I ask this because I am in a young adult Catholic group and I notice when we say this creed sometimes instead of the Nicene Creed, a lot of members later ask what does it mean “he descended into hell?” They take it literally like Jesus was sent into Hell and torment for three days for something and suffered and some lay Catholic don’t understand that what this is referring to is his descent into Sheol, to free the spirits from before his coming. I feel like a lot of people say it and while they say that line don’t understand what they are saying and at times may get confused about it. I just want a good response if there is any, on how to react when people ask me what exactly it means? I am not even sure I have a sufficient answer, but I think from what I read it is referring to the Harrowing of the souls who had died before his atonement for sin. Is that how it is regarded? Because it seems like young people get this impression from saying it that Jesus did something wrong and he went to hell for three days or something.
Well, we have the Old English belief of the Harrowing of Hell (which is more or less the Limbo of the Fathers). The text in Latin says descendit ad infernos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis, and infernus means Hell (I don’t know much Latin, so I may be wrong).
We have two modern Catholic versions that are worth pointing out.
*]The Catechism (CCC) says: He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
*]The Mass of the Roman Rite says: He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead
The English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC) is an ecumenical group and it says:
*]was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to the dead.
I don’t really think it matters, so long as one understands that Jesus didn’t go to the “unquenchable fiery” Hell.
Seems the solution to that is for them to learn what it means, not for the Church to *change *the Creed. So you can point them to the Catechism, which explains it.
The Catechism explains it. So, just point them there. Killing two birds with one stone-- introducing them to the Catechism as the place to go when they don’t understand something AND clearing up this particular misunderstanding.
Honestly, I’m not of the opinion that things should be changed just because folks don’t understand them. That smacks too much of conforming things to ignorance, rather than conforming minds to education. This is especially true in our information age, where the etymology of the word hell is just a few keystrokes away, and anyone who has the will to ask can find answers.
If someone asked me, I would just say, “The word hell here just means underworld or where the dead live. You can read more about this in the Catechism, starting around CCC 631.”
And in fact, that IS the amended version.
The previous version said “to the dead.”
He did go all the way to the bottom of Sheol (Hell) to show the Demons he was victorious over them.
I thought that God did not move? But here you say that God went to the bottom of Sheol?
You’re right. Techno doesn’t understand the creeds actual language and meaning.
CA’s apologists answer correctly here.
Why did Christ visit hell after his death?