6:32-35).” In the Holy Eucharist, the love of Jesus Christ for men passes all understanding. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). A worthy communion unites us with our Saviour, and even transforms our spiritual being, so that we may say with the Apostle: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). As by His continual abiding within the Church, the Church is holy and without blemish, so does the presence of Christ in each soul purify it even as He is pure, and give it power to do all things in Him who strengthens it (Phil. 4:13).

“The sense of our unworthiness may incline us to draw back from the Holy Table; but, as St. Paul tells us: “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). Only sin can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and for sin He has provided a remedy in the Sacrament of His mercy. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Through these two Sacraments, the one given for the healing of our souls, the other for their nourishment, we are established in the life of grace and are “filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:19). (U.S. Bishops assembled in conference, September, 1919. )

Triumph of the Catholic and Apostolic Church

In the midst of the intense spiritual struggles of the early Church Bishops against the “false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies(2 Pet. 2:1), Saint Hilary, the Bishop of Poitiers (353 – 368 A.D. ) declares his trust in the triumph of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church:

Saint Hilary of PortiersHilary of Poitiers: “I trust that the Church, by the light of Her* doctrine, will so enlighten the world’s vain wisdom, that, even though it [the world] does not accept the mystery of the faith, it will recognise that in our conflict with false teachers** we, and not they, are the true representatives of that mystery. For great is the force of truth; not only is it its own sufficient witness, but the more it is assailed the more evident it becomes. The daily shocks which it [the Church] receives only increase its inherent stability. It is the peculiar property of the Church that when She is buffeted She is triumphant, when She is assaulted with argument She proves Herself in the right, when She is deserted by Her supporters she holds the field. It is Her wish that all men should remain at Her side and in Her bosom; if so, none would become unworthy to abide under the shelter of that august Mother, none would be cast out or suffered to depart from her calm retreat. But when false teachers desert Her or She expels them, the loss She endures, in that She cannot save them, is compensated by an increased assurance that She alone can offer bliss. This is a truth which the passionate zeal of rival heresies brings into the clearest prominence. The Church, ordained by the Lord (Matt. 16:18) and established by His Apostles (Eph. 2:20), is one for all; but the frantic folly of discordant sects has severed them from her. And it is obvious that these dissensions concerning the faith result from…twisting the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture. And thus, amid the clash of mutually destructive errors, the Church stands revealed not only by Her own teaching, but by that of her rivals. They are ranged, all of them, against Her; and the very fact that she stands single and alone is her sufficient answer to their misbelief. The hosts of heresy assemble themselves against Her; each of them can defeat all the others, but not one can win a victory for itself. The only victory is the triumph which the Church celebrates over them all.” (Saint Hilary, Doctor of the Church, On the Trinity; Book 7, para. 4)

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*Her: The early Church Bishops and Christians often referred to the Church, the Bride of Christ, as “She” and “Her”. Capitalized in honor of the mystical Body of Christ.

** False teachers: St. Hilary uses the word “heretics”, but I’ve chosen to use “false teachers” in keeping with the Scriptural translation of 2 Pet. 2:1.

Sacred Scripture is Sacred Tradition

…If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31, 32).”

Pantocrator, Ruler of All

Sacred Scripture, the written Word of God, is in itself Sacred Tradition:

“It was by the apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament and 27 for the New.” (CCC* #120)

The Catholic and Apostolic Church has always taught and continues to teach:

“God is the author of Sacred Scripture. The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

“For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their Author, and have been handed on as such to the Church Herself.

“God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while He employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though He acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever He wanted written, and no more.

“The inspired books teach the truth. Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.

“Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is Incarnate and Living.” If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures (Lk 24:45).” (CCC #105-108)
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* CCC: Catechism of the Catholic Church, #= paragraph numbers.