The Little Shop of Horrors
Peace of soul depends upon accurate self-understanding, how we relate to the world, and our life mission. Flowers are spiritual metaphors. Tiny sprouts emerge from the seed, the sprouts gain strength, and clusters of flower buds appear. In time, the flowers burst forth in beauty, revealing the dignity of those tiny seeds created by God. So it is with us. Thoughtful people want to know the basics of their identities as they anticipate the full flowering of their lives.
Where do we discover the building blocks of dependable self-knowledge and identity? What is the seed of every authentic human community? When God reveals Who He is, He reveals who we are and the meaning of community.
The first mystery of our faith is the Blessed Trinity. God is three Persons in one—the absolute unity of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the procession of the Divine love is the Holy Spirit. The love within Trinity is perfect and cannot be improved. Creation adds nothing to God’s perfection. Yet God creates.
Creation is the second mystery of our faith. Why did God create us? We do not know. He does not improve or perfect His love; He shares His love. God is mysteriously and selflessly generous. Unity and selfless generosity within the Trinity are inseparable.
Man carries the Divine imprint of God’s three-in-one unity: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) In the image and likeness of God, and with the eyes of faith, we see every other human being as an image of God with the same unfathomable dignity. The Blessed Trinity is the Divine seed of human existence, purified and enhanced by the Sacrament of Baptism, which seals us with God’s grace and directs us to our heavenly destination.
Man reflects the generosity of God by responding to His first command to go forth and multiply and fill the earth (cf. Gen. 1:28). The unity of man—male and female in marriage—and selfless life-giving generosity are inseparable attributes of who we are. Every authentic community is rooted in the Blessed Trinity through the family: neighborhoods, cities, and nations. The health of society depends upon the health of the family.
The community of love we seek comes to full flower with Christian generosity. Jesus directs us to proclaim faith in the inestimable dignity of man: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:19). We must also respond, with God’s grace, with a generous love derived from the Blessed Trinity. It is a generosity that comes to fulfillment on the Cross: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
The source of all generosity is the seed of the Blessed Trinity implanted in every heart. Authentic generosity breaks the boundaries of legitimate self-interest. Examples abound. Mothers sacrifice for their children, first responders and soldiers risk their lives for others, and anonymous benefactors support charity organizations without payback.
A spirit of selfless charity extinguishes the modern spirit of envy and selfish entitlement and the corrosive claim of victimhood. Rooted in the Trinity, authentic generosity confronts evil and suffering and brings joy to our families and communities. Human generosity expresses the flower of human nature and is our path to holiness.
In tumultuous times, it is tempting to dismiss the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity as a practical dogma of the faith. Most of us lost faith in the Sacraments during the pandemic, with bishops and priests refusing to celebrate public Masses and postponing baptisms. Our fearful obsessions displaced the first three Commandments. We paid tribute to the false gods of isolation and fear that promise ugly long-term personal and cultural effects.
Redefined families that violate the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Commandments ruin souls and divide communities. Disfigured individual identities introduce disorder, dysfunction, and vice into our lives and culture. The all-too-familiar modern social experiments of mutilation and hormone treatments are self-destructive and violate human nature—and the Fifth Commandment—with children and young people suffering the most. Evil trees bear bad fruit.
A movie produced over fifty years ago is so badly acted and poorly directed that it has earned a cult following: The Little Shop of Horrors. The young florist nurses a sickly potted flower to health only to discover that the plant drinks human blood and devours people. “Feed me!” The florist feeds the plant with his enemies, who disappear with a gulp. As the plant grows, buds form, and—in the presence of prominent local citizens gathered for the occasion—the buds open as grotesque flowers, bearing the faces of all those consumed by the plant. A perfectly awful film, although it makes a point Jesus makes: “Every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Mt. 7:17–18)
Have you seen the hatred in the faces and the behavior of many in our government and culture? Have you seen the recent news images of the pro-abortion protesters? Do you want yourself or your children to look like that? How our culture needs the Blessed Trinity and the graces of Baptism! After many years, we are finally witnessing the full grotesque flowering of a broken culture that offers us the clarity the early Christians saw: the way of life or the way of death.
As we allow the love and generosity of the Blessed Trinity to prune and renew us, choose beauty and life, and reject the Little Shop of Horrors. Christian generosity empowered by the Sacraments and guided by the Commandments is the flower of our existence and extinguishes despair.
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