Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Nicene Creed- series on the Divine Liturgy

PEOPLE: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And He became flesh by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: and was made man. He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. And of His kingdom there will be no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. And I await the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRIEST: Let us stand well, let us stand with fear, let us be attentive, to offer the holy oblation in peace.

PEOPLE: The mercy of peace, the sacrifice of praise.

PRIEST: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with   all of you.

PEOPLE: And with your spirit.

PRIEST: Let us lift up our hearts.

PEOPLE: We have lifted them up to the Lord.

PRIEST: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

PEOPLE: It is proper and just to worship the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in substance and undivided.

Priest (silently): It is proper and just to sing hymns to You, to bless You, to praise You, to thank You, to worship You in every place of Your kingdom; for You are God ineffable inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing, yet ever the same, You, and Your only-begotten Son, and Your Holy Spirit; You brought us forth from non-existence into being, and raised us up again when we had fallen, and left nothing undone, until You brought us to heaven and bestowed upon us Your future kingdom. For all this we give thanks to You, and to Your only-begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit, for all that we know and that we do not know, the manifest and the hidden benefits bestowed upon us. We thank You also for this ministry, which You have willed to accept from our hands, even though there stand before You thousands of archangels, myriads of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft on their wings

I love the silent prayer that the priest prays at this time- but I have to say a bit about the Nicene Creed and the inclusion or exclusion of the Filioque (Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son). Some Byzantine Catholics include the Filioque; others do not. This is yet another place the Byzantines are stuck in the middle. Two different perspectives can be found at Orthodoxwiki and Catholic Answers.

This quotation from the Eastern theologian Fr Patrick Reardon might explain why we have theological debates between Catholic and Orthodox (do the Orthodox really dismiss the Immaculate Conception? I don't think so- but they were not part of the discussion when the Pope declared it dogma)--- "I believe that the filioque controversy is not about the composition of the Holy Trinity. It is a controversy about authority in the Church. The East’s objection to the filioque is formal, not material. The East’s objection has to do with a canon of the Council of Ephesus in 431, which anathematizes anyone who adds to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed." Even though I think practical matters are barriers to unity more than these lofty theological problems, the filioque-problem will be with us for a long time.


  1. Because the Nicene Creed was re-translated for the new missal for Roman Rite Catholics, does that mean that those changes will be reflected in the English liturgy of various Eastern Rite Catholics? I suppose the better question is whether your version was translated more correctly to begin with (I see you have the new-for-us "visible and invisible", but not the "consubstantial"). In general, I think it would be interesting to see how translations are handled for common parts of our liturgies, like the Nicene Creed. I suppose it never occurred to me that you may say it differently. ^_^

  2. I'm not sure if any changes will be made in the various Byzantine Churches- we are wary of even looking for change because sometimes it might go too far! But as you can see, we have always said "I believe" just like the Latin- Credo

  3. Hi- From an Orthodox Christian's point of view, no, we do not believe in the Immaculate Conception. We believe that Mary was conceived naturally but that makes her no less Holy in our eyes. What I personally have been taught on the filioque (and it's probably a very simplified explanation) is that one was to look at The Holy Trinity is as an equilateral triangle pointing upward with God the Father at the "head/top" and Christ and the Holy Spirit at the base. When you add in "and the Son" you flip the triangle so that you have the Father and Son at the top and the Holy Spirit at the point facing down. If you think abou tit visually you can "see" how this *could* change our understanding of the Trinity. So the EOC felt that this created more dogmatic problems than is solved and does not recognize the addition.

  4. cassac- thanks for your input- about the Immaculate Conception (Anne and Joachim conceiving Mary)- we believe that yes, it was a 'normal' conception except for the fact that God protected Mary from receiving our ancestral sin- it was not a virginal conception like Mary's conception of Jesus

    --- so I'm not sure if we are talking about the same thing. Do Orthodox Christians believe that Mary was conceived with sin as all of us?

  5. The Oriental tradition of ancestral sin differs from the Latin (Augustinian) tradition of original sin. In the east, Ancestral sin is seen as concupiscence, an inclination to sin- no personal sin or guilt belongs to the soul of the babe until he has actually sinned. In this way, Mary is not set apart by her sinless conception, every baby is "immaculately conceived." However, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware writes in his book "The Orthodox Church" that the topic of the Immaculate Conception "belongs to the realm of theological opinion," which means that it is not heretical to hold this view (pg 260). I keep meaning pin down Father Maximos and ask if this, too, comes down to semantics... Hope this helps:) Wishing you a holy advent. -Amy

  6. Amy- It 'has' to be semantics- or a different way of looking at things- because if the Orthodox don't believe in original sin and also Mary being preserved free from sin from the moment of her conception- WHY do we have infant baptism and WHY did Mary only 'fall asleep' instead of die and be assumed into heaven body and soul- is also interesting to see the differences cropping up between the Orthodox and their new evangelical converts who didn't grow up with much of any Marian theology

  7. Amy did a much better summary than I'm sure I could have given, thanks Amy! And I agree that a lot (although admittedly not all) of our "differences" at least those that we regularly grapple with at the level of a typical lay-person have more to do with different ways of communication as opposed to truly different dogma.

    Your observation about baptism is an interesting one that I definitely need to ask my priest (who's also a seminary professor) about. The first rite in that service is an exorcism...

    The second part of your comment is also really interesting becuase I don't believe that the assumption of Mary is actually dogma in the Orthodox church even though it has been somewhat broadly accepted. Our official feast is only that of the dormition or "falling asleep" that you mentioned...

    Thanks for your lovely blog!!


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