Thursday, May 31, 2012

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit"

We have come to the end of the Easter Season and are about to begin what is called Ordinary Time when we reflect on the three-year long public ministry of Jesus. But before we do so we are given the special feast we are celebrating today, June 3, 2012: Trinity Sunday. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

An Unfathomable Mystery

The great apostolic commission revealed in this Sunday's Gospel implies a service that is pastoral: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations"; liturgical: "baptizing them"; prophetic: "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you"; and guaranteed by the Lord's closeness, until the end of time. And all in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio puts it our plain and simply. The Holy Trinity has always been a difficult doctrine to swallow. In a sense this is asking the impossible. So how do we understand the trinity? We don't, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains. God, by definition, is ineffable, beyond conceptualization, beyond imagination, beyond language. It is more to do with worship than understanding.

Fr. James Gilhooley attempts an explanation anyway. The sun is 80 million miles away from us right now. The rays coming through the window are coming from the sun. The delightful heat we are enjoying on our bodies right now come from a combination of the sun and its rays. The Trinity is like that. God the Father is that blazing sun. The Son is the rays He sends down to us. Then both combine to send us the Holy Spirit who is the heat. If we understand the workings of the sun, its rays, and heat, why do some still have difficulty believing the Trinity?

Within the Mystery of the Trinity, adds Fr. Joseph Pelligrino, dwells the wonderful belief that God is both close to us and beyond us, Intimate and Transcendent. It is fundamentally a mystery of community. And therefore, Fr. Thomas Rosica reminds us, all of our earthly efforts and activities must work toward building up the human community that is a reflection of God's rich, Trinitarian life.

Through Holy Week, Easter time and Pentecost, we have been shown the face of God, revealing the loving interactions that are the Trinity. Thus quietly, Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us, we have become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” We are to “suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Second Reading). The fledgling early Church of discovered the Trinity not by studying theology books but by experiencing it. Let us do the same.

Baptized in the Name of the Trinity

The final words of Jesus are presented in Sunday's Gospel particularly because of the reference to baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino points out that we are baptized in the name of all three because the disciples of Jesus both benefit from and manifest all three persons of the Trinity. Through the gift of baptism we belong to God, and God belongs to us. With Jesus we can say Our Father. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler O.S.B. says through Jesus and with the Holy Spirit we are at home in God.

Our mandate is to spend our lives living out that Trinity with all others in the world. And that, as Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS points out, is a daunting task filled with grace and power. If all men and women of the entire world obey the order of Christ given by the Church, Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen explains, only then we shall all be able to contemplate one day the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.

Fr. Phil Bloom says Jesus has given us Mary, his mother as our mother. In baptism we not only become children of God, but children of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And just as the Most Blessed Virgin Mary always said "yes" to the Order of God, ever present in her, she can also help us realize the purpose of our existence: to enter an eternal relationship with God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Ultimate Freedom -- Until the End of the World

Freedom does not mean doing what you want, when you want, with whoever you want. That's leads to slavery. True freedom, Fr. Phil Bloom clarifies, means the power to become the one you were meant to be. When we seek worldly joy, we end up miserable. We become slaves to a pleasure that diminishes daily.In God alone - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - will we find ultimate freedom. And "Today," says Daniel Durken, "the Trinity invites us to keep playing with them this delightful game of life and love." And why not, asks Fr. James Gilhooley. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

May this be our most fervent desire on this day: to directly experience the Lord Jesus in the proclamation of the Word and in his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Father Cusick prays that we may declare with supernatural joy: "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia."

Modern Heresies, Isolation & Salvation

In his new book author Ross Douthat uses the word heresy quite correctly to describe a version of the Christian faith that holds an incomplete version of the full truth. One that chooses certain tenets and discards many others which both balance and complete the picture.

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush points out an example. The Catholic Church teaches that it is a heresy to say that we are certain of our own salvation. Yet the Protestants say, “Once saved, always saved.” Theological hope does not so much make us certain that we are to be saved, but rather makes us to be certain that we are on the path of salvation. On top of this we also see today the rise of the therapeutic culture, a trend that has sorely affected faith. At its core, it emphasizes feelings over duties. Religious man was born to be saved, Philip Rieff wrote in 2006, but psychological man is born to be pleased.

Msgr. Charles Pope says these heresies have left us isolated and unfulfilled. He says the challenge we face today is to re-propose the need for the Church which Christ founded. Jesus did not write a book and send us off to study it. He founded a community, a Church, and told us we would find him there, where two or three are gathered in his name. That is where his actual and true words are read and heard, where his true body and blood are offered and received.

Papal Authority & Infallibility

From the Reformation onward, Protestant Christians have fallen into the trap of Restorationism. This is the idea that the existing church has become corrupt and departed from the true gospel and that a new church that is faithful to the New Testament can be created. These sincere Christians then attempt to ‘restore’ the church by creating a new church. The problem is, each new group of restorationists invariably create a church of their own liking determined by their contemporary cultural assumptions. They then imagine that the early church was like the one they have invented.

The way to find freedom, their thinking goes, is to ditch the institution and create a spirituality and moral code that works for you. To modern ears, this all sounds right. But is it true? Jennifer Fulwiler encourages everyone who has left the Church or is thinking about it, to consider five important questions to ask themselves before abandoning the Catholic faith.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker points out that the Catholic Church is today what she has always been. Her leadership is unapologetically monarchical and hierarchical. Her teaching authority is centralized and universal, and the pope is what he has always been, the universal pastor of Christ’s Church, the steward of Christ’s kingdom and the Rock on which Christ builds his Church. And infallible? In a related article, Fr. Dwight Longenecker also explains that the last thing to remember is that this infallible teaching authority has nothing to do with the sinfulness of the Pope or any other individual Catholic. Infallibility is about the competence and charism to teach the truth–not the competence and charism to abide by it. Moses was a sinner, but he gave us the Ten Commandments.

Family, Divorce & Social Teaching

Children of divorced parents carry baggages that haunt them well into adulthood. Fr. Antonio Lopez reflects on the link between the human image and the divine origin, which draws every child ultimately back to God the Father. By severing the child from his or her origins in love, divorce puts the child’s “filial” identity into question, and together with it, the goodness of his or her existence.

But as Christians, we persevere. Jennifer and Greg Willits' new book “The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living” is directed to anyone trying to live the Catholic faith, and struggling through the pitfalls of human weakness. Their goal: Evangelization -- One Family at a Time. And this brings to mind this tale shared by Paul Dion, STL. He talks about a wild-haired, shoeless college student and this important lesson learned from his story: "You may be the only Bible some people will ever read!"

But there are glimmers of hope. Considering all of the negative influences in television, film, music and sports, it‘s rare to find a positive role model who’s willing to boldly go against societal norms. Enter Lolo Jones, the 29-year-old track and field star who’s been getting a fair bit of press since tweeting earlier this year that she’s a virgin. And we have evangelist Bo Sanchez who shares felling depressed, a few years back as he dealt with personal trials, conflicts in his Catholic community, plus a number of personal trials as well. Then he found the answer. He chose to be happy.

Bringing the Cristero War to the Big Screen

For Greater Glory is a movie that depicts the Cristero War in Mexico. The movie tells the untold story of the Mexican government persecution of the Catholic Church in the1920s. A reported 60,000 people died during the struggle to defend the faith. This sentiment is stirring emotions today in the US as the US government assaults religious freedom as we know it. Catholic leaders are recommending that everyone see ithis movie. The film features actors Andy Garcia, Peter O’Toole, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui. It will debut June 1 in the U.S. We hope to see you all at the movies this weekend.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Sign of the Cross - what is its meaning?
FEATURED BLOG: 10 Questions 7-year-old Catholics should be able to answer
PASTORAL HISPANA: La fiesta de La Santisima Trinidad

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