Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I Believe/ We Believe


Going through the Mass, another of the obvious changes in the new corrected translation is the beginning of the Creed. This has gone from ‘we believe’ to ‘I believe’.

This is a correct translation from ‘credo’ - the beginning of the Creed in Latin, the official language of the Church from which our translation comes. It is true that in Greek the beginning of the Creed begins as ‘we believe’ when it was written in Constantinople in 381 AD (confusingly it is commonly called the Nicaean Creed, but actually is the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, i.e. a combination of the one written in Nicaea and the one adapted in Constantinople). However, it was used at Rome in the eleventh century (so about one thousand years ago) and was recited in Latin. So as far as liturgy was concerned, it was always ‘credo’ - I believe.

So the new translation goes back to the correct translation. Indeed, I have to say, how we translated I believe as ‘we’ is beyond me. When we stand in Holy Mass we say a number of things. We make responses together to signify that we are a community of Catholics worshipping God. But when we say our confession at the beginning, we say “I confess to Almighty God...” So what does it mean  when we say ‘I believe’?

Fundamentally this is a personal statement of belief. No, that is not correct, it is a statement that we believe in the faith of the Church. You see, when you stand up and say ‘I believe’ this or that, then there is no getting out of it. You have said it… ‘I believe’ You are responsible for the statement that you make. So read through the Creed, because you are saying that that is your believe, that you accept the Church’s teaching.

If you say ‘we believe’ then you are not making it your own. I can say, ‘we as a country believe this or that… but I don’t accept it.’ In such a way I can say (with my mental fingers crossed) ‘We believe in one God…’ and mentally think: ‘We as the Church believe in one God, however I don’t really think that there is one God…’ You cannot do that when you say ‘I believe in one God…’ because I means you.

There is no hiding, no ifs and buts. You have said it… I believe.

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