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We Stand Together as One People

During this Year of Faith, we will blog reflections and stories to accompany you on your faith journey.
“I believe in one God….I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ….I believe in the Holy Spirit…” -Nicene Creed
I once served on a team leading a pre-Lenten retreat at a university in New Jersey. We met daily with students for a 45-minute spiritual conversation. One student companion, in a doctoral chemistry program, struggled with being both a person of faith and a scientist. She felt her colleagues would think less of her if they knew she was a practicing Catholic. She prayed for courage.
Following the retreat, I received an email from her. On Ash Wednesday, she had gone to noon Mass and then returned to the lab, where she was tempted to wash off her ashes. She decided not to and hoped no one would notice. Another graduate assistant said, “You have some dirt on your face.” She replied, “Today’s Ash Wednesday.” When her colleague asked, “You don’t believe in that stuff, do you?” she responded, “Yes, I do believe.”
The collective “I” becomes “we”
At the death of Lazarus, Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He then asks her, “Do you believe this?” Martha answers, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:27). The Greek text indicates that Martha placed a certain emphasis upon the personal pronoun “I.”
During Mass, we stand together as one people to profess the Nicene Creed, a summary of the truths of our faith. In the new edition of the Roman Missal, “We believe” is changed to “I believe.” I can’t be part of the “we” without personally coming to faith in Christ. In the liturgical act of professing our faith, the collective “I” becomes “we” as we are transformed into the body of Christ.
Find strength in community
As Catholics, we are invited to both a personal relationship with Christ and a communal one in unity with all believers. My personal relationship with God is to be manifested in the community that is the Church, and I am energized by that relationship to be Christ for the world.
My student companion found courage in our faith conversations and in the community gathered at the Ash Wednesday liturgy. The faith the young scientist assented to was our faith, the faith of the Church. The “I” becomes “we” as we stand together as one people and proclaim one faith in one voice.
Suggestions for Prayer:
– How have my struggles, and even my doubts, led me to deeper faith in Jesus Christ?
– Reflect on John 11:17-27 and hear Jesus ask you: “Do you believe?” Pray the Nicene Creed as your own personal “Yes, Lord, I do believe.”
Reprinted with permission from Living with Christ. For more information or to subscribe, visit or call 1-800-214-3386.
Sr. Terry is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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