The many faces of St. Francis from the Basilica

Why a Credenda?

Our Lord called to St. Francis, "build up my Church, for it is falling into decay."  Francis came to understand this calling as our Lord's command to champion Catholic Faith and Order against those who had eroded the Church through disloyalty, unbelief, and worldliness.  Francis, therefore, demanded that each aspirant to his Order give evidences of whole-hearted acceptance of the Catholic Faith.

Our times are not too different from those of St. Francis.  Today, as then, many of those whom the Church might rightly expect to be her chief supporters are disloyal or disaffected through worldliness and unbelief.

Therefore, after the example of our holy father, St. Francis, the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion requires all Novices, prior to their profession, to give written acceptance and obedience to the Holy Catholic Faith as contained in the following Credenda.

San Damiano Cross

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 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.

The Holy TrinityWe believe that God is one God in three Persons. That is to say: within the Godhead there is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not three Gods. God is one God only. The three persons are eternally together. They are distinct from each other in person, but one in nature, and always united in thought and will and action, and in their mutual love.

We believe that God the Father made all things through God the Son who is the Word of God. We believe that his work of creation is a work of love and goes on continually. Nothing can be made, and nothing can remain, without the will of God making it and maintaining it.

In his love God created angels and men. 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, both spiritual and bodily. 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 of his creatures, the power of choosing to obey his will or of choosing to disobey. All things else are as God wills them to be, and therefore fulfil the purpose he had 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 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 glory, 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 deliberately, using their will in opposition to God's will. Before God they were guilty, because they were responsible for their own acts, being free agents.

We believe that man cannot undo his disobedience by himself and return to God. Every man enters the world, not as God meant him to be, but with his soul darkened, and his will weak to choose the right. And the inherited weakness within man opened the door for the entrance of evil influences, so that in every generation man has renewed the fall individually, by sinful self-pleasing and 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, out of all the nations of the world, 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 race is written in the Old Testament.

We believe that when the time of preparation was fulfilled, God sent forth his only begotten Son, begotten before all time, 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 was incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This child of Mary still was God, as he had been from all eternity; but now he was God made man. He was the same Person as before, but now he was as truly human as divine. Jesus Christ was one Person, having two natures.

And, having become man, he has never laid aside the human nature which he took into union with his Godhead. He is the link 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 perfectly righteous and true, as well as perfectly loving and merciful. Man had sinned, and by sin had done injury and outrage to God's glory. Justice required that the sinner should himself atone for his sin. Forgiveness by God, in the sense of letting man off his punishment, might be merciful, but would not satisfy truth and justice. It was, therefore, out of love that the Father sent his only begotten Son into the world, and it was out of love that the Son came to be a willing sacrifice in payment for sins. He came to do for man what man must do, but could not do for himself. By joining himself with all humanity, justice was satisfied. Humanity having divine strength did what man in his own weakness could not do. The perfect obedience even unto death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, was of so great merit that it outweighed all the debt that mankind owes to God.

We believe that Jesus Christ died upon the Cross on the first Good Friday. He was buried in the tomb and he passed to the abode of the dead, where he proclaimed the good tidings of the redemption which he had wrought by his death, and he offered them salvation in himself.

We believe that on the third day Christ rose bodily from the dead, as he had foretold. Indeed, if Christ had not risen bodily we would be without guarantee of the truth of any of his words. And it was no spiritualistic manifestation, but a real appearing oft repeated of the risen Lord in his glorified body. He submitted himself to be touched and handled by them; he took food and ate it before them; giving every proof of the reality of his risen body, and of his identity with the Jesus whom they had known and loved.

On the fortieth day after the resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven. Not as he came, did he return. He descended to take our humanity; he ascended in our humanity. 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 sat down on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And there, in highest heaven, he appears before the face of God on our behalf. 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, that has made full satisfaction for 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 with glory. We do not know when that great day of final revelation will come. The 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 sit on the throne of glory judging the living and the dead. The wicked will go into everlasting damnation and the righteous into his kingdom 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 worshipped and glorified, who is the Lord and giver of Life. 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. He it is who moves sinners to repentance.

The Holy Spirit is also the spirit of truth, guiding the Church into all truth and sanctifying the faithful through the gifts and fruits of the spirit which are joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, and temperance, including the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.

We believe that the Holy Spirit works also outside the Church, speaking in time past through the Prophets of the Old Testament. In our time he works through unbelievers that they may be brought into the Church, for no man 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.

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. Christ had promised them: Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you. And so it came to pass on that day and the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church began. 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 from all the 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 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 in expectant rest in the intermediate state, and those triumphant and glorified in heaven. And here on earth we ask for the intercessions of good people, so in the communion of saints, we believe that it is natural to honor and ask the Saints and Angels in heaven, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, to pray for us. 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. Indeed the Church, in encouraging prayers for the departed, has only given its sanction to what is a powerful instinct of the heart of man.

We believe that there are two Sacraments instituted by Christ and generally necessary for salvation, i.e., Holy Baptism and the 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, to wit: confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.

We believe that after the consecration, and apart from reception, the sacred Body and the precious Blood of Jesus Christ are really present in the Blessed Sacrament under the forms of the 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.  Classical Anglicanism has affirmed this truth without trying to define the Mystery.

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. And this adoration will show itself also in outward form. Since we are sacraments, our bodies as well as our souls have their duty of worship; and not less when we worship our Lord in his sacramental presence.

We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain all things necessary to salvation and are the basis of authority in matters of faith, order and morals in the Church. We accept them according to that sense which the Catholic Church has held and does hold them, to whom alone it appertains to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; neither will we ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the consentient teaching of the ancient Fathers and the undivided Church. We also reject any doctrine contrary to God's Holy Scriptures and in worship we likewise reject all attempts to de-sex God or to rewrite Scriptures and worship in an all inclusive language format.

In addition, we accept the Canons of the Seven Oecumenical Councils, to wit: Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (A.D. 381), Ephesus (A.D. 431), Chalcedon (A.D. 451), Constantinople II (A.D. 553), Constantinople III (A.D. 680), and Nicea II (A.D. 787).

Lastly, we believe in the resurrection of the body. At Christ's second coming all men shall rise again with their own bodies. It is because we know that Christ rose from the dead that we are assured that we shall rise in like manner. Those who are justified in Christ will be united with him in eternal life, and taken into heaven, where all sin and all the effects of sin have been done away, and our union with God is made perfect. Then, in his unveiled glory and holiness, we shall see him as he is, and share, body and soul, in the joy of the Lord in which the angels and the saints now rejoice exceedingly.

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.

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© 2006 The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion. All rights reserved.