Saturday, June 18, 2011

Monsters Under The Bed?

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
(Year A)
Exodus 34:4-6; 8-9
2 Cor. 13:11-13
John 3:16-18

“And Moses bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped, ‘If I have indeed won your favour, Lord,’ he said ‘let my Lord come with us, I beg. True, they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins, and adopt us as your heritage.’”
Once again and very thankfully, Trinity Sunday has snuck up on me and wrapped me in its loving embrace, clarifying certain ideas and, yes, calming certain of my fears. This happens because Trinity Sunday always leads me back to the third great Roman Catholic Symbol of Faith or Creed, the one popularly referred to as the “Athanasian Creed” or by its incipit in Latin as “Quicumque vult”. Up until 40 years ago, everyone in the Church obliged to pray the full Divine Office recited this creed each Sunday. Its words in Latin were as familiar as those of either the Nicene-Constantinopolitan (our Creed for Sunday Mass) or the Apostles Creed (recited usually with the Holy Rosary).

            These are the opening words of the Athanasian Creed:

“WHOEVER wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity."  
Trinity Sunday is meant to remind us of Who God is both in Himself and Who He is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Lord, for us.

This week at supper with friends, somebody at table offered one of those compliments or observations that you don’t really know if it truly is a compliment or if they are not posing a question or expressing doubt. Anyway, somebody mentioned this so-called “Pew Survey” from last April which claims that 92% of the people in the United States say they believe in God. Having said this, the person added some sort of word of admiration. “Wet blanket” or damper that I am, I offered my own rather negative perspective on the thing by saying that many of those people, who say they believe in God, have no experience of being part of His people or His heritage, to use the expression from the Book of Exodus; many, many of those among them who would claim to be Christian were and are un-churched and un-baptized. In point of fact, often among those nominally Christian, it could well be said that they are no more than practical atheists with a genuine fear, almost horror of all we are familiar with as Church.

Trinity Sunday is here to proclaim that belief unto life everlasting is not a generic thing; it is informed with knowledge of the Godhead, of God’s Will and of our salvation in Christ. Our faith has a specific content and as I say, Thanks be to God, it is here in a rather unique way that the third big creed comes to the rescue with clarity of ideas and proper distinctions:

“WHOEVER wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity."  

We see the devastating consequences resulting from that part of the purported 92% which is uncommitted and impersonal (un-churched and un-baptized) in their relationship with God. Sadly, their claim to belief in God rings terribly hollow when we look at how it plays out in the lives of our civil leadership almost anywhere in the Western World. Expediency and compromise keep under wraps the truth about God and His will for us human beings, who are the crown of His creation, we who are made in His Image and Likeness. The failure to embrace God as He is One in Three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, keeps their governance or leadership in society from having the consequences it should: in terms of respect for human life born and not yet born; in terms of respect for the family and marriage. The Ten Commandments are not even recognized and obeyed. How can they be if there isn’t any real recognition of the One Who gave the two stone tablets to Moses?

I started by saying that Trinity Sunday, leading me back to the Athanasian Creed, calmed certain fears. One day this past week in the newspaper cartoon Calvin & Hobbes, little Calvin shouts out in the darkness and asks how many monsters there were under his bed and the shout comes back from down below “only one”, but as Calvin & Hobbes are preparing to defend themselves with a baseball bat against that only one, the whole sneaky crowd of monsters under the bed starts fighting with each other and Calvin & Hobbes flee under the blankets calling for mommy. The relativism in society today and the consequences it has for our lives and for the truth tends to trouble me like the monsters under the bed. Thank God for Trinity Sunday!

There is a YouTube Channel attributed to somebody named Alex Jones, who has web sites called or Prisonplanet. In his videos he is always denouncing a global conspiracy by the international banking cartels to provoke WW III and take over whatever is left when the nuclear cloud subsides. Some people can dismiss that sort of talk as disinformation, but knowing how things work in our world, seeing the harm done in recent times to the world economy by unscrupulous speculation, it is hard to entirely discount such conspiracy theories and sleep peacefully. Thank God for Trinity Sunday!

My invitation to you this Sunday would be to embrace our Trinitarian faith in all its fullness and truth. The beauty of the Athanasian Creed is that it posits that faith in no uncertain terms, which is, of course, as it should be.

The readings today are all very reassuring. St. Paul describes our God as the “God of love and peace”. In the Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus of God’s love in giving up His only Son for all of us. The judgment, Jesus says, come not from God condemning but from someone’s refusing to believe in God’s Son Whom He sent into the world.

“No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.”
Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for Trinity Sunday and for the Athanasian Creed!

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