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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Creeds were formulated in the Church by her bishops coming together in council. They invoked the protection of the Holy Spirit in making statements of faith against various heresies. A succession of early councils dealt with the challenges of the day: Nicea 325 AD (Arianism), First Constantinople 381 AD (Arianism & Pneumatomachianism), Ephesus 449 AD (Nestorianism), and Chalcedon 451 AD (Nestorianism & Monophysitism). Arianism posited Christ as a creature or demiurge (assistant maker of the world) but not necessarily human and definitely not fully divine. Pneumatomachianism denied or questioned the divinity of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity. Nestorianism undermined the inner unity of the incarnation of Christ as both God and man; this debate took place in the context of the Marian title “Theotokos” or God-bearer, translated in the West as Mary, Mother of God. Monophysitism argued that Christ was solely divine in nature (really a variation of Gnosticism wherein Jesus only pretends to be human).

An early heresy has people questioning whether the merciful Father of Jesus is the same as the (apparently) harsher God of the Old Testament. The Church says YES. “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” The Credo (I believe) or Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed defines Christ as a divine Person (of the same stuff as the Father) with a complete human nature, including a human soul with intellect and will. “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” As a man Christ could offer himself as an oblation for sin. As God, he could make an offering with infinite measure. Jesus is fully human. What is not assumed is not redeemed. Jesus is fully God because only God can save us. This is ultimately how the universal Church answers the question of Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” The divinity of the Holy Spirit is also called into question. Some suppose it is merely the ghost of Jesus. But NO, the Church says he has risen and is whole and complete. The proof of the Holy Spirit’s divinity is found in the formula of baptism given by Jesus. Again, it would make no sense to baptize in the name of a creature because a creature cannot save you— only God. Thus, there is one God in three co-equal divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We recite in the Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.” God in knowing himself generates from all eternity the Word. Between the Father and the Son is generated infinite Love, the Holy Spirit.

The Creed finishes by speaking about the Church’s identity as established by Christ. Peter and his successors are made the ROCK of this Church and our Lord assures us that it will endure until his return. “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.” The Church is not dispensable or just for fellowship. It is the great sacrament or vital divine mystery wherein we have a saving encounter with Christ.

Sometimes when the emphasis is catechesis, the Apostles’ Creed is substituted. It is an early baptismal creed traced to the apostles for affirmation in baptism and reception. It has 12 articles and is the creed we recite regularly in praying the Rosary.

We stand to respect the CREED much as we would in the secular respect shown the American flag when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Further, in both cases the oral statement pays homage to our honored dead. In regard to the pledge this refers to patriots who have died to insure our freedoms and the survival of the nation. In reference to the Creed it respects the saints and martyrs who have died for Jesus in fidelity to his eternal kingdom.

If anyone ever challenges what you believe, do not get into an argument. Simply recite the Creed. This is our faith.

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