The Passage Into Paradise

Part III

Risen Lord, be with us The risen Lord and in our hour of need.
now

Chancel Steps

When we descend these steps, we do so with Christ in us. Wherefore often in this life we descend, and in descending find that Heaven is not necessarily always in an upward direction.

[the following may not be reproduced except for use in private devotions]

The seminary campus was soaked and puddles dotted the landscape from the administration building to the chapel. I was a commuter student with a 200 mile round trip between Greensboro and Pittsburgh and had arrived a day early in order to have uninterrupted study time. My theology class was not until the following morning. "Now to get out of this chill", I thought, "and just settle down to read my Hans Küng assignment." Somehow Dr. Küng and I never did hit it off, but professors have a way of insisting, and mine insisted that we all have several chapters of Hans Küng in readiness for the morrow. So Küng it would be.

A lot of curious thoughts crowded my mind as I descended the steps to the lower stacks of the seminary library. I mused about being back at seminary in my middle-age. But I figured it would all be worth it once I finished my long delayed degree. Coming to my favorite section of the stacks I paused. First I thought that it would be good to check out the preachers I particularly enjoyed: Spurgeon, Moody, Whitefield, Newton, Toplady, Temple, and Brook. If I must plunge into the murky world of Hans Küng, let me first ascend to the brilliance of these great saints and there capture one or two rays of inspiration for my next Sunday sermon. These "old friends" with their wonderful insights had stood me good for many a Sunday morning. Their meditations on scripture had a way of working into fine wines while fermenting in my mind. I quoted them heavily but, and this was the delight of preaching for me, they seemed to become part of my pulpit reasoning and they came through loud and clear. I looked forward to this weekly session with the masters. Never had they failed me. Never, that is, until this particular morning.

I scanned volume after volume and came up dry. I returned to the shelves and started pulling out unfamiliar names and titles, loading them into my carrel. Failing to find inspiration from these, I went back to the stacks where my eyes settled on the vaguely familiar name of John Henry Newman.* There in neat rows I saw the tattered old volumes of Parochial And Plain Sermons. I discovered I was not the total ecumenist I thought I was. My Episcopalian days had set into motion this one most unworthy thought. "Oh, Newman. He's the turncoat." But by now I was desperate. I needed at least one little thought to work for my sermon from somewhere, anywhere. And so I took a volume off the shelf.

books

As I opened Newman and began to read, a door in my mind was cracked open by hands other than my own. At first only a sliver of light sliced through the darkness of that room. As I continued to read I couldn't get enough. I read all day and most of the night. That crack in the door became wider and wider.

I never finished my Hans Küng assignment.

*John Henry Newman, (1801-1890) Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford, leader of the great Oxford Movement within the Church of England, renowned vicar of St. Mary's Church, Oxford, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1845, honored with the cardinalate in his declining years. His positive and godly influence is keenly felt in both the Anglican (Episcopal) Church's High Church wing and in Roman Catholicism's many noteworthy reforms from the Second Vatican Council.

Places Lost, Places Won For Us

Lord have mercy upon us!
Christ have mercy upon us!
Lord have mercy upon us!

For without Thy constant mercy we stand in gravest peril. Thy holy army of angels led by Archangel Michael have driven the rebellious ones from the heavenlies. The wicked who once were sinless have lost their places for nothing unclean shall dwell in Thy Most Holy Sight. As Thy Son hath won for His redeemed souls the heavenly places and hath gone to prepare these places for us, have mercy upon us destined by Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection to be like unto the angels.

Lord have mercy upon us!
Christ have mercy upon us!
Lord have mercy upon us!

Amen.

Chancel Railing

1.

Thou art called, oh my soul --
	
	to die each day to passing things.
	
	to die with Him a gain, again --
		
		as though rehearsing, for thus thou art,
			for that last breath upon thy bed --

To waken at His place for thee,
and that atop this page please see.
				
						Alleluia!

--Glennie

2.

The Angelic State
For in the resurrection they neither marry,
nor are given in marriage,
but are as the angels of God in heaven.
-- Christ's words from Matthew 22: 30

Angel in white©

Oh Lord my Christ, guide my soul in her growth that she at last shall be like unto the angels, full of Thee ....

I thank Thee for Thou art, to some happy degree or another, in all Thy holy saints, and thus I may know Thee best by both studying and emulating Thee in the Holy Gospels and in the lives of the saints and the holy martyrs . . .

With the saintly I have at least one happy thing in common,
by Thy grace I move toward an angelic-like estate beyond this vale of tears.
O Christ, Thou hast said that we will be
"as the angels of God in Heaven"
assist us mightily in our sojourns down here.

3.

Places Won for us.
Of The Holy Communion and the Chancel Railing

When we draw nigh to the Holy Communion, we must be mindful of the supernatural power and holiness in such a moment. As our illustrations have indicated, holy people have suffered much for love of the sacrament of the cross. The miraculous presence of Christ in it has been known to defend the innocent from the violence of the diabolic.

When we approach the chancel railing and there kneel to receive Holy Communion we have for a moment stepped out of time and into eternity. Christ has promised to be there with us and we may always take His word on everything. Of course the question of the "Real Presence" of our Lord in the wine and bread has not only to do with His promises, which He shall surely keep until the end of time, but it also asks of us: are we being present to Him as well?

It is not a foolish playing around with words that I am attempting here, but one of the most real questions that you and I must ask of ourselves deep within our Cathedral souls. It is not of much account for us to approach the chancel railing and receive in a Cathedral, if we have not first approached Him as often as possible at the chancel railing in the cathedral that is our heart.

Foolish religious quarrels still rage as to what is meant by His presence at the Communion, and no matter how scholarly and learned the answer, it is never sufficient when it comes to the mysteries of our Holy God. But things are meant to be changed at the altar rail when we kneel to Remember and eat and drink. It is just as much a miracle to say that the Ascended Christ can change His Eucharistic body into bread and wine as it is to say that bread and wine are changed into His eucharistic body.

Here's the greater question, for I haven't any doubt at all that Christ is there, but are we changed when we eat and when we drink in remembrance of Calvary? Are we, as our Roman friends are fond of saying of this sacrament, "transubstantiated". God alone knows what happens, but will we be transubstantiated: changed to be like unto Jesus?

And thus we come up here to kneel ever before we kneel at our parish church. Lord Jesus, that you give us the faith to see you in bread and wine we thank you, for it is true. Now give us the faith to see you everywhere and in everything: as our hearts are lovingly graced with the belief in Your presence let us see You at all times and in many ways. Transform us, make of us a sacrament of kindness and mercy to all who have not known that You died for them. Amen.

Third Elevation
Larger Lives, The Church.

St. Paul's words of magnificence seem almost understandable in view of what Christ's resurrection has made the church to be: "If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation, . . . old things are past, all things have become new!" It is, therefore, His eternal life that He has won for us, it is, therefore, the Larger Life of Heaven that begins for us here below! And still later, St. Paul celebrates with his beautiful: "I am convinced that neither life nor death . . . shall separate us from Christ Jesus!" The Risen Christ appearing before Saul of Tarsus cries out to him, "Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute Me?" The persecution of the church is seen by Christ as a persecution, an assault upon His Larger Life in His people here on earth. And now above, according to the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, the holy martyrs of all ages cry out from their holy place to Jesus on behalf of this same Church: "How long, oh Lord, how long?" Christ in that same magnificent book of scripture answers this "how long" by saying to that same Church on earth: "Behold, I come quickly!"

Whither then, our Lord, our Christ,
doth life that ends
yet then begins?
Methinks the mystery of Thee in us,
doth with one great eternal
throbbing heart,
course through our mortal veins
the blood of God:
while we unworthily do sigh,
the noble ranks of angels cry:
"What is this thing our Lord hath done,
that lifts these mortals
at Christ's Tree,
and leads them saintly to their knees,
to look on Heaven as home?"
--Glenwood

Altar Steps
Is There Anything More Beautiful Than A Cathedral?
Brightly lit cathedral at night

The soul that would live prayerfully is the soul that, like her Savior, conforms to the cross. Her walls will be majestic, her towers soar into the heavens before Jesus, the God-Man. She will be graceful with His grace, beautiful with His forgiveness. No stone-built cathedral upon this earth shall even approach her beauty, for only hearts touched by grace can commune with the God of love, who is the risen and ascended Jesus at the right hand of the Father's glory and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Wouldst thou stand awestruck before Chartres Cathedral? Then what wouldst thou do shouldst the veil of our mortality suddenly be parted and thou shouldst but glimpse for a moment of moments that cathedral within thee where Christ's Spirit alights and the prayers of one of God's elect, one of Christ's blood-bought souls ascends upon angelic wings? Come now, enter that cathedral He has made of your immortal soul. Come and pray. Amen.

(a)

There is this unseen ascending and descending of the holy ones from heaven to earth and earth to heaven. Recall the beautiful account of Jacob's ladder.

An angel ascending stairs

(b)

The Book of Revelation is recalled upon these steps to the High Altar. Within the Apocalypse, the realities of our spiritual world come to life, and we see history played out according to the battles in the Heavens. Like some ancient Greek amphitheater we are surrounded by our audience. There are two stages upon which our lives are enacted. The lower one is where we struggle here on the earth; the upper one where the gods move us as though we were chess pieces. The chorus comes in and out chanting what is happening on earth because of decisions in the heavenlies.

And how appropriate this flight of steps to the Holy Altar, for it is not as the pagans viewed the play, but as we know it to be from Revelation: The Almighty has written the script, the angels are the stage directors and move time and space at His will. We are the actors upon our earthly stage and He reaches down to us in either love or wrath, depending upon the wickedness or the righteousness of the Age we live in.

High Altar

THE REAL PRESENCE
Austin Pardue, Bishop, Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese

Now we come to the focal point of spiritual communication with the departed. It is centered in the traditional service of the Holy Communion. I believe we can aid them, and they us, at times in prayer, but above all, in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper we can be closest to them, because we are then nearest to Him. When we talk about Christ's real presence in the Holy Communion, we do not mean "real" in the sense of "material." We hold with St. Paul that "the things which are seen are temporal, and the things which are not seen are eternal." So, in the Holy Communion we refer to the real spiritual presence of our Lord in what has often been called "the Holy Mysteries."

Let us think a little further about the presence of Christ because everything thereon hinges. We must deny the general concept that God is equally present everywhere. But, He can be present where He wills to be. He can withdraw Himself when He so desires. He wills to be especially present at the Holy Communion, for thus did He declare Himself at the Last Supper. At this Feast, He is always presiding at the head of the table and the elements of bread and wine are consecrated by Him through His Church. By no means is this the only place where our Lord is present, for He is there when we offer so much as a cup of cold water to one who is in need. Likewise can he be with us in prayer and meditation. But sometimes these contacts have a sense of uncertainty about them, depending upon the individual's method and ability to approach God. The Holy Communion, however, is the only service that our Lord ever instituted Himself. It is there that He said He would especially be with us. It is not a matter of the worthiness of the priest, for no priest is worthy to celebrate the Holy Mysteries. "We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy." Our Lord is there in spite of human frailty, and is always present to give us His power in so far as we are prepared to receive it.

On the cross, our Lord answered the penitent thief's dying request to be remembered when He came into His Kingdom by saying, "Today, shalt thou be with me in Paradise." Paradise is a place of development, growth, and spiritual education (although we might better say that it is a state, rather than a place). Since our Lord assures us that He will be with us in this period of development, we can be sure that the Christian departed are very close to the altar when He comes to us under the veiled mystery of bread and wine.

In the celebration of the Holy Communion, the prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church makes it very clear that we are entering into a service which includes many more souls than those who are physically present. When we say "we and thy whole Church" we mean that those members of the Church now in Paradise are equally included in the office of "praise and thanksgiving." The moment we enter into this realm of "mystical union" distances disappear and many members of the unseen Church are united in this sacrament with "the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and the Holy Church throughout all the world."

Every time I attend the Holy Communion, I am with many friends whose physical bodies I have laid to rest, or with those who were friends of mine when they were in the flesh. . . . [We must go to the Holy Communion] with the knowledge that we can actually help the departed by prayer for their continual growth, the bereaved will have a religion of meaning and vitality. To make a habit, as Dr. Samuel Johnson did, of remembering our friends who have departed this life at the altar and of joining in their fellowship, is to begin to live in a world with a healthy reality tied up to eternity.

There is a strong tradition that the Eucharistic relationship with the departed is reciprocal; that is, that our prayers are not always headed in one direction, namely, toward the help of the dead, but that our loved ones are likewise anxious to guide and help us. I frequently ask the assistance of good departed people, who, I am sure, see things with clearness and understand me and are capable of giving me sound advice on a spiritual basis. . . . That does not mean that I have any right to shirk the responsibility of studying every possible angle of the problem[s of life]. . . . Dr. Samuel Johnson believed that aid might come from his departed wife. So he wrote this touching prayer in April 1752, "it being after twelve at night on the 25th."

"O Lord, Governor of Heaven and earth, in whose hands are embodied the departed spirts, if Thou hast ordained the souls of the dead to minister to the living, and appointed my departed wife to have care of me, grant that I may enjoy the good effects of her attention and ministrations, whether exercised by appearance, impulses, dreams, or in any other manner agreeable to Thy government; forgive my presumption, enlighten my ignorance, and however meaner agents are employed, grant me the blessed influences of Thy Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Altar Cross
Christ our Righteousness at the right Hand of God the Father's glory is above all else what the altar cross is about. 1) We place the sacrifice of Calvary between us and an Holy God and 2) we are drawn to Heaven because Christ is there in victorious splendor.

Altar Crucifix

We kneel as children kneel at their mother's knee and looking up into her loving eyes we are secure and happy, content to be there forever. Thus it is when we look upon that altar cross for from it seems to stream all the pity and mercy of Heaven for "us men and for our salvation". The poet movingly wrote:

			Upon that cross of Jesus,
			Mine eyes at times can see
			The very dying form of One
			Who suffered there for me;
			And from my smitten heart with tears
			Two wonders I confess --
			The wonders of His glorious love,
			And my unworthiness.

Altar Candles

They are two and they are also three and seven.

They are two:
or this,

III. An Adaptation of The Chalcedon Statement of 451 A.D.:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men
to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
	at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood;
	 truly God and truly man,
		consisting also of a reasonable soul and body;
our Lord Jesus Christ,
	of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead,
		and at the same time
	of one substance with us as regards his manhood;
		like us in all respects, apart from sin;
	as regards his Godhead,
		begotten of the Father before the ages,
	but yet as regards his manhood
		begotten, for us men and for our salvation,
			of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer;

one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, 
	recognized in two natures,
		without confusion,
		without change,
		without division,
		without separation;
	the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union,
	the characteristics of each nature being preserved,
		the characteristics of each nature coming together
		in one person, one subsistence,

our Lord Jesus Christ, 
	in two holy natures but one Holy Saviour,  God the Son,
		not as two persons,
		but one and the same Son, the Only-begotten of the Father,
			God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him,
Jesus Christ, as he himself taught us,
Jesus Christ, the Faith of the ancient Fathers handed down to us.  Amen.


They are also three:
God's Life In Us
by Jean Danielou
Dimension Books
Denville, New Jersey
1969

In the Trinity, the ultimate depths of the real and the whole mystery of existence are revealed to us. The Trinity is the principle and the origin of Creation and Redemption. Ultimately all things are borne back to it in the mystery of worship and adoration. Above all else, it is what gives substance to all things: everything else flows from it or tends toward it. In the light of the Trinity, we discover our true selves. For the essential conversion is the one that leads us from visible world with its external temptations to the invisible world which is at once supremely real, since it constitutes the ultimate basis of all reality, and supremely holy and admirable, since it is the source of all bliss and all joy.

Here we are at the very heart of Christian Trinitarian ontology. This is one of the points at which the mystery of the Trinity throws the most light on human situations. It teaches us that the very basis of existence, the basis of the real -- in other words, that which ordains the shape of all things since it is the origin of all things -- is love in the sense of the community of persons. The whole basis of being is community of persons. Some have said that the basis of being is matter, that the basis of being is the spirit, that the basis of being is the One. They are all wrong. The basis of being is communion. This is a revelation of prodigious importance. And it is unlikely that Christians -- sole possessors of this ultimate secret; alone able, through Christ's vision, to penetrate the abyss of hidden Mystery in which all things are bathed -- would be unaware of the fundamental importance of the message they are charged with bearing.

Left to itself, intelligence tends to reduce all things to a certain level of unity. But the whole foundation of Christian revelation rests on the Trinity and coexistence and communication within the Trinity. We can understand why all human communion devolves from communion within the Trinity. In the final analysis all reality can be summed up in the phrase: "Let them be one, as we are one." This means two things. "We are one:" these simple words flash out with a blinding light. Not only do they say that there is a "we" and a "one," but that the one is a We. The one is a we: nobody before Christ, had said this! The One, that is the Absolute, is a We. The One is a communion among the Three. The One is an eternal exchange of love. The One is not some vague, ill-defined quantity. The One is Love. And the basis of Being is love among the three members of the Trinity.

Here again, prayer offers us an immediate course of action, since all prayer is striving to rediscover the paths leading to God. In the experience of all authentic personal love there is something rooted in the eternal motion of love which is the basis of all reality -- not in the sense of biological forces that bring us to life for a moment only to cast us back into nothingness, but in the sense of personal love rooted in the life of the Trinity, the primordial origin of all things.

Thus, when we ascend in contemplation into the depths of God, the eternal mystery of love reveals itself to our dazzled gaze. It shows us that the foundation of all things -- which we already knew to be God -- is the love of the Trinity.

The life of the Trinity has no need of outside participation. This must be stressed from the start. It is perfectly self-sufficient. There is something very essential in the fact that God is total fullness of being, and therefore exhausts totally within Himself the totality of what is, so that He needs nothing else. Otherwise he would not be God. There would be an imperfection in Him.

By this I mean that the Father communicates Himself totally to the Son, giving Him the totality of what He possesses, thus exhausting in the Son the possibility of loving. he is infinitely pleased in the Son, because the Son is His perfect image, the perfect image of His perfection. It is both a mysterious and an admirable thing that this total fullness of God is undivided, yet shared by the three members of the Trinity. It is the whole mystery of the coexistence of unity and Trinity in God. These are matters we must enter reverently, for we have here a deep nourishment for our faith. Gradually, we will be led from it into the reality of the divine life and its members.

We might say that the movement of the Trinity is first a movement of communication in the Son and then of consummation in the Spirit. And the whole rhythm of the life of the Trinity is based on this twofold action of giving and returning. This action expresses the self-sufficiency of this life, its ability to fulfill itself without moving outside itself.

They are seven:
[Seven signifies the perfection of God alone]
God is All in All by J. H. Newman

Unus deus et Pater omnium, qui est super omnes, et per omnia, et in omnibus nobis: One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

GOD alone is in heaven; God is all in all. Eternal Lord, I acknowledge this truth, and I adore Thee in this sovereign and most glorious mystery. There is One God, and He fills heaven; and all blessed creatures, though they ever remain in their individuality, are, as the very means of their blessedness, absorbed, and (as it were) drowned in the fullness of Him who is super omnes, et per otnnia, et in omnibus.

If ever, through Thy grace, I attain to see Thee in heaven, I shall see nothing else but Thee, because I shall see all whom I see in Thee, and seeing them I shall see Thee. As I cannot see things here below without light, and to see them is to see the rays which come from them, so in that Eternal City claritas Dei illuminavit eam, et lucerna ejus est Agnus -the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof. My God, I adore Thee now (at least I will do so to the best of my powers) as the One Sole True Life and Light of the soul, as I shall know and see Thee to be hereafter, if by Thy grace I attain to heaven.

Eternal, Incomprehensible God, I believe, and confess, and adore Thee, as being infinitely more wonderful, resourceful and immense, than this universe which I see. I look into the depths of space, in which the stars are scattered about, and I understand that I should be millions upon millions of years in creeping along from one end of it to the other, if a bridge were thrown across it. I consider the overpowering variety, richness, intricacy of Thy work; the elements, principles, laws, results which go to make it up. I try to recount the multitudes of kinds of knowledge, of sciences, and of arts of which it can be made the subject. And, I know, I should be ages upon ages in learning everything that is to be learned about this world, supposing me to have the power of learning it at all. And new sciences would come to light, at present unsuspected, as fast as I had mastered the old, and the conclusions of today would be nothing more than starting points of tomorrow. And I see moreover, and the more I examined it, the more I should understand, the marvellous beauty of these works of Thy hands. And so, I might begin again, after this material universe, and find a new world of knowledge, higher and more wonderful, in Thy intellectual creations, Thy angels and other spirits, and men. But all, all that is in these worlds, high and low, are but an atom compared with the grandeur, the height and depth, the glory, on which Thy saints are gazing in their contemplation of Thee. It is the occupation of eternity, ever new, inexhaustible, ineffably ecstatic, the stay and the blessedness of existence, thus to drink in and be dissolved in Thee.

My God, it was Thy supreme blessedness in the eternity past, as it is Thy blessedness in all eternities, to know Thyself, as Thou alone canst know Thee. It was by seeing Thyself in Thy Coequal Son and Thy Co-eternal Spirit, and in Their seeing Thee, that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three Persons, One God, was infinitely blessed. O my God, what am I that Thou shouldst make my blessedness to consist in that which is Thy own! That Thou shouldst grant me to have not only the sight of Thee, but to share in Thy very own joy! O prepare me for it, teach me to thirst for it.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons,
Blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! all the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns
around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert, and art, and ever more shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy;
there is none beside thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name,
in earth and sky, and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons,
Blessed Trinity. Amen.

(Reginald Heber)


The Great Window
The Trinity And Christian Devotion

by Charles W. Lowry,
M.A. (Harv.), D. Phil. (Oxon.)
Reactor of All Saint's Church, Chevy Chase, Maryland
Sometime Professor of Systematic Divinity
in the Virginia Theological Seminary
Harper & Brothers
New York and London
1946

By what understanding shall man comprehend God, when he comprehendeth not his very intellect, whereby he would fain comprehend Him? -- St. Augustine


"Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. v.43-45) "Then came Peter, and said unto him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus saith unto him I say not unto thee, until seven times; but, until seventy times seven." (Matt. xviii. 21-22) The continuity of this teaching and of the salient ethical pronouncements of St. Paul and St. John is striking. In St. Paul, the concrete sayings of the Master are given an abstract and universal turn. This is the meaning of I Corinthians xiii, where in addition the thought of agape (or love) is so kindled by the Apostle's inspired imagination that his language rises to a lyric height unsurpassed in the prose writing of all the ages. Another example is St. Paul's statement in Romans xiii that all the commandments are included in the saying, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." This passage is significantly a part of the epistle for the First Sunday in Advent. It is St. John, however, who combines the concreteness of Jesus with the generality of St. Paul and who at the same time shows most clearly the interrelation of morality and theology, of code and creed. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (I John iv. 7-8)

This passage, we said, shows the interconnection of morality and theology. It is at the same time an expression of the most profound religious feeling. Indeed, reversing the whole trend of Greek philosophical theology, which reached its climax in the view of God set forth in the Metaphysics of Aristotle, it asserts that feeling or affection at its deepest and highest is an element in the being of Deity. Love is of the very nature of God. This conviction is the mainspring of the Christian religion. It is the principal reason for believing that God is in Himself a Trinity of Persons as well as an ultimate and perfect Unity.

(an auxiliary conclusion is also this, I think, in view of these passages and others like unto them that go so contrary to the run of human abilities and natures, there is the Holy Trinity whose nature is beyond human comprehension. The demands of the Gospel herein testify directly to the incomprehensibility and the need of the Trinity's grace sent upon us men to fulfill the demands of such God-natured things as inspired revelation testifies to.)-- Glen



Athanasian Creed: So, the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three gods: but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden in the Catholic Religion: to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.

Another fine statement, minimal in content of thought yet careful in hewing to the line of perfect orthodoxy, and flawless in distinction of style, is that of Article I, the title of which, very significantly, is simply : "Of Faith in the Holy Trinity." It reads: "There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."



Take, for example, Reginald Heber's Trinitarian hymn -- to the writer the premier hymn in the English language. The first and last stanzas stress in the context of the strikingly symbolic Trisagion -- "Holy, Holy, Holy" -- the Divine Trinity. The first stanza ends, and the hymn ends, with the line: "God in three persons, blessed Trinity."

This is the overshadowing impression conveyed by the hymn: that God in His eternal praiseworthiness, in His impenetrable yet not unillumined mysteriousness, and in His unconcealed glory, is a trinity. Yet if the hymn be studied carefully, one will see that it is "the Lord God Almighty," "perfect in power, in love, and purity," of whom the singular personal pronouns "Three," "Thou," and "Thy" are used consistently, who is the "blessed Trinity."


Upper Rose Window

We are bid to look beyond ourselves unto the Lord. This does not mean that we are to look into the physical skies, thought He shall come in them, and that is why this window faces East. But the East is first a matter of our inward cathedrals.

rose window

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O most loving Father, who willest us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of thee and to cast all our care on thee, who carest for us; Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal and which thou hast manifested unto us in thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, in whom we live and move and have our being; We, thy needy creatures, render thee our humble praises, for thy preservation of us from the beginning of our lives to this day, and especially for having delivered us from the dangers of the past night. For these thy mercies, we bless and magnify thy glorious Name; humbly beseeching thee to accept this our morning sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; for his sake who lay down in the grave, and rose again for us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ye Olde Gargoyle

a gargoyle

These grotesque stone creatures acted as rain spouts on the old Gothic Cathedrals. It may possibly be that it was thought they'd frighten away demons but that is a disputable idea. Their names, gargoyles, are taken from a corruption of the French word for a sea monster: The Gargle. An old fairy tale told of a sea-monster emerging from the River Seine in Paris frightening all of the good residents thereabouts. Only the Bishop of Paris had the power to rid the city of this ugly pest. It may well be that most gargoyles reach back to that charming little story. The word gargoyle became a play on words as well, for when the rain pours out of a gargoyles mouth the water makes a gargling sound.

A reading from Paul's letter to the Phillipians chapter 2, verses 12 - 18 (NIV)
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

The word of the lord!

Thanks be to God!

Amen

The End

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