One day, St. Augustine was walking along the seashore near Carthage and trying to understand the Most Blessed Trinity with his whole mind. As he was walking, he saw a child filling a bucket with water and dumping it into a hole. St. Augustine walked over to the child and asked, “What are you doing?”
“I am trying to empty the entire ocean into this hole,” the child replied.
“That’s impossible!” St. Augustine exclaimed.
“It is also impossible for you, Augustine, to understand the Holy Trinity,” the child said and disappeared.
Many of us are like St. Augustine because we are seeking very hard to understand things, which are mysteries. While modern life has progressed to such an extent that we can clearly understand our physical world, the world of religion is not something that can be dissected in the same way as science. Certain things about the faith are obvious, but there are many others which are not. Therefore, we call them mysteries.
Almost everything in the life of a Catholic is a mystery. While there are explanations aplenty for how the Sacraments work, we must take it on faith and believe that the Host held in the hands of the priest becomes the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. We know that Mary was assumed into heaven, but we don’t know how that process worked. Did she die first and then go or was it like what happened to Elijah in the fiery chariot? It is a mystery.
There are many people, Catholic and non-Catholic, who are frustrated with our constant usage of the word mystery. Some believe that it is a cop out or another way of saying that we don’t know. The truth of the matter is that we are trying to explain truths that are beyond our ability to explain with mortal words and feeble tongues. Transubstantiation or the Most Blessed Trinity can be explained on several different levels, but the truths behind those explanations must be taken on faith.
During the course of my Lenten journey, I have learned a great deal about how to live this mystery of faith. I have learned there is much that I don’t know about Catholicism and about how God works in our own lives. Yet I am willing to believe in the mysteries that the Church shows us every single day in the Sacraments, the Divine Office, the Holy Scriptures, and in other places. Even if I don’t understand what I see, I know that I will learn about it eventually in eternity.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Augustine, pray for us!