Second Thoughts for the Day – 27 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Adopted into the Family of God
“In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3) “For all, who are led by the Spirit of God, are children of God.” (Romans 8:14)
…”How would God be revealed to the other families of the earth? How would the other families of the earth enter the Covenant and become heirs to the promises of God.
The language of families here is significant, for it is through the revelation of God as Trinity, the Divine Family, that all other families of the earth would be invited into the Covenant family.
For the reality of the Trinity did not emerge for the earliest Christians in the context of complex philosophical discussions but in the experience of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As Pope Benedict XVI stated in 2006. “the intimacy of God Himself, discovering that He is not infinite solitude but communion of light and love, life given and received in an eternal dialogue between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit – ‘Lover, Loved and Love,’ revealed the relational nature of God, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and by the incarnation of Jesus Christ.” (Angelus, St Peter’s Square, 11 June 2006).
And it was by means of the revelation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that the early Christians came to know themselves as children of God, adopted into the family and Covenant of God. The Spirit, Paul tells us, empowers us to understand, that we too are children of God, for through the Spirit, we are able to cry “Abba, Father!” This Spirit-infused call to God as Abba, is an explicit recognition of our lineage, we belong in this family, for “it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
But the pathway to entering the family as heirs, children destined to share in the gifts and promises of the Father, in the Kingdom of God, was blazed for us, by the obedience of the Son. As Paul says in Galatians 3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” Christ through His suffering and death for us, has made us “joint heirs with Christ,” worthy of adoption into God’s family. We belong to the family of God, because we belong to the Son, who has made us “joint heirs.” Through the true heir, we are simply joined with our Covenantal and Divine Family.
We are welcomed into God’s family as joint heirs because of the love of the Trinity for us. The Trinity models the nature of the family by allowing us to experience the source of all love. It is because of the Trinitarian model of love for us and our experience of that love, that Jesus instructs us to go out and make the family bigger. We belong to the family of God but so do those who have not yet come home. We have learned something now about the nature of God and the extent of God’s family and the call is the same to all – come home and be loved!…John W Martens “The Word on the Street Year B”
John Martens is Professor of Theology at St Thomas University and Director of the MA in Theology at St Paul’s Seminary School of Divinity, Minnesota.
Thought for the Day – 27 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you…2 Corinthians 13:11-13
“The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. These three biblical images, point to the Trinitarian dimension of the Church. In this dimension, are found, all disciples of Christ, who are called, to live it, ever more deeply and in an ever more intense communion.”
Sunday Reflection – 27 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Bl John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
O my God, holiness becomes Your House and yet You dost made Your abode in my breast. My Lord, my Saviour, to me You come, hidden under the semblance of earthly things, yet in that very flesh and blood which You took from Mary. You, who did first inhabit Mary’s breast, come to me.
My God, You see me; I cannot see myself. Were I ever so good a judge about myself, ever so unbiased and with ever so correct a rule of judging, still, from my very nature, I cannot look at myself and view myself truly and wholly. But You, as You come to me, contemplates me.
When I say, Domine, non sum dignus—”Lord, I am not worthy”—You whom I am addressing, alone understands in their fullness the words which I use. You see how unworthy so great a sinner is to receive the One Holy God, whom the Seraphim adore with trembling. You see, not only the stains and scars of past sins but the mutilations, the deep cavities, the chronic disorders which they have left in my soul. You see the innumerable living sins, though they be not mortal, living in their power and presence, their guilt and their penalties, which clothe me. You see all my bad habits, all my mean principles, all wayward lawless thoughts, my multitude of infirmities and miseries, yet You come. You see most perfectly how little I really feel what I am now saying, yet You come.
O my God, left to myself should I not perish under the awful splendour and the consuming fire of Your Majesty. Enable me to bear You, lest I have to say with Peter, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Quote of the Day – 27 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
In all our undertakings —
when we enter a place or leave it;
before we dress;
before we bathe;
when we take our meals;
when we light the lamps in the evening;
before we retire at night;
when we sit down to read;
before each new task —
we trace the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads.
One Minute Reflection – 27 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…“…Matthew 28:19
REFLECTION – “The Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son. O adorable mystery which has been from eternity! I adore You. O my incomprehensible Creator, before whom I am an atom, a being of yesterday or an hour ago! Go back a few years and I simply did not exist, I was not in being and things went on without me but You are from eternity and nothing whatever from one moment could go on without You. O adorable mystery! In the name of God, the Omnipotent Father, who created me! In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Son of the living God, who bled for me! In the name of the Holy Spirit, who has been poured out on me!”…Bl John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
PRAYER – God our Father, You revealed the great mystery of Your Godhead to men, when You sent into the world, the Word who is Truth and the Spirit who makes us holy. Help us to believe in You and worship You, as the true faith teaches, three persons eternal in glory, one God, infinite in mystery. We make our prayer through Jesus our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God with you forever amen.
Our Morning Offering – 27 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
An Act of Oblation to the Holy Trinity By St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of Charity
I vow and consecrate to God
all that is in me,
my memory and my actions, to God the Father;
my understanding and my words, to God the Son;
my will and my thoughts, to God the Holy Spirit.
I consecrate my heart, my body,
my tongue, my senses and all my sorrows
to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ,
who consented to be betrayed
into the hands of wicked men
and to suffer the torment of the Cross for me.
Wishing you all a Blessed and Holy Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – Trinity Sunday – 27 May 2018
HISTORY AND LITURGY
ORIGIN — The greatest dogma of the Christian faith is the mystery of the Holy Trinity. (Mystery, in this connection, means a supernatural fact revealed by God which in itself transcends the natural power of human reasoning.) During the first thousand years of Christianity there was no special feast celebrated in honour of this mystery but, as Pope Alexander II (1073) declared, every day of the liturgical year was devoted to the honour and adoration of the Sacred Trinity.
However, to counteract the Arian heresy, which denied the fullness of divinity to the Son, a special Mass text in honour of the Holy Trinity was introduced and incorporated in the Roman liturgical books. This Mass was not assigned for a definite day but could be used on certain Sundays according to the private devotion of each priest. (Such Mass texts which are not prescribed but open to choice on certain days are now known as “votive Masses.”) From the ninth century on, various bishops of the Frankish kingdoms promoted in their own dioceses a special feast of the Holy Trinity, usually on the Sunday after Pentecost. They used a Mass text that Abbot Alcuin (804) is said to have composed.
Thus the custom of observing a special feast in honour of the Trinity became increasingly popular in the northern countries of Europe. Several synods prescribed it for their respective territories in France, Germany, England and The Netherlands. In the thirteenth centur, the orders of the Benedictines and Cistercians adopted the annual celebration of the feast. It was kept on different Sundays in different places, until in 1334 Pope John XXII accepted the festival into the official calendar of the Western Church and ordered that henceforth it should be held everywhere on the Sunday after Pentecost.
A new Mass text was written and published. It is interesting to note that the beautiful Preface of the Trinity as read today is the same one that appeared in the first text of the Sacramentary of Saint Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) Father and Doctor of the Church. Most of the other prayers are of later origin. The Divine Office in its present form, was arranged under Pope Saint Pius V (1572). It is one of the most sublime offices of the breviary.
The Feast of the Holy Trinity, now belongs among the great annual festivals of Christianity. Although it is not observed with additional liturgical services outside the Mass, its celebration quickly took root in the hearts and minds of the faithful and in all countries of Europe popular traditions are closely associated with this feast.
SIGN OF THE CROSS — The making of the sign of the cross, which professes faith both in the redemption of Christ and in the Trinity, was practised from the earliest centuries. Saint Augustine (431) mentioned and described it many times in his sermons and letters. In those days Christians made the sign of the cross (Redemption) with three fingers (Trinity) on their foreheads. The words (“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost”) were added later. Almost two hundred years before Augustine, in the third century, Tertullian had already reported this touching and beautiful early Christian practice:
“In all our undertakings — when we enter a place or leave it; before we dress; before we bathe; when we take our meals; when we light the lamps in the evening; before we retire at night; when we sit down to read; before each new task — we trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads.” Tertullian (160-220)
DOXOLOGY — The ancient Christian doxology (prayer of praise) “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost” was used in the Oriental Church. The second part (“as it was in the beginning…”) seems to have been added at the time of Emperor Constantine. During the fifth century this beautiful short prayer came into the Western Church and spread very quickly. Since then it has been in constant use in both liturgical and private devotions. Finally, the Council of Narbonne (589) prescribed that it should be added after every psalm and hymn in the Divine Office. It is an ancient tradition that in poetical hymns of the liturgy the Gloria Patri is rendered in a paraphrase (free version) within the last stanza.
EASTERN RITES — The churches of the Byzantine Rite do not celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Instead, they observe the Sunday after Pentecost as the Feast of All Saints (Kyriake Ton Hagion Panton). The official calendar of the Greek Church announces this feast with the interesting words “Today, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the festive day of all Saints everywhere in the world: in Asia, Lybia, in northern and eastern Europe.” As may be seen from the territories mentioned, the term “whole world” applies only to the countries of that rite. The Uniate Armenians keep the Feast of the Holy Trinity on the same day as the Latin Church.
SYMBOLS — During the first centuries of the Christian era the Holy Trinity was sometimes represented in paintings by three young men of identical shape and looks. By the sixth century, however, it had become an accepted practice that only the Father and Son should be shown in human form; the Holy Spirit is represented by the figure of a dove.
In medieval times there were many imaginative and symbolic pictures, as well as designs, to indicate the great mystery of the faith. The Church has not officially accepted any of them, has tolerated some, forbidden others. One of the best-known symbols of this kind is the trefoil (shamrock). A second plant to which this symbolism is attached is the pansy (viola tricolor), which even today is called “Trinity flower” in many parts of Europe. In Puerto Rico a delicately perfumed white flower with three petals is called Trinitaria. Another symbol is the figure of a triangle (Trinity) surrounded by rays (divinity) with the picture of an eye inside the triangle (omniscience and providence). This design became very popular and may be found all over Europe in homes, on wayside shrines and even in churches. An interesting version of this symbol may be seen in the Great Seal of the United States (reproduced on every one-dollar bill).
Centuries ago, architecture made use of many and sometimes strange, symbols to indicate the Trinity, like three animals (hares, stags, birds) in a circle, or three interlocked rings, or a candle with three flames. Some churches display an architectural number symbolism in honour of the Trinity. One of the most remarkable examples of this kind is the Holy Trinity Church of Stadl-Paura, Austria, built in 1722 – see below. It has three aisles, three towers, three doors, three windows on either side, three altars, three bells, and three rows of pews.
SHRINES AND COLUMNS — From the fourteenth century on, the Holy Trinity was generally invoked for help against the dreaded epidemics of the Black Death. Hundreds of Trinity churches in Europe owe their existence to public vows made in time of pestilence and cholera. In subsequent ravages of those terrible diseases, these churches became much-frequented pilgrim shrines. Later, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, public columns in honour of the Holy Trinity were placed in the main squares of cities and towns in central Europe. Sculptured in marble or granite, they carry the traditional image of the Trinity and statues of the saints who were patrons against epidemics. Many of these columns are outstanding examples of late baroque art. The city of Vienna alone has eleven such Trinity columns which were erected during the epidemics of 1679 and 1713.
POPULAR CELEBRATION — During the late Middle Ages and up to the eighteenth century, the Feast of the Holy Trinity was celebrated with popular manifestations of solemnity, special honour and joy. As an example may serve the festival at the Trinity column of downtown Vienna, in 1680, where the famous Augustinian preacher Abraham a Santa Clara (1709) delivered a sermon before many thousands in the festively decorated square. At the end he appealed to the choir band to express with their instruments the honour, adoration and gratitude of all to the Holy Trinity, “upon which the whole group of many trumpets and kettle-drums right joyfully broke out in a ringing fanfare.”
A proof of the great devotion to the Trinity was the Holy Trinity Confraternities, which flourished to such a degree during the seventeenth century that they surpassed most of the other similar organisations both in the number of local groups and in membership…
Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1958.
God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in profession the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Glory and honour be to God in the Unity of the Trinity; to the Father and to the Son with the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.