hope girls

Trust in Jesus: 4 Reasons Catholics Are Full of Hope

On the 6th Sunday of Easter, we hear from St. Peter in the second reading. Since it is St. Paul who dominates the writings of the New Testament (outside of the Gospels,) it is good to hear from St. Peter. This section of 1st Peter focuses on hope.

Hope, the Church teaches, is one of the three theological virtues (the others are faith and charity.) Hope is:

… the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

St. Peter makes it clear that hope is a hallmark of a person who follows Christ.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. (1 Pt. 3:15-16)

It’s rather odd that Peter is so focused on “hope,” since the young Church was being persecuted. Peter and the other Apostles were run out of town, imprisoned, brought up on various charges. But they went forward, with great hope.

As modern Christians, we might be tempted to abandon hope. Our world certainly is dismal. Christians are the most persecuted religion across the globe. Violence, culture wars, and just plain old evil seems to be winning the war for souls.

But we have hope. And we need to be able to tell anyone who asks why we are so hopeful. Here are just four reasons:

  1. The first and foremost reason for hope is Christ. We believe (just as we say at most Masses) that Christ became Man, took our sins upon Himself, died and then rose again. As St. John Paul II said, “We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song.”
  2. We have been promised Heaven. If we love God and do His will, we gain eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. That’s an immense reality, and the source of much hope.
  3. We are not in this alone! Yes, our world is scary and dangerous and sometimes evil, but we are never alone! First, Christ promised He would never leave us along (see John 14.) Further, we have a community of brothers and sisters in Christ to lean on, to help us live better and holier lives, and to pray with and for us.
  4. The sacraments are a source of hope. Because we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we live in Christ and He is us. St. Paul says, God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. (Col. 1:27.) In the Eucharist, Christ gives His very Body and Blood; we consume and He dwells in us.

Let us live in such a way that all may see the hope we have as Christians. May our hope gives others hope as well, as we make known Christ Jesus.

St. Paul Outside the Walls

The Universal Church: St. Paul Outside The Walls

Every Sunday at Mass, Catholics proclaim their faith by praying the Nicene Creed. One part of this prayer is “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.” It may seem odd that “catholic” is not capitalized here, but there is a reason behind this.

If a person of our faith is asked what church we belong to, we typically answer, “Catholic.” To be completely accurate, we’d say, “Latin Rite Catholic.” But most of us use the “shorthand” answer. However, the word “catholic” itself means “universal.” Many Christian churches are independent of all other churches and/or hierarchies, some are regional or specific to a country and others belong to specific regions of the world.

The Catholic Church, however, is truly universal. The Mass (albeit in native languages) is the same anywhere in the world. A Catholic can receive sacraments anywhere in the world from a Catholic priest. The teachings of the Catholic (Latin Rite Church) are the same everywhere. Therefore, when we pray the creed, we are saying we belong to this universal church.

In fact, one of the great things about our Church is that, no matter where we go as Catholics, we are welcome in any Catholic Church. We have much to explore. This week, we are going to be taking a closer look at a few beautiful and important churches around the world.

Today, we are going to explore the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. St. Paul, a convert from Judaism to the Catholic faith (and author of much of the New Testament) was martyred in Rome in around 61 A.D., and this church contains his tomb. (By the way, “basilica” is an architectural term, but is also used to designate a church of great importance historically.) This basilica got its unusual name because it is located outside the old walls that once surrounded the city of Rome. The original building dates back to 324 A.D., and is the home to both the Pauline Door and the Pauline Flame:

Under the portico of the Basilica it was opened a door dedicated to “Apostle to the Gentiles, that port has been named PAULINE DOOR. Through the door, all the pilgrims can enter the Basilica of San Paolo and reach the tomb. The decoration of the PAULINE DOOR recalls some great moments in the life of “Apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul and has been decorated by the great Veroi sculptures.

In the tradition of the Church, each pilgrim can share in this gesture of light, close to Sao Paulo. By offering this candle we join ourselves to those communities which Paul visited and these same candelabra in the churches of “Pauline itinerary. This flame of prayer and communion was ignited by the Holy Father June 28, 2008, on the occasion of the “opening of the Pauline and is nourished daily by the monks of the” Benedictine Abbey.

While many of us will never get the chance to see this extraordinary church, so important to the early Church and to believers today, we can take a “virtual tour,” thanks to the wonders of our digital age.

Regardless of where we travel or live, we belong to a universal Church. Whether we find ourselves in a tiny mission church here in the States or an ancient church steeped in history, we are “home” in any Catholic church. And who doesn’t like to explore a bit?

Apostles' Creed

The Apostles’ Creed: Faith Of Our Fathers

Yesterday, we discussed the origin and importance of the Nicene Creed. Today, we will look at another creed: the Apostles’ Creed.

Most Catholics are familiar with the Apostles’ Creed as the first prayer of the Rosary. It is also an option for Mass should a children’s liturgy be celebrated. The Apostles’ Creed is older than the Nicene Creed, with various forms dating back to the 200s. It is simpler and shorter than the Nicene Creed. One might say that the Apostles’ Creed was the father of the Nicene Creed: the Nicene Creed built upon and furthered clarified beliefs stated in the earlier creed.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Through the centuries many professions or symbols of faith have been articulated in response to the needs of the different eras: the creeds of the different apostolic and ancient Churches, e.g., the Quicumque, also called the Athanasian Creed; the professions of faith of certain Councils, such as Toledo, Lateran, Lyons, Trent; or the symbols of certain popes, e.g., the Fides Damasi11 or the Credo of the People of God of Paul VI.

None of the creeds from the different stages in the Church’s life can be considered superseded or irrelevant. They help us today to attain and deepen the faith of all times by means of the different summaries made of it …

The Apostles’ Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles’ faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is “the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith”. (192-194)

For Catholics, the Creeds are both personal and communal. We pray them so as to assert our own beliefs, in renewal of our baptismal vows. However, whenever we pray together, we pray as the Universal Church. We are praying in communion with the entire Church around the world. The Creeds unify us, strengthen us and remind us of the faith we share.

St. Augustine said, “Let the creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in your faith.

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.


The Nicene Creed: “I Believe”

Credo: Latin for “I believe.” The Nicene Creed is an integral part of the Mass, and serves as a “mini-catechism” of our beliefs. But what exactly is a “creed” and why is it so important to our Faith?

Theologian Scott Hahn explains:

A creed is an authoritative summary of Christianity’s basic beliefs. In the articles of the creed, we profess our faith in mysteries—doctrines that could never be known apart from divine revelation: that God is a Trinity of persons, that God the Son took flesh and was born of a virgin, and so on … A creed is not the totality of Christian faith. It’s a summary that stands for everything that is taught by the Catholic Church, which is itself one of the mysteries we proclaim in the creed. A creed is a symbol of something larger—and, ultimately, of Someone we love, Someone who loves us and makes us who we are, by means of creeds and other graces.

There are a number of creeds that the Church recognizes, but the Nicene Creed (used at the Mass) and the Apostles’ Creed (prayed during the Rosary) are the two primary creeds. The Nicene Creed dates back to 325 A.D. (isn’t that amazing?), from the Council of Nicaea. Just as bishops and cardinals are called to meet in our times (think of Vatican II), the early Church fathers met to discuss articles of faith and make decisions for the universal Church.

The Council of Nicaea was particularly important. There were those in the Church who claimed that Jesus was divine, but not human. This became known as the Arian heresy: Jesus was divine but only appeared to be human, an idea promulgated by Arius, a Christian leader in Egypt. The Nicene Council declared this a heresy, that is, a teaching that was contrary to the Faith. In order to make firm the truth that Jesus was true God and true Man, the Church Fathers created the Nicene Creed. In this way, even illiterate people would know the Church teaching. While the creed did not become part of the Mass until the 6th century, it was taught universally after the Council of Nicaea.

The Nicene Creed expressed what the early leaders of the Church found to be Biblical, traditional and orthodox in their Christian faith – a faith in Jesus Christ that we continue to proclaim 1,700 years later.” Again, Scott Hahn:

The Creed is the capstone of the Liturgy of the Word, a summation of the mighty works of God, past, present and future. We have heard the Law and the prophets and sung the praises of the Psalms. We have received the Gospel as truly as St. Peter’s congregation did on that first Pentecost. Now, as we recite the Creed, we say our “yes,” our Credo, like the first believers in Jerusalem.

It’s significant that, in our liturgy, the Creed follows after the Bible readings, since the Creed is a summary of the history of salvation.

Every time we pray this Creed, we not only state the basis of our faith, we unite ourselves with the entire Church. We also renew to ourselves and to God our baptismal promises. The Nicene Creed is both ancient and new. This creed reminds us, and all the Church, of what we believe. We join our “I believe” with the voices of all the faithful around the world in prayer.


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.