The Happy Priest Reflects on Trinity Sunday and the Gift of Communion
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Keywords: sunday homily, catholic spirituality, Blessed Trinity, Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. James Farfaglia, Catechism of the Catholic Church, communion, comunio, theology of the body, Christopher West, Blessed Pope John Paul II, Vatican II, Sacrosanctum concilium, litu
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - One day a little boy was playing on the beach. He dug a small hole into the sand. By using a seashell, he began to fill the hole with the ocean water. It did not take too long for the boy to realize that it would be impossible for him to scoop the vast ocean into the small hole that he had dug.
My dear friends, when we consider the mystery of God, we must realize that just like the little boy could not scoop the ocean water into the little hole, in the same way, it would be impossible for us to understand something as immense as the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. As Pope Benedict once said: "God, as the Wholly Other, remains beyond our comprehension" (God and the World, Joseph Ratzinger, p. 267).
The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is clearly revealed to us throughout the New Testament. However, we already get a glimpse into this mystery in the first book of the Bible. "God said, let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves." (Genesis 1: 26). Us? Ourselves? These words reveal to us the nature of God. God is one God, but three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God, not three Gods.
"The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of the truths of faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234).
Many years ago, an elderly Bishop visited a parish of his diocese for Confirmations. Despite the fact that he was losing his hearing, he still continued his custom of quizzing the children on their catechism before the Confirmations.
He asked a young girl to define the Blessed Trinity. The girl was rather nervous and shy, and she softly said: "The Blessed Trinity is one God with three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The Bishop could not hear her answer, so he said: "Speak up, I can't understand you." The girl turned to the Bishop and said: "You can't understand, it is a mystery."
We can look upon God as a communion of persons. We can see the image of God stamped into all of existence. Human nature, marriage, the family, human society and the Church are all icons of the Triune God who is a communion of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Man is a communion because man has been created as male and female. Adam is not complete until the creation of Eve. Pope John Paul II affirmed that "man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion" (Man and Woman He Created Them, A Theology of the Body, John Paul II, p. 163).
The marriage of man and woman is defined as an "intimate community of life and love" (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 48). The intimate life of married spouses is an image of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity. "Authentic married love is caught up into divine love." (The Theology of the Body Explained, Christopher West, p. 362). Moreover, the sacrament of Matrimony can be considered as the prototype of all of the sacraments "because all of the sacraments draw their essential significance and their sacramental power from the spousal love of Christ the Redeemer" (The Theology of the Body Explained, Christopher West, p. 362)
Finally, the family, human society, and of course the Church are, in essence, communities or communions.
As a practical application of these fundamental truths, I would like us to focus our attention this week on our community life within the parish family.
Each parish is a living community of the Universal Church. Pope Benedict says that "the Church is Eucharistic fellowship" (God is Near Us, Joseph Ratzinger, p. 115). I find these words to be quite significant because they indicate that it is not enough just to go to Sunday Mass as a private spectator. Each parish is a community or communion of believers.
As living members of the parish family, we are called not only to worship, but to participate in the community life of the parish. The parish is our church family.
"Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in a great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166).
I firmly believe that after every Eucharistic Celebration, whenever possible, there should always be some kind of community activity. Moreover, sprinkled throughout the liturgical year, there should be well organized social activities that provide an opportunity for the entire parish to come together for community.
It is very meaningful, in light of this Sunday's solemnity that Saint Paul reminds us that we are children of God.
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children of God, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8: 16-17).
How can we begin to live the community life that we are supposed to live?
First, start by forming the habit of seeing Jesus in each person. This will certainly help when you do not feel like talking to someone. Jesus is hidden in every individual.
Secondly, no one should be seen as a stranger. We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus.
Thirdly, if you are shy, acquire a new virtue. Force yourself to be outgoing. In this way, you will be sure to make new friends.
Fourthly, be universal in your charity. Do not avoid anyone. Do not form clicks. Do not stick to your own age group or your own nationality. If we really do what we are supposed to do, parish life can become a powerful experience.
Well, as you can see, this Sunday's solemnity is really profound. We have a lot to ponder. But, let's not just think about these fundamental truths of our Catholic faith. Let us put them into practice. Egotism, radical individualism and apathy are deep-seated obstacles to the Christian way of life.
"O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 260; prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity).
We have been discussing the reality of communion. What do we receive at every Mass? Holy Communion. Next Sunday is the beautiful solemnity of Corpus Christi. We will continue our discussion of communion by taking a close look, once again, at the beautiful gift of the Eucharist, "the source and summit of the Christian life" (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum concilium, 47).
Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. Visit him on the web to learn more about his book Get Serious - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics which is now on sale at $9.95 per copy. Special price for bulk orders are available.
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