When was it that “I believe” was changed to “We believe” in the Creed? 1975, I think. Well, I have a little confession to make. Ever since then, when saying the Creed at Mass, I have never said “We believe”; I have always continued to say “I believe”.
It was a step too far for me. I just decided I wasn’t going to do it. The Latin original said “Credo”, not “Credimus”, and that first person singular was good enough for me. I remember attending a Lenten retreat that year at the Cenacle in Liverpool. One of my former teachers was there too: a woman full of character, and very forthright in her views. Her attitude to the change was of a “stuff and nonsense” pithiness.
I suppose the translators (Hah!) wanted to emphasise the sense of community at Mass. But in this instance they decided to emphasise it at the expense of accuracy.
Much more importantly and seriously, they took away from each individual in the congregation the sense of personal focus, of personal commitment to the truths professed in the Creed. I cannot possibly speak for a single other person; not one. Nor can they for me. In fact, I shouldn’t be at all surprised if many of those attending disbelieve one or more of the Creed’s statements.
But then, they can’t be said actually to be lying, can they? None of us can. After all, none of them is saying “I believe”. In a sense, “We believe” is meaningless.
Now, after all these years of staging my personal (and probably entirely unnoticed) rebellion, I look forward with joy to this coming Autumn, when each of us stands before the Lord at Mass, and says “I believe”. By the grace of God, may it send a frisson through us, in heart and mind and soul.