St. Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal. He was born into a wealthy family and by the age of fifteen asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, the then capital of Portugal. During his time in the Abbey, he learned theology and Latin.

Following his ordination to the priesthood, he was named guestmaster and was responsible for the abbey’s hospitality. When Franciscan friars settled a small hermitage outside Coimbra dedicated to Saint Anthony of Egypt, Fernando felt a longing to join them.

Fernando eventually received permission to leave the Abbey so he could join the new Franciscan Order. When he was admitted, he changed his name to Anthony.

Anthony then traveled to Morocco to spread God’s truth, but became extremely sick and was returned to Portugal to recover. The return voyage was blown off-course and the party arrived in Sicily, from which they traveled to Tuscany. Athony was assigned to the hermitage of San Paolo after local friars considered his health.

As he recovered, Anthony spent his time praying and studying.

An undetermined amount of time later, Dominican friars came to visit the Franciscans and there was confusion over who would present the homily. The Dominicans were known for their preaching, thus the Franciscans assumed it was they who would provide a homilist, but the Dominicans assumed the Franciscans would provide one. It was then the head of the Franciscan hermitage asked Anthony to speak on whatever the Holy Spirit told him to speak of.

Though he tried to object, Anthony delivered an eloquent and moving homily that impressed both groups. Soon, news of his eloquence reached Francis of Assisi, who held a strong distrust of the brotherhood’s commitment to a life of poverty. However, in Anthony, he found a friend.

In 1224, Francis entrusted his friars’ pursuits of studies to Anthony. Anthony had a book of psalms that contained notes and comments to help when teaching students and, in a time when a printing press was not yet invented, he greatly valued it.

When a novice decided to leave the hermitage, he stole Anthony’s valuable book. When Anthony discovered it was missing, he prayed it would be found or returned to him. The thief did return the book and in an extra step returned to the Order as well. The book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna today. Anthony occasionally taught at the universities of Montpellier and Toulouse in southern France, but he performed best in the role of a preacher.

So simple and resounding was his teaching of the Catholic Faith, most unlettered and the innocent could understand his messages. It is for this reason he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Once, when St. Anthony of Padua attempted to preach the true Gospel of the Catholic Church to heretics who would not listen to him, he went out and preached his message to the fish. This was not, as liberals and naturalists have tried to say, for the instruction of the fish, but rather for the glory of God, the delight of the angels, and the easing of his own heart. When critics saw the fish begin to gather, they realized they should also listen to what Anthony had to say.

He was only 36-years-old when he died and was canonized less than one year afterward by Pope Gregory IX. Upon exhumation some 336 years after his death, his body was found to be corrupted, yet his tongue was totally incorrupt, so perfect were the teachings that had been formed upon it.

He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus and is commonly referred to today as the “finder of lost articles.”

St Anthony is venerated all over the world as the Patron Saint for lost articles, and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods.

Agnes of Assisi

Saint Agnes of Assisi was the younger sister of Saint Claire of Assisi and one of the first abbesses of the Order of Poor Ladies. She was born into a life of wealth as she was a younger daughter of Count Favorino Scifi. There is some debate as to what her given name was but most scholars hypothesize it was Caterina. Her name Agnes was the name she took when she became a nun. Much of Saint Agnes’ childhood was passed between her father’s palace in the city and his castle of Sasso Rosso on Mt. Subasio.

Her mother, Ortolana, also joined the Order founded by her daughters later in her life. It was a bit of a surprise at the time as Ortolana hailed from the noble family of the Fiumi. Their cousin Rufino was one of the original “Three Companions” of Francis of Assisi.

On the 18th of March in 1212, her eldest sister Clare did a life-changing decision. She was inspired by the example of St. Francis of Assisi and left their father’s home in secret in order to become one the saint’s followers. In the wake of this, 16 days later, Agnes ran off to the Benedictine Monastery of St. Angelo where St. Francis had brought her sister.

Agnes had made the decision to join her sister in a life of poverty and penance. This was met with much displeasure from their father. Angry at having lost two of his daughters, their father sent his brother Monaldo, and several relations and armed followers to the monastery to force Agnes, if persuasion failed, to return home. Monaldo drew his sword to strike his niece, but his arm allegedly dropped to his side, withered and useless. The others dragged Agnes out of the monastery by her hair, striking her and kicking her repeatedly. Agnes’ body reportedly became so heavy, perhaps due to the help of her sister, that her assailants dropped her in a field nearby. Agnes’ relatives, purportedly realizing that something divine protected her, allowed the sisters to remain together.

Saint Francis was purportedly the one who cut Agnes’ hair and gave her the religious habit in recognition of her dedication. Saint Francis later established a cloister for Clare and Agnes at the rural chapel of San Damiano where they were soon joined by other noble women of the city. It was then that the Order of Poor Ladies, later known to be the Poor Clares, began with Clare as its first abbess.

In 1221, the Abbess Clare chose her sister to lead a community of Benedictine nuns in the village of Monticelli (now part of the city of Florence) who wished to embrace the way of life of the Poor Ladies. Agnes went on to establish other communities of the Order, including those of Mantua, Venice, and Padua.

According to oral and written history, Agnes was said to be very virtuous. As abbess, she ruled with a benevolent kindness, knowing how to make the practice of virtue appealing to her Sisters.

Agnes nursed her sister Clare during the latter’s illness, and shortly thereafter died herself on November 16, 1253. The sisters’ remains were to be interred at the Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi.

Saint Agnes’ feast day is the anniversary of her death: November 16.

 

The Sacrament of Penance

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, more commonly known as Penance, Reconciliation, or Confession, is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. This is where the faithful obtain absolution for sins committed against God and neighbors. They are then reconciled with the community of the church.

It is by this sacrament that Christians are freed from sins committed after Baptism. The sacrament of Penance is considered the normal way to be absolved from mortal sin–something that would otherwise condemn one to Hell.

The scriptural basis for this sacrament is taken from John 20:23 where Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the Apostles saying “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

Another basis for this sacrament is taken from James 5:16 “Confess therefore your sins one to another: an pray one for another, that you may be saved.”

The sacrament has four elements to it. Three on the part of the penitent: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. One on the part of the minister of the sacrament: absolution.

Catholics oft distinguish between two types of sin: mortal and venial.

Mortal sins are a “most grave violation of God’s law” that “turns man away from God”. Someone who is aware of having committed mortal sins must repent of having done so and must confess them in order to benefit from the sacrament.

Venial sins are the kind that “do not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God” can be remitted by contrition and reception of other sacraments. Every sin involves “an unhealthy attachment to creatures”, purification from which is called the temporal punishment for sin (as opposed to the eternal punishment merited by mortal sin). The satisfaction required of the penitent is not an essential part of the sacrament, because the primary effect of remission of guilt and eternal punishment is obtained without it; but it is an integral part, because it is required for obtaining the secondary effect of this purification or remission of temporal punishment.

A major penitentiary, Cardinal James Stafford, said that “we are saved by faith and the sacraments of faith”. According to Catholic theology, the sacrament of Penance is the only ordinary way for the forgiveness of mortal sins committed after Baptism. Nevertheless, mortal sins are already forgiven by contrition (not attrition, hence also called perfect contrition), as the Church teaches. The difference between perfect contrition and attrition is that the former is grounded in charity and filial fear while attrition is grounded in fear only.

A customary prayer in invoked that is equivalent to an act of contrition. Contrition by necessity includes the desire for receiving the sacrament of Penance, that is the (at least implicit) will to subject one’s sins to the sacrament instituted as ordinary way of forgiveness, because one cannot on the one hand love God above all for His goodness He has in himself and desire His forgiveness, and on the other hand reject the ordinary means of the said forgiveness. In a sacramental sense, it may perhaps be said that it is by this way that the effect of forgiveness and re-bestowment of grace through works.

A Catholic is normally required to receive the sacrament of Penance at least once a year. It is normal to refrain from holy Communion until undergoing a confession as one has not returned to a state of grace.

Holy Week

Holy Week, in the Christian year, in the week immediately before Easter. It was in the Apostolical Constitutions that the earlier allusion to the custom of marking this week as a whole with special observances was found. It dates back to about the latter half of the 3rd or 4th century.

In the Apostolical Constitutions, it was described as abstinence from flesh is commanded for all the days, while for the Friday and Saturday an absolute fast is commanded.

Today, in the Western Christian Church, the liturgies used for Holy week are identical.

Holy Week, as it is practiced in the modern age, begins with Palm Sunday. In other cultures, it may also be called Passion Sunday. By tradition, Palm Sunday celebrates the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem which was noted by the crowds present who shouted praises and waived palm branches. In several liturgical denominations, to commemorate the Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery, it was customary to have a blessing of palm leaves.

The blessing ceremony includes the reading of a Gospel account of how Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly upon the back of a donkey–reminiscent of a Davidic victory procession–and how people placed palms on the ground in front of him. What follows is a procession or solemn entrance into the church, where the participants hold the blessed branches in their hands. The mass of worship itself includes a reading of the Passion.

It isn’t clear as to what is celebrated on Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday as it differs from denomination to denomination. What is similar is the celebration of Maundy Thursday.

On the Thursday of Holy Week, the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ is done. This was the even where Jesus Christ established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. This event also commemorates his institution of the priesthood.

It was widely thought that Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. Christ would fulfill his role as the Christian victim of the Passover for all to be saved by his final sacrifice. The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper at Mass. This event is celebrated at every Mass, as party of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but is it specially commemorated on Holy Thursday.

Also done on this day is a Chrism Mass wherein the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation.

As for Good Friday, it is the day wherein Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Catholics are joined by almost all other Christians in solemn remembrance of this day. The events of Jesus’s betrayal by Judas and his trials are remembered on this day.

The events of Good Friday are commemorated in the Stations of the Cross, a 14-step devotion often performed by Catholics during Lent and especially on Good Friday. The Stations of the Cross are commonly recited on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. Another devotional, the Acts of Reparation, may also be prayed during this time.

Good Friday is a day of fasting within the Church and Catholic community. Traditionally, there is no Mass and no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. The muted solemnity is kept until Sunday.

Easter Sunday is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from death. It is celebrated on Sunday and marks the end of Holy Week. It is also considered to be the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.

Since Easter represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to mankind, it is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

In the Gospels, the precise details of the Easter narrative vary slightly, but none of these variances are critical to the main story. In fact, it is argued that the variances are simply matters of style and not substance. Despite the variances, the key aspects of the Easter story all match. Above all, they agree that the tomb of Christ was indeed empty, which is the most essential fact.

Most Catholics attend Easter Vigil at midnight, although the services can be lengthy because many sacraments are performed, such as baptisms and Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, during the Mass. Services during the daytime on Easter are shorter and well attended.

Following Easter Sunday, the season of Easter begins and lasts for seven weeks, ending with Pentecost.

Saint Valentine

The world celebrated Valentines day again earlier this month. People from all over the world exchanged flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, cards, and went on dates–all in the spirit of showing their affection or love for the object of their attentions. It’s become an annual tradition that the world has become quite obsessed over. What a lot of people may not realize that there is a deep religious significance that’s firmly rooted in Valentines Day.

Saint Valentine of Terni is a third century Roman saint who is usually commemorated on February 14th. Since the latter part of the middle ages, St. Valentine has always been firmly associated with the tradition of courtly love.

As records go, there isn’t anything that’s fully reliable about St. Valentine. What is known about him is the day of his commiseration, his name, and the idea that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia. The Via Flaminia is quite close to the Ponte Milvio–north of Rome. There have been several inconsistencies about the records of St. Valentine so it is uncertain whether or not there is only one Saint Valentine or what has occurred is the conflation of two saints that share the name.

Despite this, stories of St. Valentines’ miracle is passed down and is quite beloved as one of the more ‘real’ accounts of miracles. It is said that Saint Valentine was once under house arrest and watched by a Judge of Asterius. They fell into a deep discussion regarding faith–something which Valentine was quite adamant about. Valentine discussed the validity of Jesus and the judge had declared a test for Valentine to prove that Jesus was indeed real and had worked miracles.

The judge had ordered his adopted daughter to be brought to them and Valentine was ordered to cure the child of her blindness. The deal was if Valentine were to be successful in curing the child, the judge would be therefore bound in a promise to do whatever thing that Valentine would ask for. Valentine placed his hands over the child’s eyes, prayed, and the child’s vision was restored. Humbled, the judge asked what Valentine wanted. Valentine asked that the judge destroy all the idols in his home, fast for three days, and then undergo baptism.

It is said that is was this act that led to the release of so many persecuted Christians that were previously imprisoned. While Valentine and others were released, Valentine himself was once again in hot water for trying to convince Emperor Claudius Gothicus to embrace Christianity. The enraged emperor demanded that Valentine renounce his faith or be subject to a beating with clubs and subsequently beheaded. Despite this, Valentine remained true to his faith and refused to denounce his religion and beliefs. As a consequence to this, Valentine was indeed executed outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269.

Much later, after his canonization, Saint Valentine was to be the patron saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, love, plague, epilepsy, and beekeepers. Paintings, murals, and other depictions of Saint Valentine often portray him with birds, roses, or even with a crippled child.

So while much about the true facts about Saint Valentine remains a mystery, a part of him still remains alive each time February 14 rolls around. While not for the same reasons, the spirit of love remains the same.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe or Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a blessed image enshrined within the minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  Because of the image, this basilica is one of the most visited sites for Catholic pilgrimages in the world. Pope Leo XIII granted the venerated image a Canonical Coronation on October 12, 1895.

But, just who is Our Lady of Guadalupe other than what’s stated above? Why does she remain to be one of the most beloved miraculous stories we have? Today we tackle the story that accompanies the very famous image.

It all started on the morning of December 9, 1531 where a native Mexican peasant named Juan Diego witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary on the Hill of Tepeyac. She spoke to him in his native Nahuatl (Aztec) language and asked for a church to be build at that site in her honor. Juan Diego sought out the archbishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, and told him what he had witnessed.

The bishop dismissed the peasant and sent him away. On the very same day the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego once more–asking him to persist in his request. On Sunday, December 10, Juan Diego talked to the archbishop once more. The archbishop, still disbelieving, ordered Juan Diego to return to Tepeyac Hill and to ask the lady for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. On that day, Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary for a third time and he reported the task that the archbishop had given him. She told Juan Diego to return the next day as she would provide the proof he would need.

However, the next day, Juan Diego’s elderly uncle Juan Bernardino had fallen ill and it was only Juan Diego who could care for him so he did not return to hill and spent the day caring for his relative. The uncle’s condition had deteriorated overnight and Juan Diego went to Tlatelolco to find a priest to hear his uncle’s last confession and give him his last rites. He was quite ashamed at having failed to return as the Virgin Mother had bid so he avoided the hill but the Holy Mother intercepted him.

She asked where it was he was going and he mournfully told her of his uncle. She gently chastised him for not having gone to her for his worries. She asked him “Am I not here, I who am your mother?” She was then quick to assure Juan Diego that his uncle would be well and asked him to return to the top of the hill and gather flowers.

Juan Diego was confused–flowers in December? Yet he obediently went back to the top of Tepeyac Hill and there he found fully bloomed Castilian roses which were not native to Mexico. Juan Diego gathered the flowers in his tilma and went before the archbishop once more.

There on December 12, in the presence of the archbishop, Juan Diego opened his tilma and let the flowers fall out and to everyone’s surprise there was the image of Virgin of Guadalupe imprinted upon the tilma. With that, a church was indeed made at the Hill of Tepeyac which still stands to this very day.

There have been several attempts to study the tilma and the image. A tilma like the one Juan Diego used is a very coarse woven cloak that is used by field workers. It is thin and made of poor sacking material. It is also held together by very weak stitching so it would be rather difficult if not near impossible to imprint an image let along one as rich in color and as detailed as the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Tilmas weren’t made to last and are readily available for the poor yet the tilma that bears the image of the Virgin Mother remained intact despite not being “properly” preserved for over 450 years. It is said that a closer study of photo imaging of the eyes of the Blessed Virgin show that her eyes reflect the scene of the archbishop caught in surprise.

With this, there is very little doubt why Our Lady of Guadalupe still persists to be a much beloved religious icon.

The Sacrament of Confirmation

The sacrament of Confirmation is different yet connected to the sacrament of Baptism. While the sacrament of Baptism is about a rebirth to a wholly forgiven and enriched supernatural life, the sacrament of Confirmation is of the maturity and coming of age within the faith. Confirmation is the rite in which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through the rite of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit provides an enriched ability to practice and witness the works of Christ in their everyday situation. Confirmation serves as a secure commitment to the Catholic faith and its doctrines.

It is said that once you undergo the rite of Confirmation, a special mark or character is placed upon your soul—a seal that can never be removed. Christ himself once declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal. It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commission us—he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. This seal of the Holy Spirit marks and signifies our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service forever, as well as the promise of his divine protection in the great eschatological trial.

In the Catholic faith, this rite is normally administered upon the youth of around the 12th grade who are poised to take on a more active, mature, and adult role in the Church. They who are going to undergo the sacrament are called “confirmands” and would need to have gone through the sacrament of Baptism to be considered a candidate for confirmation. There usually needs to a period of instruction or preparation before undergoing the sacrament in order for the confrimand to truly understand and decide if they are willing and able to undergo the rite.

For the youth that already attend Catholic schools, in the year or a few months before their Confirmation ritual, they may find their usual religious classes to be centered solely on the rite and what it means for those who practice the Catholic faith.

For any who are already baptized and who are in danger of death, even infants, may receive the rite of confirmation. Confirmation is administered by a Bishop but even priests may also perform the sacrament. The rite is done during the Mass. The presiding Bishop or priest performs a laying-on of hands and anointing with chrism which is accompanied by prayer. Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism is quite rich in its meaning. The oil that is used is a sign of abundance and joy. The oil cleanses and soothes the soul of the anointed which fully enables the recipient to fully channel the blessings of the Holy Spirit.

To be able to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, one must be in a state of grace. Confirmands must receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit to come. Candidates for Confirmation need to seek out a spiritual sponsor, much like in baptism. A sponsor (preferably the godparents) helps to emphasize the unity of the two sacraments (Baptism and Confirmation).

Religion Quiz

  • Name two religions that proclaim the virgin birth of Jesus.
    • Christianity and Islam
  • What are the five pillars of Islam?
    • Faith
    • Prayer- prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall
    • Zakat- This word means “purification” or “growth”. The idea is to be charitable.  2 ½ percent of one’s capital is given away.
    • Fasting- Each year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown.  They abstain from food, drink, and sexual relations.
    • Pilgrimage- This is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca (the trip is known as the Hajj) – this trip is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.
  • Why did Roman pagans consider early Christians to be cannibals?
    • They ate the body and drank the blood of Christ.
  • What religion was Mary?
    • Judaism
  • List the Ten Commandments.
    • Do not worship any other gods or make any idols, do not use the Lord’s name in vain, keep holy the Sabbath, honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not covet thy neighbor’s wife, do not covet thy neighbor’s house
  • Name the religions that claim to stem from Abraham?
    • Islam, Christianity, Judaism
  • List the four noble truths.
    • Suffering is caused by attachment to worldly possessions.
    • All life is suffering.
    • Suffering can be alleviated
    • Follow the 8- fold path
  • Name the members of the Hindu trinity.
    • Vishnu, Shiva, Bramha
  • Why do Protestant Christians use only a plain cross, rather than a cross with the body of Jesus?
    • It is viewed as an icon
  • What does it mean to reach nirvana?
    • Enlightenment and being one with the universe
  • What is the Bhagavad-Gita?
    • Sacred text of Hinduism
  • List two branches of Buddhism.
    • Zen and Tibetan
  • What is the fastest growing denomination of Christianity in the world?
    • Moormons
  • What is the fastest growing religion in the world?
    • Islam
  • What religion requires its adherents to take the name of Singh and never cut their hair?
    • Sikh
  • What is a Bodhisattva?
    • Helping people reach enlightenment instead of attaining it yourself.
  • Which branch of Islam has a clergyman called an Ayatollah?
    • Shiite
  • Sikhism contains major elements of what two religions?
    • Islam and Hinduism
  • Who is the Dalai Lama?
    • Political leader and leader of one of the 4 branches of Buddhism
  • What is the largest (by population) Muslim country in the world?
    • Indonesia

Catholicism and Their Need for Evolution

Catholicism and Their Need for Evolution

Catholicism is definitely one of the oldest religions in the history of the world. The Roman Catholic faith is also one of the most far-reaching faiths with more than 1.2 billion practitioners in different countries and continents. This effectively makes those in high ranking positions very influential in their regions. They see to it that the rules they impose are carried out. Sadly, some of those rules are about what their followers can and still cannot do in today’s society.
The Catholic Faith has been quite clear about the rules that govern propriety and decency. It is unfortunate that despite the evolution of what is acceptable, this religion still holds fast to its antiquated rules regarding family planning and the rights of its followers.
In a predominantly catholic 3rd world country like the Philippines, populations in its provinces are known to be quite steadfast in their religion. That often means that the teachings of the faith are strictly imposed regardless of their consequences. For example, a married Catholic couple cannot practice safe sex (use contraceptives) as it is against the teaching of the church. Things are just as bad in its thriving cities where the lower income families are known to have kids in the dozens. This is something that can be changed simply by not making affordable and readily available forms of contraception the enemy.
Other countries where sexually transmitted diseases are flagrant and reaching pandemic levels, the Catholic Church still refuses to change its stance on the use of proven forms of effective protection. Simply because of ancient texts that has been subject to interpretation every now and then. As an effect, the spread of illness continues and more of their practitioners feel abandoned by the very spiritual institution that was supposed to protect and guide them.
The societal acceptance of other genders such as transsexuals and homosexuals has caused a sort of renaissance in how people have lived their lives. Unfortunately, the catholic faith considers them to be abominations and “on a path straight for damnation”. This understandably has caused several of their believers to feel abandoned and isolated. It is ironic that this is a faith that preaches love and acceptance would outright condemn those that do not fall within the confines of what obedient followers of Christ should be.
On a more disturbing note, more and more victims of sexual abuses done by members of the clergy (and alarmingly by the sisterhood of nuns as well) have been coming out yet visible accountability by the church is not present. If anything, the reports of offending parties simply being reassigned somewhere else, free to commit the same crime have been equally on the rise as well. Accordingly, the numbers of the faithful are dwindling as the belief that if you are wronged by members of the church there is virtually nothing you can do about it. A dangerous result of this is that more crimes done will no longer be reported at all.

The Catholic Church and its practitioners are sorely in need of an evolution. Times have changed and the way things are done by this institution need to change as well. It is sad that it is this faith that seems to be most resistant to change no matter how positive the results may be. It is thankful then that the man at the very helm of this faith is currently (at least outwardly) expressing thoughts that are deemed ‘scandalous’. He understands that in order for the teachings of Catholicism to remain true to its core mission, the church needs to open its mind and tailor its message for the benefit of the whole of its crowd and not just a select few. It is capable of change as proven by the fact that we’re able to wear clothing made from two kinds of material—a passage from Leviticus 19:19. If the bible is the basis for all the teachings and establishes what rules are to be followed, why are some of the writings ignored yet others are rabidly imposed? Why is it that the message being spread is subject to selection?

These questions need answers. Followers of the Roman Catholic religion deserve to be answered. Evolution needs to occur. We’ll all be in a better place for it.

The Trinity

The interpretive key that unlocks our discussions beginning last week — our considerations of revelation — is to be found in the ‘mystery of mysteries’: the Trinity.

The Trinity is the foremost symbol of Christianity: it designates the unity of three divine persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—as triune (that is “three in one”).

And so these 3 divine persons are one God, together and distinct.

                        – the Father is completely God;

                        – the Son is completely God;

                        – the Holy Spirit is completely God;

                        – all three persons are one God;

                        – the Trinity is one God.

The word “trinity” allows us to express the mystery of a single God in three persons.  According to the 3 great monotheistic religions of the world (that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), God can only be unique, for any multiplicity would indicate insufficiency or weakness.  To illustrate this, let’s remember the gods of Greek and Roman mythology: the end up being antagonists, showing weakness, vulnerability, need, etc.

As the inheritor of Israel’s monotheism, Christianity considers that a single God is nevertheless not solitary.  First and foremost, Love exists within him and he exudes it through his being and his work…creation.  And so the mystery of God is a mystery of mutual love.

The OT/Hebrew Scriptures have given us the image already of a Father (see Hosea and Isaiah), and from the very beginning of the NT/Christian Scriptures, we immediately hear the revelation of the Trinity (one single God in three persons) when the Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary at the Annunciation.

This immaculate conception of the Son of the Almighty was to be the work of the third person of the Trinity, the Spirit of Love.  Thus, the whole of the Trinity was expressed at the moment of this announcement: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.  And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.” (Lk 1:35)

We are baptized in the love that unites the three divine persons: that sacrament which is dispensed…

  • in the name of the Father,
  • and of the Son,
  • and of the Holy Spirit

…is recognized by all three Christian confessions of faith (Catholic, Orthodox, & Protestant).

Unlike Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox Christians justify making images of God because of the mystery of the Incarnation.

  • Since one of the persons of the Trinity became man, it is then possible to depict him as a human.
  • Similarly, the Holy Spirit, which manifested itself in the form of a dove, can be thus depicted.
  • Of course, difficulty remains in the depictions of the unseen Father, the divine “source”.

 

The Catechism (CCC) and the Trinity

  • Christians confess that “Jesus is Lord” (Phil 2:11).
  • We believe that Jesus is “the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).
  • We worship him as “my Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).
  • And still we say “I believe in one God.”
  • Our monotheistic religion requires belief in one God, yet we are baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”; not “in the names” (plural), but “in the name” (singular). For we do not believe in three Gods, but, rather, that God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (CCC 233).
  • To believe in the Holy Trinity is not possible by the mere means of reason; this mystery transcends reason. And yet, when we accept it in faith, we discover it to be an illuminating light into God’s own life (CCC 257).
  • God’s innermost mystery is that he is the Trinity, made up by his communion of love:
    • the Father loving the Son,
    • the Son loving the Father,
    • and their love giving forth the Holy Spirit.
  • This is a three-fold unity: one God and three persons. In himself, God is the mystery of fruitful love.
  • Yes, God is love, and everything springs from his un-beginning and un-ending love.
    • The Son is eternally begotten of the Father, who is the origin of everything.
    • The Son is not created, but, rather, is “light from light, true God from true God” (CCC 242).
    • The Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from both, this third Divine Person, “one and equal” with the Father and the Son (CCC 245).
  • Because of this unity of being, the Father is entirely in the Son and entirely in the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. They are really and truly the one God.  Therefore, everything that God effects is the work of the Trinity.  The Father never acts apart from the Son and the Holy Spirit, yet each Divine Person acts in his own proper way: “one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are” (CCC 258).
  • So, from the Father’s love everything originates; through the Son we receive all the Father’s grace and love (cf. Jn 1:14,18); and just as Father and Son are one in the communion of the Holy Spirit, so all who are touched by Christ’s grace are included in this communion (CCC 1997).
  • Finally, the first and last goal of all God’s work is that we should come to know and love God and thus, now and forevermore, gain entry into the blessed communion of the one and triune God (CCC 260).

 

The Baptism of Christ… and the Revealed Trinity

Luke 3:21-22

Christ’s baptism in the Jordan reveals the Trinity

Matthew 28:19

Christ tells his disciples to go and baptize the nations using what we now call a “Trinitarian” formula…

  • in the name of the Father,
  • and of the Son,
  • and of the Holy Spirit.

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