Holy Trinity Sunday: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20 ~ the rich mystery of God’s inner life

Holy Trinity Sunday

Today we celebrate the most Holy Trinity, the rich mystery of God’s inner life. This remains a mystery beyond all understanding for us while we live in this world, even though the veil which covers it is lifted ever so little. The Bible assures us that not only is our God a personal God, but that God exists as three interactive, loving Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while yet remaining one divine reality, one God.

+ In the name the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

Full of joy on this morning, we adore and glorify the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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Father almighty, You sent the Spirit of Your Son into our hearts: fill us with Your Spirit, that we may be Your heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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A Reading from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 (NLT)

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“Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before? Has any nation ever heard the voice of God speaking from fire — as you did — and survived? Has any other god dared to take a nation for himself out of another nation by means of trials, miraculous signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, a powerful arm, and terrifying acts? Yet that is what the Lord your God did for you in Egypt, right before your eyes.
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“So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22 (NLT)

For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.
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For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.
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But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.

We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.
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Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
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A Reading from the Letters: Romans 8:14-17 (NLT)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

The fresco at Holy Trinity Church in Lorain, photographed after Wednesday morning mass, August 26, 2009.
The fresco at Holy Trinity Church in Lorain, photographed after Wednesday morning mass, August 26, 2009.

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A Reading from the Gospels: Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him — but some of them doubted!

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
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Intercessions:

God our Father, You revealed the great mystery of Your godhead to mankind when You sent into the world the Word who is Truth and the Spirit who makes us holy. Lord Jesus Christ, You sent the Paraclete from the Father’s side to be your witness: make us also Your witnesses before men.

+ Holy Father, of ourselves we are nothing. Give us the Holy Spirit – may He strengthen us in our weakness and intercede for us before Your face.

+ Son of God, You asked the Father to send the Comforter to Your people – may He, the Spirit of truth, remain with us always.

+ Come, Holy Spirit, and give us an abundance of Your fruits – make us loving, joyful, peaceful, patient and kind; give us integrity, forbearance, gentleness, faith, modesty, temperance and chastity.

Help us to grow in Your Truth and worship You in Spirit: three Persons, eternal in glory, one God, infinite in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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Benediction:

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; to God who is, who was, and who is to come. (Rev 1:8)

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 30 May – Psalm 19:8-11; Mark 11:27-33 ~ joy to the heart

Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you.
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God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love, and self-control.

+ Praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – in Christ we have been given every spiritual blessing.
+ By the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary brought Christ into the world – may Christ be born again today in the hearts of men.
+ Father, may Your Spirit lead us forward out of solitude – may He lead us to open the eyes of the blind, to proclaim the Word of light, to reap together the harvest of life.
+ Let our striving for Your Kingdom not fall short through selfishness or fear – may the universe be alive with the Spirit, and our homes be the pledge of a world redeemed.

Father, send us your Spirit. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 19:8-11 (NLT)

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16a-17c)
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A Reading from the Gospels: Mark 11:27-33 (NLT)

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Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?”

“I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!”

They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet. So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”

And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 29 May – Galatians 2:19-20; Mark 11:11-26 ~ Christ lives in me

Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

Lord Jesus, come to us today.
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Christ is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, and the first to be born from the dead. All things are to be reconciled through Him because He made peace by His death on the cross.

+ We have been baptized into Your death- may I be cleansed of greed and envy, and clothed in the strength and gentleness of Your love.
+ We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit who has been given to us – confirm me in Your service, and help me to bear witness to You in the society in which I live.
+ Before You suffered, You longed to eat the passover with your disciples – as I take part in Your eucharist, may I share in Your resurrection.
+ You continue to work in Your faithful people – create through us a new world where injustice and destruction will give way to growth, freedom and hope.

Lord God, bestow a full measure of Your grace on me, as You work within me to keep me in the path of Your commandments, may I receive consolation in this present life and eternal joys in the next. Through my Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

A Reading from the Letters: Galatians 2:19-20 (NLT)

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For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law — I stopped trying to meet all its requirements — so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
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I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord. (John 15:16)
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A Reading from the Gospels: Mark 11:11-26 (NLT)

So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it.

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because he people were so amazed at his teaching.

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That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city

The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Morning Prayer: 28 May – Psalm 33:2-9; Mark 10:46-52 ~ now that’s awesome

Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentence and prayer:

Early in the morning I will think of You, O Lord. You have been my help.
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It is the Father’s will that we should see Him in the face of His beloved Son. Holy is Your name.

+ Christ greeted me with good news – may the world hear it through me, and find hope.
+ I praise and thank You, Lord of heaven and earth – You are the hope and joy of all people in every age.
+ May Christ’s coming transform Your people – renew our youth and vigor in the service of all.
+ I pray for Christians who suffer for their belief – sustain them in their hope.

Grant me, Lord, a true knowledge of salvation, so that, freed from fear and from the power of my foes, I may serve You faithfully all the days of my life. Through my Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Reading from Psalms: 33:2-9 (NLT)

Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

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For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.

The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.

Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.
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I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
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A Reading from the Gospels: Mark 10:46-52 (NLT)

He Anointed the Eyes of the Blind Man Walter Rane
He Anointed the Eyes of the Blind Man
Walter Rane

Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.
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Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

Blessing:

May the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Only Path to Societal Renewal – Reblog by Dan McConchie (The Gospel Coalition)

The Only Path to Societal Renewal (see original here)
May 26, 2015 | The Gospel Coalition

As recent attacks against religious liberty have demonstrated, it is increasingly difficult for Christians to speak truth in the public square. The temptation is to respond by withdrawing, turning your faith inward, and warming yourself in quiet communion with like-minded faithful. However, even if this were a legitimate response, the purveyors of societal change have demonstrated they will not be satisfied with acquiescence. In the end, they will demand cooperation, which is why the fight over religious freedom and conscience has become so toxic, so vitriolic, so quickly.

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It’s easy to point to the culture wars and see them as a proxy for living out our faith. There are real dangers to a nation when the powers-that-be succumb and embrace societal sin. But fighting these battles, while important, is not enough to spread the gospel. The church, having turned in to itself in so many places, no longer provides the moral yardstick by which people measure cultural norms. While we must continue to stand for truth and religious freedom, it is not enough to get us back to a path of societal renewal. We must also return to the basics of personal holiness and care for the physically, morally, and spiritually destitute.

When the tyranny and paganism of Rome was at its height, James assigned in his epistle a surprisingly simple role to the church. He wrote that a “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). In applying his words to today, we can and should continue our fight for truth in the public square, but only as long as we continue to live in holiness and demonstrate that Jesus lives within us by caring for those who are suffering, doing so with both love and in truth.

Saving by Serving

Who are the widows and orphans today? Perhaps the question is better stated, “Who most needs the church to stand in the gap for them?” The answer, whatever it is for your church, will likely make you uncomfortable. When we stray from our comfort zone in meeting the needs of the lost the Lord tends to use us most effectively.

Journalist D. C. McAllister recently told her story of redemption, how 15 years ago she was a single, destitute mother with two young children and another on the way. She went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion but sat alone in the parking lot never getting out of her car. She writes that she realized she couldn’t “sacrifice my child on the altar of my own selfishness.” She drove away.

Impoverished, she applied for welfare but didn’t qualify because she was “able-bodied” despite being single with children who needed her care. With no place else to turn, she despaired. Then:

I went to a local church and asked for help. They gave it to me, no judgment, no condemnation. Only love. I sat in the pastor’s office and wept uncontrollably as I told him my story. He said it didn’t matter. God’s grace is sufficient. They would help me get through the next year or so until I was on my feet. They gave me counseling and accepted my daughter into their preschool so she could make friends. The women at the church took me under their wing, giving me clothes for my baby when she was born and encouraging me when I felt overwhelmed.

If the government had given me welfare, I doubt if I would have gone to the church for help. And if I hadn’t, I would never have benefited from their love and grace—and that’s what I needed most. I needed physical help, but I desperately needed spiritual, emotional help. And they were there for me. Loving me, supporting me, encouraging me, and counseling me. They saved me.

In reading her story, I was struck by both her bravery as well as her admission that she would have likely never gotten the help she truly needed if the government had given her a handout. The absence of government action enabled her to find healing. A stingy government program’s failure to help led her home.

Giving What Government Cannot

Starting in the 1930s with the New Deal, federal and state government supplanted the church as the central societal organ caring for the needy among us. In an effort to help the poor, the state inadvertently severed bonds that helped hold society together for centuries, one where faith and spiritual change were central in the healing of a broken, needy person.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Public Economics found that “benevolent church spending fell by 30 percent in response to the New Deal, and that government spending can explain virtually all of the decline in charitable church activity observed between 1933 and 1939.” True, the government can spend more money on programs to help the poor. But money alone does not change the heart. In fact, direct governmental payments can crowd out the opportunity for spiritual change, for the holistic support so often needed to address the real roots of material poverty.

Holistic support only comes from the Christ-centered mission of a healthy, vibrant local church that can introduce the broken soul to the healing that only comes from Jesus. He provides the healing of heart and mind that fully enables the downtrodden to attain a state of health that enables them to fully exploit the opportunities God gives in a free society such as ours.

At the same time the government supplanted the church in benevolence, the church lost the maturing, sanctifying effect that the poor had on the church. As Arloa Sutter, leader of inner-city Chicago’s Breakthrough Urban Ministries, once told me, “The poor need us, but even more than that, we need the poor.” Those of us who have wealthy, unencumbered lives need to be pulled out of our comfort zones back into a world of grit and pain where once again we can see and experience Jesus as the only answer to the trials that assail us all.

And when we experience Jesus on this level, when we have experienced that revival of mind and soul that only he can bring, we cling to the Word of God as the only bedrock on which to renew a nation and people.

In an era when government policy so often limits opportunity for the church to be the witness it was assigned to be, the church must be vigorous in reclaiming its vital societal role. With chronic overspending by the state and a burgeoning debt crisis, that job may be easier than we expect in the coming years. But even if the state fights the church for the role, it is essential that the church win that fight.

And when the church regains its central position as the place of first resort, again serving as Jesus’s hands and feet to those in need, it will again have both the platform and the moral authority to reclaim its place as the stick by which cultural norms are measured again.
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Dan McConchie, MA, is a national pro-life lobbyist and board member of a Informed Choices Pregnancy & Parenting centers in suburban Chicago. He received his MA in Christian Thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and attends Harvest Bible Chapel – Lake Zurich. You can follow him on Twitter @danmcconchie.