All You Need to Know About St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis is one of the most famous and renowned saints in the Church history. He has been so significant in the Church proceedings that the world-famous Pope Francis also chose to inherit his holy name. With 24th October being his Memorial Day, it is good to know about this pious man and how he brought a sense of immense spirituality amongst his followers.

Here are some of the facts about St. Francis of Assisi that you would like to know & share:

  • Saint Francis of Assisi is believed to have been born in 1181 or 1182 (not exact) and died around 1226. As such, he lived only for around 44 or 45 years. He was born & died in Assisi, Italy, somewhere near Rome.

 

  • Although several people take up new names after entering the spiritual & religious life, it is not exactly the manner St. Francis of Assisi received his holy name. He was born with the name as John Giovanni di Bernardone. However, during his infancy, Francis’s father Pietro (Peter) had started calling him with the name Francesco (the Frenchman).

 

  • During his early family life, Saint Francis of Assisi lived in a well-to-do family as his father was a wealthy silk merchant. As per the records of the Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Francis was not immensely studious and thus, his literary education could not be completed. Though he was earlier associated with his father in the trade, he did not have much liking for the silk trading business.

 

  • Saint Francis of Assisi also took part in the military. As per the Catholic Encyclopedia, when Francis was about 20 years in age, he went out with the local townsmen for fighting in the Perugians in one of the small skirmishes that were highly frequent at those times between the rival towns.

 

  • About his life & thoughts changing to deep religion & spirituality, it is stated in the Catholic Encyclopedia that after returning to Assisi during 1205, as Francis was praying in front of the ancient crucifix inside the chapel of St. Damien, he heard a heavenly voice that said “Go Francis, repair my house which you can observe falling into ruins”. Taking this note literally, Francis went to the shop of his father, gathered a lot of colored drapery, and mounted on his horse to go to Foligno. There, he sold both the horse & the drapery to receiving money that was needed for the restoration of the St. Damian’s Chapel.

 

  • Francis of Assisi was inspired by Matthew 10.9 wherein Jesus propagates to his disciples “Do not receive any silver or gold or copper to take along with you in your belts” when they would travel across towards preaching the Gospel. St. Francis got inspired to do the same and began traveling across the world for preaching repentance in poverty.

 

Know about these facts about St. Francis of Assisi to enhance your religious knowledge.

The true value of Easter

What does this day mean to you? Have you thought about it?

The Easter holiday is a Christian commemoration were all the devotees celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Symbolize the victory of life over death and shows us the eternal life that is granted to us if we have faith in God. He died for us, and he came back to demonstrate his love to us despite everything we did to him.

The resurrection of Christ changed everything and gave us an irrefutable proof that he existed and that he was the son of God who conquered death. Easter is a beautiful opportunity to honoring and recognize Jesus in our lives. He died for our sins and suffered the punishment that only us deserve. Now is our chance to do the thing right and remind his legacy and believe in him genuinely in our hearts to have eternal life with him by our side.

There’s no much more to say, only that this celebration honored the most important day of our religious history. Leaving aside the usual activities that we tend to do this day, we should reflect on our relationship with God and reaffirm our faith and be grateful for all the things we have.

The following are prayers you can beseech this day or any other you feel willing. Hope you treasure your moments with God.

Happy Easter.

Prayer 1

Lord God, you loved this world so much, that you gave your one and only son, that we might be called your children too. Lord, help us to live in the gladness and grace of Easter Sunday, and every day. Let us have hearts of thankfulness for your sacrifice.
Let us have eyes that look upon your grace and rejoice in our salvation. Help us to walk in that mighty grace and tell your good news to the world. All for your glory do we pray, Lord, Amen

 

Prayer 2

Father God, there is sometimes controversy about how, when, and what to call the remembrance of the greatest day in history – the day Jesus Christ, your beloved son, rose from the dead and brought the gift of your forgiveness and eternal life to all who would like to receive it – the new covenant. Please pour out your Holy Spirit on all who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and put us on our knees before you with thankful hearts for your great love for us. You, oh God, have given us victory over sin and death, and the promise of never leaving us or forsaking us for eternity. Help us to be the body of Christ, the church, united in awe of how you saved our unworthy souls … your body and your blood as a sacrifice for us. Help us to bring this message to all who will listen. Help us to love like you love. Thank you forever! Amen.

Prayer 3

Dear God,
Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the victory and power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys to death, that by your might, Jesus was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to have a new life with you. Thank you that you had planned, that you made a way.

We confess our need for you. We ask that you renew our hearts, minds, and lives, for the days ahead. We pray for your refreshing over us.

Keep your words of truth planted firm within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that your voice speaks louder and stronger, reminding us we are safe with you and that your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that you will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us to your level ground.

Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set your way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.

Thanks to your God, for your indescribable gift! To you be glory and honor, on this Resurrection Day, and forever.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Lent season: Days for reflecting, pray, and be thankful

We’re at the end of February, and we are at the eighth day of the lent season. The past 14th was Ash Wednesday; this day originates from an old Jewish tradition were the practices include wearing ashes on the forehead. The ashes signify the dust from which God creates us. “Remember, you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”

The term “Lent” comes from a Latin root that means “to lengthen.” This refers to spring; the sun will stay a little more each evening to settle beyond the horizon. The weather will be warmer, and we’ll see life emerging once more in every flower, tree, fruit, etc. Lent should be our connection point to the season of life. Beautiful, don’t you think?

Lent is a season of reflection, penance, and fasting. In this period, we’ll prepare for Christ’s resurrection the next Easter Sunday where we’ll achieve redemption. It’s an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with God and appreciate the miracle of life. Lent is a valuable time of self-examination; are you kind? Do you help others? What are you doing to make this world a better place? Are you continuing the message of Christ?

Sundays in Lent don’t count because each Sunday embodies a mini Eater and the joyfully waiting for resurrection. One of the most common practice during this period is fasting, namely, to give up something. We should try to find a way to confront our sinfulness, be thankful for our lives, remember our mortality, and keep God in our lives. We tend to forget all these things throughout the year, and Lent is an epoch to reconnect ourselves with the creator.

Over time we let our hearts and mind unattended, and things could get difficult. Lent invites us to deal with all the mess, and notice our lives carefully. Feel your emotions, hear your mind, try to connect with your inner-self again. God gives us an opportunity to see the miracle of life and our purpose on the earth. Take this time to go deeper into your relationship with yourself, with others, and of course, with the creator.

Lent allows you to see the parts of yourself that are covered up. It invites you to go to the light no matter how dark your life is right now; the liberation is within you. By the end, when Easter comes, you should know that the message is simple: death doesn’t have the last world, life does. You’re resurrecting with God, knowing that you’re alive, that you have to treasure every single moment of your life, and leaving behind all the darkness that keeps you away from light.

Appreciate this season, and be willing to reflect and meditate on your life. Be humble before God, and he’ll show you the way to the light. Every person is free to walk this path in its unique way, in the end, you’ll feel a genuine spiritual renewal.

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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