As we begin the month of June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us ask of our good Lord to share His Divine Mercy with us! This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity! I share with you a meditation on this great mystery. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the Soul: The presence of God, One and Three, in the soul in grace.
At the Last Supper when one of His disciples asked Him why He would show Himself to them alone and not to the whole world, (which was how the Jews of the day were expecting the Messiah to manifest Himself), Jesus answered: If a man love Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23) Our Lord reveals that not only He but the Blessed Trinity itself would be present, as in a temple, (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19) in the souls of those who love Him. This revelation makes up the whole substance of the New Testament, (Tertullian, Contra Praxeas, 31) the very heart and quintessence of His teaching.
God - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - dwells in our soul in grace not only with a presence of immensity, as He is to be found in everything, but in a special way through sanctifying grace. (cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, 1, q 43, a 3) This new presence fills the soul that travels along the paths of sanctity with love, and with an indescribable joy. Indeed, it is there, in the central depths of the soul, that we must accustom ourselves to seeking God, in every one of life’s situations, whether it be out in the street, at sport or whilst we are relaxing. O, then, exclaimed Saint John of the Cross, most beautiful soul who dost so much desire to know the place where your Beloved is in order to seek Him and to be united with Him, He tells you now that you yourself are the abode wherein He dwells, and the closet and hiding place where He is hidden. It is a matter of great contentment and joy for you to see that all your good and all your hope are so near that you cannot be without Them. ‘Behold’, says the Spouse, ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21), and His servant the Apostle Saint Paul says: ‘We are the temple of the living God’ (2 Cor. 6:16). (St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle, 1, 7)
The good fortune of having the presence of the Blessed Trinity in the soul is not meant only for extraordinary individuals, for people endowed with exceptional charisma or qualities, but for the ordinary Christian, who is called to sanctity in the midst of his or her professional activities and who wants to love God with all his being, even though, as Saint Teresa of Avila points out, there are many souls who remain in the outer courtyard of the castle (of the soul), which is the place occupied by the sentinels; they are not interested in entering it, and they have no idea of what there is in that wonderful place, or of Who dwells inside it … (St. Teresa, The Mansions, 5, 6) In this wonderful place - in the soul illuminated by grace - God is with us: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This presence that theologians call indwelling differs only in quality from the blessedness of those who have already attained the state of eternal happiness in Heaven. (cf. Leo XIII, Divinum illud munus, 9 May 1897) Although it belongs to the Three Divine Persons, it is attributed to the Holy Spirit, for the work of sanctification is proper to Love.
This revelation that God made to men, as though in loving confidence, amazed the first Christians and filled their hearts with peace and supernatural joy. When we are convinced of this supernatural reality - that God, One and Three, dwells within us as individuals - we turn our lives, with all their troubles, and perhaps even because of such troubles, into a foretaste of Heaven: it is like entering into God’s inmost being and knowing and loving the Divine Life, of which we become sharers.
O unfathomable ocean of Divine Life! Driven on by Faith I have approached Your shores. Tell me, what is it in Your great depths that holds me by its charm? O bottomless ocean of Divine Life! I was swept along by your undertow… and already I am out of my depth! (Sister Cristina de Arteaga, Sow!, Seville, 1982)
Supernatural life leads a Christian to know and to converse intimately with the Blessed Trinity.
The Christian begins his life in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and in this same Name he leaves this world to find in Heaven the fullness of the vision of these divine Persons whom he has tried to get to know here on earth. One God and three Divine Persons: this is the profession of our Faith that the Apostles heard from Jesus’ lips and handed down. It is the Faith that Christians have held from the very first moment, the Faith that the Magisterium of the Church has always taught. As they advance along their journey towards God, Christians of all times have felt the need to meditate on this first Truth of our Faith, and to try to get to know each one of the Three Persons. Saint Teresa of Avila tells us in her Life how, as she was meditating precisely on one of the oldest instructions of Faith in the mystery of the Trinity - the Athanasian Creed or Quicumque, as it is called - she received special graces to go deeper into this marvelous reality. The saint writes: Once when I was reciting the ‘Quicumque vult’, I was shown so clearly how it was possible for there to be one God alone and three Persons that it caused me both amazement and much comfort. It was of the greatest help to me in teaching me to know more of the greatness of God and of His marvels. When I think of the Most Holy Trinity, or hear it spoken of, I seem to understand how there can be such a mystery, and it is a great joy to me. (St. Teresa, Life, 39, 25)
The whole of a Christian’s supernatural life is directed towards this knowledge of and intimate conversation with the Trinity, who become eventually the fruit and the end of our whole life. (St. Thomas, Commentary on Book IV of the Sentences, 1, d2, q1) It is for this end that we have been created and raised to the supernatural order: to know, to talk to and to love God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, who dwell in the soul in grace.
In this life the Christian comes to have an experiential knowledge of these three Divine Persons, a knowledge that, far from being something extraordinary, is appreciable within the normal paths of sanctity, (cf. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, 1) a sanctity to which are called the mother of a family who scarcely finds enough hours in the day to look after her home and to make ends meet, the workman who starts his work before daybreak, the sick whose illness prevents them from doing anything… God, in His infinite Love for each individual person, ardently desires to make Himself known in this intimate and loving way to all those who really follow in the footsteps of His Son.
On this path towards the Blessed Trinity to which all our efforts must tend, we have as our Guide and Teacher the Holy Spirit. Our Lord promised - and His Word never fails: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him for He dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. (John 14:16-18) In this ‘you’ are fortunately included all of us who have been baptized, and particularly those of us who want to follow Jesus closely, in the very place and circumstances where life has placed us. It is sweet to meditate that this mystery, which is inaccessible to human reason alone, is made clear to us by the light of the Faith and the help of the Holy Spirit. To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 13:11) Let us then ask God today to guide us along this path which is filled with light.
Temples of God: As well as asking the Holy Spirit to give us a great desire to purify our hearts, we have to desire with real sincerity this intimate meeting with the Holy Trinity, without being put off because perhaps we see our weaknesses and the deficiencies of our attitude towards God more clearly. Saint Teresa tells us that as she considered the presence of the Three Divine Persons in her soul she was amazed at seeing so much majesty in a thing as lowly as my soul; then Our Lord said to her: It is not lowly, my daughter, because it is made in my own image. (St. Teresa, Matters of Conscience, 41) And the saint was filled with consolation. It can do us a great deal of good to consider these words as being spoken to us, and they will encourage us to continue along this path that ends in God. We must treat every person we come across each day as the possessor of an immortal soul, the image of God, which is or can become the temple of God.
Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, recently beatified, wrote to her sister on receiving news of the birth and baptism of her first niece: I feel full of respect, she said in her letter, for this little temple of the Blessed Trinity… If I were near her I would kneel down to adore Him who dwells within her. (Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity, Letter to her sister Margaret, Complete Works, 2)
The Church recommends us to nourish our piety with solid food, and this is why we should meditate on these instructions on the Faith and recite the prayers composed in honor of the Trinity. Such prayers are the Athanasian Creed or Quicumque (which in the past Christians used to say every Sunday after the homily, and which today on the third Sunday of each month, many people say and meditate on in honor of the Blessed Trinity), the Trisagium Angelicum, said especially on this solemnity, the Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit… When, with the help of grace, we learn to go deep into these practices of devotion, it is as if we heard again the words of Our Lord: Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous men have longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matt. 13:16-17)
We finish this time of prayer repeating in our hearts, with Saint Augustine: My Lord and my God, my only hope, hear my prayer so that I may not give in to discouragement and cease to seek You. May I desire always to see Your face. Give me strength for the search. You who caused me to find You and gave the hope of a more perfect knowledge of You, I place before You my steadfastness, that You may preserve it, and my weakness, that You may heal it. I place before You my knowledge, and my ignorance. If You open the door to me, welcome the one who enters. If You have closed the gate, open it to the one who calls. Make me always remember You, understand You and love You. Increase those gifts in me until I am completely changed… When we come up into Your presence, these many things we talk about now without understanding them will cease, and You alone will remain everything in everyone, and then we will sing as one an eternal hymn of praise and we too will become one with You. (St. Augustine, De Trinitate, 15, 28, 51)
The substance of our supernatural life is the contemplation and praise of the Blessed Trinity, which is the object of our life, for in Heaven, close to our Mother, Mary - Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit: Greater than she none but God! (cf. J. Escriva, The Way, 496) - our joy and our happiness will give eternal praise to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Church, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God grant us the grace to share the Gospel with others! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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