September 8, 2012 – I Believe …..

Well I am life-long Chester resident, and I believe I have experienced the Popeye Picnic for each of its 33 years in one form or another.  However, for some reason I still do not know the proper etiquette for wishing somebody the best over the Picnic Weekend.  Do we simply say “Happy Popeye” or “Happy Popeye Weekend” or do we just say “Blow me down?”  Anyway, whatever the case, I hope you enjoy what is left of the picnic weekend, and I’m glad that it appears the weather will cooperate for the rest of the weekend.

I have to make a confession that will send shockwaves through the entire community, and perhaps will even cause me to be banished from our town.  I have to admit that this weekend is not necessarily my favorite weekend of the year.  There are some neat events happening around town, and I know that many organizations count on the picnic as part of their fund raising efforts (St. Mary’s included), but I just don’t like the idea of having my little, normal routine all bent out of shape during the weekend.  Trying to figure out which streets are closed or open, finding a place to park, etc., for some reason just doesn’t thrill me.  But it’s only one weekend out of the year, so I’ll deal with it.  I think my attitude stems from a couple of things: 1) I’m turning into an old curmudgeon, and 2) I’m a person that is more comfortable just being in the normal routine, being surrounded by and practicing the familiar.

Of course, when we get stuck in the normal routine, we run into the danger of taking things for granted, and not really thinking about the meaning of what we are doing.  This past week I read an article about the Creed, and how it can become routine to just say the words without really thinking about what the words mean and what the impact of the words can be.  Even though last year we were forced to re-examine the words of the Creed because of the new translation of the Roman Missal, our focus still tends to be on just reciting the words instead of thinking about the impact of the words we are saying.  The author lays out 5 key purposes for the Creed:

1)      The Creed is a summary of central truths of our Christian faith.  It is not a complete synopsis of the beliefs that are expressed in Scripture, but condenses into a few words the great faith contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  When we recite the Creed, we are not only making a statement about our own personal faith, but we are also affirming that we are united in faith with our fellow believers.

2)      The Creed is a rule of faith for our Christian life.  We can think of the Creed as a map which lays out our fundamental beliefs, and it prevents us from taking a “wrong turn” and getting lost. Before the church had a fixed Creed, early theologians referred to the essential beliefs of the Church as the regula fidei, or “rule of faith”.  This rule of faith expressed the faith which converts received from the Church and were to continue to practice throughout the rest of their life.  The Creed continues to serve the Church as the expression of its common faith.

3)      The Creed is a renewal of the faith professed at our baptism.  It is a reminder of our desire to be immersed in the new life of Christ.  It is a command to continue the work that Jesus began.  It reaffirms the truths that our Christian faith is based on and our desire to live the divine  life that we received at our Baptism.

4)      The Creed is a liturgical prayer.  Professing the Creed in a public setting reminds us that being a Christian means belonging to a universal Church of believers.  Thought we may interpret the Creed in a slightly different way from others, we all still choose to stand together to proclaim these truths.  The creed is not just a statement of beliefs, but is also a prayer which gives us a means to express our gratitude to God.

5)      The Creed can be an evangelization tool.  In the same way that we received faith from other people, we should also have the desire to hand on the faith to others.  The Creed presents a clear and simple statement of beliefs.  It focuses on what unites us Christians, not on what divides us.  It establishes clear boundaries for Christian belief.  It makes the same message of salvation known throughout the world.

For us Christians of today, reciting the Creed is an act that can contradict our culture.  We are preserving an ancient tradition by reciting the Creed.  In a world that encourages new ideas and gimmicks, we repeat words spoken by people for many centuries.  In a world that seeks to avoid commitment, the Creed brings people together with God and with one another.  In a world that denies that anything is absolute, we claim that there are some truths so important that they must be repeated time and time again.  So the next time we recite the Creed during Mass, maybe we can think about the fact that there is deeper meaning to what we are doing than just reciting words.

Though I can probably stand to shake up my routine a little bit, a routine begins tomorrow that will take me through February – FOOTBALL!!!  College Saturdays, Pro Sundays!  Hopefully my Rams will break out of their routine and win a few games this year, or at least play some competitive football.  I need an elixir after that 13-inning loss from the Cardinals last night.  Ohhhyyy.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a great week.  Peace.

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