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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