One of the books I’m currently reading is Deeper then Words: Living the Apostles’ Creed, the most recent book written by Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk whose work I love. The book is his effort to illuminate that “the faith from which [beliefs] spring is one and unites.”
The first chapter focuses on the opening line of the Apostles’ Creed: I believe in God. Brother David reminds us that in the original Latin, the phrase “I believe” is one word – credo – the literal meaning of which is “I give my heart.” In recalling the origin of the term, Brother David asks us to remember that “I give my heart” is an expression, not of belief, but of faith – of our faith in God.
This is a useful reminder. It is far too easy for us to view the Creed as a checklist of propositions to which we must give intellectual consent in order to consider ourselves good Catholics. Viewed that way, the Creed can far too easily become a tool of division.
Distinguishing “belief” and “faith,” Brother David observes that “there are many beliefs, but there is ultimately only one faith: faith in God.” Viewed as an expression of faith, I believe in God says: I give my heart in total trust, something that does not depend on a specific expression of religious belief.
Brother David suggests that actually giving voice to our faith in God – actually saying, “I have faith in God” is important. He writes:
To put this into so many words – even if I say them to myself in silence, can be a decisive step in my spiritual life, for every time I remember my belonging I drink from the Source of Meaning…Expressing faith in God gives a firm foundation to joyful, grateful, and creative living.
Credo. I give my heart. Give voice to that belief in whatever words seem right to you.