Archive for June 9th, 2017

Truths About Our God

June 9, 2017

Based upon the “Litany of the Attributes of God” by St. Francis Borgia (1510 – 1572 A.D.) which itself drew upon teachings in St. Thomas Aquinas’ 13th century Summa Theologica.

O highest God, whom no one but yourself can perfectly know, who are the subject of theology, who in yourself are unknown to us, whose existence is perfectly demonstrable, who possesses existence in yourself, who are the highest good and perfect,  who contains in yourself most eminently the perfections of all things, who is infinite, who alone is everywhere, who alone is changeless, who is eternal, who is the height of riches and wisdom and knowledge, who comprehends all things that are and are not, who knows evil things by knowing good things, who knows the infinite, whose knowledge is unvarying, who is the one only truth according to which all things are true, who is eternal and unchanging truth, in whom is will, who freely will even things other than yourself, whose will is the cause of things, whose will is unchanging and always accomplished, whose will does not impose necessity upon free will, in whom is love, who love all that you have made, who love all with one simple act of will, who love better things more by willing a greater good to them, in whom is a justice that grants all things their due, who are merciful and compassionate, who govern all things by providence and by whose providence all things are subjected, whose providence does not impose necessity upon the free, who save us according to your mercy and not from our works of justice, who can do all things more abundantly than we seek or understand, to whom blessedness belongs, have mercy on us and bestow on us all good things, now and forever.     Amen.

Giving Our Idols the Axe

June 9, 2017

St. Boniface (675–754 A.D.) is called “the Apostle of the Germans” and spread Christianity amongst the pagans of that land. After 36 years of fruitful missionary efforts, as he prepared for a large, open-air confirmation liturgy on a Pentecost eve, a pagan band of robbers martyred the aged archbishop and his companions. The most famous story about St. Boniface (as recorded by his first biographer, Willibald, within thirteen years of the saint’s death) reflects the tensions between the old and new religions:

“At Geismar, surrounded by his companions, the saint decided to fell a gigantic oak, revered by the pagans as Jupiter’s Oak. A big crowd of pagans watched him cut the lower notch, cursing him in their hearts as an enemy of the gods. But when Boniface had scarcely chipped the front of the sacred tree, a divine blast from above crashed it to the ground with its crown of branches shivering as it fell. And as if by the gracious dispensation of the Most High, the oak also burst into four equal parts.

The bystanders could see four huge trunks, uniform in length, that had not been cut by Boniface or his associates. At this sight the pagans who had been cursing the saint, now, on the contrary, believed. They blessed the Lord and stopped their reviling. Then after consulting his companions, the holy bishop used the timber of the tree to construct an oratory there, which he dedicated to St. Peter, the apostle.”

This reminds me of a minor wonder that occurred during our Confirmations last month at St. Wenceslaus. During the Mass, driving winds blew down a large branch into our parking lot. Ron “Butch” Colson, who was monitoring the storm for us, was amazed that this heavy limb had fallen between two adjacently parked vehicles without harming either one. You can still see the blackened spot on the tree from where it fell. Though this branch had appeared sound and strong at the time of our tree-trimming project this spring, it was actually rotten and hollow inside. I would not be surprised if Jupiter’s Oak had likewise become dead and weakened within, allowing a providentially-timed wind gust to take down the whole tree after a few swings of St. Boniface’s axe.

Today we do not worship pagan idols—gods of metal, wood, or stone—yet whenever we let created things have priority before God we turn them into our idols. Our worship of idols—be they people, possessions, or pleasures—is sin. At first glance, sins can appear harmless or even healthy, but God would cut down and convert us away from them. And the Lord, who works all things for the good of those who love him, can build great things from our sins’ wreckage and rubble.

In C.S. Lewis’ 1945 novel, The Great Divorce, a ghost considers journeying to join God and the saints in Heaven, but he is prevented by a little red lizard on his shoulder who whispers lustful ideas into his ear. A mighty angel of God offers to kill the ghost’s loved-yet-hated tempter and, after a great struggle of will, he consents. Once the lizard is slain, the ghost transforms into a man of glory while the lizard becomes a great white stallion with mane and tail of gold. Then, like a shooting star, the man rides his horse up the slopes of God’s holy mountain in a flash.

St. Boniface boldly felled Jupiter’s oak and built a place of worship from its timbers. This day, let us turn away from our sins, handing over our idols to God, that he may remake us more perfectly into his awesome, holy, and glorious likeness.

June 11th Parish Bulletin

June 9, 2017

The St. Wenceslaus parish bulletin (PDF) for Trinity Sunday on June 11, 2017.