+The Trinity and Our Life of Prayer Cont. Chapter Talk June 18, 2017
As I suggested last week, I would like to continue to reflect with you about the mystery of the Trinity and our life of prayer. I feel this is related also to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi today and the coming Solemnity of the Sacred Heart this coming Friday.
In the writing of St Augustine the Holy Spirit is perceived primarily as love in the life of the Trinity more as a psychological illustration of the relationship of the persons. In the writing of William of St Thierry there is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit being the source of unity between Father and Son. It is a unity of love but clearly the emphasis is on the mutuality of this love to be experienced by those who share in this love of the Father and Son.
Here I would like to refer again to the treatise of Odo Brooke on William’s doctrine where he says:
“The Holy Spirit is ..conceived primarily as the mutual union between the Father and the Son, which is the foundation for the doctrine [in William’s writings] of the restoration of resemblance, a participation in the life of the Holy Spirit by sharing in the mutual union of the Father and the Son. This is described in terms of daring realism, portraying a unity of spirit, whereby the soul becomes as it were the life of the Holy Spirit himself. At the same time he guards carefully against the danger of pantheism.”
I’m seeing here also a connection with the feast of Corpus Christi that we are celebrating for as St Paul tells us in his 1st letter to the Corinthians “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” All of us gathered here are from very different backgrounds but by reason of sharing in the one Spirit we form one body, becoming in Christ members of one another.
We realize our oneness in Christ as we allow each of our lives to take on a divine resemblance, to become conformed more each day to the mind of Christ. In William’s Golden Epistle where he speaks of this resemblance to God that comes about as our hearts are purified of sin and evil habits, he writes:
“It is called unity of spirit not only because the Holy Spirit brings it about or inclines a man’s spirit to it, but because it is the Holy Spirit himself, the God who is Charity… The soul in its happiness finds itself standing midway in the Embrace and the Kiss of Father and Son. In a manner which exceeds description and thought, the man of God is found worth to become not God but what God is, that is to say, becomes through grace what God is by nature.”
This movement in the human person towards divine ‘resemblance’ is indeed the dominant theme of William’s spirituality and of his Trinitarian theology.” While this movement takes place over a life time, the goal is clear. The stages we go through are those of being at first governed by the senses, our personal wants and needs. Our senses are fundamentally good but the way in which we use them, makes an enormous difference. Dealing with our senses is closely related in William’s thought to the mystery of the Incarnation. The temporal economy in which we live forms so many stepping stones toward the eternal, our sharing in the dynamic life of the Trinity. All aspects of life around us become sacraments whereby what is eternal, spiritual and everlasting is manifest.
The Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration on our altar and altars throughout the world today is God’s design to makes us aware of Christ’s presence among us. Christ is continually drawing us into his own love of the Father through the Living Flame of the Holy Spirit. Let me conclude with a quote for St John Vianney that speaks to me deeply of this mystery:
“Let us open the door of the Sacred Heart, and shut ourselves in for a moment amid its Divine flames; we shall then realize what God’s love means…