I want to thank the Lord that everything went well last weekend and this past week at our Masses. I received a few emails from parishioners thanking me and the staff, and how nice it was to be back in church.
Just a couple things as we move forward:
We’re learning as we go
This is all strange and new for all of us. We all want to be able to return to normalcy. It will take some time for this. In the mean time, let’s ask our Lady’s intercession for a vaccine and an end to the COVID-19. As we observe how things are going, we will probably make some adjustments. Please keep in touch with the parish website for updates.
Communion on the hand
Our bishop has asked us, for the time being, to receive Communion on the hand. There are some voices out there that are claiming the bishops have no right to do this. First of all, the choice of receiving on the hand or on the tongue is what we call universal church law. In other words, normally, that is up to the communicant. Fr. Timothy Olson, a canonist for the Diocese of Fargo and the secretary of the Canon Law Society of America, told CNA that a bishop does have the authority to restrict the distribution of Holy Communion to in the hand alone, when it is a matter of necessity.
Feast of the Most Holy Trinity
The front cover of the bulletin displays an ancient icon which was originally called “The Hospitality of Abraham,” however, over time it has become known as “Andrei Rublev’s Trinity” after the artist who wrote the icon.
This icon is taken from the Book of Genesis, where Abraham greets three strangers, who are angels or messengers sent from heaven to see what is happening on the earth.
Now you might say, why did God send messengers? Does He not know everything that is happening in the universe? Yes, He does. However, in the ancient text, the author of Genesis reminds us that God sends His messengers to represent Him.
The early church fathers saw in this story a prefiguring or a “type” of the Holy Trinity. Typology was a theological and mystical way of seeing in the Old Testament signs or what was to come – three angels, three persons in the Blessed Trinity. The fathers saw no accidents or coincident, all of Scripture had a deeper meaning – and that meaning always pointed to Christ and God’s plan of salvation.
A Simple Way to Explain the Trinity
I recently had some of my students ask me What is the Trinity? Is God the same as Jesus? These questions are always asked by someone who is exploring faith in Jesus. After all, they’re good questions. And confusing ones. God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. One God?
Most Christians are puzzled by the Trinity, and therefore, can’t explain it very well. Let’s change that!
First, to think we will ever fully understand the Trinity is to make the mistake of thinking God is fully understandable. God is infinite. He is beyond us. Trying to “fully understand” God is like a 2-year-old trying to “fully understand” the complexities of relationships, marriage, and parenting! Believe it or not, the fact that God is too immense for our finite minds should be comforting, not discouraging! If God was small enough for my brain to fully understand, He wouldn’t be big enough to save me!” The authors of the Bible understood this. That’s why they wrote words like we find in Job 11:7-8, “Can you fathom the depths of God or discover the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?” For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The Simplest – but Still Clear – Explanation for the Trinity
The Trinity is the foundational Christian belief that God is one Being who exists in three Persons.”
Unpacking the Truth
The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. But that doesn’t mean the concept isn’t clearly taught. The early church absolutely believed and taught the belief in a God who was three-in-one.
The other thing we need to remember is that Christianity is not a head-religion, not a philosophy and not simply a bunch of rules or teachings, it is an experiential faith. In other words, the Trinity to be “understood” must be experienced. So that means we need to have a relationship with the Father, with the Son and with the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to focus briefly on the Holy Spirit since we just celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. As I mentioned before, God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can never be fully understood. But God the Blessed Trinity has revealed Himself to us. As with any aspect of the Christian faith, we must consent, we must, of our own free will invite God into our hearts. The story is told of St. Augustine walking along the seashore of Hippo, North Africa, pondering the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Suddenly he saw a little boy with a bucket go into the sea and scooping up some sea water and pouring it into a hole on the beach. When asked by St. Augustine what he was doing, the boy responded, “I am emptying the sea into this hole.” Augustine said, “that is impossible,” and the boy turned to Augustine and said, “And so it is impossible for you to completely understand the Holy Trinity.”
So again, faced with our tiny brains, trying to understand the One who created the heavens and the earth, rather than trying to fry our brains to figure this mystery out, we must first, accept by faith, and then ask the Lord, the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and to invite Him into our hearts. We see and experience the Holy Spirit by recognizing His presence and His activity.
The Sequence for Pentecost
On the Feasts of Easter, Pentecost and the Body and Blood of Christ, there is a “sequence” a liturgical poem that follows the 2nd reading of Mass.
Here are some of the words to the Sequence:
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.
You can see in the words of this ancient liturgical poem the revelations of how we can “experience” the Holy Spirit. “Come with treasures which endure… Bend the stubborn heart and will…” In all this we “know” that God is truth, that He is with us, that He exists, because He reveals Himself to the humble and those who open their hearts and lives to Him, and we recongnize Him by the fruits in our lives and in others.
May that be our experience this weekend as we celebrate our parish feast day, the Feast of the Most Blessed and Holy Trinity.