My recent review for The Catholic Register:
In this Year of Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has encouraged Catholics to learn more about what they believe. What better way to do this than start with the basic prayer of our beliefs, the Creed.
Have you ever said a prayer without feeling or conviction, perhaps because it’s an ancient prayer? James Forsyth has written a book that will help Catholics recite the Apostles’ Creed meaningfully.
“Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals Himself and gives Himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Forsyth challenges us to take the Creed and make it ours personally. To do so we must first understand it better. This, I believe (pun intended), is the purpose of this useful and timely new book.
Like the Creed itself, this book should be read carefully and reflectively. In this way, the reader can more fully understand the faith as “he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life,” and how to personally live faith as a response to God. Forsyth uses two guiding principles in explaining the Creed. First, the idea of “the reciprocal relationship between human nature and divine grace,” from Thomas Aquinas.
Simply put, “the more fully human we become, the better equipped we are to respond to the grace of God.” The next step is “the more we respond to the grace of God, the more fully human we become.”
Secondly, Forsyth asserts,“the principle of the analogy of being between the human and the divine…” that “we can understand something about God by examining our human life and experience.” The more we understand these principles, the better our response — and faith — can be.
For Forsyth, belief has consequences. “I believe, therefore I am a somebody,” he writes.
“For all of us, the Creed is a voice that is well worth listening to. Of all the voices vying for our attention, the Creed tells us, at the most fundamental level, who we are and how we should live, what we should do and what is important. The Creed gives us as believers an identity,” argues Forsyth. Now, more than ever, with secularism, its subjective truth and a lack of the sense of sin, Catholics need this sense of identity.
Connecting our beliefs to our experience can improve our understanding of the Apostles’ Creed, as well as our Catholic faith.
“We must take personal responsibility for our belief in God and our personal belief in God implies that we are making God the most important thing in our lives,” he writes.
The new evangelization challenges us not only to learn more about our faith, but to share our faith. While we can try to understand in an academic way, it is only when we apply our faith to our personal lives (as a response to God) that we begin to live it. Lived faith is always shared with others.
Readers of I Believe: The Creed and You will never recite the words of the Apostles’ Creed without thinking of the importance of the Catholic faith in their lives. It is an ideal and timely book for this Year of Faith.