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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Some time ago someone told me what I’m sure is a myth, that many bishops selected Trinity Sunday as a good day to issue a pastoral letter, so as to spare clergy the difficulty of preaching on the Trinity. It’s certainly true that a number of popular analogies tend to get us into tricky waters fairly quickly:

Getting our understanding of God right has been one of the great sources of controversy in Christianity, and particularly in the early centuries of the Church when theologians tried to explain how Christians understood God in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ. The early centuries of the Church were dominated by arguments about the humanity and divinity of Christ, and the controversy lasted for some time before we came to our current consensus. Part of the reason why our understanding of God is so important is that it tells us a good deal about the nature of the world around us, about God’s plan for the salvation of the world, and also tells us a lot about ourselves, and our own future destiny.
There are a good number of assumptions about today which make the idea of God unreasonable to most people, and most of these ideas have little, if anything, to do with Christian revelation. One vision of God bequeathed to us by eighteenth century science sees God as a divine Intelligence who crafts the universe through the laws of physics. But this crystallises the act of creation in the dim and distant past, ignoring God’s creative work in the world today. Others see God acting as a god of the gaps, where God is simply used to explain things which the natural sciences cannot. Others anthropomorphise God into something similar to pagan gods like Zeus, easily prone to wrath and fickle in dealings with humanity. The Sacred Scriptures then become dictatorial, divorced from God’s plan of salvation through the free cooperation of humanity.
The Trinity becomes the fulcrum for many of these problems. So, for example, if we get the balance wrong, perhaps denying our Lord’s humanity, this leaves us wondering how our humanity possesses the dignity which Christ promised us. Then again, by making the argument that Jesus was simply a divinely adopted human being, how can we fully understand our new union with the life of God promised to us through the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, and his gift of the sacramental life?
‘The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and life’ (CCC. §234), it is the source of all other mysteries of the faith, because it is the light of the Trinity, the light of God Himself, who enlightens all other mysteries. To enter into this mystery is not only the way of helping us straighten out our misconceptions of God, but is also a way of coming to understand the entirety of salvation, as the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals Himself to humanity.

Br Albert Elias Robertson O.P.

Br Albert Elias was born in Surrey and went to university at the London School of Economics, where he read Social Anthropology before going to Oxford, where he read for an MPhil in Material Anthropology. After studies, he had a propaedeutic year in three Anglican parishes in north London. He became a Catholic in 2013 and worked for a short time in London living at St Patrick’s Soho before entering the noviciate in 2015. Br Albert helps to run the Thomistic Institute and so has an interest in promoting the theology of St Thomas as well as Patristics. In his spare time he likes to read novels [lots]. | albert.robertson@english.op.org


Alyse Jacobsen commented on 13-Jun-2017 10:44 PM
Thank you for your blog. I recently attended a conference put on my the Center for Action and Contemplation with Father Richard Rohr OFM, which centered entirely on the idea of Trinity. It is a tough concept to be sure, though if one allows themselves to fall into the flow, you may find yourself in the overwhelming love of God in all forms.

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