After the intensity of the Lenten and Easter seasons, this feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to simply relax and ponder God.
Although the celebration of Trinity Sunday did not become a universal feast until the 14th century, its origins as a feast go back to the 4th century and the Arian Heresy. However, the roots of this teaching are in the New Testament. Especially important are words ascribed to Jesus throughout the Gospels. He spoke of himself as one with God, he in the father, and father in him. He referred to God as his abba. He promised to send the Holy Spirit as the new advocate, and he commissioned the disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. The many doxologies scattered throughout the New Testament and other references to the Trinity attest to the centrality of this way of ‘seeing’ God among the followers of Jesus. This was a courageous and new teaching, and not at all in line with the Jewish notion of God.
While the doctrine of the Trinity was designed to quell further questions concerning the three in one aspect of this new ‘understanding’ of God and equality of the persons therein, we turn to the mystical minds and souls to gain insights from their own consciousness of God.
Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180. speaks of “the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom.” For Meister Eckhart it is the great boiling over of the one into a Trinity of divine persons, and this boiling is the source of the boiling over of the Trinity in the creation of the cosmos. For Julian of Norwich, the great truth of the Trinity is our father, the deep wisdom our mother, and the high goodness our Lord. Catherine of Siena speaks of the Trinity as a mystery deep as the sea.
The mystics did not experience themselves as separate from the life of the Trinity, but fully enfolded in it. We too are invited to understand ourselves as fully enfolded in the life of the Trinity, being the human expression of God walking among us, as Jesus had been on earth, sharing the divine life and love. When we live from the consciousness of being part of the divine communion of equals, we know that our human practices cannot discriminate, dominate, nor accumulate.
We can gain knowledge from the dogma, and insights from the mystics, but in the end, as we ponder God, we can only say with St. Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable God’s ways! For who has known the mind of God?”
Or with our sister Catherine – “You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light.”
Elizabeth Ferguson, OP