We do not post about religion and God as much as we should, so to help remedy that we present to you Ann Barnhardt’s mailbag. No matter what you may think of her politics Ann gives a great testimony. You will love it 🙂
Could you please stop posting the Lord’s Prayer every day? It significantly reduces the number of visible posts.
Congratulations! You win this month’s “Way to Completely Miss The Point” award! And given the nature of the award, here is the requisite excruciatingly direct answer to your question: Uh, no. I cannot stop posting the Lord’s Prayer every day. Mmm-kay? Yeah. Thanks.
I thought you hated all secular music. You’re always complaining about “rockband church”, and then you post Elvis and try to make some connection to God. You need to make up your mind.
I Don’t Understand Context
Dear I Don’t Understand Context,
Let’s say your best friend has been arrested, tried in a kangaroo court and sentenced to execution for a crime that YOU committed. Before the actual execution, your best friend is tortured, whipped until skinned, and then led through the streets being mocked, pelted and spit upon by huge crowds. He finally gets to the place of execution and is stripped naked and then NAILED hand and foot to two beams to hang and slowly asphyxiate. Amazingly, your best friend does all of this willingly, and is even CONSOLED by the fact that you are present at his execution. What is the proper, moral and dignified way for you to behave while you hold vigil at the place of execution while your best friend dies in agony on your behalf?
A.) “Day-um. This is SO FLIPPING BOOOORING. This is SOOO STUPID. I can think about my friend at home just the same as here. AND I can do chores or watch the football game at the same time! I’m out. Peace, yo.”
B.) “I’ll hang around, but there better be a kick-ass rock band, a PowerPoint show and a stand-up comedy routine or else I AM OUT. If I’m not seriously entertained, then forget it. Oh, and if ANYONE brings up the fact that my friend is dying on my behalf for crimes that I COMMITTED and tries to lay some sort of guilt trip on me, I’m just going to leave. Screw that.”
C.) “I’ll go, but they had better let me talk and sing and be an on-site usher or else I AM OUT. I’m not going to go and just be anonymous and ignored, because if you think about it, this really is ALL ABOUT ME.”
D.) On knees, SILENT, head covered, SILENT, mortified, SILENT, begging in prayer for your Best Friend to forgive you, and telling Him how much you love Him and His Sacrifice of Himself for you. Oh, and SILENT.
The correct answer is . . . D.
When you are at the foot of the Cross at Mass (because that is what the Mass is – the bending of time in order to touch today to Calvary 1979 years ago), you SHUT YOUR MOUTH, GET ON YOUR KNEES and PRAY, just exactly as The Virgin Mary, St. Mary Magdalene and St. John did. They didn’t talk. They didn’t sing super-fun songs in order to entertain themselves or the others there present and show off their musical abilities. They didn’t laugh, or relax or have fun. They got on their knees, beheld the Crucified Christ, and wept and PRAYED. Christ Crucified is NOT ENTERTAINING. Christ Crucified is not “fun”. You don’t play secular music, or music that is trying to sound secular and thus be “entertaining”, AT CALVARY. To do so is, frankly, narcissistic to the point of being utterly deranged.
It is called CONTEXT. If you don’t have it, get it.
In keeping with the situation,
MAILBAG #3 – A SIMPLE QUESTION
Could you please explain the Trinity?
Unreasonably High Expectations
Dear Unreasonably High Expectations,
In a word, no. No one can. It is a mystery. And I find this consoling. Frankly, the fact that the Church says straight-out that there are certain things which are simply unable to be comprehended by human beings is a testament to the legitimacy of the Church as a teaching authority. Never trust any human being or group of human beings who claim to “know everything”. Anyone who claims to know everything is, by definition, a liar right out of the chute, because only God knows everything.
There are several huge mysteries of faith: the Trinity (one God in Three Divine Persons), the Incarnation (Jesus Christ being both fully God and fully human) and the Eucharist (bread and wine being transubstantiated into the physical Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ).
How can God be One in Being, but Father, Son and Holy Ghost? I dunno. It’s a mystery.
How can Jesus be both fully God and fully Man? I dunno. It’s a mystery.
How can something that was bread a few minutes ago, and still looks like bread, and still smells and tastes like bread actually be God? And how did that change occur? I dunno. It’s a mystery.
Regarding the Trinity, here is what we do know. The entire point and revelation of God in the Old Testament is the reality that there is not a “pantheon” of many gods, but that there is, in fact, only ONE God. If you had to pin down what the point of the Old Testament is – that’s it in a very, very simple nutshell. GOD IS ONE.
The Torah, or the first five books of the Old Testament, were written by Moses. The entire point of Moses’ life was to bear witness to the fact that there is only ONE GOD. There was absolutely no ambiguity about this. None. But, if we look at literally the FIRST CHAPTER of the book of Genesis, we see something amazing. Verse 26:
“And He said: Let Us make man to Our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.”
Moses spent most of his adult life in interface with and witnessing for The ONE TRUE GOD. And yet he can’t get more than a couple hundred words into his written record and he is using PLURAL PRONOUNS – “Us” and “Our” – when quoting the ONE TRUE GOD.
SURELY Moses, of all people, wouldn’t make the sloppy mistake of using plural pronouns. SURELY someone around Moses, and for the centuries upon centuries afterward, would say, “Hey! You’ve got plural pronouns here! Shouldn’t we fix that? Afterall, it completely undercuts the whole “GOD IS ONE” thing we are trying to communicate here.”
Nope. Not only did Moses write it that way, but it STAYED that way for all of these centuries.
About the most that can be said about the Triune Godhead is this: God is RELATIONAL to Himself. God is Love – and what is love? Love is the complete giving of one’s self, and love is the act of fully RECEIVING and then returning love. Soooo . . . if God were NOT relational to Himself, how could He have existed as existential love before the creation of the universe? Who was He loving? Was He sitting around pondering Himself? How does inward-turned naval gazing constitute a GIFT of self? What love was He receiving? How could God receive love if He was the only thing that existed?
Because God is, in Himself, able to relate to Himself. Christ revealed to us that God is Three Divine Persons, all distinct but yet completely One in Being. Got your head around that? No, of course not. We can’t FULLY grasp that existential reality any more than we can grasp and explicitly describe what a fifth dimension would look like. But Christ did give us names for the Three Persons in Matthew 28:19 so that we could relate a little bit to the Trinity. Those names are: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The words “Father and Son” are not a perfect analogue because the Father did not exist before the Son, as in the human case. The Three Divine Persons of the Trinity are co-eternal. No one can explain that. No one can explain eternity. All we can do is name it, and then get on with living. Also, there is the issue of gender, which is another post, but suffice it to say that God contains “femaleness” and women are not a foreign mystery to Him.
So, God the Father gives Himself fully to God the Son. God the Son then fully receives that love, and then returns it to God the Father fully. This infinite back-and-forth of love is so existentially perfect that it yields a Third, which Jesus taught us to call “The Holy Ghost”. The big human clue-in to all of this is human procreation. A man loves his wife and gives himself to her fully and completely. The wife loves her husband and thus receives his gift of himself in the form of his DNA and offers her own DNA in return. The two gifts of self are so perfect and complete that they actually become a third person.
Thus, the Triune Godhead is the foundational reality, and human procreation is the DERIVATIVE, which points back to the underlying reality of the Trinity. And yes, eventually every derivative expires, and upon expiry there is a delivery and the books get settled and squared. That would be “death” and “judgment”. As a (former) futures broker, I like that part. 🙂
Here is a classic song that touches on the crux of what real, Trinitarian love is: “Nature Boy”, best performed by Nat King Cole.