Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Day 6 Reflection

The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is  also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious bodies are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.

Provided the just requirements of public order are observed, religious bodies rightfully claim freedom in order that they may govern themselves according to their own norms, honor the Supreme Being in public worship, assist their members in the practice of the religious life, strengthen them by instruction, and promote institutions in which they may join together for the purpose of ordering their lives in accordance with their religious principles.

Religious bodies also have the right not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative action on the part of government, in the selection, training, appointment, and transferral of their own ministers, in communicating with religious authorities and communities abroad, in erecting buildings for religious purposes, and in the acquisition and use of suitable funds or properties.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 4
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Six
The Council once more addresses the public nature of religious belief. Religious communities have a right to act as a community of faith, for this is inherent within the social nature of human beings and religious belief itself. Provided that the just civil and religious rights of others are not transgressed, religious bodies must possess the freedom to live out publicly what they believe. They must be free to gather for worship, to instruct their members, and to develop institutions that further the religious life of their members. From within the Catholic tradition this would include religious institutes and orders, schools, fraternities and sodalities, prayer groups, and Bible study groups.

Likewise, religious bodies must be free to appoint and train their own ministers. For Catholics, that means the Church’s freedom at least to appoint bishops and ordain priests. It also means that Catholics are free to be loyal to their church and its leaders while also being loyal to their country and its leaders. Religious bodies should also be free to govern themselves financially.

Consider examples in contemporary life where governments—federal, state, or local—fail to respect the above rights? What is the relationship between the religious freedom of individuals and institutions?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Day 5 Reflection

There is a further consideration. The religious acts whereby men, in private and in public and out of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to God transcend by their very nature the order of terrestrial and temporal affairs. Government, therefore, ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the people and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power were it to presume to direct or inhibit acts that are religious.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Five
What the Council Fathers teach in this short paragraph is very important. They previously stated that governments should not deny religious liberty. Here they state what governments should positively do with regards to religion. Since people, through their religious beliefs, direct their lives toward God, governments are positively to take this into account. Not only should governments not hinder religious life, they should also “show it favor.” Since religious belief is a good within culture and society, governments should foster and aid the good  that religion brings to the commonwealth. This does not mean that a government should favor one religion over another or that it should attempt to direct what religions should believe or do. Rather, governments are to create an
environment in which religious life flourishes for the good of all. In providing such an environment where religious life prospers, governments contribute to the good of individuals as well as to the good of society as a whole.

How does religion contribute to the good of society? In what ways might it hinder the good of society? Do contemporary Western governments view religion in a positive or negative light? How can governments today foster or aid the good of religious belief?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Day 4 Reflection

On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience faithfully, in order that he may come to God, for whom he was created. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience,
especially in matters religious.

For, of its very nature, the exercise of religion consists before all else in those internal, voluntary, and free acts whereby man sets the course of life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind.

However, the social nature of man itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion; that he should participate with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community. Injury, therefore, is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society when the just requirements of public order do not so require.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Four
It is through their consciences that human beings perceive the requirements of the divine law. Human beings must follow faithfully their conscience if they are to grow in their knowledge of and union with God. Again, the Council restates that, because of this, no one should either be forced to act contrary to his or her conscience or be forbidden to act in accordance with his or her conscience. This is especially the case when it involves one’s religious beliefs. The Council Fathers note that this applies not only to one’s internal private religious acts but also to public communal religious acts. Human beings hold religious beliefs within a community of like-minded believers and so have the right to publicly live out their beliefs. To forbid the just and proper public expressions of
religious belief would be contrary to the order that God has established for human beings as social and religious beings.

The Council Fathers want to ensure that religious liberty is understood to be both private and public. It cannot be limited to what takes places in houses of worship. Rather, since religion is by its nature a social phenomenon, its presence within the broader society and culture should not be hindered or forbidden.

In what ways is religion being reduced to the merely personal and private? Why should religion have a voice in the public square?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Day 3 Reflection

Further light is shed on the subject if one considers that the highest norm of human life is the divine law—eternal, objective, and universal—whereby God orders, directs, and governs the entire universe and all the ways of human community, by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever increasingly the unchanging truth. Hence every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious, in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, with the use of all suitable means.

Truth, however, is to be sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication, and dialogue. In the course of these, men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth. Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 3
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Three
God is the author of all truth and all good. All of what is true and good in our world and cosmos finds its source in God, the Creator of all. Moreover, what is true and good about ourselves as human beings finds its source in God in that he created us in his image and likeness. Thus, for the Council Fathers, all that exists is in conformity with the divine law, the providential plan of God.

Because of this, the Council emphasizes that truth must be “sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature.” This means that human beings must be free to seek the truth. However, human beings do not seek the truth as isolated individuals. The search for the truth is common to all, and so all share in the finding of truth and all share in the receiving of truth from others. Because the search for truth, the finding of truth, and the sharing of truth is a social exercise, human beings must not only be free to search for truth in the hope of finding it, they must also be free to communicate and discuss together the truth they believe they have found. It is through our free assent that we each personally lay hold of the truth.

What are the contemporary means of seeking, finding, and sharing truth? In what ways can this freedom
to seek, to find, and to share be inhibited?


Friday, June 22, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Day 2 Reflection

It is in accordance with their dignity as persons—that is, being endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility— that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.

However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore, the right to religious freedom has its foundation, not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it. Nor is the exercise of this right to be impeded, provided that the just requirements of public order are observed.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 2
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day Two
The Council Fathers note that it is precisely because human beings are “endowed with reason and free will” that they naturally seek what is true and good and also, then, have “a moral obligation” to search for the truth. This is especially the case of seeking religious truth. Moreover, the truth they believe they have come to know binds them to that truth. Even if the “truth” they believe is not actually true, yet, because they believe it is true, they are bound to follow their conscience. As long as what they believe does not infringe the just rights of others, they cannot be coerced into giving up or changing what they believe.

Moreover, the Council states that in order for human beings to fulfill their obligation to seek the truth and live by it, they must be free to do so. No one or no authority is to force them to believe something to which they themselves have not freely given their consent.

Why does the Council stress the need to seek freely religious truth? Why do those who believe what is actually false still possess religious freedom?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom Day 1 Reflection

The Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social group sand of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publically, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. The Synod further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person, as this dignity is known through the revealed Word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed. Thus it is to become a civil right.

Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 2
December 7, 1965

Reflection for Day One

In the opening chapter of Declaration on Religious Liberty, the Council Fathers at Vatican II forthrightly declared that “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” This right is founded upon the intrinsic dignity of the human person. From God’s revelation we know that the dignity of human beings resides in their being created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:27). Like God we are intelligent beings with free will. Because of this we can know the truth and perform God-like actions, such as being loving, kind, forgiving, etc. Reason itself, in knowing what a human being is, confirms that we possess a dignity and worth that exceeds the rest of creation and that cannot be violated, but rather needs to be protected and fostered. What human beings believe concerning God is of supreme importance. Religious belief lies at the very center of who we are in relation to what is most central and cherished in our lives. Therefore, the Council insists that the religious convictions of individuals or groups should never be coerced but must be held freely, protected by a civil constitutional right. What challenges to religious liberty do you see within our contemporary world? When the Council says that religious liberty must be upheld “within due limits,” what would fall outside of “due limits”? What religious belief would seriously offend the moral order or a just law?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Homily, 11th Sun O.T. Year B–Father’s Day and the Small Things

mustard seedIn the early 1900’s, Hilaire Belloc, an English Catholic writer, wrote one of the best travelogues of all time, The Path to Rome. He walked extensively all over Britain and Europe and for this particular book, he walked from central France, across the Alps, and all the way down to Rome. As he walked, he wrote descriptions about the people and places he met along the way, along with drawings of the route, and some humor, poetry, and other reflections here and there. One of the things he discovered along his walks was the importance of simple good deeds, like courtesy. Small deeds, like courtesy, multiplied across the span of his journey, tended to become the theme that characterized the whole way. He wrote:

Of Courtesy, it is much less
Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
Yet in my Walks it seems to me
That the Grace of God is in Courtesy.

On Monks I did in Sorrington fall,
They took me straight into their Hall;
I saw Three Pictures on a wall,
And Courtesy was in them all.

The first the Annunciation;
The second the Visitation;
The third the Consolation,
Of God that was Our Lady’s Son.

The first was of Saint Gabriel;
On Wings a-flame from Heaven he fell;
And as he went upon one knee
He shone with Heavenly Courtesy.

Our Lady out of Nazareth rode –
It was Her month of heavy load;
Yet was Her face both great and kind,
For Courtesy was in Her Mind.

The third it was our Little Lord,
Whom all the Kings in arms adored;
He was so small you could not see
His large intent of Courtesy.

Courtesy is small and simple, like the mustard seed in our Gospel today. The typical mustard seed is about a sixteenth of an inch round, but it can grow to become a huge tree, about 15 feet tall in a matter of weeks! Jesus uses this image to describe how his kingdom, the Church, begins with twelve poor fishermen and grows to span every corner of the globe. The point for us is to not neglect or ignore small things.

In the Church this weekend, we celebrate the 11th Sunday in the Season of the Year, the Season of Ordinary Time. This is the season in which we focus not so much on a particular mystery in the life of Jesus, Mary, or the Saints, as we do in Advent or Lent, but on the routine, day-to-day responsibilities of a Catholic. It is faithfulness to the small aspects of Catholic life that build us up into faithful Catholics, not so much the occasional celebration of the big events, like the Holy Days of Obligation.

The small deeds matter, perhaps most of all… Like the Morning Offering when you wake up, offering to God all the “prayers, works, joys, and sufferings” of the day… or making the Sign of the Cross as you say Grace before meals when you eat out in public as a family… or taking a few minutes to pray with your kids at night before they go to sleep. There are other small acts that build up the Catholic life too… like praying quietly before Mass, or kneeling for a few minutes after the final hymn to give thanks to God, rather than talking with friends or family… or saying during a difficult time “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner” or saying the names of the Holy Family: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for me.” These are the mustard seeds of faith – small and simple, taking only a few seconds or minutes to do – that grow over time to become the tree of a lively Catholic identity.

As we celebrate the civic holiday of Father’s Day – this attention to small deeds and virtues could perhaps be especially commended to fathers. We all have special memories of the small acts of kindness that our fathers did for us, that left the most lasting impression. For me, its memories of my dad taking a prayer card out of his shirt pocket when he came home from work late at night, and teaching my brothers and me how to pray… or the way he would always say “Aaaaa-Men!” at the end of grace before meals… or when he took us through the drive-through at my granddad’s store and get us each a piece of gum.

Speaking to all of the natural fathers here today, and myself as a spiritual father, if we want our children and families to be good Catholics and good citizens, families we can be proud of, families we can be honored to present to our heavenly Father when we meet Him face-to-face one day, then we cannot neglect the small acts of kindness and virtue. What may seem like only a mustard seed for us, could become the tree of their lives.

One father that I am good friends with told me a story about a time when he was reading a novel that he had always wanted to read. It wasn’t the greatest novel in the world but he was nearing the end and was anxious to see what would happen. His wife and daughter were out running errands so he settled into his chair and picked up his book. But then the phone rang which turned into a task he had to follow-up on, on his computer. He finally got back to his chair only to have his wife and daughter come home five minutes later.

My friend’s wife wanted to discuss a couple of things with him and his daughter wanted to tell him about her day. But he sat there, book in hand, glancing up at them, and down at his book, and up again… giving them the signal that they were interfering with something very important. But then he asked himself, “Who do I love more? This book? Or my family?” So he sat his book down, scooped up his daughter into his lap and let her tell him all about her day. Then he had a delightful conversation with his wife. The sacrifice was worth it. He had an enjoyable moment with his family and they saw once again the primacy they have in his life. He wasn’t called at that moment to give his life for his family. He was simply called to put down his book. He chose to love his family more, so he showed them his love.

It is formation brought about by these day to day virtues, or lack thereof, that either makes or breaks fathers in this country. Now, neither my friend’s wife, nor his daughter would have concluded that he didn’t love them had he continued to halfheartedly listen to them. But, in a small way, their relationship would have been diminished. What was a one-time hint could have easily grown into a full-blown message: “What I want, when I want it, is more important than you.”

And I know that for me too, as a spiritual father, small things matter. Spending a few minutes with the kids playing kickball during recess at the school is something that they always remember. Or saying “Bye” to them at the end of the day as they get in their parents’ car is something small, but I know it makes a difference. And I will work to be more attentive to the small things during my second year with all of you.

I encourage the fathers of our parish to take a moment during this Mass to think about how you and your family are doing with the small acts of Catholic identity. You don’t have to startup a nightly family rosary tomorrow, but maybe you can say one Hail Mary together after dinner or before everyone goes to sleep – and build up little-by-little to a family rosary. You don’t have to start coming to daily Mass tomorrow, but maybe while the kids are home from school, grandparents could make one day, like Friday, the Family Mass Day and take the kids. These things matter and they build on each other. They could make the difference between having a family of only a casual, occasional faith to one fully grown and blossomed. God promised us his help with this: “I, the Lord… lift high the lowly tree… and make the withered tree bloom,” he said to Ezekiel. Finally, with his help “we shall flourish like the palm tree” and grow like a Lebanon cedar, “planted in the house of the Lord,” we shall “flourish in the courts of our God,” still bearing fruit when we are old, still full of sap, still green.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Wedding Homily, Richard and Karen Woodham–“Salt and Light”

Again, “Welcome!” to Gary and Karen, and all of their friends and family to St. James for this wedding Mass. Of course, this will be a day you will always remember. As this is my first wedding as a recently ordained priest, this day means a lot to me too. I am honored to be able to celebrate the sacraments of Matrimony and the Eucharist with you today.

When I gave Karen the options that she and Gary could choose from for the readings, I think they were a little overwhelmed! There are 35 readings to choose from and some of those have both short and long versions! So Karen picked a few in each category and said, “Here, you decide!” I was happy to help and I think the readings we settled on for today present a theme that is rich in meaning for today and for continued reflection in the months and years ahead. After all of the prayer, work, and conversations we have had, I think we prepared well for this wedding, but the point is to be prepared even more for the marriage. I like that Gary and Karen wanted to have just a simple daily Mass, so that then the focus really can be not on just one day – as important as it is – but on their lifetime of days together with Christ. I encourage you to allow the readings we have heard to be the light that guides you forward.

The theme I have discerned in these readings is The Christian Witness of a Holy Marriage. The Sacrament of Marriage is not for just you two alone. It is a public reality, signified by the witnesses who stand beside you and your friends and family gathered around you. By exchanging your consent before a priest and two witnesses, according to the mind of Christ and the Church, the two of you will become married. But you will also become the “salt of the earth”, and the “light of the world” as St. Matthew’s Gospel reminds us. Granted, this is the calling of all Christians, but it is yours today in a special and unique way. By your marriage, you will be given the noble mission of showing the world, by your faithfulness, fruitfulness, perseverance, and love, the kind of love that Christ has for all of us.

Being the “salt of the earth” is a great challenge indeed, because salt can be used for both good or ill. Salt is used well when it is sprinkled on food to add or bring out its flavor. But, salt is used for ill if it is sprinkled on the ground, because there it prevents growth. If you allow the grace of the sacrament of Marriage to flow freely through your lives – by helping each other to remain innocent and holy before God – then the example of your married life can be like salt sprinkled on food. It will give flavor to the institution of marriage, one that so often sours in our society today. But if you give into temptation and yield to the attacks on marriage that are all around us, then your marriage will be like salt sprinkled on the ground. Christ within you, and this community around you, hope to always be there to help you not let that happen.

Our readings have shown us what a grace-filled marriage looks like. The first reading from Sirach focused on the beauty that a “good wife” contributes to her marriage and household. She is a blessing who “brings joy to her husband,” giving him peace and abundance. She herself is a “generous gift,” making his heart content, “a smile is always on his face.” She “delights her husband,” the reading said and “puts flesh on his bones” – she feeds him! She is modest and chaste, holy, decent and temperate. All of these traits build and build, ascending to the highest one of all – she is virtuous, and like the rising sun, a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.

Karen, that’s a lot to live up too! But you are already on your way. And Jesus Christ, who gives himself to you and Gary in the Eucharist you will receive, will always be at the center of your marriage, if you both accept him there, ready to help and renew you in all of those virtues and more. This is just as our Responsorial Psalm said, “The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.” Now what about Gary? What does he have to live up to!? I think the second reading and Gospel balance out the reading from Sirach nicely.

Gary, for his part, is called to protect his marriage from being “conformed to this age,” as St. Paul put it. He and his wife will be of one mind, and he is being called to make sure that that “mind” is transformed and renewed in God so that together they may “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” If his love is sincere, if he hates what is evil and holds on to what is good, then he will add many flavors of affection, honor, zeal, service, hope, perseverance, and hospitality to his marriage – again with the help and example of Christ who himself is the Groom to his Bride, the Church.

This is how Gary and Karen can be the “salt of the earth,” when they help the world to know, by their very living-out of the vocation of marriage, the true Christian flavor of marriage. This is how their marriage can be the “light of the world,” when it shines on the friends, family, and community around them – showing them what true love, joy, and peace can really be, even in the midst of difficulties. With the help that God gives them in this sacrament and the Eucharist, they can show the world that marriage indeed can be lifelong, total, faithful, and fruitful, no matter what they have been through or will go through – not because their marriage will be perfect, but precisely because they will be like the sun. Although the sun at times will set on their marriage, with faith and hope, it will always rise again. This is the faith and hope that God renews in you now, Gary and Karen, as you enter into the Holy Sacrament of Marriage.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Homily Trinity Sunday, Year B–Love, the Essence of God and of the Family

rublev trinityI’ve been involved in many youth and young adult groups over the years. One of the most effective ways I have seen for causing the group to be quiet was for the leader to make the Sign of the Cross. You could have 20 or 30 talking, joking, clowning teenagers but when the leader said, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the whole group, with its Catholic instinct, immediately made the Sign of the Cross and quieted down.

While this is sort of a gimmick, I think it speaks to something very true. The Sign of the Cross was for most of us, the first prayer we ever learned. It is commonplace to Catholics, we make it all the time and know it right away. The Sign of the Cross in the life of a Catholic serves to root his entire life in the mystery that it expresses. But it can also have an unfortunate effect. It is so common that we can easily take it for granted and not give it, or our Trinitarian God, much thought. When we dip our fingers in Holy Water and make the Sign of the Cross as we enter the Church, do we think about what this really means? When we genuflect to the tabernacle before entering the pew, do we make the Sign of the Cross purposefully? When we make the Sign of the Cross after receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, do we make it with reverence and awe at Who we have received?

Today, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is the perfect day to re-focus and concentrate all the more on Who God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, really is. The Holy Trinity, is the most supreme Truth of our Christian faith. For that reason, this Sunday is commonly regarded among priests as the hardest feast day to preach. It is important though that we still strive more and more to be as clear as we can about Who God Is. This is a great mystery that is only fully understood in heaven. But just because God is a mystery, doesn’t mean we simply resign and move on. The meaning of life itself is the lifelong pursuit of this mystery, of Who God Is and who we are to Him. We must not give up on it.

The Feast of the Holy Trinity comes now, near the beginning of Ordinary Time, I think, because it is the pinnacle of all of the great feast days we have celebrated so far: of Christmas, of Mary, Mother of God, the Epiphany, the Baptism of our Lord, Lent, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost. They all culminate in the Holy Trinity. Each feast day, one after the next, has revealed one more aspect of who God is. He became man, to a virgin mother, revealed himself to all nations, and underwent Baptism to show us the way to eternal life. He was crucified, died, was buried and ascended into heaven to show us, as Paul said, that “if we suffer with him we will be glorified with him.” And God the Holy Spirit came to us to preserve us in these truths. In fact, every feast day, every Sunday, every liturgical act is a celebration of the Holy Trinity, of God who is one in nature, but three in Persons. These three are numerically one, for there is only one God, just as Moses said in our first reading, “The Lord is God… there is no other.” There is only one, single, undivided God. This God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Scott Hahn, a popular Catholic theologian, has an interesting approach to the Trinity that I like very much. He explains that we often give up when it comes to mystery because we approach mysteries like we approach math problems. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us that three Persons are One God, but we know in math that three does not equal one. The Church accepts the truths of other sciences. How then can we understand the Trinity? Hahn suggests that mystery is better understood less like a math problem and more like a marriage. He wrote in his book, Signs of Life: “We cannot ever ‘figure out’ a spouse, but we can certainly grow in love, knowledge, and understanding of that person. The Trinity is the loving relationship we hope to know forever in heaven. If we are not growing in our love of that mystery, we are not growing any closer to heaven. And if that is so then our faith is superficial” (p 221-226).

The image of marriage helps us to understand mystery, but especially the mystery of the Trinity. God is not an in solitary confinement in heaven. The Godhead, the Trinity, is a community of love. The Father loves the Son from all eternity. The Son receives and returns this love from all eternity. And the love that they share is divine and so intense that it is a third Person, the Holy Spirit, proceeding forth from them from all eternity. This image of the Holy Trinity as the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love They Share is the one St. Augustine used to illustrate the Holy Trinity. This is an image we can know ourselves. In marriage, we see a husband who loves his wife so much that he gives his life and all he has to her. She receives this love completely and loves him completely in return. And the love they have is so intense that proceeding from their love is a third person, a child. Love is the essence of the family, as it is the essence of God. “Deus Caritas Est,” we read in 1 Jn 4:16 – God Is Love.

That is why Jesus empowered and commissioned his apostles to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” so that we could be “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” brought into the inner life of the Trinity, into the family of God, and made sharers in His eternal exchange of Love. In our Baptism we received “a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” In the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist, this Spirit and this love is renewed. Through the Eucharist, behold, God is with us always, “until the end of the age.” This renewal allows you to continually know God, even if your particular point of reference for God, your natural family, is broken. He forms us in love to the degree that we accept His love through the sacramental life of the Church and share it through our good deeds. Love is a mysterious thing, the more we give it away the more it increases in us. This is a love we can rely on even if everyone else fails us. It all starts with the Sign of the Cross, the power and the mission to live the life of God.