June 12, 2022
Living a better life with God and becoming better at living because of God’s Divine Presence in my life are the purposes to which I dedicate myself as a priest to helping others.
This has become very clear to me over the last 10 years as we continue to move out of a doctrinal, philosophy, theology Church discipline approach to our Catholic life.
My goal is not to get to heaven. That will happen inevitably because of Jesus’ mercy, and it is his job, he tells us, to get us back from where we came.
My God is not a judge who is watching my every move or step. God has more important tasks to perform like keeping all the universes going.
Over the centuries, the Catholic Church has so simplified God on to our planet earth and proscribed what we are supposed to believe and to do, has made our sins venial and mortal and has encouraged us to be fearful and never to second-guess or to doubt.
Sociologists will describe Catholics as less religious today but more spiritual. That reveals itself in the statistics that less than 30% of Catholics go to mass with any regularity.
From boredom with liturgy, to scandals about sexual abuse, to distrust of ecclesiastical authority, to desiring a more personal and/or more charismatic style of faith practice, there is no longer a one kind of mold (way) to be a Catholic, not from one single intact tradition.
So where do you stand? What do you see in your families? In our younger generations?
I don’t practice all the doctrines that I was taught or all the rituals and devotions that I grew up on. Our personal faith in God is not an idea. It is a personal response to God who is in our hearts and lives.
Our Catholic tradition believed our hearts would know and accept God if we taught correct catechisms and required the learning of prayers or just receiving Holy Communion.
But it is much more than a colorful, expressive language or repetitive rituals. God is more than an idea, or an ideal, or fierce judge. How often did our parents or grandparents threaten that God would punish us if we disobeyed or broke a Church law?
I do not find our theological tradition, based on scholastic theology very helpful. What does it mean for the Son to process from the Father or vice et versa or for them to produce the Holy Spirit? For me, it clarifies little and God becomes more obtuse, and for God’s sake, we need to stop using God by threatening his punishment.
So, what does it mean to praise God this morning for being a Holy Trinity? There is no answer in the shamrock or a triangle, yet we use the ancient words from the end of the gospel according to Matthew to go out and “Baptize all the nations in the Name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” So often we rush through the making and the signing of the cross without a reflection or thought as to what it means.
Today’s Book of Proverbs presents God the Father as the source of all Wisdom, who created what we know as the planet earth. God is described as a “superb craftsman,” playing on the surface of his earth and finding delight in the human race. Remember what God said in the Book of Genesis that “God found everything very good.”
Let us find the good. Let us lead all that is toward the good.
Our Psalm reminds us, speaking about the Father God: “You have made man and woman little less than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”
Jesus, St. Paul tells us, has brought us into the glory of God, that even our affliction produces endurance and endurance produces character, and proven character, hope. Jesus has poured the love of God into our hearts.
So, we appreciate God also who appears to us as the Spirit of Truth, who continues to guide us, to open doors for us, who enables us to appreciate the divine presence that God has shared with us. The Spirit of Truth is not a doctrine; it is a spiritual DNA that, over time, helps us to move and be and have our being inside of God, who is inside of us.
We are never going to understand who God is completely because we are so much more than who we are. We do not know our capacities for life and goodness. Jesus promises today that this Spirit of Truth will take from him and “declare it to us.”
Just like a human family, we need to spend time to get to know one another, and to love and appreciate one another. We need to do the same to get to know and appreciate Our Father, Our Jesus, and our Holy Spirit.