Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Propers for Trinity Sunday

             This Sunday in both forms of Mass we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, or as it is popularly called, Trinity Sunday.  We honor the God who is three in one, One God, three distinct persons in perfect unity.  This perfect unity is our ultimate goal as Christians, to be intimately united with God.  By revealing to us the Trinity, God gives us a beautiful testament of his love, and the unity that we should strive for.  The Holy Trinity is also the very center of our faith, for as St. Athanasius the Great tells us:
Light, radiance and grace are in the Trinity and from the Trinity.  It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.
                At the conclusion of every prayer in the Mass, the Church proclaims “We ask this through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.  Therefore it is fitting that we offer in the Introit:
Blessed be the Holy Trinity and undivided Unity. We will give glory to Him, because He has shown mercy to us. Ps. 8:2. O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is Your name over all the earth!
                Our worship of the Holy Trinity is not simply an empty worship.  We are not as the pagans are, who simply recited the long names of their gods, with no disposition required, and no blessings or benefits apparent.  The collect reminds us of this fact when it says:
Almighty and ever-living God, to You we owe the grace of our true faith, which enables us to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and to adore the blessed Unity through the power of Your majesty. Grant that by holding fast to that faith we may always be guarded against all afflictions. Through our Lord . . .
                Let us ponder on this meaning.  Through God’s great mercy, He has revealed to us the fullness of the Trinity, one God, three Persons, in a unity that goes beyond all human comprehension, but we accept it as no less true.  Why does He do this?  We will see the fullness of this meaning in the Gospel, but I would like to consider something else briefly.  As the Collect notes, He does this for our benefit.  We must always remember the Holy Trinity when faced with troubles.  When we realize this, we realize that in our corner, we have the Creator of the Universe.  We also have the Son of God, who saved us from our sins.  Finally, we have the Paraclete, who confirms our faith and gives us the grace won by Christ’s passion on the cross.  If we would just always remember this fact, we would not sin.  Of course, we do sin, so we lack in the remembrance of this fact.  Yet in the mystery of the Holy Trinity lies victory over the world, and it is something that we would be wise to consider.
                After reading the Epistle (Romans 11:33-36) we come to the next area I would like to focus on, the Gradual psalm and the Alleluia:
GRADUAL Dan. 3:55-56
Blessed are You, O Lord, who behold the depths and are enthroned upon the Cherubim.
V. Blessed are You, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven, and worthy of praise forever.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Dan. 3:52
Blessed are You, O Lord the God of our fathers, and worthy of praise forever. Alleluia! 
                In such a simple statement much is contained.  We must remember that in Judaism, there is no concept of a Trinity.  While the evidence is there in the Old Testament (the thrice chant of Holy, God using the plural when saying man will be made in our image), this was not something revealed to the Jews.  In the fullness of time, God reveals himself fully.  We are not shown a “new” god, but rather the fullness of the identity of the Lord of Hosts.  All of the great heroes and patriarchs did not have this revealed to them.  Yet us lowly sinners have been given a grace they were not given, to know the fullness of the Trinity.  This is expounded upon in the lovely Gospel passage of what has been called “The Great Commission” where Our Lord says:
All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world
                While this might not seem special to our modern eyes, the Apostles would’ve understood something truly earth-shattering occurred in these words.  When Christ commands them to baptize, He asks them to do so in God’s name.  Revealing names was an event in their culture of supreme importance.  It suggested an intimate bond and partnership between those whose names were revealed.  When God speaks to Moses, He mentions that He knows Moses by name, therefore “I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy.”  God revealed His name to Moses, and the ministry of Moses entered a new phase.  Even in the pagan cultures, the sharing of a name had deep significance.  When the ancient Romans married, they followed a simply ceremony.  For a man named Gaius, his wife would say “Whereas you are Gaius, I am Gaia.”  No matter her name before, she became intimately tied to the name of her spouse.  Likewise, we Catholics became at this moment irrevocably tied to the Trinity.  We no longer knew him as simply “god” but rather as a person, three persons even!
                Most importantly, we were revealed God’s name in terms of a family.  We ourselves are called to that family in unity.  This was another “break” from Judaism and the Old Covenant.  While God was always portrayed as a judge, and as the husband of Israel, we do not really see the significance of Father.  God’s holiness as judge is now put alongside the love He has for His Children.  In times of distress, the family can always turn to the eldest brother, just as we always turn to Christ.  We are able to do so by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which we celebrated last weekend.  This indwelling calls us to our true family.  Knowing this fact, we can confidently proclaim in the Offertory:
Blessed be God the Father, and the only-begotten Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, because He has shown mercy to us.

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