BISHOP JAMES SCHUERMAN
As auxiliary bishop, I have been able to visit many parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, celebrating Confirmations, presiding at Mass for special events and feast days, or simply filling in as a presider at Sunday Mass. Wherever I happen to be, when young families are present, I witness a common and very beautiful occurrence — parents teaching their children to make the sign of the cross. Many times, I have seen a mother or a father guiding the hand of a small child from forehead to chest to shoulders while whispering to them, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” What a beautiful thing to see young children marking themselves with the central mystery of our faith — the Holy Trinity.
The Sunday after Pentecost is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity — it is a celebration of the great mystery of God in our lives. Our God, as revealed to us in the Sacred Scriptures, is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our faith teaches us that there is one God in three divine persons. Within God, there is a relationship of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that is so profound and so vast that it is limitless. This love engulfs and penetrates every aspect of our lives. In baptism, God takes us into the mystery of that Trinitarian love.
When I ponder the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the profound love of God for us, I often recall an incident that took place a number of years ago, when I was pastor of St. Andrew Parish, Delavan. A teacher at the parish grade school related something to me that took place on the first day of school. Two new students had entered school in the eighth grade. The two boys were friends, having gone to public school together, but now that they entered the parish school, they did not know the other students. At recess time, the boys felt awkward and out of place, so as the other children began to play games on the playground, the two boys sat down on the steps of the school, expecting to wait around until recess was over. However, after a few minutes, the other children noticed them sitting there. Within seconds, a smiling crowd of children welcomed the two boys and invited them to join in their games. You can imagine how happy the boys felt — their new schoolmates made them feel accepted and welcome.
To me, this is a wonderful analogy of what happens to us at baptism. We come into this world knowing no one, alone and vulnerable in many ways. In the moment of baptism, our God reaches out to us, and invites us into the life of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, showing us that we are not alone. Our God loves us with a profound, limitless love, and gives us the grace to be instruments of that divine love in this world. In the moment of our baptism, the priest or deacon speaks these words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Scriptures teach us that God’s love is without limits and that he holds nothing back from us. He sent his only Son, not to condemn us but to give us eternal life. The Son loved us fully and completely, dying to release us from our slavery to sin and rising that we might have new life. The Holy Spirit fills us with light and love, and transforms us into instruments of God’s compassion and love in this world. Through our works of mercy, charity and justice, the mystery of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit continues to unfold in the lives of those we serve.