Pastoral Sharings: "Trinity Sunday"


Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Trinity Sunday
June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday – A Cycle – John 3:16-18

At Confirmation, the archbishop asked the children for a 
definition of the Holy Trinity. A girl answered very softly, 
“The Holy Trinity is three Persons in one God.” The 
archbishop, who was almost deaf, replied, “I didn’t understand what you said.” And the young theologian before him replied, “You are not supposed to. The Trinity is a mystery.”
With the Sign of the Cross, we trace the Trinity on ourselves. We bring God into our minds first. Then we bring the Trinity down to our hearts. And, with our hearts filled with compassion, we move the Trinity across our bodies to our shoulders and arms to better bear the burdens of our family and friends. (David Walker) 

The Trinity feast goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. So was born the observance. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church. 

The belief in the Trinity goes back to the New Testament. There it is mentioned about forty times. Even if so wishing, we would not be able to lock the Trinity in a closet. The Trinity will not go away. 

We open each Liturgy invoking the Trinity. We close it by calling upon those same Persons. Throughout the Christian world today, infants, who were quick enough to avoid abortion, will be received into our community through Baptism in the name of the Trinity. Into the arms of the mysterious Trinity, we will be sent by the officiating priest at our already scheduled funerals. 

But the most wondrous thing in the world is the mysterious. (Albert Einstein) Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. (Annie Dillard) 

The Trinity is the Mozart of mysteries. Not even Agatha Christie could solve it. 

Our world is filled with mysteries. We live with them very comfortably. Scientists estimate 90% of the cosmos is mystery.
For openers, who of us here understands himself? We are still trying to figure out how water rises from the earth through the trunk and finds its way out to the leaves of a tree? The why and how of homing pigeons still mystify us. How about the infamous common cold? Many “cures” notwithstanding, that mystery is not solved. (Joseph Donders) 

The New York Times wonders whether we will ever understand how the brain works. (If the Times admits to ignorance, the subject has to be a mystery.) Why do good things happen to bad people? And of course why do bad things happen to good people? How about cancer? Had enough? 

Mystery and reality, wrote Walt Whitman, are two halves of the same sphere. 

What Isaac Newton opined in the 18th century is as true in the 21st. “What we know is a drop. What we don’t know is an ocean.”
From the earliest days of the Christian era, geniuses have been wrestling with the Trinity. Most have struck out. Sometimes though, some get a Texas League single into short center field. 

Rich material poured out of the busy and golden pen of the 5th century St Augustine. His conception of the Trinity is lyrical. The Father is the lover. The Son is the loved one. And the Holy Spirit is the love they send forth. 

The 4th century St Patrick, with a brilliance that we Irish are justly celebrated for, found in the three leaf shamrock rising from the one stem an image of the Trinity. After telling this point to the Irish, they were never the same again. That is good or bad depending on your viewpoint of us Celts. 

It is difficult for us to realize today, but questions such as the Trinity were debated in centuries past with the same intensity as we debate whether a current star is the best basketball player ever or whether a certain movie deserves an Oscar or whether Elvis is still alive. You can decide whether our civilization has progressed or regressed. 

But someone has cleverly noted that, unlike other Christian doctrines, the Trinity is not a truth that leads to action. But rather, like a painting by Monet or a poem by Keats or a symphony by Beethoven, it should point us to prayer or just wonderment. Perhaps it will help us to become the prayers we recite. (Joan Chittister) 

Whoever can no longer wonder or no longer marvel is as good as dead. (Einstein) 

Our goal today is not to get us into the Trinity but to get the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into us.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday, Year A—June 15, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 3:16-18)
Today’s Gospel is different from any we have seen during the long seasons of Lent and Easter. On Sunday after Sunday, the Gospels have reported actions of Jesus. They have been passages full of conversations and events that moved His story along, culminating in His Ascension into Heaven and His promise to send the Holy Spirit. Today, however, St. John gives us a kind of summary of this. It is simple, but what a sweep it has! Read the first verse carefully so as not to miss its impact through familiarity: “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.” If we understand the scope of this statement, we will know why it is perfectly fitting that today is Trinity Sunday.

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity: Claimed in the Name of the Trinity
A few years ago, I took my Mom on a trip to two nearby cities with historical  significance, St. Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia.  Each was a place where explorers landed and claimed the land for their King.  

On September 8th, 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Avila landed on the northeast coast of Florida and established the first colony in the new world, St. Augustine.  With banners flying and in full regalia, Menendez planted the Spanish flag and claimed the land in the name of Philip II, the King of Spain.

Reflections for Sunday, June 15, 2014
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. (Exodus 34:6, 8) The Holy Trinity. Three persons in one God. Really, it’s too much for our minds to handle. The greatest theologians and philosophers in history have had to acknowledge their inadequacy in the face of such an awesome mystery. And maybe that’s the point. God isn’t some thing to be dissected and understood; he is some One to be worshipped and adored.

Here’s Why the Doctrine of the Trinity Matters
Many are ready to give a polite nod of some sort to Jesus of Nazareth. Most honor him as a great moral teacher.  Many even confess him as Savior. But the Incarnation of the Eternal God?  Second person of the Holy Trinity? God can’t be one and three at the same time.  Such a notion is at worst illogical, at best meaningless. “This was all invented by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 AD,” scoffs a motley crew ranging from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the DaVinci Code.

Of course this charge has no historical leg to stand on. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote seven brief letters around 110AD in which he called Jesus “God” 16 times.

Ten Ways to Open Up to the Holy Spirit
The Gift of Gifts, the Paraclete, the Counselor and Consoler, Friend, Sanctifier, Third Person of the Blessed Trinity—all of these are different titles given to the Person of the Holy Spirit. In an earlier article we explained the power of the Holy Spirit to transform sinners into great saints—as we saw in the Apostles, and especially Simon Peter. Saint John XXIII actually said:  “The saints are the masterpieces of the Holy Spirit.”   A future saint can be you and me.

The Sacrifice of the Mass = Eternity X Time
How often do we go to Mass? Some of us go daily, others weekly. Still others show up for Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals. I propose that if we truly knew what was happening in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we would not only go daily (if our duties allow); but, we would be trying to get everyone else to do the same. Why shouldn’t we? We all want to go to Heaven, right?   Thanks be to God we can-at every Mass. Bear with me as I attempt to condense an eternal truth to a couple of pages.

Churching the ‘Unchurched’
Depending on who you ask, America is considered one of the more religious countries in the world today. But a 2012 Gallup survey found that, as it is in the rest of the world, secularization in America is on the rise.

This is particularly so in the Northeast. That same survey found that Vermont was the most “unchurched” state in the union, with only 19% of residents indicating that they were “very religious.”

The God-incidences of Life
The difference between a coincidence and a God-incidence is the difference between chance and Providence. The agnostic believes that everything comes about by chance. He should be more skeptical about such a belief since it does not have a very firm basis. Nonetheless, he feels he is open-minded, though his open-mindedness never provides him with any nourishment for his mind. Those who believe that God is working in our world are able to see beyond the material facts and acknowledge a Hand that not only produced the facts, but set them in a Providential order. I offer an extraordinary sequence of events from my own experience, and invite the reader to judge for himself as to whether they are a product of chance or the work of a Divine Architect.

Being Sent Like Jesus
When I went shopping for a new cell phone some months ago, a sales agent tried selling me a particular phone. With great excitement, he said to me, “Father, this phone is hot in the market and I completely recommend it. With this phone, you can block the numbers of those who you do not want to disturb you. Their calls to you will never get through and their text messages will go right into your spam box.” Though I decided to pass on his offer, I must confess that he got my attention with that advertising pitch. He almost got me to buy a phone whose most attractive feature was blocking out unwanted callers.

The Powerful Persistence of Heaven and Hell
Quickly bored with beach vacations, I ventured off last summer to Belize not only to snorkel with the fishes and down a few rum punches, but also to explore Mayan ruins. The Mayans built their great pyramids in that part of Central America because below the jungle were extensive cave systems. Their ziggurat-like temples topped with altars were clearly an attempt by the primitive people to ascend as high as possible to the sky gods while the archeological remains in the caves indicate that they also went down to encounter and appease the gods of the underworld.

Without Gloss: Francis of Assisi and Western Catholicism
I want to start with a simple statement of fact. All Christian life is a paradox. What I mean is this.

In Isaiah 55, God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts [higher] than your thoughts” (8-9). Then in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “You therefore must be perfect, [even] as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48).

A Clean Heart
My father was the least prudish man I’ve ever known, taking the ordinary goodness of the body completely for granted. That meant, of course, that he turned away from prurient things with sheer indifference, or bemused contempt.

One day I was watching on television the BBC’s production of The Tempest, a silly affair featuring an androgynous soft-bellied Ariel and other brown-skinned spirits wearing the tiniest of loincloths for the front end, and nothing for the back.

Be Not Afraid! St. John Paul II’s Key to Building a Culture of Life
The recent canonization of Saint John Paul II offers an impetus to reflect on both his life and his papacy. The Pope’s leadership of the Catholic Church was exemplified by his signature phrase “Be not afraid!” Yet, what exactly was he exhorting the faithful to face without fear?

Pope Francis: The Beatitudes are a Program for Holiness
During his homily at Monday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope focused on the Beatitudes; on the day following the historic meeting for peace in the Vatican, he called for the courage of meekness to defeat hatred.

Wonder and Awe File: On the Magnificence and “Minificence” of Creation
I know, I made the word up: “minificence.” I’ll define it in a moment. But first, I want to ponder with you the awesome mystery of size and numbers as we look out and as we look in.

Outer Space: As we look out on God’s Universe we cannot even fathom how huge, how magnificent is the size of the universe. We cannot comprehend such immensity. If we were to make a scale model of the Milky Way galaxy and reduce each star to the size of a grain of sugar, it would be two thousand miles wide and a thousand miles high. And that’s just one galaxy!

The importance of the Sign of the Cross must not be lost
I have been reading a small book, The Sign of the Cross, by St Francis de Sales, published by the American publishing company, Sophia Institute Press. Written in 1600 it was a response by the saint, who became Bishop of Geneva in 1602, to the leading Geneva Calvinist theologians who had rejected what they saw as a Catholic gesture. According to the foreword of the book, crucifixes and bare crosses are still today largely absent in American Evangelical churches “and the act of making the Sign of the Cross is regarded by many non-Catholics as superstition at best.”

Catholic Church grows at a faster rate than the global population
According to the latest statistics from the Vatican, there are now 1.229 billion baptized people in the world, a ten percent increase since 2005. The Church has grown the fastest in Africa, where the number of Catholics increased by 29 percent. Meanwhile, Europe was the only region with a decrease in growth.

The figures, gathered in December 2012 and released recently, show that the number of priests changed from 406,000 in 2005, to 414,000. Bishops showed a similar growth rate, reaching 5,000 today, while seminarians topped 120,000.

How (Not) to be Secular
Secularism is a bit like the weather: everyone complains, but no one ever does anything about it. Even though secularism walks among us as never before in human history.

The reality, however, is more complicated than you’d guess just looking around. There is a growing number of “nones” in developed societies – people with no formal religious affiliation. Not at all the same thing, though, as people with no religious (or “spiritual”) sense. The media collapse them into an anti-religious bloc hoping that, together with the government and courts, they could help push faith out of public life.

Beautiful Model Gives Up Flourishing Career To Become Nun
At the top of her flourishing career, a beautiful Spanish model has given it all up to become a nun.

Olalla Oliveros, a beautiful and well known Spanish model who did advertisements, television commercials, and worked as an actress has given up her career and decided to become a nun. Last month, Oliveros entered the semi-cloistered Order of Saint Michael.

Finding Myself in the Prayers of the Divine Office
Back when I saw him regularly, Carl seemed like he never was going to age. Even well into his 60s, he was skinny with little gray in his brown hair and skin like that of a much younger man. He regularly played pickup basketball with men many years his junior.

He was one of the wittiest men I’ve known, always pinning goofy nicknames on people and finding the humor in mundane situations. And he impressed me as one of the most committed Christian men I have met, a family man, a man I admired more than most.

Just Food Is Not Enough!
Before my baby was born in April, I had carefully been reading and rereading Gina Ford’s The Contented Little Baby Book. It consists of several routines for feeding and sleeping from newborn to one year. I made little “cheat sheets” of printed out routines, ready to go and ready to follow. However, I started becoming so obsessed when I couldn’t get my baby anywhere close to following the routines in the first month that I had to stop reading the book.

Amazing Story About a WWII Catholic Priest Told By Actor David Niven.
I was reading William F. Buckley’s Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith and came upon this story relayed by the late actor David Niven about a disaster at sea and the sacrifice of a priest.

“David Niven told the engrossing story (I had never heard it) of a single episode in the chaotic flight from France after Dunkirk in 1940.

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