LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

‘In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes . . .’

As Mr Churchill once famously (if apparently irrelevantly) remarked, ‘Today is Trinity Sunday, my friends’.

Quite apart from having spent many years worshipping in a Church dedicated to the Most Holy & Undivided Trinity, I have always much liked today’s Feast : for a reason which is, in its way, not unlike the reason I cited a couple of weeks ago for liking the Ascension – namely that today is about God, and not about us, and thus (in my opinion, at least) helps us to focus on Him, rather than on ourselves.

The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery; and whilst there are many other mysteries in Catholic theology, most of them are capable of being explained in ways which the human mind can grasp to at least a reasonable extent; S. Thomas Aquinas, for example, pressed Aristotle into service to explain the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar through the doctrine of transubstantiation – a doctrine well within the grasp of any reasonably thoughtful person.

The Most Holy Trinity, on the other hand, is a mystery which appears to be incapable of wholly comprehensible explanation; and I have to confess that I, for one, have never come across an explanation of it which completely satisfies me . . . yet the Athanasian Creed rather worryingly says Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat (‘He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity’) at the end of a lengthy passage which most people, I suspect, find far more bewildering than enlightening !

I’ve mentioned before my liking, especially in great Churches, for considering my utter insignificance before God; and that, I think, is what attracts me about Trinity Sunday – that it provides an annual (and highly salutary) reminder that, however deep God’s revelation to us is, however clever we are (or rather think we are), there are certain things which we shall only be able to understand when we stand before Him; things which He chooses to conceal from our eyes in His utter light (or darkness, if you prefer pseudo-Dionysius) during this earthly life : videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate tunc autem facie ad faciem nunc cognosco ex parte tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum’ *‘Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known’.

For now, we must be content with that uncertain view; we must celebrate, without completely comprehending, this immense mystery - but the time will come, we are promised, when we shall see our God clearly, and in the joy of Heaven all will be made clear - a blessing which, in due course, I wish you all.

* 1 Corinthians 13 : 12, translation NJB

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