If you asked me at the start of 2020 what I hoped to accomplish, none of these items would have even been on my list. More than two months into the U.S. wave of the pandemic and just two weeks into Public Masses resuming, we celebrated the Holy Spirit. In the same way He ignited the hearts of those apostles, he has evidently been working in all of us.
What does your list look like?
Since March I have:
I would still be in my old routine if not for the startling impact of the Holy Spirit. Praise God that I got my gifts in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Today, each gift is on display in my life, a little brighter than before. Use yours to get yourself and others on His Path. This is not the new normal, this is what the Holy Spirit has been leading us to for thousands of years.
The theology of the “Trinity” is all about relationship; it is the model for us for our families and for all the communities in which we reside. The 12th-century mystic Richard of St. Victor (1123–1173) wrote about the Trinity as a “mutual, loving companionship of friends”—an image I believe we must aspire to in these days of uncertainty, division, anger and fear. This ideal overcomes the “I” and shows us the truth of the “We.” The Trinity is all about relationship and connection—the kinship of all God’s children and God’s Creation. And although we are all related it’s not about uniformity—but about unity—and we should understand that diversity is a gift of our Trinitarian God. An injury to any diverse part of us is an injury to all (as the song text says: we are many parts, but all one body—thank you, St. Paul!); and we see division of diversity overcome by a generous, forgiving love!
In looking at today’s Scripture readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we see that our God is generous and forgiving and slow to anger—a good thing—as our God is a God of love and peace! St. Paul reminds us of how we should treat one another, and the Gospel reminds us of the great sacrificial love God has for His children.
So, how can things be deeply connected and yet be clearly distinct, diverse from one another? In the Trinity we have three autonomous persons: Father, Son, Spirit—and yet all are in Communion! Think about why the theology of the Trinity is an important model for us: One alone is lonely (we know this is so true from those who are suffering isolation in this pandemic). Two is sometimes oppositional—each struggling for ascendency and leadership (why marriage is sometimes so difficult). Three in a relation is ever-changing in dynamics and leadership—generating ever-changing solutions according to the gifts and talents manifested by the different, equal parts.
I’m convinced that many of our current evils in the world—political corruption, ecological devastation, warring against one another, a hate for each other based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality—comes from a profound and painful sense of disconnection, dis-ease, with each other. And our isolation from each other is plunging us into increasingly short-sighted, hurtful, destructive behavior on all the fronts. The “take-away” from celebrating this Solemnity today should be a reconciliation with what Community means for all. (No exceptions.)
Our Catholic Christian belief in the Trinity should make it clear to us that God “is an event of communion.” (Thank you Rev. R. Rohr!) All of Creation is always both a giving and receiving between the Father, Son and Spirit—what St. Bonaventure called “A Fountain of Fullness.” The Trinity offers us a gift of connection with God, ourselves, all others and the world. We need to recognize our interdependence on God and each other in the form of love in action. A Community truly inspired by Trinitarian ideals will treat each other well: with love and respect; trust, mutuality, inclusion; with a delight for differences—but in unity—a sacrificial love of giving away, sharing, and letting go.
With the Trinity, God models for us the perfect example of Community. This image should change us politically and change all of our relationships in terms of the many power struggles between people (where two or three or many are gathered…). Community should be an “engine for peace” and “fuel for justice.” God made us for each other—and whatever good may grow or prosper or multiply only happens when people act for the good of others and for all—acting for each other—in important, significant ways. It is the “We” model in place of the “I” model.
We know that we depend on each other, and we could not flourish without each other. Forgiveness, healing and justice are the evidence of a truly shared life. We know and meet God through each other in our shared lives—yes, even though we are being challenged in this pandemic with distancing and civil unrest—our mutual exchanges of knowing and loving in spite of all may be God’s strategy for us. Caring and taking care of each other is the beginning and our goal as Christians who believe in the Trinity and God’s plan for His Creation.
As St. Paul says today: “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace… The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note: Many of you sent me emails after last week’s article about spiritual gifts asking for contact info for my trainers Nick and Emily (formerly of the Livonia Rec Center). You can find them at: getmtraining.online
God our Father, you give your Church constant growth by adding new members to your family. We welcome Rebecca Marie Bernard with great joy into our parish family. She is receiving the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist this Pentecost at the 9:30 Mass on May 31st. We also welcome Brandon Coats, Karina Oretga and David Veselenak as they make a Profession of Faith and receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Let us support them with our prayers and welcoming presence so that they may live fulfilling lives as members of God’s Family and joyful missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. Help all of us put into action in our lives the Baptism we have all received with faith. Amen!
David J. Conrad
P.S. Do you know someone who is curious about our Catholic Faith or who would like to become Catholic? Have them call or email me: 734-425-5950; firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was thinking over the last several weeks of our “stay-at-home” order for lockdown due to the pandemic—about how different the life-norm has been for everyone with all of our burdens and adjustments as we tried to “flatten the curve” (yea! we did it for now). We continue to try and protect the vulnerable and each other while the experts work to get a handle on this terrible virus; fulfilling the social contract of caring for and about each other by wearing masks, washing our hands more often, practicing social distancing and being mindful about our contact with each other.
I am fortunate in that I am still able to work out with my trainers through Skype in my home—because I can’t go the Livonia Rec Center now to use the equipment, or to swim or walk the indoor track—or recover in the hot tub after any workout. I really miss it; and my trainers have had to get creative to give me good cardio workouts in my living room and at my weight level while respecting my aging joints and physical abilities.
We have been told that one of the ways to combat corona depression and lockdown is to get moving physically—and my sessions with my trainers (Nick and Emily) have helped a lot with my mental outlook and attitude. (I am so blessed!) Another great thing that helps us in our mind set is obvious to us: prayer! (I like to work in our yard and garden while praying sometimes—another physical outlet for any frustration or fear I may be feeling).
What does this have to do with the Scripture for today as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost: the birth of our universal Church and us having been given all we need to work our missions here on earth? St. Paul reminds us today of all gifts and talents bestowed on us by the Holy Spirit—and all those talents that can be used and shared (thank you skype and zoom) in the midst of Covid 19. God is good! And maybe you have even surprised yourself with what you have managed through all this—or have gained a real appreciation for the action and work of others in your life whom you may dearly miss now (like your kid’s teachers). We should be grateful even now—and recognize God working through all for good. This is also a gift from God: to open our eyes to the work and commitment of people we may not think about much or often in our pre-pandemic days…
One can receive a gift and then fail to use it. For all practical purposes you can be given the gift of a tractor and yet never plow a field. The power was there to do so—but it lay fallow and unworked. We know that some Christians do not bear fruit… The Sequence for Pentecost says it all about those gifts of the Holy Spirit: praying for them and using them, what we are given and what we may accomplish with them. And Jesus tells us today that living in the Spirit will bring us peace. So today I recommend that you consider the Holy Spirit to be your spiritual trainer—maybe while you work out, or take a walk or garden or rest, or clean, or just be. You will yield the fruits of the Spirit—in yourself and for others.
Personal physical trainers are great because they hold us accountable, they encourage us, and they provide a daily regimen to follow. Spiritual fitness should be a top priority for all of us, too—we must ask ourselves the hard questions, seek the answers in prayer, study/reading of worthy material, reconciliation, and conversation with other “seekers” of truth.
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Who couldn’t use more of that? Or “workout” to utilize these fruits for a better life for all? These fruits are the “measuring tape” or “scale” of the Spirit’s gifts in our lives—and it’s not always about what exactly you do—but your manner and attitude in how you do them. We have all received the gifts of the Holy Spirit; so let us live in ways that the Spirit’s fruits in us are obvious to all others. This is the challenge and the mission. My prayer as I work out or garden or walk or cook or clean or rest will be that I will be a truly Spirit-filled Christian to all people in with whom it is safe (for now) to be near.
Keep singing in your hearts always!
Of all the weekends to start offering public Mass again, this is one of the best, for we celebrate the Feast of Christ’s Ascension into heaven. In this unusual and difficult time we see in Christ’s Ascension our destiny. Through Christ, each of us - body and soul - will be brought into the very life of the Trinity. Such is God’s purpose and this weekend’s feast is a needed reminder of that. Our current travails need not hold us down; united with Christ and through the power of His Death and Resurrection, this order is passing away (cf. Revelation 21:4).
Christ has ascended into heaven as God and Man – with our humanity. Now and forever more Christ is a man. Because He has taken a human nature to Himself, He has taken a man into the Trinity. His purpose in bringing a human nature into the Trinity was to bring us with Him into the very life of God. By accepting the gift of the Spirit we become incorporated into Christ and are made new, a process that has begun now – with our Baptism and subsequent Christian living – and will be completed in heaven. God’s ultimate purpose is to bring all of humanity, glorified and joined to His Son, fully into the Trinitarian life, sharing in the very relationship of Christ the Son with the Father.
Let us then continue moving forward with the face of the ascended Christ before us; through Christ “this momentary light affliction [will produce] for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
David J. Conrad
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.