Faith that Transforms Us: Reflections on the Creed, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl, 2013.
This book makes a significant contribution in raising awareness of the beauty of our Catholic faith. As Curtis Martin, President and founder of FOCUS— the Fellowship of Catholic University Students—writes in the book’s foreword, “We must believe what we profess, we must understand what we believe, and we must act upon what we understand.” The contents in this book address all of these issues: professing, believing, understanding, and acting. As the Cardinal goes phrase by phrase through the Nicene Creed, he presents a clear and concise rendering of foundational Catholic beliefs and practices. By posing answers to such direct questions as “What does it mean?”, “How can this truth transform me?”, “How do I live it?”, and “How do I share it with others?”, Cardinal Wuerl gives us challenging insights to ponder and offers suggestions for apostolic action.
Questions for reflection and discussion follow each chapter, along with recommendations for additional reading on each subject.
The Mass - Introit/Entrance song
The Mass begins with ceremonies to bring the people together into community. Singing has always been a part of Christian worship. The people sang praises when Christ rode into Jerusalem; the Last Supper ended with a hymn; Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison.
The Introit sets the tone and states the theme. Originally, the Introit was the first words spoken aloud so the first word of the Introit became the title of that Mass.
The Mass - Procession and Veneration of the Altar
In early Christianity, the Mass was celebrated in homes. When the celebration moved into churches, the procession evolved.
The altar is a symbol for Christ and His sacrifice. It also represents the Church and the “prayers of the saints from under the altar” as described in Revelation 8:3. Believers would gather at the tombs of the martyrs on the anniversary of their death. Altars and later churches were built over these tombs.
The Mass - The Sign of the Cross
It is the oldest Christian profession of faith and the early Christians made the sign of the cross often. Every time we trace the sign of the cross over our bodies, we express our desire to be set apart from the corrupt ways of the world and we invoke God’s presence and power.
The sign of the cross itself is a powerful prayer that is meant to pour our tremendous blessings in our lives and has strong baptismal connections. We are entering into a conscious relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We lift up our hand toward heaven to our head so that we can know the Father. We then bring our hand down toward our heart just as Jesus came down from heaven to live in our hearts. We then sweep our hand in an arc from shoulder to shoulder to say that the Holy Spirit is within us and empowering us. The Mass reminds us that everything we do should be done in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!