On the Catholic Priesthood

Sunday June 16, 2019

Trinity Sunday

There is a God : this is the first truth which we profess to believe when we recite the Creed, a truth which is the foundation of all the other truths of religion, and of salvation ; a truth which nature as well as religion alike inculcate ;a truth better known than all others, and which is as clear to our eyes as the light of day. Hence, we always regard as monsters, rather than men, that small number of wretches who arrive at such a height of impiety that they dare deny or even doubt that there is a God. If they have the hardihood to say so, “it is only in their heart,” saith the prophet. Indeed, the corruption of their hearts makes them desire that there were no God, that they may with greater ease and freedom abandon themselves to the disorders of their passions ; but their intellect never admits such an absurdity, and always convicts them of their lying blasphemies.

In fact, my Brethren, to convince us of the Existence of a God, it is not necessary that we should enter into tedious researches, and have recourse to laborious studies ; it suffices to contemplate ourselves attentively, to cast a glance over this vast earth, on the millions of creatures that inhabit the world. Yes, says Isaias, "Lift up your eyes on high ; consider who has created the heavens, who caused the army of stars to move in such beautiful order, and who calls them by their names.” Who, then, has fixed this earth upon its foundation ? Who has constructed the spacious firmament on high, --that wonderful ceiling dotted all over with stars, as so many precious stones ? Did man give existence to himself? Did the sun and moon fix themselves in the firmament ? « Do you know who is the Father of the rain, or who begot the drops of dew? (Job, XXXViii)
Ah! the world is a great book, which speaks to us only of God; the voice of the Supreme Being resounds from one end of the universe to the other, and says : “I am the Lord ; that make all things ; that alone stretch out the heavens; that establish the earth; and there is none with me.” (Isaias)

It is God, who has made every thing, and nothing was made without Him. Every man who does not recognize Thee, and who presumes to deny Thy existence, O, my God, is blind, is an ungrateful wretch, is a monster without eyes, without ears, without intellect, and without heart. Yes, if he has eyes let him open them, and everywhere he will see evidences of Thy wisdom, O, my God, and the wonders of Thy Omnipotence!- If he has ears to hear, why does he close them against the voice of every creature that proclaims the greatness of its Creator? Has he received from heaven the gift of intelligence ; he, who, more stupid than beasts, disowns HIM to whom he is indebted for every thing ? And where, then is his heart, since he is insensible to the ineffable bounty for all the blessings which he constantly receives from this adorable Providence,that confers them on him ?

Yes, -my Brethren, there is a God, there is but one God, and here can be no more gods than one. In truth, God is the Being above all beings ; the Infinite Being ; the perfect Being. That perfection can not be divided; infinity appertains to but one Being alone. Were there many infinitely perfect beings, none of them would possess perfection, since they would all be equal ; none of them would be superior to the others, none would be Sovereign Master; and we can with reason say, if there were many gods, there would be none, for a plurality of gods were an idle fancy, a thing that exists not. Says the prophet of God: “Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord, our God, is the only Lord. I am, says he, the first and the last, there is no God besides me.”* lsaias, xl and xliv

There is but one God. You must not however imagine, my Brethren, that the unity of God is opposed to the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. It is true, faith teaches us to acknowledge and adore three Persons in the Most Blessed Trinity, three Persons in one God ; yet, there is in this no contradiction. Indeed, we do not say, there are three Gods in one God ; but there are three Persons, who constitute but one God. In the Most Blessed Trinity there are not three divine natures, but only one and the same divine nature for the three divine Persons. Yes, my Brethren, always bear in mind, that the three divine Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity have but one and the same divine nature, and are but one and the same God. I know that this is one of those truths which reason of itself cannot comprehend, experience teach, nor the senses assist us to discover; it is a mystery the depth of which, it belongs to God alone to fathom. “No one knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. (St. Matthew, Xi:27) But what ought to set our minds at rest, and free us from all uneasiness, is, that God himself has revealed this august mystery, and His divine word is our guaranty for this profound truth. He has said: “There are three in heaven who give testimony, — -the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, — and these three are one. (St. John, V:7)

But what is God? The day will come when, in heaven, we shall know God and see His infinite perfections in the clearest light. In this life we behold Him only through a glass and in shadows. Yet, however imperfect our knowledge may be, faith and reason throw sufficient light around us, to demonstrate to us that God is a Spirit infinite in all His attributes ; that He is self-existent, and that He is from eternity. God is infinite, therefore He wants nothing ; and there is in Him not even the smallest defect, nor the slightest imperfection. He is perfect ; there is in Him neither sleep, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor anger, nor sadness, nor suffering, nor death; none of these imperfections are to be found in the infinitely perfect nature of God.

God is from all eternity ; He was not created by himself; neither could He have been created by another. If God created himself, He must have existed before He created himself, which is a palpable absurdity. If God was created by another, tell me by whom this other was himself created? How, then, does God exist? The Almighty himself informs us, when He says to Moses : “ I Am who Am” — that is to say, I am the necessary, infinite, eternal Being, the Source, the beginning of all other beings ; Life, and even Existence itself.

God is a being perfectly simple; He is a perfect Spirit; He has neither body, nor figure, nor form. He does not come under our senses ; He can neither be seen, nor touched. If the picture of God the Father represents Him under the form of an old man, it is to give us an idea of His adorable antiquity, and because He showed himself in this form to the prophet Daniel. If the Sacred Scriptures speaks to us of the eyes, the feet, and the hands of God, it uses such language only to accommodate itself to our weakness. These are no more than figures which serve to make us understand the perfections and attributes of God. By His eyes is signified that He sees all things ; by His hands that He made all things ; by His arms is understood His supreme power; and we express as far as possible His dignity, by placing all creatures at His feet.

But at the same time, the word of God warns us not to conceive a false idea of God, by supposing Him to have a human form, giving Him a human body and senses, or by believing that He is, as it were, confined within the vast and magnificent palace of this world. God is a Spirit; and therefore He desires to be adored in spirit and in truth. He wishes that our minds should be constantly raised toward Him, and that our hearts should he penetrated with His love, when we contemplate and meditate upon His infinite perfections.He wishes that, like generous children, we should have
for Him the deepest respect and the most perfect submission to His ever adorable will. He wishes that, by a faithful discharge of all the duties of our state, we may merit His favor and His love.

There is a God : He is perfect. He is infinite. O my soul, bless the Lord, and may all that is within me praise His holy name ! Yes, 0 Lord, I am the work of Thy hands, and my soul and my body shall never cease to publish Thy greatness and Thy goodness. Alas! can it be possible that there are men who refuse to recognize Him, by whose omnipotence they were called into existence! Can it be, that there are others who, though acknowledging that there is a God, yet live as if they knew Him not ; do not love Him, nor serve Him, nor wish to do any thing to please Him.

Let us not, O my God ! be amongst the number of those ungrateful wretches; on the contrary, let us bless Thee all the days of our lives; let us praise and glorify Thee on earth, which is Thy footstool; that, we may merit the happiness of being one day admitted to praise, and bless, and love Thee forever in Heaven, where Thou hast established the “ Throne of Thy Glory.” — Amen. 

Source:  One hundred short sermons, The Most Rev. Martin John Spalding Archbishop of Baltimore

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