Learning the New Nicene Creed By Heart

One of my Lenten promises this year is to learn by heart (memorize) the new Nicene Creed. Of all the Roman Missal changes (people’s parts), the changes to the Nicene Creed (and the Gloria) are by far the most significant. I think it’s important to be able to recite the Creed from memory so I am attempting to learn it by heart this Lent. I spent time on the train this morning working on it and I’m going to see if I can recall it now from memory. I’ll type it below from memory and then go back and put any mistakes I made in italics. Here goes:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man. For our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

OK, I did it! Of course, in written form, I have the luxury of pausing and scratching my head once in a while until the correct words come to mind. The real test will be this Sunday when I recite it without the Mass card and try to keep up with the whole assembly!

How are you doing with the new Nicene Creed?

About Joe Paprocki 2246 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

36 Comments on Learning the New Nicene Creed By Heart

  1. Not nearly as well as I should be. When I had my conversion to Catholicism – when I truly committed to the path – it was realy important for me to learn the Mass prayers by heart so I could recite them from the heart and not the pages in the books. Now, as a catechetical leader, I feel very compelled to do the same thing, and yet I keep putting it off because other things come up that seem more important. In other words, I keep making excuses. I mean, we spent all that money on pew cards, I might as well use them, right? See. I’m aces with excuses. Well done, though. Keep at it!

    • Greta, thanks for sharing. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to carve out an hour of quiet time during Lent to sit with the text and take it to heart prayerfully.

    • I brought my 7 year old daughter to church. I’ve been away for a while and decided now is a good time to come back. During mass, I am saying old school prayers while everyone else is saying something completely different. Now both my daughter and I need to learn the new prayers.

  2. At our parish we are saying the new Apostles creed during Lent on Sunday. So I have to use the Mass card or I get confused.

  3. I have been diligently using the Mass Card for everything, not even testing myself. This morning I sat where no card was available, and found that I was fine with everything — except that we used the Apostle’s Creed! Thanks, Joe, for your comment about this. And for the original post encouraging us to memorize the Nicene Creed. Like Joe and Lynne, I think I need to work on one creed at a time.

    • Thanks Louisa. I would have a tough time with the Apostles’ Creed without a Mass card…we hardly ever use it in Chicago.

  4. Sr. Mary Jane writes:

    The hard part for me is ‘for us men and for our salvation’…even tho it’s supposed to be generic…I can’t help feeling they could have said ‘for us’ or ‘for all of us’ or’ for us men and women” . After all it was being changed so this could have been the moment to be sensitive to the women in the Congregation.
    Sr. Mary Jane r.c…..

    • I have been saying the Nicene Creed as “for US and for our salvation”. Started as a teenager and have been saying that way for 30 years. I really don’t think God minds, as this wording is all inclusive. I may be wrong, but this wording feels right to me.

  5. Sondra writes:

    Good luck, it only took most of us nearly 40 years to get the one done and now we have to start over…problem is I don’t have 40 years left of my life to learn by heart. Mass card for me.

  6. An anonymous writer asks…

    Hello Joe,
    Congratulations in memorizing the Nicene Creed. May be you can answer a question for me because since I was a little kid, and up to now, I have not had a satisfactory explanation about it.

    Since the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople where those statements of faith were enunciated and were accepted/adopted, was the church at that time afraid (may be) that we the faithful would forget what we believe in? thus the recitation every Sunday at mass. After all the Nicene creed is not a prayer and we are proclaiming it in the midst of believers and not at a stadium, a convention, a public arena, etc…
    Have you heard a different reason why we recite it every Sunday at mass?
    Tks.

    • Dear reader, at the time the Nicene Creed was written, the Church was battling heresies about the nature and divinity of Jesus. The Creed clarifies our belief in the fullness of Jesus’ humanity and divinity as well as the mystery of the Trinity and the Church. To profess these core beliefs is indeed a prayer which is why the Creed may be sung (although it rarely is in most parishes). The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that “The purpose of the Creed…is that the whole gathered people may respond to the Word of God proclaimed in the readings…and that they may also honor and confess the great mysteries of teh faith by pronouncing the rule of faith in a formula approved for liturgical use..” (67) To recite it weekly is to proclaim boldly who it is that we praise and worship and desire to be one with. This is the complete opposite of New Age spirituality which denies the role of doctrine in spirituality and worship…you just worship some nebulous force or energy. We define who we worship!

  7. mk writes…

    i am having a very hard time with………for us men ….. as i am not a man….i am a person….or a woman …. but i am not a man and am resentful of this sexist language. therefore i have said for quite a while now…..’for us and for our salvation…..

    thank you for asking …… as i can vent one more time at my discontent with sexist language which is throughout our new liturgies….

    • Do you consider yourself likewise a hu”woman” rather than a human? The words of the creed are important. Saying them incorrectly could change the meaning and constitute a heresy against God’s Church. “Mankind” is the generally accepted way to convey the entirety of humanity. If we must define man from woman in God’s sight, then we drive a visible wedge into the communion of the Church. Language is very important. I feel everyone who calls themselves a Catholic should study a bit of Latin or a Latin based language such as Italian or Spanish to gain an understanding of the role and meaning behind the masculinization of certain words or phrases.

      When we recite the Hail Mary, do we not say, “blessed art thou amongst women”? Should I throw a hysterical fit that we don’t say men in that instance?

      Our Holy Mother, the Church is not the proper venue to grind a liberal axe over our hurt feelings. The order of the Mass is reserved to give glory to Christ and Christ alone. Any diversions from this are simply heretical.

  8. I go to several different churches for Sunday Masses, and I think since the changes were implemented, I’ve said the Nicene Creed maybe four times. The parishes/priests in my area are opting to go with the Apostles Creed more often. Because of that, I’m not doing too well memorizing the Nicene.

  9. Thanks(Vinaka) Joe,we in Fiji still have some trouble adopting the new creed version so I intend to print it on a linen cloth scroll and hang it up in a corner in our church for all to read.Many thanks again.-Jone.

  10. Like many others, I too had trouble memorizing the new nicene creed. To help, I recorded a video sound track I could listen to and it has made a big difference. At my wife’s urging, I posted it on YouTube so others could benefit from it too. You can find it by going to YouTube and searching “New Nicene Creed – New Roman Missal Translation” I’ve also attached the link here for it. Hope it helps!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpAQF91OMg

  11. Hi,
    At my parish, to make the creed all inclusive, our cards for the new creed have “men” crossed out so it reads “for us and for our salvation.”. I am thrilled, as a woman, that my church has chosen to be all inclusive. However when discussing this with my husband, I discovered he is insulted, because he feels he as a man has been wiped out. Are there any other men that would feel that way if the term “men” was crossed out with a black marker on the prayer cards at their church?

  12. For me, Nicene or Apostle’s creed is a very powerful prayer,  during my early 20s i always have sleep paralysis due to overworking. Then i always have difficulty in breathing when sleep paralysis strikes me. I got used to it though it was really difficult to deal with it. then one night i had a very bad paralysis, and i think i was about to lose my breath  as if someone is strangling me, then i recited the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, but nothing happened, then I recited, Apostle’s creed many times, then my breath came back, im still alive. I thanked God for saving my life from imminent death..i cannot forget that experience..

  13. I am STILL struggling to commit this to memory a year later. Of course, 2 kids under 3 has put a damper on that. 🙂 I have found, though, that when one of them takes the prayer card during mass (which is inevitable) I am able to keep up for the most part. Like all things in our faith, maybe the answer lies in just trusting more and not over thinking it.

    I personally don’t have a problem with “for us men”. To me, it was never about gender and always about all of us (a generalized “men” or the “royal men” or whatever you want to call it). Granted, being a man may have something to do with my thought process, but I genuinely don’t see it as restricting, sexist, or anything less than inclusive. Just my two cents.

  14. I can’t remember the new translation. I just say the old version. Very sorry. But the new translation essentially alienates large tracts of the population for whom “consubstantial” etc. are not regular vocabulary words. For example, little kids. Try teaching 8-9 year old communion students to wrap their mouth around that word. They can’t say it. And, no, there is no excuse in 2013 to still be saying “for us men”. Its not for you men. Its for all of us. The 9 year old girls in the first communion class will point that one out to you straight away too.

    I hang on with my faith, in spite of the fact that the Church these days is making it very difficult to do so. But I won’t learn a “new” creed for the sake of “more accuracy in translation”. The creed is about reaffirming our faith. Bottom line. It should be inclusive, and get to the point without having to stumble over words that people don’t understand and cannot say. Do you believe in one God? Do you believe in one Church? Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God and was resurrected from the dead so that our sins may be forgiven?

    If you do, then what does it matter if you say “seen or unseen” vs. “invisible or visible” or “or one in being” vs. “consubstantial”? Its like we are paying so much attention to the trees, that we’ve lost sight of the forest. I’m choosing the forest.

    • Political correctness is sad, always. “Men” refers to the human race. If you really have a problem with that, then you should be referring to us in separate parts, human and huwoman.

      • John, no one is talking about creating new words but rather using the words we have as best we can to reflect who we are as men and women. The desire for the correct use of language is not “sad” but is an ongoing quest to express ourselves as best we can.

  15. In the Nicene Creed, “us men” refers to everybody, not just men. In the English language the all-inclusive term for “men and women” is “men.” English is not like other languages that use a non gender-specific word for this purpose. It’s basic English Grammar. To fight against it by saying “men and women” or “he, she, it” etc is cumbersome and gets in the way of the communication.

  16. I am actually really disappointed in the change from “we” to “I”. I understand the reasoning behind it, but there was something about being part of a congregation, all reciting the same prayer, and saying “we”, that always got me- it really drove home to me that we were all together in something greater than us, in a way that other parts of the mass never have. It really gave me a sense of unity with the rest of the church. The rest of the changes leave me fumbling for words, but as someone who came to Catholicism later in life, I’m used to that. I imagine the cradle Catholics are a bit more bothered by it?

  17. I realize this is an older post, but just wanted to remind some that the Creed is a statement of BELIEF and UNITY. We remind ourselves and others just WHICH “God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and other beliefs” we are endorsing. We also pledge a type of felty or agreement in our beliefs with those who also make this Statement of Faith with us and throughout the world over many, many years.

    On my reception into the Catholic Church in 1975 at 24 years old from a background of very active participation and understanding of Evangelical/Bible Protestantism, since my Baptism at six weeks old was acceptable to The Church, I came into Full Communion through recitation of the Nicene Creed (which had been used at my previous church every “communion Sunday,” or approximately six times a year (this was pre-RCIA Rites).

    Since I had to “convince” myself that the Catholic Church was the “right” church, I, as a reader, read all of the writings from Vatican II and cross-referenced them in the Bible (probably one of only two lay persons who has done this! ;0) ).

    When I recited the Creed that day, I understood that I was pledging and attesting to all of the statements AS WRITTEN/UNDERSTOOD at the time that were CORE BELIEFS of the Catholic Church. I never would have thought to “change wording” just because I, as a woman, didn’t like to be referred to as “man” (which has been used for thousands and thousands of years. . .).

    I was so thankful that God had led me to a church where his Son ruled supreme, where he is the Bridegroom and we as believers/members are the BRIDE OF CHRIST, that I really saw that first statement of faith as my testament to my faith. That feeling is renewed every time I repeat this most important testament of Belief and Solidarity.

    Being a “word person,” and also believing that what words we use are important and shouldn’t be “watered down,” the new changes definitely are much, much closer to the true beliefs of the Church I love so much!

    Blessings on all in their walk with the Lord in Communion with His Church.

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