of the same substance

Many years ago, long before YouTube and Twitter, almost before the dawn of television, Pope John XXIII opened the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. Commonly known as Vatican II it literally turned liturgy on its head by changing the language spoken to the vernacular (the native language or dialect of a place.) Almost overnight the Roman Missal was translated into a multitude of languages, including English.



The Council opened on October 11, 1962 and closed on December 8, 1965. This was the sixties, when our country and our culture were radically and drastically altered. Many who were involved in the translation of the Latin into English pushed for an interpretation of the liturgical language that would be relevant, familiar, and easily understood by everyone. In translating the Creed, the Latin word “consubstantialem” involved considerable debate. The direct translation “consubstantial” was unfamiliar; a word that few understood so the phrase “one in Being with the Father” was used instead. And for over 40 years we, as Catholics, have been repeating the phrase, generally without considering what it meant.Twenty-one Ecumenical Councils earlier, at the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) the Bishops were in the midst of a debate concerning the very essence of Jesus, the Son of God. There were those who believed that Jesus was not divine, not God, but rather a very special creation of God, a super-human creature who resembled God but was not God. This view was promoted by a priest named Arius and is known as the Arian heresy. The Council of Nicaea was called to combat this heresy and the primary product of the Council was what we call today the Nicene Creed.

When we recite the Nicene Creed at Mass we say “begotten, not made” specifically because we believe that Jesus is not a creation of God but is “true God from true God.” The Bishops who debated and responded to the Arian heresy used the Greek word “homoousion” — which means of the same essence; in Latin the word was “consubstantialem” — to express the Divinity of Christ.

The council stated unequivocally that Jesus was neither like the Father nor nearly the same as the Father but was consubstantial (of the same substance) with the Father. The phrase “one in Being with the Father” fails to carry the same meaning as consubstantial. God is the creator of everything that was, that is, and that will ever be. Because of this we could say that all He has created is one in being with Him.

Clearly Jesus is not God’s creation so we must look at how to more fully express the relationship of the Father and the Son. The Council of Nicaea made this very clear, so we now say “…begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…”

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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