Pillar I

The Apostles' Creed

What is it that we believe as a Catholics? The oldest and most concise summary is the Apostles Creed. It's like our Pledge of Allegiance to the Faith. To say the Creed regularly is to anchor ourselves into our beliefs. The Creed is divided into twelve articles. These twelve articles symbolize the Twelve Apostles, and the Creed is said to be a faithful summary of what they believed (CCC 194).  see #33-35

Unknown Artist, 14th Century
Article 1: I believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth 
God is love. Out of love, God created the heavens and the earth. Human beings are his principal creation. However, we have fallen. We have turned away from this great love. But God has not turned his love away from us. He loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son so that we may be restored. see #36-78

Article 2: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord
We are all sons and daughters of God, but Jesus is his only begotten son. He is the promised messiah. He came so that we might have life through him. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The Israelites, the chosen people of God (Old Testament), were promised this savior, this messiah. They waited, some patiently, some not so patiently, for this great king to be born among them. Many generations would pass, but he finally came. He is our Lord, our master, for all eternity. see #79-84

Article 3: He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary 
Jesus was not conceived in the usual way. Joseph, although a great saint, was not Jesus' natural father. God is the father, through the sending of his Holy Spirit to Mary. Mary was a virgin at the time and remained virgin for the rest of her life. The Bible refers to "brothers" of Jesus, but these were not Jesus' blood-brothers. Another thing to mention about this article is that it shows Jesus, God among us, being born of a human being. This makes Jesus human. We believe he was God fully, but also man fully. see #85-111

Article 4: He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried
Jesus did this voluntarily. This was his primary mission, to be crucified. This is what saves man. His death on the cross made heaven possible for us all. This is tough to understand, but it was part of God's plan. Before this, heaven was not open. see #112-124

Article 5: He descended into hellOn the third day he rose again
The "hell" in this article is not the same as the hell of the damned. It was rather a holding place for the dead. Since heaven's gates were only opened by Jesus' death on the cross, Jesus had to gather the just in this holding place (i.e. Moses, Abraham and Sarah, etc), and release them into the eternal glory of heaven of which they long awaited. Regarding Jesus' resurrection, we believe he did so bodily. His apostles ate and drank with him, touched his wounds... The Bible states that 500 people were witnesses to his rising. This is why so many people, including 11 of the 12 Apostles, went boldly to their martyrdom. They gave up their lives preaching "Christ is risen!" see #125-131

Article 6: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father
Forty days after Jesus' resurrection, he ascended into heaven in the sight of his apostles. He leads the way for us all to heaven. This gives us a great hope that we will one day meet with him, and spend all eternity in this paradise. He is constantly interceding for us, and gives us the Holy Spirit to help us on our journey to him. see #132

Article 7: He will come again to judge the living and the dead 
We believe in Jesus' second coming. Just as the Israelites waited many generations for the first coming, we wait today for the second. He will judge all people according to their conduct towards God and towards their neighbor. see #133-135

Article 8: I believe in the Holy Spirit 
The Holy Spirit is the animating force that is sent to us to help us on our journeys of faith. He too is worshiped, along with the Father and the Son. He helps us to know God. In fact, without him, we cannot know God. see #136-146

Article 9: the holy Catholic Churchthe communion of saints
The Church can be seen as the Ark in the story of Noah - saving us from the "flood." It can also be seen as the basket which Moses was placed in as a baby to survive the threatening waters of the Nile (see note on Ex 2:3). The Church was set up to be a vessel for our salvation, providing all the necessary means for this. Christ established his Church on St. Peter, our first Pope, by giving him "the keys to the kingdom of heaven."(see Mt 16:13-20) We have been guided for two thousand years by this authority (which also includes the Bishops who are in communion with the Pope). We believe that the Holy Spirit protects this authority from error when it comes to faith and morals. We do not, however, believe the Pope or any Bishop is free from personal sin. The communion of saints- these are all people, alive or passed, who have put their hope in Christ. In heaven and on earth, there exists a union between these saints. We believe the highest saint is Mary. She has a very special role in the Church. see #147-199

Article 10: the forgiveness of sins
Jesus not only forgave sins himself, he also confers this grace to his Church. Our sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Baptism, and after this, primarily in the Sacrament of Penance. see # 200-201

Article 11: the resurrection of the body
We believe that on the final judgement day God will return to us our bodies, and they will be glorified. How this will take place is beyond our understanding. see see #202-206

Article 12: and life everlasting. Amen.
Life is eternal. Our greatest hope is that we will spend this eternity in paradise with Jesus and all the angels and saints. We also hold the belief in Purgatory, a temporary condition some must endure before they can be accepted into heaven. And then there is hell. This is a place for those who refuse the grace of God. see #207-217


Links above are from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic ChurchVatican.va. For a more thorough exploration of the Creed, consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For an explanation which may be more engaging to youth and young adults, consider purchasing a copy of the YOUCAT (Youth Catechism).