Homily for Holy Trinity Sunday, 30 May 2010
Cor Jesu Oratory
We hear in our Epistle for today’s Mass, the Feast of the Holy Trinity: “”For from him and through him and in him are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.”
This phrase from Sacred Scripture is the “final doxology” at the end of the Roman Canon where the priest takes the Sacred Host and over the Chalice of the Precious Blood signs with the Cross three times and then two times in front of it saying words based upon this praise of the Most Holy Trinity. It is a profound signification of the life and action of the Holy Trinity: the Father sends the Son to become a “victim” in complete obedience in the Love of the Holy Spirit.
The three “signs of the Cross” indicate the Trinitarian work present in the Sacrifice of the Cross; the two “signs of the Cross” in front of the Chalice indicate the identity of the Son Who offers Himself in Sacrifice: True God and True Man.
Deacon Laurence Hemming, in his work, “Worship as Revelation”, describes the “unfolding of the mystery” of our life in God, in His Trinitarian life, in the rites and words of the Sacred Liturgy, particularly in the Holy Mass. He writes:
Symbolically the activity of the liturgy….is how the altar ‘speaks’ and how it enters into human conversation. The conversation is double; it is the means by which the conversation between the First and Second Persons of the Divine Trinity is made available to the understanding of the baptized, and so how the baptized are inserted into the eternal conversation between the Father and the Son through the work of the Spirit; and it is the means by which mere human conversation is fully taken up into the divine life so that it can disclose, and so be, what it signifies. ‘Speaking’ here does not just mean words: it means every symbolic or ritual gesture, every silence, that the liturgy employs in its divinely authorized activity (p. 54).
The sacred actions and words of the Holy Mass reveal to us who God is, what God’s requirements are, how we are to approach Him, how we are to be formed and molded according to His image and likeness.
Our understanding of the Holy Trinity is not merely an intellectual exercise, like mathematics. We do not leave aside our ability to reason, our intellect, but are transformed and allow the concepts we have to be transcended in the grace of God, His revelation to us, given through the Holy Church, by the action of grace. Deacon Hemmings describes this reality in this way:…God is no longer ‘other’ to me…God’s interior self-revelation in the Persons of the Trinity, through the redemption wrought in Christ, now includes me insofar as I am called to live within it, and know myself to be so living. This is in consequence of the death and resurrection of Christ, within which mystery I am included through Baptism…now I live through the Son in the power of the Spirit toward the Father: insofar as I receive the Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, I live in the Christ I come to know in the liturgy, and so I am brought to meet the Father. Insofar as I am in Christ, I am caught up into the divine, Trinitarian, life….my every participation in the liturgy re-enacts, brings into existence, and enfleshes the baptismal even and makes it real, above all in the even of the Mass and my reception of the Eucharist. I live my Baptism, above all through my very embodiment (whilst gaining an understanding of what it will be to have a new body on a new earth under a new heaven)…My Baptism is the conditioning possibility of my vocation as a Christian (pp. 41-42).
This mystical, sacramental encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacred Liturgy makes it possible for me to know the Father in the Holy Spirit; where One of the Trinity is active, the others a present, as well. The initial “immersion” in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Baptism and the sealing of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation is a transition and transformation from merely “natural” life to supernatural life. It is the very basis of the universal call to holiness, which the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Lumen gentium, has defined and made clear. All of us, in every state in life, are called to become saints; we are called to nurture and increase the life of grace within us, to become virtuous and living signs of the “Kingdom of God”, according to the duties and obligations of our particular vocation. Each state in life makes present the particular mystery of Christ’s Love and Redemptive Sacrifice: the married are called to live in the love of Christ and His Church, the sacrifice of self for the other in imitation of the Lord and His Church; the priest is called to be “alter Christus”: to be the sign and Redemptive sign of the Saviour’s Love for all mankind by offering the Holy Sacrifice, absolving sins, anointing the sick, witnessing Marriages, baptizing the faithful. Consecrated persons are called to witness to the primacy of the Kingdom of God, to renounce possessions, family and their own wills to live in a stable form of life to give glory to the Father, to worship the Son, to live in the grace of the Holy Spirit. I include both religious and secular consecrated persons, as well as those, for whatever reason, remain single in dedication to God’s glory.
The life of the Holy Trinity is the origin of the Church. It is the very mystery of our liturgical life. In the celebration of Holy Mass, all of the Sacraments and the praying of the Divine Office, as the Church calls it, “the song of love between Bride and Bridegroom”, the great mystery of God, His very essence, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is made manifest through the outward signs and symbols, words and chants of His Church.
Deacon Hemmings has a further reflection which illustrates this reality. He writes;To know ‘about’ the God disclosed through the liturgy is not the same as knowing God in the liturgy…To know the Trinity, to know God as Trinity, is to know through faith in Jesus Christ that God as Father calls me through the Spirit to be an adopted son or daughter. To know, to believe, to trust, that Jesus is the Son of God is to know that I too can be filiated to God. The experience of participating in the liturgy is the practical working out of that knowledge. It is knowledge that can only be gained by, and rejoiced in, through faith. Through faith, and by Baptism, we enter into the life of God by means of the liturgy. The liturgy discloses an understanding of God as he reveals himself to be, in Christ, in a knowledge that can only be gained through faith, not deduced or derived by reason or a rational act of self-posting (I think: I am).
This why the Lord, in our Gospel reading for today, unites the preaching of the Gospel and teaching its truths with baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity. Faith is not merely the “content” of faith in its intellectual format; it is the interior acceptance of God’s revelation in His Son through the action of the Holy Spirit; Holy Baptism in the Name of the Trinity immerses us in the very life of God. We are then made sharers in that life; we must nurture it, love it, deepen and expand it by our response in love. We can know God, in certain ways, through our reason unaided by grace, it is true, it is the teaching of the Church. But we cannot know God intimately, personally, in union unless assisted by grace, the grace we receive in Baptism, the grace we participate in through the reception of the other Sacraments, esp. Penance and Holy Communion, our prayer, virtuous acts, spiritual reading and acceptance of the demands of our state in life.
May this Eucharistic Sacrifice to which we are present make us more open to the graces God wants to give us, in the imitation of our Lady, Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and St. Joseph, the "man of silence" who did God's will in perfect obedience. May the fruits of this Holy Mass enable us to "be witnesses" in the midst of the world, in our daily duties, to be the "sign" of His Love and work.
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen."