There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Monday, June 20, 2011

Holy Trinity

Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, and also Father's day. 

So what is the Trinity? To quote from Frank Sheed's Theology for Beginners:
"The notion of one God who is three persons must be profoundly mysterious. We could not know it at all if God had not drawn aside the veil that we might see...Since he wants to be known by us, we must respond by making the effort to know him. In its barest outline the doctrine contains four truths:
1. In the one divine nature there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
2. No one of the persons is either of the others, each is wholly himself. 
3. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God
4. They are not three Gods, but one God. 
...Even Catholics sometimes appear to think that we have here a mathematical contradiction, as if we were saying, 'Three equals one.' We are not, of course. We are saying: 'Three persons in one nature'. The trouble is that, if we attach no meaning to the words person and nature, they tend to drop out; so we are left with the two numbers...We can say that there is but one divine nature, one answer to the question 'What is God?', one source of the divine operations. But there are three who totally possess that one nature. To the question 'Who are you?' each of the three could give his own answer, Father or Son or Spirit. But to the question 'What are you?' each could but answer 'God', because each totally possesses the one same divine nature, and nature decides what a being is. Because each possesses the divine nature, each can do all that goes with being God. Because each is God, there is no inequality, either in being or operation... the three persons do not share the divine nature... it can be possessed only in its totality... the three persons are distinct, but not separate... they do in fact what three men could not do--they know with the same intellect, love with the same will." 

A review of the readings from Sunday:
First Reading:
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9
Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai
as the LORD had commanded him,
taking along the two stone tablets.
Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there
and proclaimed his name, "LORD."
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said,  "If I find favor with you, O Lord,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own."
A good passage for if someone tries to say that God in the Old Testament was wrathful in contrast to Jesus in the New Testament. God does not change!
Second Reading:
Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
The final prayer here is a Trinitarian formula. If you were to just say it to me, randomly, I would recognize it as being a prayer of the Mass, I wouldn't immediately point you towards 2nd Corinthians. But here it is. Also, the verse "the God of love and peace" stuck out to me, as "love and peace" seems to be borrowed by the culture (e.g. hippies, and the anime Trigun) sadly without reference to the fact that without God, there can be neither love nor peace. 

Jn 3:16-18
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

During Mass, my Dad leaned over to my Mom and jokingly said "But that's a Protestant verse!"
It made me wonder, to what extent has today's Protestantism scrapped 34Sola Scriptura in favor of Sola John 3:16? Would it surprise an Evangelical to know that Catholics not only accept this verse but proclaim it as the Gospel at Mass all around the world? It is unarguably a really good passage, but like any part of the Bible, it does not do to take it out of context or interpret it contrary to Sacred Tradition or the Magisterium. I feel it has been overused to the point of being a slogan, people have become tired of hearing it, and so it has lost its meaning. Which is sad. Catholics should bring it back. Y'know, a "Take back John 3:16" campaign. No, not really. It's funny to think about, but Catholicism doesn't work that way.

Lastly, as Father's Day was yesterday, and I do thank my father, my grandfathers, and all priests and bishops and other men who are good fathers. Being a good father is a reflection of the love of God the Father. Unfortunately, due to the moral decline of our culture and the prevalence of contraception and abortion, fatherhood is not appreciated in our culture. Half of all marriages end in divorce. This article says a lot (it's a bit old)  but things haven't changed much. With so many families with only a single parent of a mother, of what importance is Father's Day? I find that really sad.

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