Reflection for The Most Holy Trinity (N.O.) and Trinity Sunday (E.F.)

 Image result for Most Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is a mystery that Scripture does not prove. This Sunday following Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity. The Triune nature of God is the principal mystery of the Catholic faith. Today we contemplate the first and last horizon of the universe and of history: the Love of God – the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is not solitude, but perfect communion.

To understand better the Trinity, we need not only the words of Sacred Scripture but holy images. An image is worth more than a thousand words. One image that has helped me enter into the Trinitarian mystery is the famous icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev. The icon introduces us to the threshold of the mystery of God.

I have always loved Rublev’s image because it depicts in an extraordinary way what lies at the heart of our Triune God. The Father gazes lovingly towards the Son; the Son is looking obediently towards the Father; and the Holy Spirit is that breadth of love between the Father and the Son. We could say that God’s nature reveals itself in the dynamic relations among the divines. It is in the self-emptying and gazing at the other that the transcendence of God becomes manifest.

Rublev’s symbols

Behind each of the three personages in the icon, Rublev has put a symbol that enables each person to be identified. On the left, the House of the Father; at the centre a tree, where the Cross transforms itself into a new tree of life; and on the right a rock, from which gushed out the water in the desert that prefigured the gift of the Spirit. The dish offered by Abraham to his guests resembles the Paschal cup, which prefigures the Eucharistic cup. For Rublev, the meeting of Abraham with the three angels reveals God, his divine council who elaborates the plan of salvation. The contemplation of the icon of the Trinity is transformed into a meditation on the whole history of salvation. It finds its completion in the very mystery of the Father, of the Son, and the Spirit.

The Lord, a God who is merciful

In today’s first reading from Exodus (34:4b-6, 8-9), God is revealed to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious…” (34:6ff) God proclaims his own Name to us! He does so in the presence of Moses with whom he spoke face to face, as with a friend. There could be no better way to tell us the truth about God’s identity. God’s Name is Mercy, Grace, and Faithfulness.

The second reading of today’s liturgy (2 Corinthians 13:11-13), closes with the words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” The mention of Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit is more than a hint of the three persons in God, One and Unique, whom we want to encounter in our prayer. This formula probably has its roots in the Tradition of the early Church.

The first verse of today’s Gospel begins with the statement that God loves the world (John. 3:16). “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:16). God loves the Son: “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands” (John 3:35). God loves Israel with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). To celebrate the Trinity is to be in the “communion of the Holy Spirit”’ (2 Corinthians 13:13) wherein we know that God loves us.

Our God is rich in relationships

Our God is rich in relationships, communication, and love for all people. This God models to us what the dynamic Trinitarian life is all about – communication, relationship, and affection. The quality of our Christian life is based on imitation of the interior life of the Trinity. The Trinity is the model of every human community, from the most simple and elemental, which is the family, to the universal Church. It shows how love creates unity out of diversity: unity of intentions, of thought, of will; diversity of subjects, of characteristics, and, in the human realm, of sex. And we see, specifically, what a family can learn from the Trinitarian model.

Embracing the mystery each day

On Trinity Sunday, rather than try to solve the mystery, let us ask how open we are to it: the mystery of why God created us to begin with; the mystery of God loving us, desiring to be part of our lives, to live in our hearts; to be one with us; the mystery of God inviting us to share in the life of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit; the mystery of a God who cares for us like a loving parent, who lays down his life for us like a best friend, who fills our hearts like a lover who will not be refused.

While the Holy Trinity is a mystery that cannot be proven by Scripture we come into contact, through our liturgy, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

How many times each day do we make the sign of the Cross? It may be in our Morning Offering, at grace before meals, at Mass, or before we retire for the night. It may be when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or recite the Rosary. How often do we sign ourselves “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”? How often do we think about the deep meaning of these words and this simple, yet profound Trinitarian gesture?

Today let us pause and think of what we are doing when we mark ourselves with the sign of the Cross. What does it mean to sign myself with the Divine love that binds the Godhead as One? God said at creation, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). He spoke of Himself as “Us,” implying the Trinitarian nature in which we Catholics believe. God also said that we humans would image that nature. How does my life reflect the community of love that is the Godhead? How do I image the Divine nature, which is Love itself? Are mercy, grace, and faithfulness part of my identity?

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Trinity Sunday (E.F.)
Image result for Most Holy Trinity
The fundamental dogma on which everything in Christianity is based is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptised.
The Feast of the Blessed Trinity requires to be understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith in this triune life of the Divine Persons, to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for us by Christ. Only in Heaven shall we properly understand what it means, in union with Christ, to share as sons in the very life of God.
The Feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the 9th century and was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the 14th century. But the cultus of the Trinity is, of course, to be found throughout the liturgy. Holy Mass and the Divine Office begin and end, the Sacraments are conferred in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  All the Psalms conclude with the Gloria Patri, the hymns with a doxology and the Clollects with an ending in honour of the Three Divine Persons. Constantly Holy Mother Church causes us to praise and adore the thrice-holy God who has shown His mercy towards us that He has given us a share in His life.
INTROIT
Blessed be the Holy Trinity and unbdivided unity: we will give glory to Him, because He hath shown His mercy to us. Ps: O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the earth.  Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT
Almighty and everlasting God, You have given Your servants grace in the confession of the true Faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of Your Majesty to adore the unity; grant that by steadfastness in the same Faith we may be defended from all adversities. Through Our Lord.
Epistle:  Romans 11.  33-36     Gospel:  Matthew 28.  18-20
POSTCOMMUNION
May the receiving of this Sacrament, Lord our God, and the acknowledging of the Holy and Eternal Trinity in its indivisible unity, be profitable for us for the salvation of both body and soul. Through our Lord.
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27 Responses to Reflection for The Most Holy Trinity (N.O.) and Trinity Sunday (E.F.)

  1. toadspittle says:

    All very difficult.
    People like a variety of gods, look at the Greeks. We can’t have polytheism, so we seem to boil three “gods” into one. It is surely a mystery.
    “The Feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the 9th century and was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the 14th century. ”
    Interesting. Didn’t know that. Comparatively modern.
    So, when did people have to start officially believing in the Holy Trinity?

  2. The Raven says:

    There is attestation for the doctrine of the Trinity in St Ignatius of Antioch’s writings, so it’s already there in 110 AD. As St Ignatius knew the Apostles in person, I suspect it’s safe to say that it was probably an Apostolic teaching (and it is, of course, implicit in the Gospels).

  3. GC says:

    More than implicit in the Scriptures, I would think, dear Raven. In St John’s Gospel we’ve had some time in this Eastertide just past to listen to John identifying Jesus, or rather, Jesus identifying Himself with the Father, but distinguishing Himself from the Father nonetheless. And then we hear John saying that the two would send “another” comforter or “strengthener”, the Paraclete.

    Even St Paul, in those very early years, said to us today at Mass, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, as the article above mentions.

  4. johnhenrycn says:

    What about Erasmus and the Johannine Comma in 1 Jn 5:7-8?

  5. GC says:

    Quite the biggest comma I’ve ever seen, JH, and I’ve seen a lot.

    The reformers, so called, of the 16th century all affirmed the Trinity and they were biblicists. I think we only got the unitarians a bit after the reformers. And why ever not have a free-for-all then?

  6. toadspittle says:

    “Jesus identifying Himself with the Father, but distinguishing Himself from the Father nonetheless.”
    To do either cannot logically be interpreted as being one and the same person, surely?

    “… And then we hear John saying that the two would send “another” comforter or “strengthener”, the Paraclete.””
    Does that even imply in the mildest fashion that then all three would then be one person?

    Christ reportedly said he had a father in heaven. Aren’t we all supposed to have that?
    But when did belief in the Trinity become mandatory?

  7. toadspittle says:

    .”..the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
    Where is any suggestion that they are one single person? If I said , “Thanks, to GC, JH, and Raven,” could anyone sensibly assume I considered them to be one and the same person?
    I don’t see why any religion should expect anybody to believe incomprehensible ideas.
    But I am only a Toad.

  8. The Raven says:

    Come, now Toad, it’s hardly an incomprehensible idea, in fact, it is one we see in nature: diamond, charcoal and graphite have radically different properties, but they are exactly the same substance (i.e. carbon).

    In scripture we are told that there is only one God and Our Lord tells the apostles that they have seen the Father because they had seen Him – it is clear that Our Lord is telling us that He and the Father are one. When He then talks about the Holy Ghost, He tells us that the Holy Ghost is His spirit, again, clearly identifying Himself and the Holy Ghost as one.

    In each case we have three separate persons being identified together as being of one being, consubstantial.

  9. Pingback: Reflection for The Most Holy Trinity (N.O.) and Trinity Sunday (E.F.) — – The Portsmouth Mission Blog

  10. The Raven says:

    One point to note, Toad, the three persons of the Trinity are separate persons, not the same person, but they are only one God.

  11. geoffkiernan says:

    And when did it again become fashionable to cast pearls before swine?

  12. toadspittle says:

    “And when did it again become fashionable to cast pearls before swine?”
    I wasn’t aware it had ever been unfashionable. When was that, Geoff?

    “…diamond, charcoal and graphite have radically different properties, but they are exactly the same substance (i.e. carbon).”
    And yet, Raven, humans and Geoff’s swine, have radically different properties, (well, nor all that different) and yet are exactly the same substance – flesh and blood, muscle and bone.
    A tree and a table can both be made of wood, but there the resemblance ends.
    So, the carbon analogy really tells me nothing of value.
    …However, there seems little point in pursuing this, I imagine we agree.

  13. The Raven says:

    Is the substance of a human being nothing more than meat, gristle, fat and bone, Toad? Forgive me for saying that, on this occasion, you’re asking a complex question and then pulling a face when you get an answer that reflects its complexity.

  14. toadspittle says:

    Point taken, Raven. I suspect none of our analogies is entirely apposite here.
    I just can’t understand how a dad and his son can be the same person, let alone involving a pigeon to make three, anymore than a swine could be.

    “Is the substance of a human being nothing more than meat, gristle, fat and bone, Toad? “
    I’d say that is exactly what our basic substance is.
    Same as that of a pig. Although both swine and men have brains – after a fashion – , and feelings and emotions, of course.
    But then, we humans know hugely sophisticated stuff that pigs never will – such as how to vote for Donald Trump,* and how to shoot other people, and lie to them.
    Pigs are not clever enough to do that. That’s why some folk sneer at them.

    Nor am I pulling a face. I always look this half-witted.

    * Made in God’s image, of course.

  15. toadspittle says:

    “I just can’t understand how a dad and his son can be the same person, “
    On reflection, I suppose I should have said, ” . …can be two persons, and yet the same entity,” or whatever.
    I give up in this one. Words don’t seem to work here.

  16. The Raven says:

    Come now, Toad, as a fan of philosophy I expected a little more of the mind/body dualism v monism from you!

    I am, of course, a great fan of pigs: intelligent, sensitive beasts; and so very tasty too.

  17. geoffkiernan says:

    “I give up on this one.Words dont seem to work here”
    Methinks you have an inflated view of your own importance
    The very day you work it out toad is the very day that the rest of us would give up. If your feeble brain could grasp the mystery of the Godhead we would/should all start worshiping you…It’s at this point that my feeble brain starts to hurt

  18. toadspittle says:

    “The very day you work it out toad is the very day that the rest of us would give up. “
    I have no more expectation of “working it out,” than you do, Geoff. Far less, in fact -as my brain is notably feeble, as you needlessly point out. All I’m suggesting is that we might treat apparently illogical situations with scepticism – until persuaded otherwise by reason.

    Nor do I see what mind/body or (presumably Cartesian) dualism or monism has to do with The Trinity.
    Though “Trinitism” might. Three ghosts in one machine? Right, Raven? Is that it?

  19. Declan says:

    Toad said ”I give up in this one.” Very wise. Angels, pins, dance.

    Give it up, the lot of you.

  20. toadspittle says:

    Declan’s scarcely got his feet under the table – and already he’s ordering us about.

  21. Catherine Geldart says:

    In my declining years, Mind Body and Soul I have one thing: Faith

  22. geoffkiernan says:

    Declan, whether your feet are under the table yet or not, it is sound advice. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him (toad) all along….. Then his, “until persuaded otherwise by reason” and Catherine’ last word, speaks volumes and still he refuses/declines to hear. Does he need to be hit by a bus before it occurs to him? Does anyone have a ‘bus handy because I know how to drive one?

  23. Declan says:

    Mr Toad complains, nay whines that I order him about. But Toad himself said above to Mr Raven ” there seems little point in pursuing this, I imagine we agree..”” . Yes I fully agree and said so but he petulantly objects to my agreement with him. There is no pleasing some people. Sigh.

    He suggests, in the manner of an old codger grumbling at a handsome new face in the pensioners’ club that I am uppity. In this he is correct.

    Ravens, Toads – it’s like a bleedin’ wildlife park in ‘ere.

  24. toadspittle says:

    I didn’t whine, Declan -merely observed. I don’t care what you do, or say.
    The “moderators” may have other ideas. I’d advise against trying to be funny, though – that’s Geoff’s job.

  25. toadspittle says:

    And I’m sure you drive your bus just as dinkum as you debate, Geoff.
    Best bloody bus driver in Bondi, shouldn’t wonder.
    ( But as well to keep “Though shalt not kill,” in mind. Not even Toads.)

  26. GC says:

    Is Declan an ageing Jesuit? Or is that you again, phil?

  27. Declan says:

    I didn’t whine, Declan -merely observed. I don’t care what you do, or say.
    The “moderators” may have other ideas. I’d advise against trying to be funny, though – that’s Geoff’s job.

    Ouch! Tetchy! And yes, ‘not caring’ is at the root of society’s problems today.

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