Although I have pledged to rest from posting on this Blog until mid-ish June, I was overcome by a rush from the nearing solemn Feast and simply could not hold myself back; though I probably could have saved time here by just including a short-hand sum that encapsulates everything I write – OMG, the Cross.
Dominica Sanctissimae Trinitatis
O mes Trois! O my Three! These words, often spoken by Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, gesture in a very intimate and familiar way toward the supreme mystery of our faith, the deepest secret of God that was revealed in Jesus Christ. How blessed are we, O Christians, for God’s very nature has been made known to us! We should daily pray to never recall this mystery while remaining free from dizzying amazement.
Here comes Trinity Sunday — a post-Pentecost “dogmatic feast” meant to allow believers to linger in wondering awe over the “crater” left behind by the impact of God that we call “the paschal mystery;” the Christ-crash.
This man in the photo at the edge of a crater might be captioned: “What happened?”
Mary the Temple
The paschal mystery refers to the manner in which the One God and Father of Israel chose to reveal his compassionate Word and life-creating Spirit through whom and in whom he created all things. And we especially look to Mary, the New Eve conceived as the dawn of the new creation, as the one first blessed to hear of God’s Trinitarian secret. God whispered this mystery into the very ground of her being at the instant she came into existence in her mother’s womb, bathing her by his Spirit in the Blood of the Word yet to be conceived. In Mary, the heavens had begun to tear open that the torrential rain of God’s threefold mystery might be unleashed, through her heart-of-flesh, on all of creation made new first in her. In Mary the Father’s Word-made-flesh appeared as in a temple beneath the brightness of his Glory’s luminous Shadow.
In her womb, divine compassion was plunged into the mass of human suffering and divine life ambled along through the valley of the shadow of death that we might not be afraid.
Life Revealed on a Dead Tree
What’s most stunning to me in regard to this Feast is that God’s inner mystery of spoken-Word and breathed-Spirit is revealed most fully precisely in the tohu wa-bohu first found in Genesis 1:2; that chaotic, murky darkness of human travail where faith looks futile, hope appears hapless and love seems lifeless. On the Cross, the Word who hung the heavens, hangs; the Word, who breathed his Spirit of life into us “in the beginning” now gasps for breath as he dies at our hands; the Alpha and Omega, omnipotent All-Ruler, freely succumbs in pallid weakness to the brutality of his creation in order to manifest what is God’s absolute and supreme summit of power: compassionate, tender mercy. The boiling furnace of the Sun of Righteousness sheds on fallen man its healing rays.
The Father is revealed on the Cross as the One-who-hands-over-his-Beloved-Son-to-execution out of love for his enemies; the Son is revealed on the Cross as the Servant-who-freely-embraces-death-out-of-love-for-the-Lover-of-enemies; and the Spirit is revealed on the Cross as the Reconciling-Gift-of-Love-of-Father-and-Son out-poured on their enemies.
O Trinity, secret depth of threefold unity, you are finally made fully manifest in the Cross’ folly, appearing under the sign of love’s madness all the while hounding with intemperate love fallen mankind in order to ransom and redeem; to raise up and heal; to pardon and restore; to betroth and wed.
Or, as a missionary priest once told me after he had come to the U.S. from serving in Darfur during the bloody civil war: “The most powerful expression of faith I heard was by a man who lived in a village that had been brutally plundered by raiders. He said, when he saw my crucifix, ‘There! There is a God I can worship.’”
It is unquestionably true that we Christians dare only invoke God’s thrice-holy Name by signing our bodies by that ghastly and glorious sign that They themselves chose to be known by.
In hoc signo vinces, omnia vincit amor.
Remember that whenever you proudly make that sign.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And when you profess the Creed this Sunday, do it with a new reverence and gratitude. If you wish to practice, join Richard Rice by clicking here.