Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Visible and Invisible"

I'm starting a new section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church today, the one titled, " 'I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.' " Here's how it starts:
"The Apostles' Creed professes that God is 'Creator of heaven and earth.' The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes 'all that is, seen and unseen.'

"The Scriptural expression 'heaven and earth' means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: 'the earth' is the world of men, while 'heaven' or 'the heavens' can designate both the firmament and God's own 'place'-'our Father in heaven' and consequently the 'heaven' too which is eschatological glory. Finally, 'heaven' refers to the saints and the 'place' of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.186..."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 325-326)


"Eschatological" is a 14-letter word meaning "of or relating to or dealing with or regarding the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world." (Princeton's WordNet) Although the words sound a little alike, at least in my dialect of English, "eschatological" has little or nothing to do with with "scatological:" "dealing pruriently with excrement and excretory functions" (Princeton's WordNet): apart from an ancient Greek root.

Moving on.

English isn't the Official Language of the Catholic Church

As an organization, the Catholic Church is about two thousand years old.

During the first few centuries, around the Mediterranean Sea, Latin and Greek were sort of like English and French are today: If you walked into a city, the odds were pretty good that you'd find someone who spoke one or the other. Or both. I've been over this sort of thing before:
By the time my Lord made Peter the first Pope (Matthew 16:13-19 and all that), what we call the Old Testament had been accumulating for several thousand years. That's why documentation in the Catholic Church tends to be in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, with some Aramaic and other languages. English, the sort we speak now, is only a few hundred years old. More topics.

The point is that, although the Church provides the Bible and other documents in my native language: those are translations. And translations can be more - or less - accurate. Yet more topics.

The Nicene Creed: Not Written in English

Take the second sentence in that excerpt, for example:
"The Apostles' Creed professes that God is 'Creator of heaven and earth.' The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes 'all that is, seen and unseen.'"
(Catechism, 325) [emphasis mine]
The Catechism, English translation, almost got the sort of creative translation that gave us the 'liturgical two-step' back in the 'spirit of Vatican II' days: and that's yet again another topic. The translation we've got is okay: but it doesn't have the latest corrections that were made in the liturgy.

More about that:
I've been over this before:

Translating: Imaginatively and Otherwise

The Nicene Creed, English translation, used to start out with:
"We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen....
("Changes in the People's Parts," via
Now that we've got a translation that's more accurate than the earlier attempt, the Nicene Creed starts:
"I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible....
("Changes in the People's Parts," via
Here's part of the explanation for why using an accurate translation is important:
"This Creed was originally adopted at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 and updated at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. It is therefore also referred to as the 'Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.'

"The first major change is difficult to miss: the Creed will now say 'I believe' instead of 'We believe.' Other language groups have been using 'I believe' in the vernacular, because it is a straightforward translation of the Latin 'Credo.' This offers a recurring opportunity to reaffirm one's personal faith, just as when individuals respond, 'I do,' if there is a renewal of baptismal promises during Mass.

"The next change is from 'seen and unseen' to 'visible and invisible.' The Latin 'visibilium' and 'invisibilium' convey a more specific demarcation between the bodily and the spiritual realms. For instance, a child playing hide-and-seek may be unseen yet is still considered visible, whereas one's guardian angel is indeed invisible by nature...."
(Commentary on the Order of the Mass, "Changes in the People's Parts," via

"Unseen" isn't Necessarily "Invisible"

Maybe changing "Credo/I believe" to "we believe" is 'minor.' I don't think so: but I also think that there's a difference between one person and a crowd.

As for "seen and unseen" to "visible and invisible:" again, maybe it's subtle. I think it depends on a person's point of view. Me? I think that things are still visible, even when I close my eyes and can't see them. If something's invisible: I think I won't see it, whether my eyes are online or not.

Slightly-related posts:


Brigid said...

Missing the first letter of the sentence: ""he Apostles' Creed professes that"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Fixed, ('He, he.')

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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