another affirmation of the I: The Catholic Church changes the Nicene Creed
I have long been a supporter, for my part, of the Catholic Church. At least, symbolically. The Church is The Church, and has represented the best and the worst of Western Humanity. And though I am no believer, I take heart and put stock in much of the Christian Church. Maybe that’s why I have been so critical of it lately; I just can’t thrust it off completely. Merton has left a footprint deep in my soul. But it’s getting pretty close.
Last night, I heard the story of how the Catholic Church unrolled its linguistic changes to the Mass. The language we use to express our beliefs, religious or not, is of the utmost importance. We communicate through the tools we have, and changes from the Vatican handed down to the Catholic body should be taken seriously by that body. (see all the changes here)
But I’m not Catholic, and most of these changes are of no interest to me. I do not care, for example, if during the Penitential Act, the words “Lord, show us your mercy and love” are changed to “Show us, O Lord, your mercy.” There is one change made, though, that seems highly significant. And, to me, as someone who looks back fondly to the Church at times, is very sad.
The word “We” has been removed from the Nicene Creed and supplanted with the dreaded word: “I”. Thus it is that We no longer believe in One God, the Father, Almighty. Now, rather, I believe in One God, the Father Almighty. It just doesn’t mean the same thing.
We is what Church is, isn’t it? It is what the Church meant for me, anyway. In a real way, does not the gathering of the congregation mean We? Does not speaking out loud, together, mean We affirm as one, together, that which we believe? It is We that held me tightly to church for many years, well beyond the point when the content lost its importance. And it is the We that makes me, in those times that I do, miss it.
I’m sure there are arguments for why this occurred, and if I were to have this out with someone within the Church there are probably myriad reasons to support the change. But as on-looker, as an outsider, I don’t know those reasons. And to individuals who made such choices my little response is inconsequential. A criticism from a person who criticizes Christianity regularly. Big whoop. Still, I’m saddened.
And so with the Vatican’s removal of We from the Nicene Creed and the move to affirm the I, there accumulates one more simple, significant step in the direction of a new We that has come to mean more to TRC than the old.