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Spend your ordinary life with Him

Liturgically, we have returned to Ordinary Time. Most of the liturgical year is spent in ordinary time which means that most of our time spent with the Lord in life is in ordinary, daily life. The Church gives us back-to-back solemnities on these Sundays in Ordinary Time: Most Holy Trinity (today) and Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (next Sunday). With especially today’s feast of the Holy Trinity, I thought it would be good to offer insights from someone more theologically skilled than I am.

The following reflection, “A Share in the Life of the Trinity” (September 28, 1997) comes from the late Msgr. Thomas Wells, a former priest of Washington. As you’ll notice, he actually combines our feasts by merging the Eucharist with the Trinity. Great stuff!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

“Humanity reflects the life of the Trinity. This, I think, is one of the things meant by Scripture’s saying that we are made in the image and likeness of God. The better we know God, the better we know ourselves. Think about this, for example. From all eternity, it is the nature and role of the eternally begotten Son to love the Father. From all eternity, the Son responds to the Father whose love begot Him. The Holy Spirit, of course, is the love that eternally is exchanged between the Father and the Son.

It is the nature, then, of the Son to respond to the love of the Father. The Incarnation – the word we give to describe that God became man in the womb of Mary – is so extraordinary because it means that our brother in humanity, Jesus, not only continues to be in a relationship and intimate union with the Father, but He also enables us to participate in that same relationship. Now, St. Paul makes the crucial distinction that what belongs to Jesus by nature (His Sonship) is ours only by adoption. In other words, because of the death and Resurrection of Christ, we are the adopted sons and daughters of God. In the Spirit of Jesus, we can cry out, ‘Abba, Father,’ and know that we are heard as dearly beloved children.

Our challenge is to unite ourselves with Jesus. Again, St. Paul uses images like, ‘Clothe yourselves in Christ,’ or, ‘Put on the armor of God,’ to illustrate our potential to be remade in Christ. The reality, of course, is that because our potential is to live the life of Christ, like Him we have freedom: we are not forced to live the life we are given in Baptism. Inevitably, we fall short.

This is why the Eucharist is so central to God’s Plan for us. The great human act of love for the Father is the sacrifice of Jesus. Until time is no more, Jesus, our brother, continues to give Himself in love to the Father for us, and the Father continues to say, ‘Yes,’ to the prayer of His Son and our brother. The incredible miracle of the Mass is that, through the sacramentality of the priesthood, we can join with Jesus in that most perfect and pleasing act of praise. Insofar as we unite ourselves with Jesus, we are caught up in the very life of the Trinity.”

Uh-oh, Lent is Coming

The following is an excellent and timely reflection from my spiritual father, Msgr. Thomas Wells. After he was murdered in 2000, parishioners from one of his parishes assembled all of his weekly bulletin columns into a book, “From the Pastor’s Desk”. Great stuff! – Fr Greg

“Uh Oh, Lent is Coming” February 25, 1996

When trivia games were so popular a few years ago, there were, inevitably, several Catholic Trivia Pursuit spin-offs. I wonder if they included questions about the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday. These Sundays, each given a long Latin name denoting the number of days before Easter, were warning signals to Catholics that Lent is on its way. The priest wore purple vestments at Mass, but no Lenten practice was observed. The person in the pew saw the purple and said, “Uh oh, Lent is coming. What am I going to do this year?”

Now, of course, the season is suddenly upon us. Every year, we receive phone calls on Ash Wednesday from people asking for Mass times because they have seen people with ashes on the street and realized what day it was. It is a shame that Lent does now kind of sneak up on us because there is great wisdom in preparing for this spiritually and psychologically important time of year.

In some ways, the Church year mirrors life. There are times of celebration (Christmas and Easter), but most of life is living from day to day, something like the Church calls ordinary time of the year.

Inevitably, though, in differing ways throughout our lives, we are forced to step back and look at where we are, where we are going and what is really important to us. In the Church year, of course, Lent invites us to that same kind of self-examination.

The three traditional practices of Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving) challenge us to remember our place in the world and how easily we lose focus. The added prayer of Lent, and especially the struggle to focus on God and to give Him time that He deserves, reminds us that while we are commanded to love God with our whole being, we fall incredibly short. Likewise the challenge of fasting and, by extension, all our Lenten self-denial, give witness to the self-gratification that we so take for granted.

Whether it is time before the TV or eating between meals that we “give up”, we recognize, especially as we fail after the enthusiasm of the first few Lenten days that, talk aside, our love for God must not be so strong if we have such a hard time giving up such trivial things for love of Him.

Finally, Lent invites us to give to the poor, traditionally called almsgiving. As we consider our gift to the Cardinal’s Appeal, for example, we can examine whether we really do consider the poor, the dirty, the homeless, the mentally ill – all of the weak ones of the earth – to be our brothers and sisters. St. Paul says, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be”.

Lent is that time of year where, especially, the Church asks us to see if our hearts recognize a brother or sister in that wretched person who seems so different from me.