Sunday was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. At the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity here in New Ulm, Fr. Matthew Wiering gave a moving homily which inspired my thoughts for today’s posts. Thank you, Fr. Wiering!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
“God’s very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.” (#221)
Imagine! God has a secret at the center of His divinity. What is this secret? God is a Trinity. Never has there been just one Person. From all eternity God the Father has said “You” to God the Son. The Son has returned this greeting. And this You that they speak is the Holy Spirit, Himself a third Person.
No one would have guessed this secret. In fact, many (as today) considered it blasphemous. How could Jesus, a man, be God? God is one! How could the Holy Spirit be a Person, rather than a mere divine tool?
With the Incarnation, God began to reveal His secret to the world. Jesus completed the revelation by promising to send the Spirit–not an “it,” but a “He.”
Centering Prayer’s gravest error
While pondering this mystery, I couldn’t help but think about the errors promoted by Fr. Thomas Keating and his Contemplative Outreach. Here is a link to a short video I have mentioned before, in which Fr. Keating teaches that “there is no Other,” and that those at the height of the spiritual life understand this.
Contrast this error with the Catechism’s teaching. God’s innermost secret is that there is always an Other. There is an other (really two Others) in the very godhead. To deny the reality of the Other is to reject God’s most intimate revelation about Himself.
What if you told your spouse a secret so personal, so central to your being, that you had never shared it before? What if your spouse then pushed it away, refused to believe it, openly contradicted it? God’s innermost secret is Truth. While we might be deceived in the way we perceive ourselves (think of those poor souls struggling with gender dysphoria), God is Truth, perceives Truth, and speaks Truth. To reject His self-revelation is to reject reality.
And it’s also a rejection of our own nature.
We all know this passage from the Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1)
The Son is God. At the same time, He is with God. One can only be with an Other.
Union and communion
The word union can have many meanings. But the Holy Trinity is not just any union. God is comm-union–union with. The Father is never alone. He is forever with the Son and the Spirit. And He desires to be forever with you.
Again, as the Catechism says, “God himself is an eternal exchange of love.” The Father eternally loves the Son. The Son eternally loves the Father. The Spirit eternally proceeds from both through their reaching out to each other.
God never turns in on Himself. He continually reaches out to draw others into communion with Him. The Father and Son reach out to each other, and through creation and regeneration in Christ, God reaches out to us. He beckons us with His love.
A theology in which there is no Other is a theology without love. It is a life turned in on itself. It is a life devoid of communion.
To understand who we are, we must understand that we were created by God’s outpouring of love. We must understand that the union He calls us to is not a union that erases our otherness. God calls us to communion, to eternally pour ourselves out in love for God and eternally receive His self-outpouring into our hearts.
Even as the Son will always be the Son, so you will always be you.
“You are my son. Today I have begotten you.” (Ps 2:7)
The Father speaks these words first to the Son, and now through the Son and the Holy Spirit to you.
And so we reach out to others in love. We pour ourselves out for our brothers and sisters. We open our hearts to receive their love. Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of all that is.
The Holy Trinity frees us from our self-centered closing in upon ourselves. Through love, He sets us free.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Note: I have started a new Facebook Group called Authentic Contemplative Prayer to discuss matters related to mental prayer. If you’d like to join us, just request membership.