Saturday, June 10, 2017

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

 Solemnity of the Holy Trinity
11 June 2017

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This celebration forces us to contemplate the essential dogma of our faith. We recall this dogma every time we begin and end Mass. We invoke the Trinity every time we pray.  We recall the Trinity whenever we say the words  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What we call the Trinitarian formula  is NOT the absurd gender free version in vogue in certain pathetic circles that chooses to invoke and pray in the name of a creator, a redeemer, and a sanctifier.  While this is linguistically awkward.  It is flat out theologically wrong.  A function is not a person.  No person is fully defined by his function. The dogma of the Holy Trinity is One God in Three Divine Persons.  It does not describe a god--intentional small g--defined by and limited to three functions.  The perversion of the Trinitarian formula to creator, redeemer, and sanctifier reduces God to functions not persons.  Why not use butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, or quarterback, fullback, and waterboy?  It would be equally absurd.

The Trinitarian formula, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is critical to the Church's seven sacraments, from baptism to the anointing of the sick and dying.  The sign of the cross begins and ends everything the Church does. As it should and as it must.

We read in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, (#234):  “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself.  It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them.  It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of the truths of faith.”

Every time we make the sign of the cross we recall a mystery that remains incomprehensible.  It remains incomprehensible despite the many volumes attempting to explain the interpersonal dynamics within the Trinity, an absurd undertaking if there ever was one.

Each book may contain a tiny kernel of insight into the nature of the Trinity.  However, the sum of all the books written does not come close to capturing the essence of the Trinity.  The dogma of the Trinity depends on faith. It can only be understood through the eyes of faith.

This raises the question: What is faith?

A dictionary definition of faith is:  “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”  The Letter to the Hebrews gives a better definition: "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. . . . By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible."  Thus, we must become comfortable with faith at its most mysterious and impenetrable because despite the absence of logical proof, despite the impossibility and futility  of philosophy, science, or theology of ever "explaining" the Trinity, no one can declare him or herself a Christian if he or she denies the Trinity.

The word Trinity does not appear in scripture.  The understanding of the Trinity grew in the earliest years of the Church as she began to consider what Jesus said and did during His time on earth.   Jesus always speaks of His Father as distinct from Himself but He also notes that “I and the Father are One.”  The same is true of the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus refers to His oneness with the Father he is referring to substance and NOT the functions of creation, redemption, or enlightenment.  Thus, the ancient Creeds in Greek use homoousion which was translated into consubstantialem  in Latin. It is obvious that the English consubstantial arises directly from the Latin.  Slovenian uses enega bistvam, one essence or one substance.  We are accustomed to persons being distinct rather than the same.  We have a hard time wrapping our minds around three in one. We have a very hard time wrapping our minds around “consubstantial."

Over the past weeks many of the gospel readings have been taken from the farewell discourse in John’s Gospel.  Jesus refers to both the Father and the Holy Spirit in reference to Himself several times in this discourse.  The Trinity is a mystery that, in the end, compels us to sing in praise and thanksgiving with the psalmist:

"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."

 Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of our ordination to the priesthood.  Ten years ago today was the first Mass.  It was a spectacularly beautiful day, an important consideration in Campion Center as it was, and remains, without air conditioning, unless something big has happened in my absence.  

Wednesday night was marked by serious insomnia with multiple awakenings every 90 minutes until by 4:30 AM I gave up, took my meds, got dressed, and went out with the camera a bit after 5:00.  Had a very productive time walking along the river.  Chose not to attempt a walk to the castle as the kind of fatigue associated with poor sleep makes it difficult to climb.  Got some shots I like. 

The sterling silver bowl was sitting in the window of a gallery that faces but is set back from the river.  The bowl is reflecting the buildings on the other side of the fiver.

 The curio shop was just a bit down the way.  Many of the window grates here are decorative and functional. 

A small locked cabinet outside an antique store. 

Probably walked a bit farther than I should have given the level of fatigue I managed by the time I got back to the house (and a nap).  Went fairly far down the river.  Didn't notice the spider web until I downloaded the shots. 

This bar is in the same general area as the antique shop.  Everything was set for opening which was quite a few hours away, at least not until 10 AM.  It is not just a bar and does serve food.  However, tourists can develop a powerful thirst at odd hours of the morning. 

I sometimes fantasize living in an apartment overlooking the river.  And then I remember that it is crowded and noisy at this part of the river.  LJ is not a late night city but I don't particularly want to spend my evenings listening to the noise of revelers.  This does look peaceful with the first rays of sun hitting the windows.  Ah, to take morning coffee sitting on a balcony. 

The colors in this scene have the potential to clash audibly if looked at too long.  If you follow the path to the right it would lead to the library, an interesting buildings that is a significant temptation to rock and wall climbers. 
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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