Monday, May 19, 2008

The Day After Trinity Sunday

In Firmly I Believe and Truly (page 18), the then Bishop Graham Leonard wrote: "The doctrine of the Holy Trinity seeks to put into words what God has told us about himself. It tells us that he is not a solitary being, occupied simply with himself, who, for some reason known only to him, decided to create the universe and, within it, men and women who could, as it were, keep him company. It tell us that God is love - not just loving, but love itself from whom all human love is derived. He is a community of love. We describe the relationships within that community as those between persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We do so for two reasons: First, the word “person” is the highest description we, as human beings, have at our disposal to describe a distinct being, with the freedom to love and enter into relationships with others . . . Second, because Holy Scripture speaks of God in personal terms, as Father, as Son and as Holy Spirit."

Sometimes we can forget just how Trinitarian our life really is, in spite of being reminded all the time in the Church's prayer.

We were born again by being baptized "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we hear the words, ". . . I absolve you from all your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

In the Mass, at the climax of the Eucharistic Prayer, we acknowledge that we offer the Holy Sacrifice "Through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father almighty . . ."

When we are on our deathbed the priest will say:

"Go forth upon thy journey from this world, O Christian soul,
In the name of God the Father almighty who created thee, In the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who suffered and died for thee, In the name of the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon thee . . . "

Fr Fergus Kerr OP writes on
The Trinity and Christian Life:

"The reality of the Godhead, so to speak, is intrinsically relational - or, as Basil of Caesarea put it, God is 'a kind of continuous and indivisible koinonia, (Letter 38, Migne, PG 32, 332a). Indeed, as Zizioulas points out, it looks as if Basil and his younger brother Gregory of Nyssa (who may have been the author rather than the recipient of this particular letter) were perfectly well aware of how radical the conceptual (and theological) innovation was that they were making - 'a new and paradoxical (conception of) united differentiation and differentiated unity' (333a).

"Such language (from the 360s) is so audacious that the phrase deserves to be quoted in the original Greek (it is in the accusative case in the text): kainen Kai paradoxon diakrisin te sunemmenen kai diakekrimenen sunapheian. Remote as it obviously is from the letter of the New Testament, and somewhat breath-taking (not to say jaw-breaking) in verbal concision, this paradoxical innovation certainly strives to secure and protect a much more sophisticated understanding of the divine mystery than one finds in a great deal of Christian theology since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which is often little more than deism with a splash of supernatural dressing.

"The aloof and isolated deity, whose being is also often alleged to be 'static', and by whom many modern atheists seem to be persistently haunted, bears no resemblance to the God whose very being is intrinsically communion, as the fourth-century Cappadocian jargon seeks to express it."
For the rest of the article click HERE.

A more basic essay for those thinking about these truths for the first time is by the team at Desiring God: "The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how He relates to us, and how we should relate to Him. But it also raises many difficult questions. How can God be both one and three? Is the Trinity a contradiction? If Jesus is God, why do the Gospels record instances where He prayed to God?" To read the rest, click HERE.

Bishop Kallistos Ware famously remarked:
"It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder."
The Orthodox Way
, page 14

Finally, here is the Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Trinity of St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), taken from her
Dialogue on Divine Providence. We read this passage in the Office of Readings on her feast day (29th April):

O Eternal God! O Eternal Trinity! Through the union of thy divine nature thou hast made so precious the Blood of thine only-begotten Son! O eternal Trinity, Thou art as deep a mystery as the sea, in whom the more I seek, the more I find; and the more I find, the more I seek. For even immersed in the depths of thee, my soul is never satisfied, always famished and hungering for thee, eternal trinity, wishing and desiring to see thee, the true light.

"O eternal Trinity, with the light of understanding I have tasted and seen the depths of thy mystery and the beauty of thy creation. In seeing myself in thee, I have seen that I will become like thee. O eternal Father, from thy power and thy wisdom clearly thou hast given to me a share of that wisdom which belongs to thine only-begotten Son. And truly hast the Holy Spirit, who procedeth from thee, Father and Son, given to me the desire to love thee.

"O eternal Trinity, thou art my maker and I am thy creation. Illuminated by thee, I have learned that thou hast made me a new creation through the Blood of thine Only-begotten Son because thou art captivated by love at the beauty of thy creation.

"O eternal Trinity, O Divinity, O unfathomable abyss, O deepest sea, what greater gift could thou givest me then thy very Self? Thou art a fire that burns eternally yet never consumed, a fire that consumes with thy heat my self-love. Again and again thou art the fire who taketh away all cold heartedness and illuminateth the mind by thy light, the light with which thou hast made me to know thy truth.

"By this mirrored light I know thou are the highest good, a good above all good, a fortunate good, an incomprehensible good, an unmeasurable good, a beauty above all beauty, a wisdom above all wisdom, for thou art wisdom itself, the the food of angels, the fire of love that thou givest to man.

"Thou art the garment covering our nakedness. Thou feedest our family with thy sweetness, a sweetness thou art from which there is no trace of bitterness. O Eternal Trinity! Amen."


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