O mes Trois! “O my Three!” — St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known. — William Blake

This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This is the first of two ‘dogmatic’ Sunday feasts that allow us to recover our equilibrium in the wake of Pentecost and peer into the cracked window in Heaven, the shattering-Day that ended in Flames as God slammed into the earth with an infinite force, leaving the Church behind as the great crater formed by Christ’s impact.

Trinity Sunday gathers the Church at the edge of that crater and allows us to be-hold the Mystery in fragile shards of human language. While the second dogmatic feast of Corpus Christi allows us to ingest Mystery into the fragile clay of our image-bearing bodies. Beneath the homely surface of the human body burns the glorious magma of trinitarian Life.

And so it is eminently true that these twin Feasts allow us little stability beneath our feet as they posit at the ground of all existence what Meister Eckhart called the Ebullitio — a limitless, beginningless, unfathomable Abyss of boiling-over Being endlessly giving itself away. We say God is changeless, but certainly in no sense we are familiar with. St. Gregory Nazianzen thus calls God rest-in-motion, unsettling logic with paradox. Our foundation is a God “born of the Father before all ages,” who Twice (or Once?) timelessly emanates forth a Third infinite Face of Love that binds this true-God-from-true-God as One, Thricely. Father, Son, Spirit, one in Essence and undivided.

Apologies, but once I migrate into Trinity my language trips.

We must sing with the Armenian Liturgy:

O Mystery deep, inscrutable, without beginning.
Thou hast decked thy supernatural realm
as a chamber unto the light unapproachable
and hast adorned with splendid glory
the ranks of thy fiery spirits.

And echo with Augustine, Si enim comprehendis, non est Deus — “if you understand, it isn’t God.” Which is why St. Paul says, “you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God.” (Gal. 4:9). He can’t be known directly, but in the experience of being known in love by him, we come to know him — like this:

Because you are children,
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:6)

Being known by a God who loves himself in us, with us. Read 4:6 again — this is forever happening in God, and you’re ‘let in.’ This is prayer, the only path to knowing Trinity, and it rightly reduces you to child’s language. Prose to poetry to stammering to silence.

Our two great Looking Glasses into this chasm Mystery — creation and redemption — afford us small comfort if we seek some easy idol to wrap our minds around and tame to our wishing. No! Instead we see: At the beginning of things, a God speaking existence out of nothing, setting us precariously (!) on the precipice of non-being, forging us each as an inescapable act of utter dependence. No wonder we, dizzied and grasping at divinity, fell! Yet, only to then hear the Father’s with-us-falling Word who spoke into our encroaching non-existence ever-rising Life, Eternity — what exactly is that? His, now our Eternity knows neither dawn nor dusk; past nor future; here nor there. Only love, amor ipse notitia est, which is itself a form of knowing.

And so these two Feasts, born of All Three, are all from, and all form love.

Love.

What exactly is that?

Well, look Up, look around you, see Their Faces, see your neighbor’s face. There, there, there is love, awaiting. Nearby, see the crater? Jump in.

Y así, por toda dulzura
Nunca yo me perderé,
Sino por un no sé qué
Que se halla por ventura.

And so even for all sweetness
I will never lose myself,
but for an I-know-not-what
that fortunately is found. — San Juan…de la Cruz

Eternal Light has come among mankind
Yet mankind has chosen darkness
If we openly confess
We need his light
We need his love
Light has created all the world
Yet the world did not receive him
If we walk within the light
As He is the Light
He is the light
Though we have sinned we’ll stand forgiven

Bridge: (a complex polyphony containing these phrases)
The Lord our God is One
The Lord our God is One
The Lord is watching from on high
He is watching from on high
The Lord is One

So let us come as little children
To turn from the sins of prideful men
So let us come with hearts of sorrow
So we may know his joy again
To be with him now as little children
(Be with him now as little children)
So when he reveals himself again
(He will come again)
We shall not stand within the darkness
(We are not children of darkness)
So walk in his light until the end
We need his light
We need his love
We need to stand forgiven
Lyrics found here

Where we’re stuck

If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck,
where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there.
We become like mushrooms, living in the dark,
with poop up to our chins.
If you want to know only what you already know,
you’re dying.
You’re saying: Leave me alone;
I don’t mind this little rathole.
It’s warm and dry.
Really, it’s fine.
When nothing new can get in, that’s death.
When oxygen can’t find a way in, you die.
But new is scary, and new can be disappointing,
and confusing – we had this all figured out,
and now we don’t.
New is life. ― Anne Lamott

I grew up in a chaotic home environment that made me value safe spaces of my own making. Mostly spaces far away from people.

As I have aged, I worked with intent at trying to undo some of that by taking risks, venturing into new things, new relationships, new challenges, new ideas. Without exception, those encounters with risk have produced the most fertile ground for my own growth — but not without damage being done along the way. C’est la vie. That is life.

The trick, I’ve found, is discovering my real limits (which are real) and not allowing the damage incurred to reinforce my instinct to retreat always back into the familiar and safe. To hide. Here’s where grace working through human relationships comes in — without the people in my life who care enough to both encourage me and challenge me, I would simply revert back into my safety-zones. But I have to choose to allow those same people to do that for me, risk trusting them enough to open myself to love, to being known, to being criticized for my own good. And so be open to the possibility of being damaged, again, even by the most well intentioned people.

Yet, I can see now so much better that all of this is part of the full human experience. The Latin rendering of the Song of Songs 4:9 has the bridegroom say this to the bride: vulnerasti cor meum “you have wounded my heart.” This is the risk of love. There is no other way.

I told my wife recently while we were traveling together how grateful I am to her for endlessly drawing me out of myself when she sees me pulling away, living out of fear or self-protection. She and my children, more than any other, call me out — ek-kaleo, the root of the word we translate ‘church.’ God calls us out of hiding, out of darkness into his Light, and the church — domestic, local, universal — is meant to be the community in which we can all call out, and be called out of ourselves into the risk of love.

Not long ago, I endured an immense surge of anxiety over a period of weeks. It was crippling, suffocating, terrifying. But I had to keep my façade calm for work, and hide the terror within. And mostly I did. But there was one day when I thought I was dying, and Patti came home and found me in that state. I stood in front of her, shaking as the waves of anxiety ripped through my body — she stood there, facing me, looking into my eyes and said: “it’s okay, let it happen, let go of your grip.” I cried it out, and it eventually passed, as it always does.

But I was different on the other side. Less afraid, wiser to the cause, and I was able to do something I don’t think I’ve done before — as this was all happening, I had offered it up to God in real time. Meant it more than I ever had before, and discovered the power of a form of grace that Jesus told St. Paul is made perfect in weakness — in a truly new way. And that grace, immensely powerful, is absolutely unique to the moment of weakness. It must be received then, or never.

I thought after it all of Rilke’s words:

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Everything. How profound these two are, terror and beauty. Especially when you see these two as one, as ‘oned’ in Christ. Christ, who in his resurrection took the terror, the trauma of his Passion and transformed it into compassionate self-gift. Into a source of that joy that the world cannot give. From this transformative source come all the sacraments. Which is why it is in his mystical Body, the Eucharist, born of God’s torn Heart, that the Spirit-breathing Christ leads us along this Way.

Above all, through those around us — His real Body. Gatekeepers of his torn Heart, “with healing in its rays” (Mal. 4:2).

O Rejoice Bride!

This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God. — Robert Cardinal Sarah

I’m so grateful to Pope Francis for establishing today’s memorial Feast of Mary as Mother of the Church. It is the perfect coda to the Easter season and Pentecost, the day on which the Church was revealed to the world in Jerusalem as the new glory-filled Temple, the new fire-enwrapped Sinai, the new City of God, the new Covenant community, the new Eve made one-Body with the sleeping Messiah who, for his Bride, laid down his life and at the moment of death handed over his Spirit to make all things new — the same Breath of Life the new Adam breathed into us the moment he awoke from his Sabbath sleep.

All that Mary is in her singular privileges, the Church — we — are called to become:

Mary in her immaculate conception;
in her virginal fiat to the Archangel that permitted
the Spirit to fall and the Son to become Flesh;
in her labor and delivery of the Messiah;
in her faithful discipleship;
in her willing embrace of the crucified new Adam
who Named her new Eve, Mother of all brought to life in him;
in her praying presence in the Upper Room on Pentecost Day;
and in her bodily resurrection —

She is the perfected icon-image of all that the Church has been invited by the self-emptying God to become, the God who wishes to complete his Incarnation in you. Now.

As the first-chosen, Mary who is “full of grace” is the one best suited to show us the Way, to obtain by her ceaseless intercession the coming of the two creating Hands of the Father, Son and Spirit, as an unending Pentecost. Once begun, the Christ-bearing Spirit will never cease to stream forth the Fire of divine love over the face of the Earth for unending ages.

And so we turn to you, O Mother of the Redeemer and of the Redeemed, you who were first saved by God your Savior:

Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path. And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

Refrain: O Rejoice Bride unwedded.
O Virgin pure, immaculate, O Lady Theotokos. (Refrain)
O fleece bedewed with every grace. O Virgin Queen and Mother.(Refrain)
More radiant that the rays of the sun, and higher than the heavens. (Refrain)
O joy of virgin choruses, superior to the angels. (Refrain)
O brighter than the firmament and purer that the sun’s light. (Refrain)
More holy than the multitude of all the heavenly armies. (Refrain)

O ever virgin Mary of all the world, the Lady.(Refrain)
O Bride all pure immaculate, O Lady Panagia [all-holy]. (Refrain)
O Mary Bride and Queen of all, the cause of our rejoicing. (Refrain)
O noble Maiden, gracious Queen,
supremely holy Mother. (Refrain)
More honored than the Cherubim,
beyond compare more glorious(Refrain)
Than the unbodied Seraphim, transcending the angelic Thrones. (Refrain)

Rejoice, the song of Cherubim rejoice,
the hymn of angels
Rejoice the ode of Seraphim; the joy of the archangels.
Rejoice, O peace and happiness and cause of our rejoicing.
O sacred chamber of the Word, the flower of incorruption.
Rejoice, delightful Paradise of blessed life eternal.
Rejoice O sacred Tree of life and fount of immortality.

I supplicate you, Lady now, I fervently entreat you.
O Queen of all, I earnestly implore and seek your favor.
O gracious Maiden, spotless one, O Lady Panagia.
I call upon you ardently , O holy hallowed Temple.
O help me and deliver me protect me rom the enemy.
And make me an inheritor of blessed life eternal.

Pause, Ascending and the doll

Let God arise! God mounts his throne to shouts of joy! Happy Ascension Day! Today the Lord Jesus brings our human Heart into the deepest depths of the limitless Trinity so we can enter there with him, “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

Now ascended, Christ and the Father together send the Spirit to draw all who open themselves toward those deepest depths to live with Them.

Close your eyes now, breathe the mystery in…

A world made to return
inalienably inscribed to yearn
for a Light which once we spurned
yet now toward which we’re turned
born-hid, deep within the eternal Flame
our running Father’s hallowed Name
the Rescuer who took upon himself our shame
then carried us Up, forever home. Us, the Lame.

+ + +

I am taking a break from posting for about 10 days. I pray you all can drink in the riches of these final paschal days. Let God detonate Jesus in your world.

I will leave you with another Mashley special — a song written and video (taken from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) edited by my daughter Maria, and the song performed by Ashley and Maria. ❤

Odd and even comical

I have always found it odd and even comical
when the Christian vision of eternal life is described
as “a crutch” or “cheap solace.”
After all, according to Christian belief the first thing awaiting us
beyond the gates of death is God’s judgment.
On the contrary, isn’t “cheap solace” precisely the notion
that death is the end of everything
and we don’t have to answer to anyone for our lives? ― Fr. Tomáš Halík

This insight of ‘costly faith’ from Fr Halík finds marvelous expression in the simple yet profound wisdom of my #mancrush, the late Fr. Tom Hopko, who in this ~9 minute clip offers advice to ‘seekers’ who are approaching the idea of God as real. But it is excellent advice for all people faith. Trust me…

“What are you laying here crying about?”

In short, the rise of Christianity produced consequences
so immense that it can almost be said to have begun the world anew:
to have “invented” the human, to have bequeathed us
our most basic concept of nature, to have determined our vision
of the cosmos and our place in it, and to have shaped all of us
(to one degree or another) in the deepest reaches of consciousness.
…The more vital and essential victory of Christianity lay in the strange,
impractical, altogether unworldly tenderness of the moral intuitions
it succeeded in sowing in human consciences.
If we find ourselves occasionally shocked by how casually
ancient men and women destroyed or ignored lives
we would think ineffably precious, we would do well to reflect
that theirs was-in purely pragmatic terms-a more “natural”
disposition toward reality. It required an extraordinary moment
of awakening in a few privileged souls, and then centuries of the
relentless and total immersion of culture in the Christian story,
to make even the best of us conscious of (or at least able to believe in)
the moral claim of all other persons upon us,
the splendor and irreducible dignity of the divine humanity within them,
that depth within each of them that potentially touches upon the eternal.
In the light of Christianity’s absolute law of charity,
we came to see what formerly we could not:
the autistic or Down syndrome or otherwise disabled child,
for instance, for whom the world can remain a perpetual perplexity,
which can too often cause pain but perhaps only
vaguely and fleetingly charm or delight; the derelict or wretched
or broken man or woman who has wasted his or her life away;
the homeless, the utterly impoverished, the diseased, the mentally ill,
the physically disabled; exiles, refugees, fugitives;
even criminals and reprobates.
To reject, turn away from, or kill any or all of them would be,
in a very real sense, the most purely practical of impulses.
To be able, however, to see in them not only something of worth
but indeed something potentially godlike, to be cherished and adored,
is the rarest and most ennoblingly unrealistic capacity ever bred
within human souls.
To look on the child whom our ancient ancestors would have seen
as somehow unwholesome or as a worthless burden,
and would have abandoned to fate, and to see in him or her
instead a person worthy of all affection
—resplendent with divine glory, ominous with an absolute demand
upon our consciences, evoking our love and our reverence—
is to be set free from mere elemental existence,
and from those natural limitations that pre-Christian persons
took to be the very definition of reality.
And only someone profoundly ignorant of history
and of native human inclinations could doubt
that it is only as a consequence of the revolutionary force
of Christianity within our history, within the very heart
of our shared nature, that any of us can experience this freedom. – David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions

St. Charles de Foucauld

From Pope Francis’ homily on the occasion of
Charles de Foucauld’s canonization by Pope Francis
on 15 May 2022 in Rome:

To serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters,
to offer our lives without expecting anything in return,
any worldly glory: this is a secret and it is our calling.
That was how our fellow travelers canonized today
lived their holiness.
By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation
– as a priest, as a consecrated women, as a lay person –
they devoted their lives to the Gospel.
They discovered an incomparable joy
and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history.
For that is what a saint is: a luminous reflection of the Lord of history.
May we strive to do the same.
The path of holiness is not barred;
it is universal and it starts with Baptism.
Let us strive to follow it, for each of us is called to holiness,
to a form of holiness all our own.
Holiness is always “original”, as Blessed Carlo Cutis used to say:
it is not a photocopy, but an “original”, mine, yours, all of ours.
It is uniquely our own. Truly, the Lord has a plan of love for everyone. He has a dream for your life, for my life, for the life of each of us.
What else can I say? Pursue that dream with joy.

“Called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity” (CCC 260)

Jesus said to his disciples
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him
and make our dwelling with him [monēn par’ auto].” – Jn. 14:23

This is tomorrow’s Gospel opening. It is hard to exaggerate how inconceivable this truth of faith is. This is the deepest mystery of salvation, and it reveals all at once the whole purpose of creation: to create a monēn “permanent dwelling” for God to live in as an infinite divine-human exchange of inconceivably intimate love that is friendship (Jn. 15:15).

The body of the human person – your body — is the end-game of creation. This is really the stunning point of the Prologue of John’s Gospel that begins its poetic narrative with the creation of the world “through the Word” (1:1-3) and then climaxes with the Word becoming flesh and “tenting among us” (1:14). God wants to make the “tent” of the human body his own place, so he can be wed in an eternal covenant union with us, his image.

St. Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians 6:19: to sōma hymōn naos tou en hymin Hagiou Pneumatos “the body of-you [is] a temple of the in-you Holy Spirit.” For Paul, once the Incarnation happened, and the Spirit of God came through the crucified-risen Christ at Pentecost to extend the Incarnation in us, the Temple in Jerusalem had served its preparatory purpose. The Temple was only an image of the human body assumed by Christ – our body – and now the REAL temple became the place of God’s dwelling where true worship ‘in spirit and truth’ could bring the whole of creation to its end in God.

Incidentally, the word ‘naos’ that Paul uses in the Greek sentence above refers not just to the Temple ‘in general,’ but to the inner court of the Temple, the Holy of holies, where God’s glory dwells in its most terrifyingly intimate nearness to creation.

In you, right now — if you live in the grace of friendship with God and are joined to Christ in Baptism as his Body — the Most Holy Trinity dwells in you in all Their hidden glory. They are there to seek your companionship, your friendship, your company, your love. You have the vocation, right at this moment, to allow the divine Three to extend Their love and bless the world around you. Prayer is your cosent to that happening. Now. But you are only a Temple when you join, by your love, every other body-temple around you, so that together, as one Body in Christ, humanity might become an eternal Temple — the New Creation.

So St. Paul begs us: be aware of who you are. Beware. Live in the constant awareness of who dwells in you. Allow the words of that ancient author read every Holy Saturday in the Divine Office to sink in, as he permits God to speak to you this very moment:

Now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

Realize this when you next receive the Holy Eucharist. See who you ARE, and become what you receive. It is not the Eucharistic presence of Christ itself that is the end game. Rather, the Eucharist exists to enter into the temple, the Body of Christ that you ARE, to intensify-deepen your capacity to contain the infinite God himself with a love that opens out to every creature so that, through-with-and-in you, God can become all in all. “The God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

Let him in, the King of Glory, and then let him out to fill the earth with his glory. Which is cruciform love.

Deep mystery.