The Church's Year
OF THE HOLY TRINITY
is celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, because as soon as
the apostles were instructed and consoled by the Holy Ghost, they
began to preach openly that which Christ had taught them.
do we celebrate this festival?
That we may
openly profess our faith in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which
is the first of Christian truths, the foundation of the Christian
religion, and the most sublime of all mysteries; and that we may
render thanks, to the Father for having created us, to the Son for
having redeemed us, and to the Holy Ghost for having sanctified
In praise and
honor of the most Holy Trinity, the Church sings at the Introit
of this day's Mass:
be the holy Trinity and undivided Unity: we will give glory to him,
because he hath shown his mercy to us: (Tob. XII.) O Lord, our Lord,
how wonderful is thy name in all the earth! (Ps. VIII. 1.) Glory
be to the Father, etc.
Almighty, everlasting God, who hast granted to Thy servants, in
the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the
eternal Trinity, and in the power of Thy, majesty, to adore the
Unity: grant that, by steadfastness in the same faith, we may ever
be defended from all adversities. Thro'.
(ROM XI. 33-36.) O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of
the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and
how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?
Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him,
and recompense shall be made him? For of him, and by him, and in
him, are all things: to him be glory forever. Amen.
St. Paul's exclamations, in this epistle, are caused by the inscrutable
judgment of God in rejecting the Jews and calling the Gentiles.
The Church makes use of these words to express her admiration for
the incomprehensible mystery of the most Holy Trinity, which surpasses
our understanding, and yet is the worthy object of our faith, hope
and love. Although neither angels nor men can fathom this mystery,
it cannot be difficult for the sound human intellect to believe
it, since it is indubitably and evidently revealed by God, arid
we, in many natural and human things, accept for true and certain
much that we cannot comprehend. Let us submit our intellect, there
fore, and yield ourselves up to faith; as there was indeed a time
when men were martyred, when even persons of all ages and conditions
preferred to die rather than to abandon this faith, so let us rather
wait until our faith is changed to contemplation, until we see the
Triune God, face to face, as He is, and in the sight of that countenance
become eternally happy. Thither should all our hopes, wishes,' and
desires be directed, and we should cease all fruitless investigations,
endeavoring by humble faith and active love, to prove worthy of
the beatific vision; for if we do not love Him who is our all, our
last end and aim, and lovingly desire Him, we will have to hope
of one day possessing Him.
O incomprehensible, Triune God! O Abyss of wisdom, power, and goodness!
To Thee all glory and adoration! In Thee I lose myself; I cannot
contain Thee, do Thou, contain me. I believe in Thee, though I cannot
comprehend Thee; do Thou increase my faith; I hope in. Thee, for
Thou art the source of all good; do Thou enliven my hope; I love
Thee, because Thou art worthy, of all love; do Thou inflame ever
more my love, that in Thy love I may live and die. Amen.
(Matt. XXVIII. 18-20.) At that time Jesus said to His disciples:
All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going, therefore;
teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with
you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
Christ being God had from all eternity the same power that His Father
had; being man, He had this same power by the union of His divinity
with His humanity, and on account of the infinite merits of His
passion. In virtue of this power, He said to His apostles, before
the ascension, that, as His Heavenly Father had sent Him, even so
He sent them to all nations, without exception, to teach all that
He had commanded, and to receive them, by means of baptism, into
the Church; at the same time He promised to be with them to the
end of the world, that is, that He would console them in suffering,
strengthen them in persecution, preserve them from error, and always
protect them and their successors, the bishops and priests, even
unto the consummation of the world.
on the doctrine of the infallibility of the Church for the first
Sunday after Easter.)
Be with us, O Lord, for without Thee our pastors cannot produce
fruit, nor their hearers profit anything from their words. Be with
us always, for we always need Thy help. All power is given to Thee,
Thou bast then the right to command, and we are bound to obey Thy
commands which by Thy Church Thou bast made known to us. This we
have promised in baptism, and now before Thee we renew those vows.
Grant now that those promises which without Thee we could not have
made, and without Thee cannot keep, may be fulfilled in our actions.
Leave us not to ourselves, but be Thou with us, and make us obedient
to Thee, that by cheerful submission to Thee true may receive happiness.
ON THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. XXVIII. 19.)
baptism a Sacrament?
in it the baptized person receives the grace of God by means of
an external sign, instituted by Christ.
is this external sign?
or the pouring of water, accompanied by the words: "I baptize
thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
does the baptismal grace effect?
original and actual sin; causing ,man to be spiritually born again,
made a new creature, a child of God, and joint heir with Christ.
many kinds of baptism are there?
There are three
kinds: The baptism of desire, which consists in a heartfelt desire
for the baptism of water, joined with a perfect love of God, or
a perfect sorrow for sins committed, and with the purpose to obey
all God's commands; the baptism of blood, which is received by those
who suffer martyrdom for the true faith, without having received
the baptism of water; the baptism of water, which is the Sacrament
do the deferent ceremonies of this Sacrament signify?
They are the
external signs of the effects which baptism produces inwardly upon
the soul, and should impress us with deep reverence for this Sacrament.
is it customary to have a godfather or godmother?
may be a witness that the child has received baptism; that in case
of the death of the parents, the sponsors may assume their place,
and have the child instructed in the truths of religion. St. Augustine
speaking of the duties of sponsors, very beautifully says: "They
should use all care, often to admonish in true love their godchildren
that they may strive to lead a pure life; they should warn them
against all detraction, all improper songs, and keep them from pride,
envy, anger, and revenge; they should watch over them that they
may preserve the Catholic faith, attend the church services, listen
to the word of God, and obey their parents and their pastors."
Sponsors must therefore be true believers, and of unquestionable
morality. No one, unless a Catholic can be chosen for a sponsor,
because one who is not a Catholic would not instruct the child in
the Catholic faith, or see that others do it; but would be more
likely, as experience shows, to draw the child over to error.
results from this sponsorship?
as in confirmation, a spiritual affinity originates between, the
sponsors, the one who baptizes or confirms, with the one baptized
or confirmed, and with the parents, so that, by a decision of the
Church a godfather or godmother cannot contract marriage with any
of these parties, unless the impediment is removed by dispensation,
that is, by a special permission received from a spiritual superior.
But the sponsors have no spiritual relationship to each other.
has the Church instituted this spiritual relation?
for these holy Sacraments, and that by this spiritual bond the sponsors
may be more closely connected with their godchildren, and be incited
earnestly to discharge their obligation.
must the person to be baptized wait at the entrance of the church?
that until he has thrown off the yoke of sin, and submitted to Christ,
and His authority, he is unworthy to enter, because baptism is the
door of God's grace, to the kingdom of heaven, and the communion
does the person receive a saint's name?
That by this
name he may be enrolled, through baptism, into the number of Christians
whom St. Paul calls saints; that he may have a patron and intercessor,
and that the saint, whose name he bears, may be his model and example,
by which he may regulate his own life.
does the priest breathe in the face of the one to be baptized?
of Christ who breathed on His apostles when He gave them the Holy
Ghost. (John XX. 22.) St. Chrysostom says that in baptism supernatural
life is given to the soul as God imparted natural life to Adam by
breathing on him.
does the priest impose his hand so many times upon the head of the
person to be baptized?
To show that
he is now the property of God and is under His protection.
do the many exorcisms signify?
That the evil
spirit who previous to baptism holds the person in bondage is now
commanded in the name of God to depart, that a dwelling?place may
be prepared for the Holy Ghost.
is the person so often signed with the sign of the cross?
that through the power of Christ's merits and of His death on the
cross, baptism washes away original sin; that the person is to be
henceforth a follower of Christ the Crucified, and as such must
fight valiantly under the banner of the cross, against the enemies
of his salvation, and must follow Christ on the way of the cross
even unto death.
does the salt signify which is put into the person's mouth?
It is an emblem
of Christian wisdom and of preservation from the corruption of sin.
Why are his ears and nose touched with spittle?
That as Christ
put spittle on the eyes. of the man born blind, thus restoring his
sight, so by baptism, the spiritual blindness of the soul is removed,
and his mind receives light to behold heavenly wisdom. Also, as
St. Ambrose says, the candidate is thus instructed to open his ears
to priestly, admonitions, and become a sweet odor of Christ.
does the priest ask: "Dust thou renounce the devil; and all
his works, and all his pomps?"
That the Christian
may know that his vocation requires him to renounce and combat the
devil, his works, suggtions and pomps. Thus St. Ambrose very beautifully
addresses a person just baptized: "When the priest asked: `Dust
thou renounce the devil and all his works,' what didst thou reply?
`I renounce them.' `Dost thou renounce the world, its lusts and
its pomps?' `I renounce them.' Think of these promises, and let
them never depart from thy mind. Thou host given thy hand?writing
to the priest,, who stands for Christ; when thou host given thy
note to a man, a thou art bound to him. Now thy word is not on earth
but preserved in heaven; say not thou knowest nothing of this promise;
this exculpates thee no better than the excuse of a soldier who
in time of battle should say he knew not that by becoming a soldier
he would have to fight."
is the person anointed on the shoulder and breast with holy oil?
As SS. Ambrose
and Chrysostom explain this is done to strengthen him to fight bravely
for Christ; as the combatants of old anointed themselves with oil
before they entered the arena, so is he anointed, on the breast,
that he may gain courage and force, bravely to combat the world,
the flesh, and the devil, and on the shoulder, that he may be strong
to bear constantly and untiringly, the yoke of Christ's commands,
and persue the toilsome course of life in unwavering. fidelity to
God and His holy law.
are, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostles' Creed said at baptism?
the child is a grown person an acknowledgment of faith may by this
means be made m the face of the Church; when children are baptized,
these prayers are said by the sponsors who are thus reminded to
see that their godchildren are well instructed in these as in all
other Christian truths.
does the priest expressly ask the person if he will be baptized?
man, through Adam, of his own free will obeyed the devil, so now
when he would be received among the number of Christ's children,
he must, to obtain salvation, of his own free will obey the precepts
is water poured three times upon the person's head?
This is done,
as St. Gregory the Great writes, in token that man after this thrice-repeated
ablution rises from the death of sin, as Christ, after His three
days' burial, rose from the dead. (Rom. VI. 4.5.) In early times
the candidate for baptism was immersed three times in the water.
For many 'reasons this custom has been abolished.
is the person anointed on the top of the head with chrism?
is, so to speak, the crown of the young Christian. As in the Old
Law the kings were anointed, (I Kings X. 1.) as Jesus is the Anointed
One, and as the Apostle St. Peter calls the Christians a chosen
race, a kingly priesthood, a holy people, (I Peter II. 9.) so the
baptized by means of this unction is embodied in Christ, the Anointed
One, and participates in His priesthood and kingly dignity. What
an exalted position is the Christian's! He is the anointed one of
the Lord, and in a spiritual sense a priest, because he constantly
brings himself to the Lord God as a pleasing sacrifice in prayer,
mortification, &c. He is king when he rules over his inclinations,
submits them to reason, and reason to the Lord. Besides this he
is king by the claims which, through baptism, he possesses to the
kingdom of heaven. Through the chrism he becomes the blessed temple
of the Holy Ghost, the sacred vessel which in time, through communion,
will contain the precious body and blood of Christ. How does he
desecrate this temple when, by grievous sin, he tramples this exalted
dignity under his feet and. stains the temple of the Holy Ghost,
does the white robe signify?
The holy Fathers
teach that this represents the glory to which by baptism we are
born again; the purity and beauty with which the soul, having been
washed from sin in the Sacrament of baptism, is adorned, and the
innocence which the baptized should preserve through his whole life.
is a lighted candle placed in his hand?
It is an emblem
of the Christian doctrine which preserves the baptized from the
darkness of error, ignorance, and sin, illumines his understanding,
and leads him safely in the way of virtue; it represents the flame
of. love for God and our neighbor which the baptized should henceforth
continually carry, like the five prudent virgins, (Matt. XXV. 13.)
on the path to meet the Lord, that when his life is ended he may
be admitted to the eternal wedding feast; it signifies also the
light of good example which he should keep ever burning.
is the minister of this sacrament?
minister is the priest of the Church; but in case of necessity any
layman or woman, even the father or mother can baptize. Parents,
however, should not baptize their own child unless no other Catholic
can be procured. The reason why lay persons are permitted to baptize
is that no one may be deprived of salvation.
must be observed particularly in private baptism?
who baptizes must be careful to use only natural water, which must
be poured on the child's head saying at the same time the words:
I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost; having at the same time the intention of baptizing
as the Church does, in the manner required by Christ.
ON THE RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL VOWS
All the graces
and dignities which we receive in baptism, God secures to us for
the future, only on condition that we keep our baptismal vows. Every
Christian in baptism makes a bond with God through the meditation
of Christ who has sealed it with His blood. This bond consists,
on man's part, in the promise to renounce forever the devil, all
his works and all his pomps, that is, constantly to suppress the
threefold lust of the eyes, the flesh and the pride of life, by
which the devil leads us to sin, and to believe all that God has
revealed, and all that His holy Church proposes to our belief, and
diligently and properly to make use of all the means of salvation.
On the part of God this bond consists in cleansing us from all sin,
in bestowing the gifts of the Holy Ghost, in adopting us as His
children, and. in the assurance to the inheritance of heaven. This
bond will never be broken by God who is infinitely true and faithful,
but it is often violated by weak and fickle man. In compliance with
the desire of the Church we should often reflect upon it, and from
time to time renew it in the sight of God. This should be done particularly
before receiving the holy Sacrament of Confirmation, before first
Communion, on the vigils of Easter and Pentecost, at the blessing
of baptismal water, on the anniversaries of our baptism and confirmation,
before making any solemn vow, before entering into matrimony and
when in danger of death. This renewal of baptismal vows can be made
in the following manner: Placing ourselves in the presence of God,
we kneel down, fold our hands, and say with fervent devotion:
in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born and suffered
in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of
saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
the devil; all his works and all his pomps.
! With Thee I am united, to Thee alone I cling, Thee only will I
follow, for Thee I desire to live and die. In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
ON THE HOLY TRINITY
GOD is the
most perfect being, the highest, best Good, who exists, from all
eternity, by whom heaven and earth are create, and from whom all
things derive and hold life and existence, for of Him, and by Him,
and in Him are all things. (Rom. XI. 36.)
is the Blessed Trinity?
Trinity is this one God who is one in nature and threefold in person,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
each of these three persons God?
each of them has the divine nature and substance.
they not three Gods?
all three of these persons have one and the same divine nature and
any one of these three persons older, mightier, or greater than
By, no means,
they are all three from eternity entirely equal to each .other in
divine omnipotence greatness and majesty, and must, therefore, be
equally adored and venerated.
one to give himself up to the investigation of the most Blessed
says the saintly Bishop Martin, "the mystery of the Trinity
cannot be comprehended by the human intellect, no one however eloquent
can exhaust it; if entire books were written about it, so that the
whole world were filled with them, yet the unspeakable wisdom of
God would not be expressed. God who is indescribable, can in no
way be described. When the human mind ceases to speak of Him, then
it but begins to speak." Therefore the true Christian throws
his intellect under the feet of faith, not seeking to understand
that which the human mind can as little comprehend, as a tiny hole
in the sand can contain the immeasurable sea. An humble and active
faith will make us worthy some day in the other world, to see with
' the greatest bliss this mystery as it is, for in this consists
eternal life, that by a pious life we may glorify and know the only
true God, Christ Jesus His Son, and the Holy Ghost.