Solemnity of the Holy Trinity 2014

When our community was placed under the protection of the Most Holy Trinity — we are under the patronage of the Trinity — we were doing something more than simply ‘going to the top’. We were, rather breathtakingly, making a twofold commitment: to the quest for theological understanding that is part and parcel of the Christian life, and to living the communion of love that is found first and foremost in the inner dynamic of the Trinity.

Some people shy away from theology as though it were an optional extra. It is nothing of the kind. To ‘study God’, to want to understand better the nature of God and the relationship between God and ourselves in all its various manifestations is a necessary part of being Christian. This morning at Vigils we sang through the Athanasian Creed, and as we did so, I could not help reflecting that the anathemas which attract so much attention are much less important than the truth about God Athanasius was trying to convey. The hypostatic union does matter. That Jesus was and is both God and man has profound implications for us who follow him. That God is three Persons in one Unity also matters. But an intellectual understanding is not enough. We must go further, and be drawn into the very life of the Trinity through prayer and the sacraments.

It is when we try to turn our theology into prayer that I think we see the connection most clearly. Indeed, I tend to think of monastic life as doing theology on our knees. The precise formulations of faith lead us into the prayer of love and union. They are not a barrier; and if ever they become so, something is wrong. Last week, I was much struck by a comment on Twitter to the effect that one cannot love the liturgy, the worship of God, if one doesn’t also love the people of God, his children. In the love that binds together in unity the three Persons of the Trinity, we find the origin of our own capacity to love.

This feast of the Holy Trinity is one that stretches mind and heart, but in a good way, for it stretches them as Jesus once stretched his arms on the Cross: upwards to the Father in loving surrender, outwards to the world in loving embrace, with the Holy Spirit the love that held them there.

Note: I have tried to express some complicated thoughts briefly and simply. If I have failed to be orthodox at any point, it is an unintended consequence of my efforts.

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