On the love of the Three Divine Persons for man – St. Alphonsus – Trinity Sunday

 

ST. LEO has said, that the nature of God is by its
essence, goodness itself. ” Deus cujus natura bonitas ”
Now, goodness naturally diffuses itself. ” Bonum est
sui diffusivum.” And by experience we know that
men of a good heart are full of love for all, and desire
to share with all the goods which they enjoy God
being infinite goodness, is all love towards us his crea
tures. Hence St. John calls him pure love _ pure
charity. “God is charity.” (1 John iv. 8.) And there-
lore he ardently desires to make us partakers of his
own happiness.

Faith teaches us how much the Three
Divine Persons have done through love to man, and to
enrich him with heavenly gifts. In saying to his
apostles ” Teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
jnost, Jesus Christ wished that they should not only
instruct the Gentiles in the mystery of the Most Holy
Irmity but that they should also teach them the love
which the adorable Trinity bears to man. I intend to
propose this day for your consideration the love shown
to us by the Father in our creation ; secondly, the love
of the hon m our redemption; and thirdly, the love of
the Holy Ghost, in our sanctification.

First Point The love shown to us by the Father in
our creation.

1. ” I have loved thee with an everlasting love, there
fore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee.” (Jer. xxxi.
3.) My son, says the Lord, I have loved you for eter
nity, and, through love for you, I have shown mercy to
you by drawing you out of nothing. Hence, beloved
Christians, of all those who love you, God has been
your first lover. Your parents have been the first to
love you on this earth ; but they have loved you only
after they had known you. But, before you had a being,
God loved you. Before your father or mother was
born, God loved you; yes, even before the creation of
the world, he loved you. And how long before creation
has God loved you? Perhaps for a thousand years, or
for a thousand ages. It is needless to count years or
ages; God loved you from eternity. “I have loved
thee with an evei lasting love.” As long as he has been
God, he has luved you : as long as he has loved himself,
he has loved you. The thought of this love made St.
Agnes the Virgin exclaim : ” I am prevented by another
lover.” When creatures asked her heart, she answered:
Ko: I cannot prefer you to my God. He has been
the first to love me; it is then but just that he should
hold the first place in my affections.

2. Thus, brethren, God has loved you from eternity,
and through pure love, he has selected you from among
so many men whom he could have created in place of
you; but he has left them in their nothingness, and has
brought you into existence, and placed you in the world.
For the love of you he has made so many other beauti
ful creatures, that they might serve you, and that they
might remind you of the love which he has borne to
you, and of the gratitude which you ^owe to him.
” Heaven and Earth,” says St. Augustine, ” and all
things tell me to love thee/ When the saint beheld the
sun, the stars, the mountains, the sea, the rains, they all
appeared to him to speak, and to say : Augustine, love
God ; for he has created us that you might love him.
When the Abbe de Ranee, the founder of La Trappe,
looked at the hills, the fountains, or flowers, he said that
all these creatures reminded him of the love which God
had borne him. St. Teresa used to say, that these crea
tures reproached her with her ingratitude to God.

Whilst she held a flower or fruit in her hand, St. Mary
Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel her heart wounded
with divine love, and would say within herself: Then,
my God has thought from eternity of creating this flower
and this fruit that I might love him.

3. Moreover, seeing us condemned to hell, in punish
ment of our sins, the Eternal Father, through love for
us, has sent his Son on the earth to die on the cross, in
order to redeem us from hell, and to bring us with him
self into Paradise. ” God so loved the world, as to give
his only begotten Son ” (John iii. 16), love, which the
apostle calls an excess of love. ” For his exceeding
charity wherewith he loved us, even when we were
dead in sin, has quickened us together in Christ.” (Eph.
ii. 4, 5.)

4. See also the special love which God has shown you
in bringing you into life in a Christian country, and in
the bosom of the Catholic or true Church. How many
are born among the pagans, among the Jews, among
the Mahometans and heretics, and all are lost. Con
sider that, compared with these, only a few not even
the tenth part of the human race have the happiness
of being born in a country where the true faith reigns ;
and, amon^ that small number, he has chosen you. Oh !
what an invaluable benefit is the gift of faith ! How
many millions of souls, among infidels and heretics, are
deprived of the sacraments, of sermons, of good example,
and of the other helps to salvation which we possess in
the true Church. And the Lord resolved to bestow on
us all these great graces, without any merit on our part,
and even with the foreknowledge of our demerits. For
when he thought of creating us and of conferring these
favours upon us, he foresaw our sins, and the injuries
we would commit against him.

Second Point. The love which the Son of God has
shown to us in our redemption.

5. Adam, our first father, sins by eating the for
bidden apple, and is condemned to eternal death, along
with all his posterity. Seeing the whole human race
doomed to perdition, God resolved to send a redeemer
to save mankind. Who shall come to accomplish their

redemption ? Perhaps an angel or a seraph. No ; the
Son of God, the supreme and true God, equal to the
Father, offers himself to come on earth, and there to
take human fle^h, and to die for the salvation of men.
prodigy of Divine love ! Man, says St. Fulgen-
tius, despises God, and separates himself from God,
and through love for him, God comes on earth to
seek after rebellious man. ” Homo Deum contem-
nens, a Deo disce-ssit : Deus hominem diligens, ad
homines venit.” (Serm. in Xativ. Christ.) Since, says
St. Augustine, we could not go to the Redeemer, he
has deigned to come to us. ” Quia ad mediatorem
venire non poteramus, ipse ad nos venire dignatus est.”
And why has Jesus Christ resolved to come to us ? Ac
cording to the same holy doctor, it is to convince us of
his great love for us. ” Christ came, that man might
know how much God loves him.”

G. Hence the Apostle writes : ” The goodness and
kindness of God our Saviour appeared.” (Tit. iii. 5.)
In the Greek text, the words are : ” Singularis Dei
erga homines apparuit amor :” ” The singular love
of God towards men appeared.” In explaining this
passage, St. Bernard says, that before God appeared on
earth in human flesh, men could not arrive at a know
ledge of the divine goodness ; therefore the Eternal
“Word took human nature, that, appearing in the form
of man, men might know the goodness of God. ” Pri-
usquam apparet humanitas, latebat beniguitas, sed undo
tanta agnosci poterat ? Venit in came ut, apparante
humanitate, cognosceretur benignitas.” (Serm. i., in
Eph.) And w r hat greater love and goodness could the
Son of God show to us, than to become man and to
become a worm like us, in order to save us from, perdi
tion ? What astonishment would we not feel, if we saw
a prince become a worm to save the worms of his king
dom ! And what shall we say at the sight of a God
made man like us, to deliver us from eternal death ?
“The word was made flesh.” (John i. 14.) A God
made flesh ! if faith did not assure us of it, who could
ever believe it? Behold then, as St. Paul says, a Gud
as it were annihilated. ” He emptied himself, taking
the form of a servant and in habit found as a man/

(Phil. ii. 7.) By these words the Apostle gives us to
understand, that the Son of God, who was filled with
the divine majesty and power, humbled himself so as
to assume the lowly and impotent condition of human
nature, taking the form or nature of a servant, and he-
coming like men in his external appearance, although,
as St. Chrysostom observes, he was not a mere man, but
man and God. Hearing a deacon singing the words of
St. John, ” and the Word was made flesh,” St. Peter of
Alcantara fell into ecstasy, and flew through the air to
the altar of the most holy sacrament.

7. But this God of love, the Incarnate Word, was not
content with becoming flesh for the love of man ; but,
according to Isaias, he wished to live among us, as the
last and lowest, and most afflicted of men. ” There
is no beauty in him, nor comeliness : and we have seen

him despised, and the most abject of men, a man of

sorrows.” (Isa. iii. 2, 3.) He was a man of sorrows.
Yes ; for the life of Jesus Christ was full of sorrows.
Virum dolorum. He was a man made on purpose to
be tormented with sorrows. From his birth till his
death, the life of our Redeemer was all full of sorrows.

8. And because he came on earth to gain our love,
as he declared when he said ” I am come to cast fire
on the earth ; and what will I but that it be kindled ?”
(Luke xii. 49), he wished at the close of his life to give
us the strongest marks and proofs of the love which he
bears to us. ” Having loved his own who were in the
world, he loved them unto the end.” (John xiii. 1.)
Hence he not only humbled himself to death for us, but
he also chose to die the most painful and opprobrious
of all deaths. ” He humbled himself, becoming obedient
unto death, even unto the death of the cross.” (Phil. ii. 8.)
They who were crucified among the Jews, were objects
of malediction and reproach to all. * He is accursed
of God that hangeth on a tree.” (Deut. xxi. 23.) Our
Redeemer wished to die the shameful death of the cross,
in the midst of a tempest of ignominies and sorrows.
” I am come into the depths of the sea, and a tempest
hath overwhelmed me.” (Ps. Ixviii. 3.)

9. ” In this/ says St. John, ” we have known the
charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for

us.” (1 John iii. 16.) And how could God give us a
greater proof of his love than hy laying down his life
for us ? Or, how is it possible for us to behold a God
dead on the cross for our sake, and not love him?
” For the charity of Christ presseth us.” (2 Cor. v. 14.)
By these words St. Paul tells us, that it is not so much
what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our salva
tion, as the love which he has shown in suffering and
dying for us, that obliges and compels us to love him.
He has, as the same Apostle adds, died for all, that
each of us may live no longer for himself, but only
for that God who has given his life for the love of us.
” Christ died for all, that they also who live, may not
live to themselves, but unto him who died for them,
and rose again.” (2 Cor. v. 15.) And, to captivate our
love, he has, after having given his life for us, left
himself for the food of our souls. ” Take ye and eat :
this is my body.” (Matt. xxvi. 26.) Had not faith taught
that he left himself for our food, who could ever believe
it ? But of the prodigy of divine love manifested in
the holy sacrament, I shall speak on the second Sunday
after Pentecost Let us pass to a brief consideration of
the third point.

Third Point.
On the love shown to us by the Holy
Ghost in our sanctification.

.10. The Eternal Father was not content with giving
us his Son Jesus Christ, that he might save us by his
death ; he has also given us the Holy Ghost, that he
may dwell in our souls, and that he may keep them
always inflamed with holy love. In spite of all the in
juries which he received on earth from men, Jesus
Christ, forgetful of their ingratitude, after having
ascended into heaven, sent us the Holy Ghost, that,
by his holy flames, this di vine spirit might kindle in our
hearts the fire of divine charity, and sanctify our souls.
Hence, when he descended on the apostles, he appeared
in the form of tongues of fire. ” And there appeared
to them parted tongues, as it were of fire.” (Acts ii. 3.)
Hence the Church prescribes the following prayer :
” We beseech thee, O Lord, that the Spirit may inflame
us with that fire which the Lord Jesus Christ sent on

the earth, and vehemently wished to be enkindled.”
This is the holy fire which inflamed the saints with the
desire of doing great things for God, which enabled
them to love their most cruel enemies, to seek after con
tempt, to renounce all the riches and honours of the
world, and even to embrace with joy torments and
death.

11. The Holy Ghost is that divine bond which unites
the Father with the Son ; it is he that unites our souls,
through love, with God. For, as St. Augustine says,
an union with God is the effect of love. ” Charity is a
virtue which unites us with God.” The chains of the
world are chains of death, but the bonds of the Holy
Ghost are bonds of eternal life, because they bind us to
God, who is our true and only life.

12. Let us also remember that all the lights, inspira
tions, divine calls, all the good acts which we have per
formed during our life, all our acts of contrition, of
confidence in the divine mercy, of love, of resignation,
have been the gifts of the Holy Ghost. ” Likewise the
Spirit also helpeth our infirmity ; for we know not what
we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit himself
asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.” (Rom. viii.
26.) Thus, it is the Holy Ghost that prays for us ; for
we know not what we ought to ask, but the Holy Spirit
teaches us what we should pray for.

13. In a word, the Three Persons of the Most Holy
Trinity have endeavoured to show the love which God
has borne us, that we may love him through gratitude.
” When,” says St. Bernard, ” God loves, he wishes only
to be loved/ It is, then, but just that we love that
God who has been the first to love us, and to put us
under so many obligations by so many proofs of tender
love. ” Let us, therefore, love God, because God first
hath loved us.” (1 John iv. 19.) Oh ! what a treasure
is charity ! it is an infinite treasure, because it makes us
partakers of the friendship of God. ” She is an infinite
treasure to men, which they that use become the friends
of God.” (Wis. vii. 14.) But, to acquire this treasure,
it is necessary to detach the heart from earthly things.
” Detach the heart from creatures,” says St. Teresa,
“and you shall find God.” In a heart filled with
earthly affections, there is no room for divine love. Let
us therefore continually implore the Lord in our prayers,
communions, and visits to the blessed sacrament, to give
us his holy love ; for this love will expel from our souls
all affections for the things of this earth. ” When,”
says St. Francis de Sales, ” a house is on fire, all that is
within is thrown out through the windows.” By these
words the saint meant, that when a soul is inflamed with
divine love, she easily detaches herself from creatures :
and Father Paul Segneri, the younger, used to say, that
divine love is a thief that robs us of all earthly affections,
and makes us exclaim : ” What, O my Lord, but thee
alone, do I desire ?”

14. ” Love is strong ns death.” (Cant. viii. 6.) As no
creature can resist death when the hour of dissolution
arrives, so there is no difficulty which love, in a soul
that loves God, does not overcome. When there is
question of pleasing her beloved, love conquers all
things : it conquers pains, losses, ignominies. ” Nihil
tarn durum quod non amoris igne vincatur.” This love
made the martyrs, in the midst of torments, racks, and
burning gridirons, rejoice, and thank God for enabling
them to suffer for him : it made the other saints, when
there was no tyrant to torment them, become, as it
were, their own executioners, by fasts, disciplines, and
penitential austerities. St. Augustine says, that in doing
what one loves there is no labour, and if there be, the
labour itself is loved. ” In eo quod amatur aut non
laboratur, aut ipse labor amatur.”

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Traditional Catholic with a wife, 10 kids, 5 cats and 1 dog (and one stray dog that won’t leave).