Friday, May 20, 2005

Most Holy Trinity

Image hosted by Photobucket.com3=1, three in one, three-leaf clovers—this was basically what teachers and homilists taught me about the Trinity when I was growing up. Now I was never good at math, and this theological geometry problem never made sense to me. So it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally figured out what the great “mystery” was to this most mysterious of doctrines.

I learned about St. Gregory of Nyssa and his theological companions, his brother Basil and their friend, Gregory. In the early 4th century, these Cappadocian Fathers basically established how the Father is related to the Son, and how they are related to the Spirit thus laying out a doctrine of the Trinity.

One of the concepts about the Trinity inspired by the Cappadocian Fathers is the idea of perichoresis, literally meaning a circular dance. For Gregory and many of the Eastern mystics, the Trinity is not an equation but a dance—a relationship between persons, a right-ordering of creation.

The Trinity then is less like a thing and more like an action we participate in. It is a dance of love between the Father and the Son united by the Holy Spirit. It a dance between lovers so intimately bound to one another that if they stopped loving each other, they lose their identity. And because of their profound intimacy, they become even more distinct from each other, growing ever deeper into the persons they were meant to be. Their union is creative, beautiful, and attractive, drawing others into their love, and opening new possibilities and ways of being for and with others and each other. Difference is not conflict but the necessary push and pull that make the dancers confident in their steps. Distinction is not separation but communion of other with other. Theirs is a dynamic relationship. Love is constantly poured out for the other and received in joy. The unfolding of their self-sacrificing union is the definition of beauty. Delight is the space between them. All things, whether joyful or painful are caught up into their boundless love and re-shaped into the deep mystery of the Holy in which death is life and giving all we have is to be filled with blessing upon blessing, pressed down and overflowing.

To understand the Trinity then, we need look no further than our most intimate relationship with another person. The mystery of the Trinity is the same mystery of the irrational illogical unreasonable love of parent for child, of spouse for spouse, of partner for partner. Every time we give when we have nothing left, every time we forgive when there is no reason to, every time we have fallen so deeply in love that all we want to do is dance and jump and yell out for joy or else we’ll burst for keeping it in—that is the mystery of the Trinity. It’s the daily sacrifices we make for our family, it’s the feeling of solidarity in the struggle and pain of those who are strangers to us, it’s the human capacity to love and hope and create despite an unknown future.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit which we have just celebrated, all creation is caught up in the dance of the Father and the Son. All people, distinct from each other, are seated at the same table and feast upon the same heavenly food making them one united body dancing in love with the one loving God. As we bask in the glow of the Easter fire of Pentecost, may we dance with all creation and move with grace to the kingdom of God.

In this week’s DSJ Liturgy Notes you’ll find:

As we continue this Year of the Eucharist, you might consider participating in some form of Eucharistic adoration, whether it’s simply praying before the tabernacle or organizing a procession, exposition, and benediction on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (May 29, 2005 this year). During the week between Most Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of the Lord would also be a good time to practice this venerable form of prayer. The articles above—Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration and Resources for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord may be helpful for you in preparing these opportunities for prayer.

Though we are officially in ordinary time, the scent of Easter still lingers in the air as we celebrate these following Sundays. May all our Sundays be reflections of Easter, every liturgy a dance of the Trinity, and every Eucharist a call to deeper commitment to the Body and Blood of Christ.

Diana Macalintal
Associate for Liturgy