Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Trinity Sunday--15 June AD 2014

 Albrecht Durer—Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Albrecht Durer—Adoration of the Trinity (1511)

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[Latin Text]
[English Text]
Prayers for Deceased Mother and Father

    On the civil calendar, today is Fathers’ Day—so congratulations to all those of you who are fathers.  If you are fortunate enough to have your father still among the living, this would be a good time to go and visit him, or to give him a call on the phone.  Living or dead, be sure to pray for him.  If your Latin is good, you may have noticed that the third collect today was the Church’s official prayer for deceased mothers and fathers.

    As you heard me say on Mother’s Day, we must not restrict our gratitude to those who are biological fathers.  Indeed, we also honor all those men (and even a few women) who stepped in whenever our biological fathers were unable or unwilling to properly fulfill their roles.

    On the earthly level, we have the example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  We should recall the words of Pope Leo XIII:

        To all fathers of families, [Saint] Joseph is verily the best model of paternal vigilance and care.[1]

    We will say more about the Holy Family this coming January.  But on the Church calendar, today is Trinity Sunday—the celebration of the celebration of the three Divine Persons—the prototype of all fatherhood and all family life. 

“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.”

    That quote was easy to find to begin today's sermon.  There is probably no fragment of the Church's liturgy any more well known than the sign of the Cross—to Catholics and to non-Catholics alike.

    Not only does it indicate that what we are about to do is done in the name of the Trinity, by their authority, so to speak; but it also serves as a brief profession of our Faith.  Every time we make the sign of the Cross, we are acknowledging this essential dogma of Christianity; that there are three Divine Persons, each sharing in the one and undivided nature of God.

    There are not three Gods; only one.  Yet, this one God manifests Himself in three distinct Persons; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  As we hear in the Preface of the Mass, “Not in the unity of a single person, but in the trinity of a single nature.”[2]

    And even though there are three Divine Persons, there is no relationship of “before and after,” or of “inferiority and superiority.”  “That which we believe on Thy revelation concerning Thy glory, That same we believe of Thy Son, that same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or discrimination.”[3]

    Again, as we hear in the Preface, “...we adore distinction in persons, oneness in being, and equality in majesty.”

    I am sure that I have mentioned to you before that while man can know that there is a God through the unaided use of his reasoning powers, the Trinity is something that he would never know if it had not been revealed to him by God.  The theologians refer to such a thing as a “mystery.”  This is not to say that it is unknowable, or illogical, but simply that it is beyond the power of our unaided minds to discover on our own.

    Man can know that there is a God, by examining the works of God around him; he can see the motion and order and perfections in the universe, and know that they must come from some almighty source.  These things are, so to speak, external to God.

    What man cannot see is the Father knowing Himself from all ages in a conception so powerful that it gives rise to the Son.  What man cannot see is the Father and Son loving each other with a love so powerful that it gives rise to the Holy Ghost.  These things are, in human terms, relationships between the three Divine Persons; they are, again so to speak, internal to God.

    But God is good, and wants to share the joy of His own goodness.  He wanted men and angels to know even this internal glory.  So he revealed these thing to them.  To the Angels, such revelation would have been instantaneous.  To man, it had to be communicated in a more gradual fashion.

    In the Old Testament, we hear of the “Spirit of God moving over the waters,”[4]  and of “the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord”[5]  and we hear of the angels in heaven continuously singing the  hymn of threefold praise, “Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory!”[6]

    Yet, these revelations are still unclear.  By themselves, they might be subject to other interpretations.  So in the New Testament, our Lord is much more explicit.  “The Father and I are one.”[7]  “I go to the Father, and I will send you the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate.”[8]  “Baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”[9]  On several occasions, we see the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost physically represented together—and we hear the voice of the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[10]

    And the Church has taken these articles of revelation, and refined them over the centuries—carefully defining them in the language of human philosophy.  Most of the Councils and Creeds of the early Church dealt with just that; clear and concise statements about the members of the Trinity—the documents of Nicea and Constantinople, the Nicean and Athanasian Creeds—proposals of what we must believe in order to call ourselves Catholics.

    We would be very wrong to think of the Trinity as a mere intellectual exercise—as though all of this were nothing more than so much of an exercise in philosophy.

    Our knowledge of the Trinity obligates us, as the Gospel tells us, “to teach all nations,” spreading the knowledge of God to all peoples.   It obligates us to receive Baptism; to Baptize our children; to educate them in the Faith of the Trinity; to provide them with good Catholic God‑parents who will so educate them in the event of our demise.

    But, most of all, it obligates us to return the love of God.  The God who loves us so much that He takes us into His own inner self to reveal the Glory of one God in Three divine Persons.

    “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!  ....How unsearchable His ways!  Who hath known the mind of the Lord?”[11]  The answer to that question is that we have known the mind of the Lord—and we would be terribly ungrateful if we failed to respond with our own love in return.


[1]   Brief Néminem fugit, from the second nocturn of the feast

[2]   Preface of the Trinity.

[3]   Again, the Preface of the Trinity.

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