Beliefnet
The Smoking Priest

St. Augustine was once confronted by a pagan leader who showed him his idol and said, “Here is my god; where is yours?” Augustine replied, “I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see him.”

The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is clearly revealed to us throughout the New Testament.  However, we already get a glimpse into this mystery in the first book of the Bible.  “God said, let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves…” (Genesis 1: 26).  Us?  Ourselves?  These words reveal to us the nature of God.  God is one God, but three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  One God, not three Gods.

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life.  It is the mystery of God in himself.  It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them.  It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of the truths of faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234).

We can look upon God as a communion of persons.  We can see the image of God stamped into all of existence.  Human nature, marriage, the family, human society and the Church are all icons of the Triune God who is a communion of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Man is a communion because man has been created as male and female.  Adam is not complete until the creation of Eve. Pope John Paul II affirmed that “man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion” (Theology of the Body, John Paul II, p. 163)

The marriage of man and woman is defined as an “intimate community of life and love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1603).  The intimate life of married spouses is an image of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity.  “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love…” (Gaudium et spes, Vatican II, 48).   Moreover, the Sacrament of Matrimony can be considered as the prototype of all of the sacraments  “because all of the sacraments draw their essential significance and their sacramental power from the spousal love of Christ the Redeemer” (The Theology of the Body Explained, Christopher West, p. 362).

Finally, the family, human society, and of course the Church are, in essence, communities or communions.

Pope Benedict says that “the Church is Eucharistic fellowship” (God is Near Us, p. 115).   I find these words to be quite significant because they indicate that it is not enough just to go to Sunday Mass as a private spectator.  Each parish is a community or communion of believers.  As living members of the parish family, we are called not only to worship, but to participate in the community life of the parish.  The parish is our church family.

“Faith is a personal act – the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself.  But faith is not an isolated act.  No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone.  You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life.  The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others.  Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith.  Each believer is thus a link in a great chain of believers.  I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166).

As I stated in my new book, Get Serious! A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, I firmly believe that after every Eucharistic Celebration, whenever possible, there should always be some kind of fellowship activity.  Moreover, sprinkled throughout the liturgical year, there should be well organized parish family life activities that provide an opportunity for the entire community to come together for fellowship.

Community with other persons will make us human and allow us to come to a deep encounter with God.  Community must exist in our families; it must exist in our neighborhoods; it must exist at school and in the work place; it must exist in our churches.

We all know that we live in an isolated and fractured world.

We can begin to change the world by building community right where we find ourselves planted.

 

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