Divine Inheritance

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor of the Church

April 29, 2020

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Today, in Mercy, our Gospel gives us the sense of Jesus claiming his inheritance  from the Father. He makes it clear that the Father’s Will is the Redemption of all Creation. This is the divine charge given to Jesus. This is his mission.

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Jesus continues to use the symbol of bread to teach the forming community. 

Bread sustains life.
God’s Word is eternal life.

Sharing bread is an act of community.
In the Body of Christ, we are made One with God
and with one another.

Bread can stale and disintegrate.
Within the Body of Christ, we become eternal
and will be raised up unto the Last Day.


These are such BIG thoughts, amazing teachings. I always wonder how simple shepherds, fishermen and housekeepers were supposed to understand! I wonder how we, in our human limitations, could begin to comprehend the infinitely loving design of God revealed in Jesus Christ!


Today, as we celebrate the feast of the great Saint Catherine of Siena, we can learn from her spiritual wisdom. Without formal education, she grew by grace into a Doctor of the Church.

Siena


She was born Catherine Benincasa on March 25, 1347, in Siena, Italy, and was a twin, the 24th child of 25. She only lived to the age of 33, dying of a stroke in Rome in 1380. Catherine of Siena, often referred to as “great Kate,” is well known for her expressive life of prayer shared in three major sources of writings: over 400 letters, 26 prayers, and The Dialogue of Divine Providence, which she referred to as “the book,” written in the format of a conversation between herself and God. She was noted for her style of learning, not acquired from formal education and degrees, but gained from an interior wisdom that came from lived experiences and a mystical life of prayer. ( https://www.hprweb.com/2020/02/the-trinitarian-theology-of-the-eucharist-according-to-st-catherine-of-siena/)


Here are two selections from Catherine’s extensive writings which reveal her ever-deepening relationship with God through the gift of the Bread of Life.


Eternal God, Eternal Trinity, You have made the Blood of Christ so precious through His sharing in your Divine Nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for You. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When You fill my soul I have an ever-greater hunger, and I grow more famished for Your Light. I desire above all to see You, the true Light, as you really are.


St. Catherine of Siena, Prayer 12, V 124–157

And by the light of most holy faith
I shall contemplate myself in you.
And I shall clothe myself in your eternal will,
And by this light I shall come to know
That you, eternal Trinity,
Are table
And food
And waiter for us.

You, eternal Father,
Are the table
That offers us as food
The Lamb, your only-begotten Son.

He is the most exquisite of foods for us,
Both in his teaching,
Which nourishes us in your will,
And in the sacrament
That we receive in Holy Communion,
Which feeds and strengthens us
While we are pilgrim travelers in this life.

And the Holy Spirit
Is indeed a waiter for us,
For he serves us this teaching
By enlightening our mind’s eye with it
And inspiring us to follow it.
And he serves us charity for our neighbors
And hunger to have as food
Souls
And the salvation of the whole world
For the Father’s honor

So we see that souls enlightened in you,
True light,
Never let a moment pass
Without eating this exquisite food
For your honor.

Music:  Ave Verum Corpus – words attributed to 14th century Pope Innocent VI, melody to Mozart, sung by King’s College Choir

Hail, true body
Ave, ave verum Corpus 

Born of the Virgin Mary;
Natum de Maria Virgine

Truly offered,
Vere passum, immolatum 

In the cross for man
In cruce pro homine

Whose side
Cujus latus perforatum 

Water and blood
Fluxit aqua et sanguine

May we taste
Esto nobis praegustatum 

Time of death
Mortis in examine 

The time of death
In mortis examine

The Good, The True and The Beautiful

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

June 16, 2019

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Trinity

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Trinity, a mystery of our faith beyond full human comprehension. Clearly realizing this, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist religion said this:


Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man,
and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.


Still, as we pray, we have some limited conceptualization of this Divine Mystery. We reshape it into human terms we can relate to:


Father, Son, Spirit
Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier


These give us some insight into the heart of the Triune God, but only from the limits of our human perspective. It is a mystery so infinite that even in heaven we may not plumb its depths.

Many theologians and philosophers have tried to stretch our perspectives. The great Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar writes:


The One, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, these are
what we call the transcendental attributes of Being,
because they surpass all the limits of essences
and are coextensive with Being.


It may be helpful in our prayer to think of the Trinity in these terms- The Good, The True, and the Beautiful. These concepts, while we can experience them clearly in an individual or an object, far surpass that one particular presence or circumstance.

So it is with the nature of the Trinity. We perceive it simply in glimpses. Though Its totality far surpasses our comprehension, perhaps these glimpses are enough:
C.S. Lewis puts it this way:


Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun
which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.


What does all this mean in our daily spirituality? How can we find a Trinitarian spirituality in our daily encounter with God? How can we find the “patches of Godlight”?

Pope Francis brings it down to our experience of family:


All of the love that God has in Himself,
all the beauty that God has in Himself,
all the truth that God has in Himself,
He gives to the family.


So, in the sincere love – given and received – of a family or community, we find the reflection of this immense mystery.

And St. Catherine of Siena confidently prays about this truth in this way:


You, Eternal Trinity, are my Creator,
and I am the work of Your hands,
and I know through the new creation
which You have given me in the blood of Your Son,
that You are enamored of the beauty of Your workmanship.


Music: Amazing Love – Billy Martin, Peggy Dequesnel, Steve Hall

Embraced by Love

Seventh Sunday of Easter

June 2, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings might make us burst out with, “Isn’t June a beautiful month!”

It is the month building up to Pentecost, when Christ again and again assures us of his love.  Look at this from Revelations today:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
Let the hearer say, “Come.”
Let the one who thirsts come forward,
and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.

And this from our Alleluia Verse:

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord.
I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.

And this from our Gospel:
Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Oh, how Jesus loves us. And now, as He prepares to rejoin the Father, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, so that we who believe may be embraced by the Infinitely Complete Love that is Trinity.

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Friends, these are wonderful readings. On this warm June morning, let yourselves be loved by them.

Music: Cherubic Hymn to the Trinity- Tchaikovsky (English Lyrics below)

Let us represent the cherubim in mystic harmony, mystic harmony,
praise the Father, Son and Spirit,
raise our three-fold song, raise our three-fold song,
praise the Trinity, praise the Trinity, raise our three-fold song to the Trinity,
Let us now cast aside, cast aside, let us cast aside all this earthly life,
cast aside, cast aside, cast aside, all this earthly life.  Amen.

King of all, we may receive God the King, we may receive Him!
He who in glory enters in with mighty hosts of angels,
with mighty hosts of angels. Alleluia!

Trinity: Incomprehensible Love

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052718.cfm

Trinity

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the most profound mysteries of our faith. The first reading shows us that human beings have been trying to understand this mystery ever since the time of Moses! The readings from both Romans and Matthew describe the power of God’s triune love in those who believe. But none of the readings really explain the Holy Trinity.

And that’s the whole point. “Mystery” cannot be explained.. We fumble around with human words in an attempt to capture a reality beyond words, beyond analysis – but not beyond faith. Mystery can only be encountered in humble and undemanding faith.

Today, as Christians, we profess our belief in a God Who is incomprehensible Infinite Love creating, redeeming and sanctifying all Creation. This Infinite Love is so pure and complete that, within its Unity, it both embraces and frees the three Persons of the Trinity.

Pope Francis has said, “The Christian community, though with all its human limitations, can become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its goodness and beauty.”  Our prayer today is to grow in our capacity to love in imitation of the Trinity. May we, as individuals and as a Church, increase in that merciful inclusivity and wholeness which reflects the triune love of God, at once embracing and freeing all that we love.

Music: Grace ~ Michael Hoppè – May this reflective piece offer us the space to enter into God’s Presence.