June 16-18, 2000
volume 11, no. 109

The Holy Father's words in THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS for June 16-18, 2000
The Trinity in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

Pope John Paul II's Wednesday General Papal Audience from Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    1. In its pilgrimage toward full communion of love with God, the Church presents itself as a "people congregated by the unity of the Father, the Sone, and the Holy Spirit." This stupendous definition of St. Cyprian (De oratione Domini 23; cf. LG 4) introduces us into the mystery of the Church,made a community of salvation by the presence of the triune God. Like the ancient people of God, it is guided in its new Exodus by the pillar of clouds by day and the pillar of fire by night, symbols of the constant divine presence. In this horizon, we will contemplate the glory of the Trinity, which makes the Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

    2. The Church is firstly one. Baptized persons are, in fact, mysteriously united to Christ and made into his mystical Body by the power of the Holy Spirit.

        As Vatican Council II affirmed, "the supreme model and the principle of this mystery is the unity of the Trinity of persons within the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (UR 2). This unity has also seen the painful trial of many divisions in the course of history, as well. Its inexhaustible Trinitarian source always encourages the Church to live more deeply that "koinonia" or communion that shone in the first community of Jerusalem (Cf. Acts 2:42; 4:32).

        From this perspective ecumenical dialogue receives light from the moment in which all Christians are aware of the Trinitarian foundation of communion: "Koinonia is the work of God and has a markedly Trinitarian character. Initiation in the Trinitarian koinonia has its point of departure in Baptism, by means of faith, through Christ, in the Spirit. The means that the Spirit has given to sustain koinonia are the Word, the minister, the sacraments, and charisma"(Prospectives on Koinonia, Report of the 3rd Five Years (1985-89) of Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue, n. 31). For this reason, the Council reminds all the faithful that "the closer communion we have with the Father, the Word, and the the Holy Spirit, the more intimate and easy will it be to increase our mutual fraternity" (UR 7).

    3. The Church is also holy. In Biblical language, more than the expression of the moral and existential sanctity of the faithful, the term "holy" recalls the consecration carried out by God through the election and the grace offered to his people. Thus, it is the divine presence that "consecrates" the community of the faithful "in the truth" (Cf. John 17:17,19).

        The most elevated sign of this presence is constituted by the Liturgy, which is the epiphany of the consecration of the people of God. Here, there is the Eucharistic presence of the body and blood of the Lord, but also "our Eucharist, that is, our giving thanks to God, praising him for having saved us from death and making us participants in eternal life through the resurrection. Such worship directed to the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, accompanies and permeates the Eucharistic Celebration. Still, it should fill our temples" and the life of the Church (Dominicae Coenae, n. 3). Precisely "when we communicate in mutual charity and praise of the Most Holy Trinity with one another, we correspond to the intimate vocation of the Church and participate with a foretaste in the Liturgy of eternal glory" (LG 51).

    4. The Church is catholic, send to proclaim Christ to the whole world in the hope that all the heads of the people will join with the people of the God of Abraham (Cf. Ps 47:10; Mt 28:19). As Vatican Council II states, "the pilgrim Church is missionary by nature, inasmuch as it carries the origin of the mission of the Son and of the mission of the Holy Spirit, according to the design of God the Father. This design gushes from the "fount-like love" of God the Father, who being beginning without beginning, from whom the Son is generated and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son, through his immense and merciful goodness creates us freely and calls us to participate in life and his glory without cost. He has given liberally and does not cease to radiate divine goodness, so that he that is the creator of all can also be "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28), simultaneously gaining his glory and our happiness" (AG 2).

    5. The Church, finally, is apostolic. According to Christ's command, the Apostles had to go out and teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that he commanded (Cf. Mt 28:19-20). This mission is extended to the whole Church, which through the Word, made alive, luminous, and effective by the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments, "realizes God's plans, to which Christ consecrated himself in a spirit of obedience and love, to the glory of the Father who sent him, that is, the constitution of the entire human race into God's only people, its reunion into the one body of Christ, its building into the only temple of the Holy Spirit" (AG 7).

        The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church is the people of God, body of Christ, and temple of the Holy Spirit. These three Biblical images luminously point to the Trinitarian dimension of the Church. All the disciples of Christ are found in this dimension, called to live it ever more profoundly with an ever more living communion. Even ecumenism finds its firm foundation in the Trinitarian reference, because the Spirit "unites the faithful with Christ, mediator of every gift of salvation, and gives them, through him, access to the Father, whom they can call "Abba," Father in the same Spirit (Joint Roman Catholic- Evangelical Lutheran Commission, The Church and Justification, n. 64). Thus, in the Church, we find a great epiphany of Triniarian glory. We accept, then, the invitation St. Ambrose made to us, "Arise from sleep, you who once were reclining. Rise up, and come running to the Church: the Father is here, the Son is here, and the Holy Spirit is here" (In Lucam VII). (ZENIT Translation) ZE00061420

June 16-18, 2000
volume 11, no. 109

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