Claiming the Holy Trinity

For Sunday, May 22, 2016, Most Holy Trinity

Detail of painting of the Trinity.

The day after Pentecost Sunday, we re-entered the “green days” of ordinary time. These are the days, weeks, and months when we are given a breathing space to allow the seeds of faith planted within us during our celebrations of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost to begin to take root and grow within us, enriching our lives and allowing us to be transformed by the mysteries we celebrated. In this sense, these days are, in fact, extraordinary time—a time to reflect, remember, and to renew our commitment to live as disciples of the Risen Lord.

Of course, on Pentecost Sunday we recalled how the Holy Spirit came to Mary, the apostles, and the holy women in the upper room (cf. Acts 1:13-14). But part of the wonder of that first Pentecost was the unity—the communion—created by the Holy Spirit, who brought those faith-filled women and men together as the church. This was symbolized by the fact that diverse people from different lands, who spoke different languages, heard those first Christians speaking in a language that everyone was able to understand. The Holy Spirit had empowered the church to praise God and proclaim the good news with one voice! Individuals who had been isolated by their own fear and uncertainty had entered into a new relationship with one another, drawn together by nothing less than the power of God.

This Pentecost-wonder carried through into our ordinary time celebration of the Most Holy Trinity. It’s almost as if the church brought together, in a single solemn feast, the creative, saving, and sanctifying work that we celebrate in all the other great feasts of the church year. But Trinity Sunday also gives us a chance to recall that the God whom we adore is “one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity” (from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 266).

This truth about God invites us to consider how all of our relationships are reflections of that unique and dynamic relationship that exists within God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the great gift for us is that we are constantly being invited to be part of that relationship, to live in the love of God.

Reflecting on this, the spiritual writer Henri Nouwen wrote that he was convinced that “most human suffering comes from broken relationships. Anger, jealousy, resentment, and feelings of rejection all find their source in conflict between people who yearn for unity, community, and a deep sense of belonging. By claiming the Holy Trinity as home for our relational lives, we claim the truth that God gives us what we most desire and offers us the grace to forgive each other for not being perfect in love” (Behold the Beauty of the Lord).

It is this “claiming the Holy Trinity” that Saint Paul spoke of in his Letter to the Romans: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand … because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (5:1b-2, 5).

All of this having been said, we have to accept that human language fails us when we try to describe or explain the nature of the Trinity or how we share in that divine relationship. It is the dynamic life and love of the Trinity itself, and our experience of the Trinity—that “claiming the Holy Trinity”—that makes it real for us.

In the end, our celebration of the Most Holy Trinity is an invitation for us to continue to move beyond our selves. The feast reminds us of the powerful ways that God remains at work in the world: in the ongoing act of creation, in the perduring gifts of healing and redemption, and the life-giving Spirit that inspires faith, hope, and love. This is something extraordinary to remember and celebrate each and every day of ordinary time.

Silas S. Henderson, MTS


O most Holy Trinity—
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
I adore thee profoundly.
I offer thee the most Precious Body, Blood,
Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ—
present in all the tabernacles of the world—
in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges,
and indifference by which He is offended.
By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

The angel of Fatima’s prayer to the Most Holy Trinity.

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