Catechism of the Catholic Church

S ection T wo : T he P rofession of the C hristian F aith T he C reeds 185 Whoever says “I believe” says “I pledge myself to what we believe.” Communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith. 186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formulae for all. 1 But already early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of its faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism: This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and New Testaments. 2 187 Such syntheses are called “professions of faith” since they summarize the faith that Christians profess. They are called “creeds” on account of what is usually their first word in Latin: credo (“I believe”). They are also called “symbols of faith.” 188 The Greek word symbolon meant half of a broken object, for example, a seal presented as a token of recognition. The broken parts were placed together to verify the bearer’s identity. The symbol of faith, then, is a sign of recognition and communion between believers. Symbolon also means a gathering, collection, or summary. Asymbol of faith is a summary of the principal truths of the faith and therefore serves as the first and fundamental point of reference for catechesis. 189 The first “profession of faith” is made during Baptism. The symbol of faith is first and foremost the baptismal creed. Since Baptism is given “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” 3 the truths of faith professed during Baptism are 1 Cf. Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 15:3-5, etc. 2 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524. 3 Mt 28:19. 171, 949 1237, 232