The Holy Trinity accompanies each one of us!
WORD FROM THE FOUNDER
Deacon Georges Bonneval
We are accompanied by the Heavenly Father, our First and Most Important Spiritual Companion!
“Lo, you were within, but I outside, seeking there for you!.... You were with me, but I was not with you. They held me back far from you, those things which would have no being, were they not in you. You called, shouted, broke through my deafness; you flared, blazed, banished my blindness.... You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”¹ (St. Augustine, Confessions, III, 6-11.)
Before speaking of spiritual companion as servants and co-operators of God, let us turn to God Himself. To accompany each of His children is first and foremost His business; He who creates us continues to recreate us and offers us salvation! How many times have we met believers who see God only as the Creator who created us... once and for all as if the Creator had thrown them into the orbit of life with the sole instructions: go off on your own! This god is obviously not the God of Biblical Revelation and the Church.
“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
(Lk 13: 34)
Biblical Revelation clearly shows us how God’s desire is to walk with His people and His children and even more so, to dwell with them! The abode of God, or dwelling with God, is one of the most important biblical themes of the Covenant (see Lv 26: 11-12, Jn 6: 56-57, Jn 8: 31, Jn 15). The verb to remain, so dear to St. John, indicates both steadfastness and constancy. This theme naturally refers to certain requirements of the Covenant, including the
commandments and precepts of the Lord for those who want to live with Him, walk with Him, make progress and remain faithful to Him.
“The very first dream of all is the creative dream of God our Father, which precedes and accompanies the lives of all His children. The memory of this blessing that extends from generation to generation is a precious legacy that we should keep alive so that we too can pass it on.”(Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, No.194.)
God reveals Himself in the Scriptures as both Father and Mother. If we question our contemporaries, even Christians, would it be typical to hear of their filial relationship with the Father? It appears that today the divine Fatherhood suffers because of the often negative view of an absent human father. The Father is certainly the least known of the Holy Trinity and therefore the least prayed to, while Jesus paradoxically teaches us how to pray to Him! The Heavenly Father appears today as perhaps the poorest and most abandoned person of the Holy Trinity!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
“By calling God ‘Father’, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood (cf. Is 66: 13; Ps 131: 2), which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 239.)
This article of the Catechism concludes with these words: “No one is father as God is Father”!
St. Augustine, following the Apostle Paul (cf. Gal 4: 19; 1 Cor 4: 14-15; 1 Thess 2: 7b), writes: “God is ‘father’ because He created, He calls, He commands, He governs; He is ‘mother’ because He warms, He feeds, He nourishes and He carries in His womb.” (Cf. Commentary of Psalm 26.)
God the Father never ceases to beget His life, and thus continues the long unbroken chain of the begetting of humanity. God is thus revealed as the God and Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of the prophets; the God of Jesus Christ; the God of the martyrs; the God of the Desert Fathers; the God of Jerome, Benedict, Francis and Clare... up until those faces that, along the path of our life, have revealed something to us about the face of God the Father.
In Christ, we receive the revelation of our filiation to God our Father in a unique and sublime way: not only through the prayer Christ taught us, but through the witness of His whole life. Even in the most dramatic moments of His earthly life, Jesus never lost trust in His Father and always invoked Him as the beloved Son. In Gethsemane, when afflicted by the anguish of death, Jesus’ filial prayer remained “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want” (Mk 14: 36).
Though God is our Creator, He is first of all our Father
“Your hands have made and fashioned me”, declares the psalmist (Ps 119: 73). Every man and every woman on this earth, whether they know it or not, whether they believe it or not, is wanted by God and loved by God, who knows each one and accompanies each one, personally, every day of their life. Each of us therefore has the opportunity, the right to address the Father with the simple prayer of a child, to let ourselves be accompanied and counseled by Him.
Let us look to His Word and read again how the Father speaks to each one of us:
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me’. Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Isa 49: 14-16) “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” (Is 43: 4)
When we utter the word “Father,” He answers us immediately, always calling us by our name! No one is relegated to being an anonymous, impersonal creature – for the Father, everyone has a name. How many people are victims of the temptation to end their own lives; young people who self-mutilate and despair for their futures... they wait for us to help them pray this prayer of the Psalmist:
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” (Ps 139: 1-10)
The Bible provides many beautiful images of God’s paternity, of the Father who accompanies His people Israel, but also of the Father who is close to each of His children in a personal, intimate way. One of the most stunning examples of this is found in the Book of Hosea:
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” (Hos 11: 1-4)
“Illegitimate or Children?” (cf. Heb 12: 8)
If we have become children of the Father through the act of creation, there is also a new identity given to us by Christ, the Only Son of the Father. He obtains for us the identity of Sons and Daughters of the Father, adopted in Christ.
“Becoming a human being like us, with his Incarnation, Death and Resurrection, Jesus in his turn accepts us in his humanity and even in his being Son, so that we too may enter into his specific belonging to God.” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, May 23rd, 2012)
The admonition that God gave to Moses, “I will be with you” (Ex 3: 12), is found throughout the entire Bible as an ancient desire and an incessant dialogue that God desires to have with man. Jesus will fulfill God’s desire to abide with His children through one of His last remarks, announcing His Sacramental Presence until the end of time: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28: 20)
Unfortunately, the children of men are often like “a stubborn heifer” (Cf. Hos 4: 16) who cannot be easily reached, tamed or accompanied.
St. John Paul II, in his encyclical “Redemptor Hominis” demonstrates that “The road of God is man”.
“The Lord surrounded her and took care of her: he kept her as the apple of his eye. Like the eagle, he spread his wings, took her away and carried her on his shoulders, and the Lord alone was her guide.”
God, present and acting in our personal history
“By revealing his name, God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (‘I am the God of your father’) (Ex 3: 6), as for the future (‘I will be with you’) (Ex 3: 12). God, who reveals his name as ‘I AM’, reveals Himself as the God who is always there, present to His people in order to save them.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 207.)
In each of our lives, God is tirelessly desiring to reveal Himself, to communicate with us, to give of Himself in order that we remain in communion with Him. He loves us concretely and providentially. And He can use everything (circumstances, trials... even our sins) to talk to us, to educate us and to guide us.
“Thus said the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have seized.” (Isa 45: 1)
Thus we can be reconciled with our own history, our past and our origins, even if during their trajectories there were dramas, ruptures or serious wounds. We can look at this story with God’s eyes; with the eyes of God’s love and compassion. We can be ashamed and oppressed by this story no longer. God gives us grace beyond what we can conceive.
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine...” (Eph 3: 20)
This abundant grace of God always precedes us and will never fail us. We must, of course, humbly ask for it in prayer and throughout our life, alongside our brothers and sisters.
The Father was there and I did not know it!
“And Jacob dreamed... that the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘... I am with you and
will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place – and I did not know it!’”
(Gn 28: 12-13, 15-16)
How often can we relate: 'God was there and I did not know it'. It was not that God didn’t give me the grace, but I was the one who missed seeing God’s grace! Often, I, too, did not recognize Him. He who is mysteriously present: under the species of the Eucharistic bread, in my nearby brother or sister, in those with whom I live with day to day, in the Church, in the stranger, in the least of these. And I have neither seen nor recognized him! “‘Lord, when did we come to see you?’ ... ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Mt 25: 37, 40). “I want to see God!” exclaimed St. Teresa of Avila, when she was still a young child.
May we discover or rediscover this heart which desires to know the Lord's Presence in our lives; the presence of Him who never ceases to accompany us!
“Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14: 9)
Jesus gave the testimony and message of His Father’s Love so that all could recognize the Father in Him. It is to this similar vocation that the Church, each one of her baptized and each one of her communities, is called:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13: 35)
But in us all there is cowardice, discouragement and weakness, which contribute to what St. Paul calls “impiety”:
“For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” (Rm 1: 21)
The Father waits with untiring patience for our hearts and mouths to recognize Him and proclaim Him in spirit and in truth as 'Our Father'.
God does not control us like robots, nor does He want to dominate us, destroying our personality.
“He created us without us, but He will not save us without us!” (St. Augustine)
This relationship with the God of the Covenant is necessary to lay the theological and spiritual foundation of spiritual accompaniment.
“No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” (Jn 6: 44)
God, Father of Jesus Christ and the Church, is also profoundly human, because 'only God is human'. He will do nothing without us, without our freedom, our will, our human consent.
St. Francis de Sales:
“Now for as much as this signified will of God proceeds by way of desire, and not by way of absolute will, we have power either to follow it by obedience, or by disobedience to resist it; for to this purpose God makes three acts of his will: he wills that we should be able to resist, he desires that we should not resist, and yet allows us to resist if we please.” (St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Book VIII, Chapter 3.