Ministers, not Masters

Note: Attention readers in the Charlotte NC area. Robert Royal will give the Second Annual Sacred Heart Lecture on Religion and Catholic Culture at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Lancaster, South Carolina, hosted by Fr. Jeffrey Kirby STD tomorrow, Friday June 1 at 7 PM. For further information, click here (http://gracewepray.org/) and scroll down.

When we ponder the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, we come to realize it is one of the most practical revelations in the Catholic arsenal because it provides the underpinnings of our relationship to God and the life God gives us. Properly understood, the Trinity shows why and how we are ministers of life, not the masters of life.

God the Father is revealed in the Old Testament as the one God and Creator.  He intervenes in history after the Fall of Adam to direct the Chosen People along their pilgrim way.

Jesus is the Word of the Father and accomplishes His will; he rescues and redeems sinful man.

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is definitively revealed as the bond of Divine love with His descent on Mary and the disciples.

There is an infinitely perfect union of love within the Blessed Trinity:  one God, but mysteriously three distinct Persons, a pronounced distinction of Persons that comes with the perfection of Divine love.

But the Blessed Trinity is not static. Mysteriously, even though there is the absolute perfection of love within the Blessed Trinity, God creates, sharing His love.  God does not need the love of His creatures, yet He creates.  God’s communion of love expands beyond itself in creation. Though He does not need our love, He desires our love.

From the vantage point of Pentecost, we can revisit the account of creation in the Book of Genesis.  The nature of the love of the Blessed Trinity includes a mysterious selfless love revealed in the creation of man.  Such “selfless” love prefigures the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross:  “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  (Jn. 15:13)

With the Divine imprint of the Blessed Trinity on the heart of every man, we can begin to explain otherwise inexplicable inclinations and behavior.  Because man is created in the image of God, the Divine imprint defines and directs our nature.  It helps to explain the selfless love of a soldier who gives up his life for the love of his buddies.  An atheist may admire such selfless love but knows not the source.  The mysterious imprint of the Blessed Trinity on our hearts impels us to participate in the communion of His love and to similarly share His love in the world.

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These two elements, communion and creation, are identifiable in Genesis.  As Adam beholds his beloved Eve he exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen 2:23)  Love delights in the beloved.  And the Lord sends them forth to be His co-creators:  “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen 1:28)

By God’s command, male and female become the good stewards and ministers of new life.  A newly conceived baby does not belong to the parents.  A newborn belongs to God.  Mom and dad have the privilege and indispensable duty to be the loving stewards of God’s gift.  God is the master of life; participating in His love, we are the ministers of the life He gives us as a gift.

Curiously, most types of human love consume the beloved.  If one loves a hamburger, a cow has to die before lunch is served.  But interpersonal love does not consume the beloved, as even atheists would agree.  When human beings love one another, the love does not destroy.

There is no master/slave relationship, even within families – even with Jesus Himself:  “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”  (Jn. 15:15)  Love for one another is a ministry.  And spouses in a special way are ministers of life, participating in the inner life of the Trinity.

Certainly, love that is honest can also be painful, especially when calling for repentance from sin.  True human love that participates in the love of the Trinity is never destructive of the other.  Calling a beloved child or spouse to repentance respects – or should respect — the true dignity of the beloved.

In marriage, instead of saying “communion and creation,” we might say, “bonding and babies.”   Hence, every true marriage becomes an image of the love of the Blessed Trinity when it is faithful and open to children.  Openness to babies with the willingness to be ministers of new life is a natural and a beautiful necessity of the marriage bond.

Many disagree arguing that contraceptive drugs improve human love by liberating us from the fear of babies.  But without openness to new life, without a sense of mystery, a trustful surrender to God’s providence, and a commitment to service, we deny our nature inclined towards communion and creation.

An act of contraception presumes mastery over life.  It not only obstructs God’s plan for creation, marital bonding becomes mere mutual self-satisfaction.  And presuming to be the master of new life has terrible consequences.

Just as the sin of Adam brought suffering and death into the world, recourse to contraception destroys chastity, degrades marriages, disfigures cultures, and even ruins nations.  Increasingly, modern nations with depleted populations turn to unrestricted immigration to solve labor shortage problems rather than daring to oppose the root cause:  the contraceptive mentality.

Some suggest that the practice of contraception is merely a violation of Church policy written by wrinkled old clerics, and policies can change with enough political pressure.  On the contrary, contraception imperils the unity of man and woman and directly affronts the creative love of the Blessed Trinity.   Contraceptive acts violate our nature as human beings.

But in choosing the life and love of the Blessed Trinity, we align our minds with our hearts and become true ministers of life.  Choose life, therefore, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

*Image: The Trinityby Luca Rossetti da Orta, 1738-9 [St. Gaudenzio Church, Ivrea, Province of Turin, Italy]

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky

Father Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He is pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Great Falls, Virginia.