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TRINITY

On Friday morning during our community Lectio Divina practice, we used a portion of today’s Gospel. After our meditation and sharing Greta asked if that was taken from the Gospel for Sunday. When I said that it was, she gave me a look that said “YIKES!” I kind of felt the same way. 

 

But the short piece of that scripture from John that stood out for me in the Lectio practice was “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

Awh! Yes – heavenly things – like the Holy Trinity.

 

Richard of Saint Victor, the medieval Scottish philosopher and mystical theologian was one of the most influential religious thinkers of his time. He said this about the Trinity: “For God to be good, God can be one. For God to be loving, there must be two. For God to be joy, God must be three.”

 

The ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers from the Patristic Era of the early centuries of the Church first used the term Perichoresis to refer to the relationship of the three persons of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


The 19th century German Lutheran philosopher Hagel uses the language of Threefoldness and describes the nature of God as Primordial (Creator), Expressive (Jesus), and Unitive (The Spirit).


There has been so much religious scholarship and commentary on the Trinity that truthfully, I am hesitant to think I might have something of value to add to the conversation. But to get caught up in the intellectual web of such things can be a trap. It can be a trap because the Holy Trinity is not a riddle to be solved, it’s a mystery. And as a mystery, we will never be able to completely grasp the full nature of the Trinity – the interdependent dance between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. But we should strive nonetheless to bring meaning of the mystery into our lives. 

 

So, God is Mystery. God is beyond our understanding. Although the Mystery in the spiritual sense is opened before us, it is never completely revealed. It is a sort of Koen in that it exposes the futility of logical reasoning and challenges us toward the contemplative dimension. It is in this meditative awareness where our hearts are offered in hospitality to the Spirit that we can touch the Mystery. And it is there for all of us, even though each of us may have a different sense of it. How you interpret the Holy Trinity in your own heart is just as valid as that of any of the rightfully esteemed theologians and wisdom teachers throughout the ages.

 

In the 1998 movie City of Angels, Nicolaus Cage plays the role of an angel charged with escorting people to heaven when they die. The angel can only be seen by people of his choosing. Meg Ryan, who plays the role of a heart surgeon, is one who the angel allows to see him. In one scene in the kitchen of Ryan’s character, she is trying to get solid evidence of who this strange and interesting person might be. As a surgeon she relies on scientific evidence to draw conclusions, and the angel is avoiding giving any logical answers. At one point he takes her hand and asks that she close her eyes. When she does, he begins to lightly trace his fingertip over her palm, which inspires a faint smile on her face. Then he asks, “What am I doing?” She replies, “You’re touching me.” He then asks, “How do you know?” To which she responds, “Because I can feel it.” Then the angel says to her, “You should trust that.”

 

The point in telling this story is that when it comes to matters of the Mystery of God we should trust our God-given intuitive sense. As Rumi once said, “Follow your heart. It knows the way.” We would do well to be cautious of getting bogged down by archaic doctrinal ideas and embrace the mystery that allows for plenty of room for our imagination and intuitive sense that is based on real personal experience. This is where the Spirit is most alive.

 

No mere words can fully convey the truth of the Mystery of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, I have come to understand the Holy Trinity in this way: The Gospels are my clear design for living. I look to the teachings and example of life offered by Jesus as my guide. Jesus is also the icon that draws me into the mystery of the face of God. He is not just a figure from the distant past but is vivid and alive. And this awareness is fired by the Holy Spirit that infuses spiritual energy into my life. One in three. Three in one. The interdependent three in one nature of God that is vibrant and creative as much in my little human heart as it is throughout the entire universe. 

 

If you were to describe your own experience and understanding of the Trinity, what would you say? Trust the opening of your heart to the divine dance of the Trinity and you will be given the words to describe the indescribable for yourself.


Brother Dennis



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