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Father Michael

Pastor's Letter 20190606 - 6 June 2019 - Holy Trinity

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16 July 2019

A Message from Father † Michael

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Feast of the Blessed Trinity

Today’s Theme:  The Indefinable Mystery of God

The feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced into the regular liturgy in the ninth century but was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the fourteenth.  Today, the veneration of the Trinity is found throughout the liturgy. The Holy Mass, the Divine Office and the Sacraments begin with: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”   All the Psalms and many Hymns conclude with a doxology: “Glory Be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit....” Many standard prayers and homilies also begin and end in honor of the three Divine Persons. Constantly, the Church gives us opportunities to praise and adore God, Who has shown mercy towards us in that He has given us a share in His life.

Today, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, let us hold fast to our faith—for each of us longs to be one with God for all eternity, beholding the His glorious, beatific vision in heaven. Let us view our existence on earth as a transitory state—simply a mysterious “way station” on our way to everlasting glory!

A Sense of God

Faith is not some kind of autosuggestion. It is the grace of a mysterious encounter with that Eternal Someone. It is beyond reasoning and emotion, but these may be present to. We can grasp God with our minds and with our senses,. In fact, we can do it with our whole being. We are talking not just about an intellectual conviction about God, but a sense—a feeling—of God. What a wonderful experience that is! Happy are those who have a sense of God and of His presence in their lives! Those are the only form of riches worth having, after all. When people know something—really know it, deep in their hearts, they don’t have to argue about it, or prove. They just know it. That is the way faith works. One may contradict all prevailing “opinion, or “accepted wisdom,” and yet still possess an intimate certitude about his or her beliefs that is transcendent. One believes with the heart, without knowing why or even seeking to know.

In his “Confessions,” Augustine wrote about what it took him a lifetime to realize—God’s presence within us is the greatest blessing of all:

“Beauty, how late have I loved you. O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new!  How late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside And it was there that I searched for You. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things You created.
You were with me, but I was not with You. Created things kept me from You;
Yet if they had not been in You, They would have no being at all. Why do I ask You to come to me When, unless You were with me, I would have no being either.”

We meet God not just in the world outside us, but in the world within us, and find that He is closer to us that we suspected. He is part of us. Paul said: “In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17;28.) God is like a biographer whose job is to tell the story while staying in the background. We must remember that God is everywhere present— omniprescient, but until we discover Him within us He will always be remote from us, perhaps appearing unfriendly or uncaring. For many God’s silence is a big problem! But a “loud and evident’ God would be a “bully,” an insecure tyrant, instead of, as He is, a bottomless encouragement to our faltering and frightened being. God is the only One to Whom we can surrender without losing ourselves.... And, once we have truly experienced God within us, loneliness will never be a problem, because we will know that we are never alone. And we will see creation as the work of an Artist—indeed the Great Architect of the Universe (“Freemasons will recall the acronym, “GAOTU’ from their rituals)—Who is our Friend. One God in three persons—a God Who is within us and yet is utterly beyond us—indeed is a great mystery...but it is a mystery of love.

God is greater that all of us. We can never fully comprehend God. We struggle to understand even our physical world, so how could we possibly understand the meta-physical? Only the gift of wisdom can help us understand the ways of God, but even then, we are hindered by our human weakness. People can purport to possess and know the “truths of faith,” and yet not know God. That conundrum is the very reason we must cleave to Jesus Christ, as our intercessor!

Historical Development

The Greek Church fathers always began from the one God and Father, Who, for them, as for the New Testament, was “THE” God. They defined the relationship of God the Father to Son and Spirit in the light of this one God and Father. It is as if we have a star, which gives its light to a second star(“light of light, God of God,”) and finally to a third. But to our human eyes, all three stars appear, one after the other, as only one star.

Augustine (354-430 A.D.,) differed completely: instead of beginning from one God and Father, he began from the one nature of God, or divine substance, which was common to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.(For the Latin theologians, the principle of unity was not the Father but the one divine nature, or substance.) To develop the illustration above, three stars do not shine one after the other, but side by side in a triangle at the same level; here, the first and second stars together give light to the third.

Augustine used psychological categories in a new way. He saw a similarity between the threefold God and the three-dimensional human spirit: between the father and the memory; between the Son and the intelligence; and between the Spirit and the will. In the light of this analogy, the Trinity could be interpreted as follows:

The Son is “begotten” from the Father “according to the intellect.” The Father “knows” and “begets” the Son in His own word and image. But the Spirit “proceeds” from the Father (as the lover) and the Son(as the beloved) “according to the will.” The Spirit is the love between Father and Son become person; He has proceeded from both the Father and the Son.  (It was this Latin “filioque,” which proved to be the great stumbling block for the Greeks. Their view was the Spirit proceeded only from the Father.)

Augustine made an intellectual construction of the Trinity with philosophical and psychological categories in an extremely subtle way as a self— unfolding of God.  Here, the words, “And the Son,” seemed so essential that in the West, from the sixth/seventh century, it was gradually inserted into the Creed. It was required by the German emperors after Charlemagne, and was definitively inserted by Rome into the ancient Creed in 1014 A.D. But even today, the East still regards this filioque as a falsification of the old ecumenical creed and a clear heresy. (This distinction is NOT an article of faith for most Christians, however, in spite of its historical significance.)

In the 1950s, the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, on his television program “Life is worth living,” publicly postulated the relationship of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity to the viewing public. His wonderful “chalk-talks” were almost riveting in their concept and presentation. (I recall fondly the many broadcasts I enjoyed with my family, growing up in Lincoln, NE during the fifties and sixties. Sheen was a master of making the complex into usable simplicity!)

In his talk, entitled, “The Divine Romance (1930,) he stated:

“The Trinity is the answer to the questions of Plato. If there is only one God, what does He think about? He thinks an eternal thought, or about His Eternal Son. If there is only one God, whom does He love? He loves His Son, and that mutual love is the Holy Spirit. I firmly believe that the great philosopher was fumbling about for the mystery of the Trinity, for his great mind seemed in some small way to suspect that an infinite being must have relations of thought and love, and that God cannot be conceived without thought and love. But it was not until the word became Incarnate that man knew the secret of those relations and the inner life of God.” *

Sheen’s soft-spoken focus has become an inspiration for me in my own preaching ministry. Like him, my goal is to bring Christ’s message of love to everyone, in an easy-to-comprehend and relatively pertinent way. In that way, our Holy Catholic Faith becomes usable in daily life. We will be, at once “in” the world, but not “of” the world, in our walk toward eternal salvation. It is this purpose to which I have dedicated my entire life.

The feast of the Blessed Trinity must be understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of God. As the solemn expression of our faith, this triune life of the Divine Persons, has been made accessible to us by our Baptism and redemption by Christ. Only in heaven shall we properly understand all that it means, in union with Christ, to share as sons and daughters of the very life of God.

May God Richly Bless You!

To read the entire text of Sheen’s talk, you can find it here: www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord; and ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4-5)

Hymn of Promise.docx

Hymn of Promise.mp3

Edited by Father Michael

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