Pope Benedict XVI once said: “that man needs an appeal addressed to his soul that can carry and sustain him. He needs a place for his soul.” The context of this statement was in reference to the analogy of a Cathedral built as a sanctuary for the soul, or, what takes place within a Cathedral and every Catholic Church in the world is a foretaste of Heaven through the liturgy.
It is not surprising that Pope Benedict XVI’s comments address an important matter; man is always in need of the Divine. Man cannot fully sustain himself on his own spiritual merit. There is a distinctive Divine Accommodation where God’s intimate desire is to always draw His children to Himself. If this is true, then one of the fruits of this Divine desire is the diminishment of sin since sin impedes our ability to seek God in a clear and loving way. The soul needs a place a refuge and nourishment where he can mature in his relationship with God
An invitation to Christ through Creed
When one patiently takes the time to introduce and discuss the Divinity of God, it should, one would hope lead to a discussion on the Son of God Jesus Christ Himself. In articulating an attainable understanding of the Blessed Trinity as three distinct persons possessing one Divine nature, the none, the indifferent, the non-practicing or fallen away Catholic should be exposed to the communion shared by all three persons of the Blessed Trinity. The emphasis on communion serves as a visible example of how a collaboration with the Trinity sets the stage to develop a desire for the Divine. There is a distinct and visible communion in the Trinity that St. John Henry Newman describes in the Catholic Church as the only communion where doctrine still develops.
Whether you introduce the “Our Father,” the “Apostles Creed,” the prologue of St. John’s Gospel or St. Peter’s discourse to the faithful after Pentecost there exists a specific intention to encourage the faithful to seek a place where they can rest their soul. The proclamation and articulation of the Creed serves as the fruit of the Gospel-kerygmatic catechesis where our intention as collaborators with Christ is to introduce the none or indifferent to the possibility of entering a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our communication must reflect the love of the Father for his children, or in other words man responds to a loving heart.
The first encounter, proclamation or introduction to Jesus Christ and His Church must be rooted in a love for Christ and the creed because the creed is Christ as evidence in his discourse on the Sabbath in Luke’s Gospel or his explanation about giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.
If Christ is the origin of the creed, and if our intention is to help those who do not believe seek a genuine desire for the Divine, in this case a desire to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, then part of the entire process of conversion should involve faithful instruction in the creed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that communion in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting the same confession of faith. The Catechism goes on to say that the creed represents a synthesis of faith or a summary of what a Christian is called to confess-a profession of faith.
A collaborators desire for God
St. Paul reminds us that we are called to put on Christ in all matters of faith. The emphasis in St. Paul’s exhortation is that we have a responsibility to place Christ first in our ministerial mission before our own desires. Our desire for God must be evident if our intention to guide someone to Christ. Jesus affirms that God is Lord and this is very important if our intention is to introduce someone to the way of Christ and His Church.
As collaborators in the name of Christ our desire for the Divine God must reflect our desire to reveal the “Deposit of Faith”-Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and not the “Deposit of Me.” This is one of the main areas where I see many self-proclaimed evangelists and teachers fall into the spiritual trap of self-divinization rather than the Profession of Faith in the one true God. This practice of faith involves the exercise of humility as we see in the following explanation by the Christian spiritual retreat master Fr. Phillip Dion:
Humility does not all mean denying the gifts and the abilities, and the talent and attributes that almighty God has given us. It does mean that we attribute them not to ourselves but to God. If, as a result of our doing this, others praise us, let us refer the praise of God instead of proudly soaking it up ourselves.
Our desire for the Divine involves an ascetical practice of not thinking of ourselves more than we should, or worse yet, more than anyone else, which on a purely human level is one of the most difficult virtues to practice. We are reminded when Christ received admiration, awe and wonder about his teaching abilities within the synagogue, he immediately directed this attention to the Divine Lord:
My teaching is not my own, but His who sent me.