The Latin that begins the Nicene Creed is “Credo.” The “I” is not a separate word. It is the case ending to the verb, “Credo.” I am the hypostasis, the unstated standing under (Hypo=under and stasis, to stand in Greek.) The Latin is (sub= under) & (stance=standing) or substance. I am the substance of the verb, to believe. I am what believes. “Credo” is an active verb. My existence is my believing.
My believing is active, the lens through which I perceive reality. Through my belief, I work with God to transform and shape my world according to his desires. “Credo” comes from a more ancient Greek idea of “Peithw” which means to listen, to be persuaded. The first Catholic Creed is, of course, not the Nicene Creed, or even the Apostle’s Creed. It is the Creed recited by Jesus in Mark 12:28-31.
One of the grammarians came to Jesus seeking to hear him. Seeing that he answered beautifully he asked, “Which is the first commandment?” Jesus replied, “The first, “Hear, Israel, Kyrie is Almighty, Kyrie is One. Love Kyrie your God, from all your hearts, from all your anima, and from all that you measure yourself with. The second, Love your neighbor as yourself. Apart from these nothing is greater.”
Both the Nicene Creed and the Great Commandment begin with the idea of listening and acting. My believing is active, the lens through which I perceive reality. Part of this lens comes from being a member of community.
In our Modern Catechism 1878-1880 it states: All men are called to the same end: God. There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God. The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him, an extraneous addition, but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.
A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an “heir” and receives certain “talents” that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must develop.
“I” means one who listens, acting on what he hears, “I” am a social being, bound to community. “I” cannot be understood apart from my time or nation. I am a person who cannot be understood apart from my religious community, which exists across centuries.
“I” am someone who listens, acting on what I hear. “I” am a social being. “I” am not understood apart from my time or nation. I am a person not understood apart from my religious community existing across centuries. The Church is eternal.
Deuteronomy 5 informs us: “Moses called, “Hear Israel, (That idea of creed as listening again), the customs and the Judicial Precedents I speak into your ears this day, to learn them and guard to do them. The Personal Name your Mighty Judge cut for you, a social contract at Mt. Sword. Not with your fathers did the Personal Name cut this social contract, but with you who are standing here, alive, this day… I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge who brought you from the land of Oppression, the house of Menial Labor.
As a member of society, I am a person rescued from over there to be over here, for a purpose. That purpose is to rescue people who are still over there, wherever over there might be. I remember my rescue, as Deuteronomy 5 asks me to do. I am rescued from Egypt, and from the Passion of the cross. I burned with those who Nero burned at the stake, and I was fed to the lions.
Part of that remembering is remembering what it was like to be, over there. I then get that lump in my throat when I see others suffering. It brings back bad memories. Then I get involved and do something. That collective doing something creates community. I am a communal being. I do something. That doing something makes me a part of the community of which I cannot be understood apart from.