Our Credenda

San Damiano Cross

Sitting before the San Damiano crucifix in prayer, Francis heard the Lord speak out to him: "Francis, build up My Church, for you see that it is falling down." The practical St. Francis responded by gathering stones and mixing mortar to repair a little chapel that he loved, St. Mary and the Angels (named "Little Portion," or Portiuncula, for the small parcel on which it was built). Others came to join him. In time he looked beyond its walls and realized that the Lord had another Church in mind in addition to the Chapel of St. Mary and the Angels, for the thirteenth century was a time of "New Age" religion not so different from our own. Europe was dominated by the Cathars, or Albigensians, who revived the cult of gnosticism, which held that a divine spark resides within (though not in all of us) and that enlightenment is attained through a journey of self-knowledge. Francis saw that this cult of self-absorption, elitism, and ultimately narcissism (uncannily similar to New Age religions today) ran counter to all that Christ had taught: selflessness, community, humility, universal love, and an equal dignity enjoyed by all people not just some. At length Francis understood that he was being called to champion Catholic faith and order and required each aspirant to his Order to give evidences of whole-hearted acceptance of the Catholic faith.

Today, this might be achieved by asking the Tertiaries of Na Pua Li'i to profess the Apostles' Creed or Nicene Creed. Yet, these two have become so familiar that their underlying meaning can become hidden beneath the high gloss of regular, ritual recitation. We offer below a theological unpacking of the two great Creeds, so our Tertiaries may have a more detailed understanding of them. After the example of our holy father, St. Francis, our Community requires all Tertiaries, prior to making their promises, to give written acceptance and obedience to the ancient Christian faith contained in this Credenda. To become a Tertiary of Na Pua Li'i, one need not be Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, or a member of any Christian denomination. The only requirements are baptism (which our priest offers to any unbaptized person desiring Christian life) and a commitment to the faith that has always been taught — from the time of Jesus walking down a road to Emmaus, explaining the meaning of His life, death, and resurrection; from the time of the Apostles, agreeing with each other in the essentials of faith and morals; through the ages when the historic faith grew to be one, united belief spread throughout the known world of Asia, Europe, and Africa; when there were only Christians practicing Christian belief, before Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy or Anglicanism and long before Protestantism.

In a spirit of Franciscan fellowship and shared community, the Tertiaries of Na Pua Li'i borrow from the essence of the Credenda set out by the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion and which is signed by all their novices at the time making profession as a Tertiary.

The Credenda

We believe in one God, Who is pure spirit, the Supreme Ruler over all people and all things from the beginning of creation and forever. We believe that He had no beginning and will have no end. He is the King of the Universe, almighty, eternal, incorruptible, invisible, and immortal. He is perfectly holy and good, all loving, all knowing, all wise and truthful, dwelling in light unapproachable, Whom no man on earth has seen, nor can see; to Whom be honor and glory forever.

Shield of the Holy Trinity We believe that God is one God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. Yet, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three Gods. Quoting from the great, ancient prayer, the Shemah, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord, thy God, is One." The three Persons of the Triune God are eternally united as One God in an infinite braid of eternal love. They are distinct from each other as Persons, but they are united in nature, thought, will, and action. Mankind is united to the Trinity as creatures made in God's image, and they are joined to the Trinity through the Son, Who is one Person with two natures — divine and human.

We believe that God the Father made all things through God the Son, the Eternal Word, who is the first born of all Creation, born of His Father, in the same substance, before all ages.

We believe that the eternal work of Creation in the infinite I Am continues through time. It is God alone Who can create and animate life, and there is nothing that was made that was not made by Him (nor could there be). In His love God created angels and humans. He made them good like Himself, and He intended them for that perfect happiness which He has, and which can come only through likeness to Him. The angels are spirits who worship and serve God in Heaven. They fulfill His commandments and are the agents of His will towards this world and mankind. Human beings are of a twofold nature, being both spirit and body. In their bodily nature they are akin to the animals; in their spiritual nature they are like the angels. God has given to angels and men, alone among His creatures, the power of free will. They may choose to obey His will or to disobey it. All things else are as God wills them to be, and therefore fulfills His purpose in making them.

We believe that before mankind was created, evil was already present in the spiritual world. Some of the angels, though created good, and being capable of attaining to perfect and permanent holiness, had changed, we do not know how or why, and became evil, rebelling against God. These angels, fallen from their former glory in Heaven, are called devils or demons; their leader is Satan. It was Satan who brought evil into the world and won the consent of mankind to sin by which the world and mankind were spoiled. Like the devils, men changed and became bad through their own free choice using their will in opposition to God's.

We believe that man cannot undo his disobedience by himself and return to His former friendship with God. Every man enters the world, not as God intended him, but with his soul darkened, and his will weakened to choose aright. This inherited weakness within men and women opens the door to undue evil influences so that in every generation man has renewed the fall from grace individually by sinful self-pleasing in continual self-assertion against God.

From all eternity God foreseeing the sin of man, had provided the remedy for sin, and when sin was first committed, we hear God promising that a Savior will come to bruise the serpent's head. God's preparation of the world for Christ lay in his choice of one nation, the Israelites or Jews, to be His own people, whom He educated gradually in the true knowledge of Himself and of His will. The history of this preparation of the chosen people is written in the Old Testament.

We believe that when the time of preparation was fulfilled, God sent His only begotten Son into the world. He was God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God. He was not made, but begotten, being of one substance with the Father. He entered time as a man by being incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary. This child of Mary was God, as He had been before all worlds were created, but now He was God made man. He was the same Person of the Holy Trinity as before, but now He was also human — true God and true man. Having two natures in one Person, Jesus Christ has never laid aside His human nature which He took into union with the other Persons of the Trinity. He is the eternal connection between God and man, joined with God the Father by His divine nature, and joined with all men by His human nature.

We believe that God is perfect justice and truth as well as perfect compassion and mercy. By his rebellion against God and repudiation of God's will for him, man had entered a state of alienation from God, and consequently alienation from his neighbor and from himself. God's perfect justice required that man should atone for his crime. God's perfect mercy could forgive, yet God could do no violence to His perfect justice nor violate the very gift of human freedom that He granted as being sovereign. Humans were created to be absolutely free. To abridge that freedom would be to nullify the gift itself, which is man's very nature. Unable to destroy man in this way, God chose to destroy Himself in the sense of offering the Son as a willing and free sacrifice in man's stead. He came to do for man what man must do, but could not do for himself. By joining Himself with all humanity, the God-Man satisfied perfect justice even as He became perfect mercy. Emptying Himself of His divinity, taking the form of a slave, Jesus Christ, in perfect obedience even unto death on a Cross, made there a perfect sacrifice and oblation of so great merit that it outweighed the sins of the whole world.

Harrowing of Hell We believe that Jesus Christ truly died upon the Cross on the first Good Friday. He was buried in the tomb and descended into Hell, where He proclaimed His victory over death liberating the virtuous from their eternal bonds there. He announced good tidings of His redemption of all men and women, both living and dead, which He had wrought by His willing death and granted them salvation in Himself.

We believe that on the third day Christ rose bodily from the dead as He had foretold, opening Paradise to the saints who had died before His advent, granting them the same joys of eternal life in a resurrected body like His own. Appearing in His glorified body, He submitted Himself to be touched by His disciples; He took food and ate giving every proof of His material reality.

On the fortieth day after the resurrection, Christ ascended into Heaven. Not as He came did He return. He descended as divine, taking on our humanity; He ascended in our humanity taking His place as divine. God came; God-in-man returned. The incarnation has not ceased. Jesus in divine glory has still His human body and mind and soul.

We believe that He ascended into Heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And there, in highest Heaven, He appears as our eternal Advocate before the face of God. He is our great High Priest seated on the throne of God, Who is the perpetual sacrifice for the sins of the world, the one sacrifice with which the Father is well pleased, humanity sinless and perfect, Who has made full satisfaction for our sins. Our salvation depends not only on the act done once for all on Calvary, but on our union with Christ, who in the timelessness of Heaven continually offers Himself sacrificed for sin and consecrated to God, presenting us in union with Himself to the Father.

We believe that Christ will come again in glory. We do not know when that great day of final revelation will come. This knowledge has been withheld from human minds, even from the human mind of the Son Himself. On that day the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the angels with Him; then shall He judge the living and the dead. Those humans who continue to rebel against God, refusing the gift of friendship with the Son, have also chosen everlasting damnation. Those who choose friendship with Him, obeying His commandments and walking in His holy ways, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which shall have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, Who from all eternity proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is to be worshiped and glorified, Who is the Lord and giver of Life, Who has spoken through the Prophets of the Old Testament as well as in manifold places unrecorded by man. It is by His power that material things are made the vehicles of divine grace. It is He Who sanctifies water for the washing away of sins; it is He Who gives power to the baptized in confirmation and to the ordained to act as the representatives of the whole body and of Christ Himself; it is He Who makes present for us in Holy Communion the true Body and Blood of Jesus; And He it is He Who moves sinners to repentance.

The Holy Spirit is the same Spirit of Truth promised by Jesus Christ at His Ascension, guiding the Church into all truth and sanctifying the faithful through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, including the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.

We believe that the Holy Spirit works also outside the Church, in various and sundry cultures through all time. It is the Holy Spirit Who writes on the fleshly tablets of men's hearts before He wrote the Laws of God on tablets of stone and works through unbelievers that they may be brought into friendship with God; indeed, no man, not any Christian, can say that Jesus is Lord but in the Holy Spirit. We see the fruits of the Spirit in many who, through no fault of their own, are without sacramental grace, and we give thanks and praise to the Holy Spirit of God, whose love and power overflow the sacramental channels of His grace to touch all men and women in all places and for all time.

Pentecost We believe that on the fiftieth day after the resurrection the Holy Spirit came upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles and the other faithful disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem, as Christ had promised. And so it came and on that day inaugurated and consecrated the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This body of believers was empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue Christ's work on earth, to preach in His Name, to make disciples of all nations of the world, and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and to absolve sinners. The grace and truth, which were first brought to men in the human nature of Jesus Himself, were now also in the Church, Christ's Mystical Body, in which the Holy Spirit dwells, and in which He works for the salvation and the sanctification of all mankind.

We believe that in the communion of saints, we do not pray alone. There is with us the whole Church — those here on earth striving and suffering, those waiting expectantly in the intermediate state, and those triumphant and glorified in Heaven. As we on earth ask for the intercessions of good people, so in the communion of saints we ask the saints and angels in Heaven, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, to pray for us, even as we venerate them. In the communion of saints, praying for the faithful departed in the intermediate state has always been a great concern of the Church on earth.

We believe that there are two Sacraments instituted by Christ and generally necessary for salvation, i.e., Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist. In Holy Baptism we are adopted by God as His children and are made members of Christ's Mystical Body the Church, and through which we also become inheritors of God's kingdom. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament by which Christ's sacrifice is made present in time and space and in which we are united to Him in His eternal offering of Himself in Heaven, and through which our sins are forgiven, our union with our Lord and one another is strengthened, and we are given a foretaste of Heaven.

We believe that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to accept five other Sacraments: confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.

We believe that after the consecration at the Holy Eucharist, and apart from reception, the sacred Body and the precious Blood of Jesus Christ are truly and really present in the Blessed Sacrament under the appearance of bread and the wine. And where Christ's Body or Christ's Blood are, there is the whole Christ Himself, our Lord and our God, in His glorified humanity and His eternal divinity. It is this whole Christ, truly human and truly divine, whom we receive in the Blessed Sacrament. And as Christ wills to give Himself to us, we must adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament with true spiritual worship, lifting up our hearts, and glorifying Him with angels and archangels and with all the company of Heaven. This adoration will show itself also in outward form as we exhibit our awe and reverence for nothing less than the Presence of the Lord.

We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain all things necessary to salvation and are infallibly true in matters of faith, morals, and order in the Church. We accept the Sacred Scriptures according to that sense in which the Catholic Church has always held them, who alone is the final arbiter of their true sense and meaning, according to the consentient teaching of the ancient Fathers and the undivided Church. We accept by faith the first eight General Councils of the Church: Jerusalem (c. 50), Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553), Constantinople III (680), and Nicea II (787).

The true Catholic Faith, which we now freely profess and sincerely hold, we promise, vow and swear with God's help to hold and profess whole and entire to the end of our lives. So help us God. Amen.