The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Lectionary: 166


Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
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,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

In 1922, G.K. Chesterton described the United States as “a nation with the soul of a church.” In the same paragraph he also said it is “the only nation in the world founded on a creed.”

Almost a century later we find that religious impulse still haunts our discourse but we would be hard pressed to describe the religion of this “church.” Along with Catholics, Lutherans and Methodist our census includes Native Americans, Muslims, Buddhists and Wiccans – not to mention the parody religions. Where nuns have almost disappeared, we find a growing population of nones, meaning people who indicate none as their religion of choice.

Nor can we overlook those rituals that have replaced religion; they have all its trappings without the title. I think of:
  • spectator sports. These popular gatherings are steeped in ritual and laced with values; they arouse powerful emotions and lend historical dimension to otherwise uneventful lives. I know men who count the seasons from baseball to football to golf and back to baseball, with tennis, basketball, hockey and soccer to ease the transitions. There's little else in life for them. 
  • Motorcycling has a dozen different sects including barbarian nomadic gangs, Christian motorcyclists, Veterans and retired couples cruising on his and her matching motorcycles. Although motorcycling appeals to be a cult of individualists, their individuality disappears as they dress alike and travel in large packs. (Go figure!)
  • Gun ownership, with its priesthood in the NRA, arouses intense religious feelings among its adherents. Romantic patriots profess a minuteman's readiness to die for their weapons, if not for anyone else. 
  • And then there are the more diabolical cults of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, which zombie-like suck the soul of millions of people.
  • Did I mention gambling? No? Never mind.

What does the Catholic offer to this atrophied church? Our faith is reasonable. It’s founded on the historic events of God’s action in human history and it’s buttressed with rationality. Although we could never have figured out that God is good, or that we must be saved by an Incarnate Messiah, or that we must be animated by the Holy Spirit, these revealed truths make sense. 

Our beliefs make a lot more sense than watching men risk their lives at breakneck speeds on a narrow racecourse, or amassing hundreds of lethal weapons, or habitual and frequent intoxication. They make more sense than serial marriage and divorce or neutered sexual athletics among strangers.

Our religion, which at its birth in Jerusalem was midwifed by Greek philosophy, is practical, reasonable and beautiful. It appeals to sensible persons without ignoring their emotional needs, and invites those who are carried away by fear or desire to come to their senses and rejoin us in church.  

On this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity we praise God that the Father has revealed Jesus and the Holy Spirit to us. We should remember it took almost four hundred years for the Church to agree on the basic language of the Trinity and that discussion is ongoing. Especially since the Second Vatican Council the Church has realized that our neglect of the doctrine in favor of sentimentality has spawned a plague of atheism among intellectuals.

Some of the greatest minds in human history have spent their lives pondering and discussing this mystery and formulating precise language for it. They point out the landmines of heresy, those fascinating misconceptions that lead back to irrationality and tyranny. They guide us to insights that agree with our experience of the Christian life, make sense, and inspire us to greater virtue. These doctrines may be hard to explain to those unfamiliar with our rituals and beliefs but they have a slow, gravitational attraction that draws honest seekers to the faith.

We should never stop pondering the Most Holy Trinity, nor should we fail to thank God daily for enfolding us in its beautiful intoxication.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.