During Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, Catholics have a choice of creeds following the homily. One is the Nicene Creed and the other is the Apostles’ Creed. While the latter is a shorter version of the former, both cover the same territory.

According to catholicstraight
answers.com, the word “creed” is derived from the Latin word “credo” which means, “I believe.” The creeds are a “statement of faith” which includes the belief in the Trinity and the path of salvation: “Initiated by the father, the history of salvation culminates in Jesus and through the work of the Holy Spirit, the redemptive mission and paschal mystery of our Lord is operative in the age of the church.”

The Apostle’s Creed is based on the teaching of the Twelve Apostles and was used as a recitation by a mostly illiterate population to proclaim their faith. The website alateia.org explains the origin of the Apostles’ Creed this way: “The Apostles’ Creed grew out of that ancient tradition and according to legend, the apostles themselves each wrote a portion of that creed on Pentecost. While scholars have debated for centuries the authenticity of such a claim, many believe that at the very least, a form of the Apostles’ Creed was written during the second century and was based on an outline from the apostolic age.”

However, a number of scholars maintain the Apostles’ Creed is instead an expansion of a Roman baptismal creed known as “The Roman Symbol,” and is still used in that function to this day, according to media.ascensionpress.com. It was also during this time St. Ambrose and St. Augustine encouraged the faithful to recite “The Symbol of Faith” daily, leading to its inclusion in the rosary.

The Nicene Creed was created in 325 by the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, “because some heretics were confusing people,” according to “Why Do Catholics Do That?” by Dr. Kevin Orlin Johnson. Two claims made in the Apostles’ Creed, that Jesus “descended into hell” and “the communion of saints,” are not found in the Nicene Creed.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him,” (CCC 633). “The communion of saints,” as explained by media.ascensionpress.com, refers to God’s view of us as his children and “he intends for us to be connected not to just him but to each other.”

The most important assertion from the Council of Nicaea, and included in the Nicene Creed, was to define  Jesus as both man and God, present in the Holy Trinity; thus, the words “begotten, not made, consubstantial with the father.” In other words, made of the same substance of God.

As encouraged by our saintly leaders long ago to say “The Symbol of Faith” daily, so should we find encouragement and strength in those words, regardless of the creed, only focusing on the belief and the faith.