The Gospel is followed by the Credo. The object proposed by the recitation of the Credo is, to lead the Faithful to confess the Faith; and since their Faith is based upon the holy Gospel, the Credo comes immediately after the sacred text has been read. It is but right, that the Faithful should utter this profession of faith against the heresies that have been broached.
The Credo is to be said, not only on all Sundays, but, moreover, on the feasts of the Apostles, who preached the faith; on the feasts of Doctors, who defended it; on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, who was the first to believe the Resurrection, announced it to the Apostles, and thus became an Apostle to the Apostles; on the feasts of the holy Angels, because allusion is made to them, in these words: Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; on the feasts of the Blessed Virgin, because the Credo also speaks of our Lady; (but it is omitted in Votive Masses). It is said also on the feast of the Dedication of a Church, and on Patronal Feasts, because it is supposed, that, on both those days, there will be a large concourse of people; and, it is on that account, that it is said on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, should it fall on a Sunday; for, otherwise, it is not said, because St. John came before the Mysteries were accomplished, and because there is no mention made of him in the Symbol. The Credo is said likewise when a Church possesses a large or important Relic of the Saint whose feast occurs, and on which, it is taken for granted, many Faithful will assist at the services.
The Symbol recited during the Mass, is not that of the Apostles, - it is that of Nicea; or, if we would speak with full precision, we should call it the Symbol of Nicea and Constantinople, inasmuch as the entire article referring to the Holy Ghost was added in the first Council of Constantinople against Macedonius.
Until the 11th century, the Credo was not thus publicly said in the Churches at Rome. St. Henry, Emperor of Germany, when visiting Rome, was surprised at not hearing the Credo during the Mass. He spoke on the subject to the then reigning Pontiff, Benedict the Eighth. The Pontiff told him, that the Church at Rome gave, in this, an indication of the purity of her faith, and that she had no need to express her rejection of errors, which had never been harboured within her walls. However, shortly after the Emperor’s remark, it was decided, that the Credo should be said, in the Churches in Rome, on Sundays; for that confession of faith would become all the more solemn, by its being promulgated from the very Chair of St. Peter.
The Nicene Symbol is longer than that of the Apostles, which, nevertheless, contains all the truths of faith; but, as heresies have gradually sprung up, it was found necessary to give further development to such of the Articles as were attacked; and thus, the several heresies were pointedly condemned, each one as it appeared. This Symbol contains everything that we have to believe, for we say, in one of the articles: I believe the Church; and hence, by believing all that the holy Church believes, we possess everything that she has adopted, and everything she has declared to be the truth, in the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, as also in all the others which followed.
The Symbol used in the Mass begins thus: Credo in unum Deum. I believe in one God. The Apostles had not made use of the word unum; there was nothing, at that period, to make such an insertion necessary. It was at the Council of Nicea, that the Church deemed it needful to add that word, in order to maintain the affirmation of the Divine Unity, at the same time that the Trinity of Persons was expressed, which was directed against the Arians. But why do we say: I believe in one God? Why use the preposition in? It is of the greatest importance, as a moment’s reflection will show. What is Faith, but a movement of the soul towards God? that Faith which is united with charity, that living faith placed by holy Church in the hearts of her children, tends of its very nature towards God, ascends and raises itself up to Him, Credo in Deum.
There are two ways of knowing God. A man who sees all things of which the universe is composed; - the earth with its numberless productions; the firmament studded with stars, in the midst of which the sun reigns supreme in dazzling splendour, and completes its revolutions in so marvellous a manner; - a man, I say, beholding such wonders arranged with so great order and perfection, cannot help recognising that Some-One has achieved all that; this is what is called a rational truth. If he failed to come to such a conclusion, he would show a total want of intellect, and would be but on a par with brute-beasts to whom understanding has not been given, since they are irrational creatures. This is what is meant by knowing God by reason; we see creation, and we thence conclude that it is the very work of God Himself. But when we talk of knowing God as the Father, as the Son, and as the Holy Ghost, - there is absolutely needed for that conclusion, that God Himself must have told it to us, and that we do believe His Word by faith; that is to say, by that disposition which is supernaturally given unto us, to believe what God has said, to yield to his word. God does reveal such unto me, and he does so by His Church; at once I leap forth from myself, I dart upwards unto Him, and I accept as Truth, that which He deigns to reveal thus unto me. And we confess our God thus: Credo in unum Deum Patrem Omnipotentem.
Factorem coeli et terrae visibilium omnium et invisibilium. God made heaven and earth, all things visible and invisible. The Gnostics were loath to attribute to God the creation of matter and of visible beings; this decision of the Council of Nicaea condemns them, formulating with precision, that all things visible and in visible, visibilium et invisibilium, were the work of God. Homage is hereby paid to the God Eternal, as being the Almighty, and as having, by this His Omnipotence, created all things visible and invisible. Hereby also is made a profession of faith in the creation of the Angels.
Et in unum Dominum, Jesum Christum, Filium Dei Unigenitum. Here again Holy Church would have us say: I believe in one Lord. This word unum is essential; it is not in two Sons that we believe, but One Alone; it is not in a man and in a God, both separate, and forming two different persons; no, it is the one same Person, that of the Only Son of God. But why is He here called Lord in so marked a manner? We did not do so, when we were just now speaking of the Father. This title is specially given to Jesus Christ, because we belong to Him, twice over. We are, first of all, His, because we were created by Him, together with the Father, Who hath made all things by his Word; again, we are His, because He redeemed us by His Blood and snatched us from the jaws of Satan; we are His own purchase, His property, His possession; so that He holds us as His by a second right and title, over and beyond that of Creator; and, what is more, his love for souls goes to such a length, as to possess them in title of spouse. That there should be a Son, in the God-head, verily our knowing this is a sample of a knowledge of God differing far from that mere rational knowledge, of which we were just now speaking. Left to herself, Reason could never have taught us that in God there is a Father and a Son; to come to this knowledge, we should need either to have been in heaven, or to have had this Truth revealed to us in Scripture or by Tradition. In the same way, as we believe in one only God the Father, and not in two, so do we believe in one only Son; et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum.
Et ex Patre natum, ante omnia saecula, born of the Father before all ages. Ages began only when God sent forth Creation from His hands; that ages might be, time must needs exist, and that time might be, created beings were necessary. Now, before all ages, before aught had yet stepped forth from nothingness, the Son of God had issued from the Father, as we here confess in these words: Ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. The created world proceeds from God, because it is His handiwork; but for all that, it is not God. The Son of God, on the contrary, coming from the Father, is God as He is, because Begotten by Him: in so much, that all that is said of the Father befits the Son, save only that He is not the Father; but He is ever the same Substance, the same Divine Essence. But still, how can the Son be the same Substance as the Father, without this Substance becoming thereby exhausted? St. Athanasius, speaking on this subject, gives us the following comparison, which, although material, enables us, in some measure, to seize this Truth. In the same manner, says he, as a torch lighted from another of the same substance, in no way lessens that from which it is lighted, so also the Son of God, taking the Substance of the Father, in no way diminishes this Divine Substance which He shares with Him; for He is in very deed, God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God.
Genitum non factum, Begotten not made. We human creatures have all of us been made, we are the work of God, every one of us, not even excepting Our Blessed Lady and the Angels. But as to the Word, the Son of God, it is not so: He is Begotten, not made; He came forth from the Father, but He is not His work. He has the same Substance, the same Essence, the same Nature as the Father. In God, it behoves us ever to make distinction of Persons, but we must also ever behold the same Divine Substance, as well for the Father and the Son, as for the Holy Ghost: idem quoad substantiam. Our Lord also tells us so Himself: Ego et Pater unum sumus; they are One, but the Persons are distinct; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, these are the three terms which serve to designate them. Very important indeed, then, is this great word of the Council of Nicaea: Consubstantialem Patri, consubstantial with the Father. Yea, the Son is Begotten by the Father, He has the same Substance; there is the same Divine Essence.
Per quem omnia facta sunt, by Whom all things were made. It was said at the beginning of the Symbol, that God made Heaven and earth and all creatures visible and invisible; and now here we are told, speaking of the Word, the Son of God, that all things were made by Him. How are we to reconcile all this? It can easily be understood by means of a comparison with our own soul. Three distinct faculties are given her, for the exercising of these her three distinct acts: power, understanding, and will. These three faculties are necessary to the perfecting of an act. By power, the soul is enabled to act, but this presupposes understanding and will. In like manner God the Almighty Father has made all things by His Power; he has made all things in Wisdom by His Son; and thereon has stamped His Will by the Holy Ghost: and thus is His Act perfected. It is therefore quite correct to say, speaking of the Son: per quem omnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem descendit de coelis. Having shown us the Word operating such great things, Holy Church adds that He has come upon this earth for us sinners. Not only has He come for man’s sake, but to repair the sin of man and to snatch him from eternal misery; in a word, to operate our salvation: et propter nostram salutem. Yea, on this account is it, that He descended from Heaven: descendit de coelis. Nevertheless, He has not quitted the Father and the Holy Ghost, He is not thereby deprived of the Beatitude of the Divinity, but He has truly united Himself to man, and in this Man, He has suffered all that man can suffer, excepting sin; He descended from Heaven, to be in a creature, living in the midst of us, walking with us, conforming Himself in all things to the exigences of human nature.
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto. The Word hath become Incarnate, He hath been made Flesh, by the operation of the Holy Ghost. All things were made by God, and we have seen how they were made by all the Three Divine Persons. In the Mystery of the Incarnation, likewise, there is the Action of these Three Persons. The Father sends His Son, the Son comes down upon the earth, and the Holy Ghost overshadows this sublime Mystery.
Ex Maria Virgine. Note well these words: ex Maria. Mary it was who furnished the substance of His Humanity, that substance which was proper and personal thereunto; so that she truly took from Herself to give unto the Son of God, who thereby became indeed Her very Son, how pure must Mary needs have been to have been found worthy to furnish unto the Son of God the substance of His human Being! The Word did not choose to unite Himself to a human creature drawn immediately from nothingness, as was the first man, but He would be of the very race of Adam. In order to effect this, He became Incarnate in the Womb of Mary, which necessitated His being consequently a son of Adam; not only did He descend into Mary, but He took from Mary, ex Maria: He is of Her very substance.
Et homo factus est. And He was made Man. The Word of God has not only taken the semblance of man, but He has truly become Man. In these sublime words, we behold the Divinity Itself, espousing the Humanity. A genuflection is here made, as a mark of honour paid to the Mystery of the Incarnation.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis, sub Pontio Pilato passus et sepultus est.
Crucifixus. The Apostles’ Creed has the same expression; the Apostles were bent on saying that our Lord was crucified, not content with simply stating that He died; and this, because it was of high importance to signalise, to all, the Victory of the Cross, over Satan. As we were ruined by the wood, so God willed that our salvation also should be wrought by the wood, as we elsewhere sing: ipse lignum tunc notavit, damna ligni ut solveret. Yes; it was fitting that the artifice of our enemy should be foiled by his own trick itself: et medelam ferret inde, hostis unde laeserat, and that the remedy should be drawn thence, whence the enemy had taken the poison. It is for this very reason, that the Apostles were careful to lay so much stress on the manner of Christ’s being put to death; and when first announcing the faith, to pagans, they at once spoke of the Cross. St. Paul writing to the Corinthians, tells them that, when he first came amongst them, he had not judged it meet to preach unto them anything else but Jesus, and Jesus crucified: Et enim judicavi me scire aliquid inter vos, nisi Jesum Christum et hunc crucifixum. (1 Cor. ii. 2). And previously, too, he had said to them: And we preach Christ Crucified: a scandal, indeed, to the Jews, and to the Gentiles foolishness: Judaeis quidem scandalum, Gentibus autem stultitiam. (1 Cor. i. 23).
Jesus Christ was crucified, and the Creed adds: pro nobis. In the same way as we say propter nos homines descendit de coelis, it was fitting that Holy Church should impress upon us, that, if our Lord was crucified, it was for us. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis: sub Pontio Pilato passus. The name of the Roman Governor is here mentioned also by the Apostles, because it marks a date.
Et sepultus est. Christ suffered; that is very true; but what is just as true also is, that He was buried, and it must needs so have been; for had He not been buried, how could that prophecy have been accomplished, wherein it was said that He should rise again on the third day? By this also was proved the reality of His Death, complete and not fictitious Death, - since burial took place, just as is practised in the case of other men.
Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas. On the third day, He rose again, as the prophecies had foretold, specially that of the Prophet Jonas. Our Lord Himself had said: this wicked and perverse Generation seeketh a sign, but one shall not be given to it, unless it be that of Jonas the Prophet, nisi signum Jonae prophetae (S. Matth. xii. 39, S. Luc. xi. 29). For just as Jonas was in the whale’s belly, three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Et ascendit in coelum. He ascended into Heaven. The Word of God, coming down on earth to be made man, quitted not His Father’s Bosom. In this place, it is said that He ascended into Heaven, meaning that His humanity actually went up thither, and that there It was enthroned for eternity.
Sedet ad dexteram Patris. He is seated at the Right Hand of the Father, as Master and Lord. Indeed, He was always there according to His Divine Nature, but it behoved Him to be there also according to His Human Nature, and this is what is expressed by these words. In fact, this was a necessity, because the Human Nature being united to the Divine Nature in one and the same Person, which is the Person of God the Son, it can in all truth be said: the Lord is seated at the Right Hand of the Father. David foretold this, saying: Dixit Dominus Domino meo: Sede a dextris meis. (Ps. cix. 1). This is a proof of the intimate union which exists of the Divine Nature with the Human, in the Person of Our Lord. For this reason, the Psalm cix. is essentially the Psalm of the Ascension, because that was truly the moment when the Lord, the Father, said to the Lord, the Son: Sit Thou at My Right Hand: Sede a dextris meis.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos. So, as regards our Lord, there is question of two comings: in the first He is born without Glory, and, as St. Paul expresses it, He annihilates Himself, taking the form of a servant: Semetipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens (Philip. ii. 7); whereas in the second, He is to come in glory, venturus est cum gloria. And wherefore will He come? Not as, heretofore, to save, but to judge: judicare vivos et mortuos. Not only will He come to judge those who will be still living on earth, at the time of his second coming, but moreover all those dead from the very beginning of the world, because absolutely all must be judged.
Cujus regni non erit finis. And of His kingdom there shall be no end. This refers only to the reign of Jesus Christ in His Sacred humanity, because, in His Divinity He has never ceased to reign. This kingdom of His will not only be glorious, but it will never have an end.
The second part of the Credo here ends, and is the largest portion. It was fitting that in this public confession of our faith, Jesus Christ should be treated of, at greater length, because personally He has done most for us, though He has done nothing without the joint action and concurrence of the other two Divine Persons. Therefore it is, we call Him Our Lord: doubtless, this Title of Lord befits the Father who created us; but still it is doubly applicable to the Son, who, besides having created us (inasmuch as God hath made all things by His Word), has likewise redeemed us: so that we belong to Him by a double title.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum et vivificantem. I equally believe in the Holy Ghost, that is to say, by faith I go towards the Holy Ghost, I adhere to the Holy Ghost. And who is the Holy Ghost: Dominum. He is the Lord, He is the Master, just as the other two Divine Persons are. But what is He furthermore? Vivificantem, He gives life. In the same way as our soul gives life to our body, so does the Holy Ghost give life to our soul. It is this Holy Spirit who animates her by the sanctifying grace, which He pours into her, and thus does He sustain her, make her act, vivify her, and make her grow in love. In like manner also, in the Church, it is the Holy Ghost who maintains all; it is He who makes all these her members, so divers in nation, language, and customs, to live all of the same life, belonging, as they do, to the one same Body, of which Jesus Christ is the Head. In fact, all have the same faith, all draw the same graces from the same Sacraments, and all are animated by the same hopes, and are in expectation of the realisation of these same; in a word, the Holy Ghost sustains all.
Qui ex Patre Filioque procedit: this same Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son. How could one suppose that the Father and the Son are not united? There needs must be a link uniting One to the Other. The Father and the Son are not merely in juxtaposition, but a Link unites Them, embraces Them, and this Link proceeds from Both of Them, forming but One with Them; and this Mutual Love is no other than the Holy Ghost.
At the Council of Nicaea, in drawing up the Symbol, the main attention of the Fathers was directed to what treated of Jesus Christ; at the Council of Constantinople, they resolved upon completing the Nicene Creed, by adding what regards the Holy Ghost, save the words Filioque; as they expressed it, the words simply stood Qui ex Patre procedit. The Fathers of this Council saw no necessity of saying more on the subject of the Procession, because the words of Our Lord, in the Gospel, leave no doubt on the matter. “I will send you the Spirit of Truth who proceedeth from the Father:” Ego mittam vobis a Patre Spiritum veritatis qui a Patre procedit. (S. John, xv. 26): He is therefore, likewise the Principle of the Holy Ghost, as He sends Him. The Father sends the Son, and it is evident that the Son emanates from the Father, that He is begotten by Him; Our Lord here saying: “I will send you the Spirit,” proves that He is Himself the Source of the Holy Ghost, as is the Father. And if our Lord adds these words: Qui a Patre procedit, He in no way means to say that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father only; it is merely in order to give further expression to His own words, and to emphasise that not He alone sends this Divine Spirit, but that the Father, conjointly with the Son, sends Him.
The Greeks refused to admit this Truth, and so raised disputations on this passage, in order to overturn the Dogma of the Trinity. But we believe that the Trinity is linked in Its Three Persons, in this ineffable manner, namely, that the First Person begets the Second; the First and the Second are united to one another by the Third. If belief be refused in this Bond produced by the Father and the Son, and linking Them together, the Holy Ghost would be utterly isolated from the Son, the Trinity would be destroyed.
It was in Spain that the addition of the Filioque was first of all introduced into the Creed, in order to express with greater precision what the Fathers of Constantinople had declared; this change was begun in the eighth century; but the Roman Church did not adopt it till the eleventh. She knew that such a measure would provoke difficulties; but seeing the necessity, she decided upon it, and since then, this addition to the Symbol has become obligatory on the whole Church.
Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur. The Holy Ghost must needs be adored, therefore He is truly God. So to be in the True Faith, it suffices not to pay honour only, to the Holy Ghost, He must be adored as God, just as we adore the Father and the Son, simul adoratur: He is adored like the other two Divine Persons, and at the same time as They, simul. At these words, Holy Church wishes an inclination of the head to be made, as a homage paid to the Holy Ghost, whose Divinity we are here confessing. Et conglorificatur, He is conglorified, that is to say, He receives glory together with the Father and the Son; He is included in the same doxology, or glorification, for doxology means to give glory.
Qui locutus est per prophetas; here we have another Dogma. The Holy Ghost spoke by the Prophets, and the Church proclaims that He did so. In formulating this article she had chiefly in view the confounding of the Marcionites, who taught that there was a Good God and an Evil God; and, according to them, the God of the Jews was not good. The Church here declaring that the Holy Ghost spoke by the Prophets, from the Books of Moses, right up to those which near the time of Our Lord, - proclaims that the Action of the Divine Spirit was spread over our earth, from the very commencement.
On Pentecost-Day, He came down upon the Apostles, and descended upon earth, in order to abide there: His mission being wholly different from that of Our Lord. The Word made flesh came down to our earth, but after a certain time, He ascended again to heaven. The Holy Ghost, on the contrary, came, that He might abide with us for ever: so that, our Lord, when announcing the coming Paraclete to His Apostles, said to them: The Father will give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever (St. John, xiv. 16). He added, that this Paraclete would teach them all things, by giving them the remembrance of all the things which He Himself had taught them: He will bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said unto you (Id. ibid. 26).
The Church requires to be taught, guided, led, and supported. To whom does it belong to effect all this? Who is it that does it? It is the Holy Ghost, Who is to assist her even to the end of the world, according to the promise of our Lord. Thus, the Son has been sent by the Father; and then He ascended into heaven again: both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Ghost, that He might remain with the Church to the end of the world. Our Lord said: My Father will send you the Spirit: and he also said: I will send you the Spirit: and this, in order to show the relations which exist between the Divine Persons, who can never be isolated one from the other, as the heretics asserted.
Holy Church, then, has put clearly before us the dogma of the Trinity. First of all, we have the Father Almighty, Creator of all things; then, the Son, who came down from heaven, was made man, and died for us; after which He rose again from death, and ascended triumphantly into heaven, by His Ascension; finally, we have the Holy Ghost, Lord equally with the Father and the Son, the Giver of Life, who spake by the Prophets, and is God together with the Father and the Son.
After this, follows another subject: Et unam, sanctam , catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Observe, we do not say: I believe in the Church; we simply say, I believe the Church. Why is this? Because the faith which has God for its immediate object, is a movement of our soul towards God; she goes forth towards him, and rests in him; and thus, we believe IN GOD. But, as regards created and intermediate things which concern God, which help us to go to God, but are not God himself, - we simply believe them. Thus, for example, we believe the holy Church, which was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, and in whose bosom alone is there to be found salvation: I believe the Church: Credo Ecclesiam. In this Symbol, which is said in the Mass, this article of our faith is more fully expressed than in the Apostles' Creed, where we are taught to say simply: I believe the holy Catholic Church.
We declare then, first of all, that the Church is one: Credo unam Ecclesiam. In the Canticle of Canticles, we have our Lord himself calling her My ONE; - ONE is my Dove, my perfect one is but ONE (Cantic. vi. 8). - she is, moreover, Holy: Credo SANCTAM Ecclesiam. We hear the divine Spouse again saying in the same Canticle: My Love, my Dove, my Beautiful one ... there is not a spot in thee (Ibid. ii. 10; iv. 7). Writing to the Ephesians, St. Paul likewise says, that the Church which our Lord presented unto himself, is a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle (Eph. v. ); therefore, the Church of Christ is Holy, there are no Holy ones, no Saints, but within her, and there are always Holy ones, Saints, within her. Moreover, being Holy, she cannot teach aught but the truth. - The Church is Catholic: Credo Ecclesiam Catholicam; that means, she is universal, because she is spread throughout the whole earth, and because she will continue to exist to the end of time; now both of these are included in the quality of catholicity. - Finally, she is Apostolic: Credo Ecclesiam Apostolicam. Yes, her existence dates from the commencement that is to say, she comes from our Lord Himself; she did not spring up all on a sudden when five, ten, or fifteen centuries had gone by, as was the case with Protestantism, for example; had she come thus tardily into being, she could not have come from our Lord. In order to her being the true Church, she must be Apostolic, that is, she must have a hierarchy which dates back even to the Apostles, and, by the Apostles, to our Lord Himself.
Thus, we believe the Church; and God wishes us to believe her to be One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic: Et Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam, et Apostolicam Ecclesiam. We believe her, because she is founded upon these four essential Marks, which are the very meaning of her being called a Church of divine Institution, and she is proved to be that, by the very fact of her having those four Marks.
Confiteor unam baptisma in remissionem peccatorum: I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. The word Confiteor signifies here I acknowledge. But why does Holy Church oblige us to confess so expressly one only Baptism: Confiteor unum baptisma? Because she is bent on proclaiming that there is but one mode of spiritual birth, and, according to the words of the Apostle to the Ephesians, that there is but one only Baptism, as there is but one only God, and one only Faith: Unus Dominus, una fides, unum baptisma (Ephes. iv. 5).
Baptism makes us become children of God, at the same time giving us sanctifying grace, by which the Holy Ghost comes to dwell within us. And when, by mortal sin, man has the misfortune to lose this grace, Absolution, reconciling him to God, gives back to him this grace of Baptism, this primordial sanctification, and not another; so strong is this first grace. Baptism derives all its power from the Water which flowed from Our Lord’s side, and which hence became for us the very Principle of Life; therefore Our Lord did truly bring us forth; and this is the one only Baptism which we must confess and acknowledge.
Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum: I expect the resurrection of the dead. The Church does not tell us to say merely: I believe the resurrection of the dead, but I expect. We ought, indeed, to be impatient to see the coming of that moment of the resurrection, for the union of the body with the soul is necessary to the perfection of beatitude. The pagans had great difficulty in accepting this Truth, because death seems to be a condition of our very nature; our nature being composed indeed of body and soul, seeing that these elements can be separated, death maintains a certain empire over us. But for us, Christians, the Resurrection of the Dead is a fundamental Dogma. Our Lord Himself, rising again, on the Third Day after His death, confirms this Dogma in a most striking manner; for, says St. Paul, He is the first to come forth from amongst the Dead: primogenitus ex mortuis; as we are all to imitate Him, we too must all rise again.
Et vitam venturi saeculi. I expect, likewise, the Life of the World to come, which knoweth not death. On earth, we live by the Life of Grace, we are supported by Faith, Hope, and Charity; but we do not see God. In glory, on the contrary, we shall fully enjoy the sight of Him, we shall see Him Face to Face, as Saint Paul tells us: Videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate, tunc autem facie ad faciem (1 Cor. xiii. 12). Moreover, during the days of our earthly pilgrimage, we are exposed to the danger of losing grace; whereas, in Heaven, no further fear of this kind can exist any longer, and we are put in possession there, of that which alone can fully satiate the boundless cravings of the heart of man; we are put in possession of God Himself, who alone is the End of man. With good reason, then, does Holy Church bid us say: Et exspecto vitam venturi saeculi.
Such is the magnificent confession of Faith, put by Holy Church into the mouth of her children. There is yet another formula of our Creed, which was composed by Pius IV., after the Council of Trent. This, which we have just been explaining, is included in it, but with several other articles directed against Protestants, who, when they wish to make their abjuration, are required to read it aloud; without this condition being fulfilled, they could not receive absolution. In like manner, all holders of benefices, before taking possession thereof most pronounce this formula of Faith; for this reason, a Bishop does so, on arriving in his Diocese.