Living in the Spirit

Indwelling Spirit

Living in the Spirit
Friday, May 24, 2019

In very real ways, soul, consciousness, love, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Each of these point to something that is larger than the individual, shared with God, ubiquitous, and even eternal—and then revealed through us! Holiness does not mean people are psychologically or morally perfect (a common confusion), but that they are capable of seeing and enjoying things in a much more “whole” and compassionate way, even if they sometimes fail at it themselves. [1]

Today I share again from the late Jesuit priest and professor Richard Hauser:

The goal of the spiritual life is to allow the Spirit of Christ to influence all our activity, prayer as well as service. Our role in this process is to provide conditions in our lives to enable us to live in tune with [Christ’s] Spirit. Our effort is not a self-conscious striving to fill ourselves with the important Christian virtues; it is more getting out of the way and allowing [Christ’s] Spirit to transform all our activities. Christ will do the rest. His Spirit has joined ours and will never abandon us.

Gradually we become more and more sensitive to the movements of Christ’s Spirit in our own hearts; simultaneously we grow in sensitivity to the movement of his Spirit in others. Subtly our vision of the world changes. We begin seeing everything in relationship to Christ and the Father, and so we carry on a continual dialog with them. Without really trying, we find ourselves fulfilling Paul’s injunction to the Ephesians to “pray always.” It becomes clearer and clearer what Paul was trying to express when he exclaimed to the Galatians that “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Before his conversion, [Paul] had not known this power. Now the reality of the new life he had received through the Spirit of Christ so overwhelmed him that it seemed as though everything he treasured flowed from this life, as, indeed, it did. He can only pray for his people that they may receive this same life from the Spirit and so know Christ and his love. [2]

Read Paul’s beautiful prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21:

That is why I kneel before Abba God, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. And I pray that God, out of the riches of divine glory, will strengthen you inwardly with power through the working of the Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, will be able to grasp fully the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ’s love and, with all God’s holy ones, experience this love that surpasses all understanding, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. To God—whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine—to God be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end! Amen.

References:
[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017), 47.

[2] Richard J. Hauser, In His Spirit: A Guide to Today’s Spirituality (Beacon Publishing: 2011), 133-134.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr

God Outpouring

Indwelling Spirit

God Outpouring
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Effortlessly,
Love flows from God into [humans]
Like a bird
Who rivers the air
Without moving her wings.
. . . Thus we move in [God’s] world
One in body and soul, . . .
Though outwardly separate in form.
As the Source strikes the note,
Humanity sings—
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.
—Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207–c. 1282/1294) [1]

Protestant theologian Jürgen Moltmann grew up in a secular home in Hamburg, Germany, and was drafted into the German army at age eighteen to fight in World War II. As a prisoner of war, he began reading the Bible and encountered God in the midst of suffering. Moltmann’s theology is hopeful and practical. Here are some of his thoughts on the Spirit:

We continually experience the Holy Spirit as both a divine counterpart to whom we call, and a divine presence in which we call—as the space we live in. There is nothing extraordinary about this. As children we experienced our mothers as both too—as a presence surrounding us and a counterpart calling us. The response to the plea for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit’s coming and remaining, its outpouring and its indwelling. . . .

The astonishing thing is that here the Holy Spirit is seen not just as a divine Person but as a divine element too. The Spirit is “sent” and “comes” like a tempest; it spreads itself out over all living things, like the waters of a flood, pervading everything. If the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit and the special presence of God, then when God’s Spirit is poured out, “all flesh” will be deified. All mortal flesh will be filled with the eternal life of God, for what comes from God is divine and eternal like God. . . .

In “the outpouring of God’s Spirit,” God opens [God’s self] and becomes what the mystic and poet Mechthild of Magdeburg calls “the outpouring and flowing Godhead.” In the source, the river and the lake, the quality of water is the same, but its flow is graduated. The transition from the Spirit itself to the Spirit’s many different energies . . . is as fluid as an emanation. The divine becomes the all-embracing presence in which what is human—indeed everything that lives—can develop fruitfully and live eternally.

References:
[1] Mechthild of Magdeburg, “Effortlessly, / Love flows from God into man,” Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, ed. Jane Hirshfield (Harper Perennial: 1995), 93. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Jürgen Moltmann, The Source of Life (Fortress Press: 1997), 11.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr

A Constant Grace

Indwelling Spirit

A Constant Grace
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to reveal to us the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it. —Wm. Paul Young [1]

The love in you—which is the Spirit in you—always somehow says yes. (See 2 Corinthians 1:20.) Love is not something you do; love is something you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something you can attain. It’s the presence of God within you, called the Holy Spirit or what some theologians name uncreated grace.

You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct, dear reader. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now. You can go to church every day for the rest of your life. God isn’t going to love you any more than God loves you right now.

You cannot make God love you any less, either—not an ounce less. Do the most terrible thing and God wouldn’t love you less. You cannot change the Divine mind about you! The flow is constant, total, and 100 percent toward your life. God is for you.

We can’t diminish God’s love for us. What we can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090–1153) wrote, “Inasmuch as the soul becomes unlike God, so it becomes unlike itself.” [2] Bernard has, of course, come to the same thing I’m trying to say here: the pattern within the Trinity is the same as the pattern in all creation. And when you return to this same pattern, the flow will be identical.

Catherine LaCugna (1952–1997) ended her giant theological tome God for Us with this one simple sentence:

The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth. [3]

That’s God’s job description. That’s what it’s all about. And the only thing that can keep you out of this divine dance is fear or self-hatred. What would happen in your life—right now—if you fully accepted what God has created?

Suddenly, this is a very safe universe. You have nothing to be afraid of. God is for you. God is leaping toward you! God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.

References:
[1] Wm. Paul Young, Trinity: The Soul of Creation, session 7 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), MP4 download.

[2] Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs, 82.5. This translation is from William Harmless, Mystics, (Oxford University Press: 2008), 55.

[3] Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco: 1993), 411.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 193-194.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr

Loving Relationship

Indwelling Spirit

Loving Relationship
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The highest expression of the spirit is the one that opens us to the Great Other, in love and trust. It establishes a dialogue with God, listens from the conscience to God’s call, and delivers us trustingly into the palm of God’s hand. This communion can be so intense, say the mystics of every tradition, that the soul of the beloved is fused with the Lover in an experience of nonduality; by grace we participate in God’s very being. Here the human spirit is touching the hem of the Holy Spirit’s garment. —Leonardo Boff [1]

The Holy Spirit is the love relationship between the Father and the Son. It is this relationship itself that is gratuitously given to us! Or better, we are included inside this universal love. This is salvation in one wonderful snapshot.

Jesuit Richard Hauser (1937–2018), who focused much of his teaching and writing on the Holy Spirit, saw that the indwelling Spirit leads to union and love:

This love has as its object God, as well as other people. Christian theological tradition has most often seen the Holy Spirit in the Trinity as the bond of love between the Father and the Son. . . . The primary effect of the Spirit acting in people . . . will be love, both for one another and for God. . . .

God’s Spirit joins our spirit; it does not replace it. The good acts we perform are truly our acts, not simply acts of the Holy Spirit in us. The deepest part of the self is the spiritual dimension. From the center flows all our freedom and love; at this level we remain free to choose to move or not to move with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is indeed active in us at all times drawing us toward greater love and service of God and others, but the Spirit does not control our response. That flows from our freedom. [2]

This loving relationship shows itself in myriad forms, such as the endless diversity of insects and wildflowers, culture and art, medicine and science. Each manifestation expresses God’s endless desire to create new forms of life and externalized love. All things good, true, and beautiful are already baptized in the one, same Spirit. (Read Ephesians 4:4-7 anew!)

The Holy Spirit shows up as the central and healing power of absolute newness and healing in our relationship with everything else. Anglican mystic Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941) defined mysticism as “the art of union with Reality.” [3] The Spirit is the artist painting this union through us!

The Spirit’s work is helping us stay in relationship and building connection. The Spirit warms, softens, mends, and renews all the broken, cold places in and between things. Invisible but powerful, willing to be anonymous, the Spirit does not care who gets the credit for the wind from nowhere, the living water that we take for granted, or the bush that always burns and is never consumed.

References:
[1] Leonardo Boff, Come Holy Spirit (Orbis Books: 2015), 42.

[2] Richard J. Hauser, In His Spirit (Beacon Publishing:  2011), 37, 38.

[3] Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People (E. P. Dutton & Company: 1915), 3.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 186-187.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr

The Age of Spirit

Indwelling Spirit

The Age of Spirit
Monday, May 20, 2019

The Holy Spirit is sent to the entire universe and since creation has been transforming [the universe], carrying it toward the final resurrection. . . . The same Spirit renews humanity. . . . This new humanity must move all nations, each in accordance with its diversity. The Spirit unites without imposing uniformity. —José Comblin [1]

From medieval times to the Great Awakening and other periods of religious revival, Christians have eagerly anticipated an age of the Spirit. But I believe all of history has been the age of the Spirit. Creation just keeps unfolding (see Romans 8:19-25). The evolution of stars, species, and consciousness has never stopped since the very beginning. In fact, we now know that the universe is still expanding. But our hierarchical, masculine-without-feminine, and static notion of God did not allow many to see this.

History keeps moving forward with ever-new creativity. Admittedly, this movement is accompanied by much push back. Just look at what’s happened in the last century! The immense advances in consciousness, science, technology, and awareness are astounding, despite all the horrible wars and injustice, both personal and systemic. While I don’t want to diminish how much we still have to do to create an equitable world, it’s become almost impossible for privileged folks to deny the ongoing marginalization of people of color, gender diverse individuals, the poor, and those with disabilities.

Theologian Jürgen Moltmann (b. 1926) writes:

In the experience of the Spirit a new community of rich and poor, the educated and the uneducated comes into being. The Spirit of God is no respecter of social distinctions; it puts an end to them. All Spirit-impelled revival movements in the history of Christianity have taken note of these social revolutionary elements in the experience of the Spirit and have spread them. They became a danger to the patriarchy, the men’s church and the slave-owners. [2]

The Holy Spirit never gives up on us. Scripture’s arc reveals the salvation of history and all creation, and not merely of individuals. Divine covenants are with the people collectively—the “house” and the future. Individuals like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, and Esther are only the instruments and the mediators. Each individual is caught up in the salvific sweep of history, almost in spite of herself or himself, as YHWH shows mercy to Israel and their descendants forever (see, for example, Genesis 13:15; Exodus 32:13).

The Spirit is like a homing device put inside of us, and all creation, too. For all of our ignorance and mistakes, there is in everything this deep, internal dignity convinced of its own value. This divine indwelling keeps insisting, “I am what I am seeking!” This is surely what Jesus means when he says that all true prayers are already assured of their answer (see Matthew 7:7-8 and 1 John 5:14-15).

It’s God in you that loves God; it’s God through you that recognizes God elsewhere; it’s God for you that assures you that you are finally and forever okay.  This is Trinitarian spirituality, which buttresses you on every side. This is what it means to live inside the Trinitarian flow. And it is all now, and not just later. You are already home free!

References:
[1] José Comblin, The Holy Spirit and Liberation (Wipf & Stock Publishers: 1989), 75.

[2] Jürgen Moltmann, The Source of Life (Fortress Press: 1997), 23.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 146-147, 150-151.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr

Implanted Hope

Indwelling Spirit

Implanted Hope
Sunday, May 19, 2019

God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.
You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
Amen.

In the Divine Spirit—God within us, already promised, often with different words, by the Hebrew prophets, as in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 11:2—God takes on an indwelling character. The unnamable I AM becomes writ large on our hearts, revealing the “down and in” divine characteristic present since the beginning of time. Let’s call the Holy Spirit Implanted Hope.

Theologian Jack Levison points out that there are many meanings for the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek pneuma: “The original Hebrew and Greek words for ‘spirit’ were used to convey concepts as diverse as a breath, a breeze, a powerful gale, an angel, a demon, the heart and soul of a human being, and the divine presence itself.” [1] For me, what seems most significant is that Spirit is the divine indwelling in creation. As God promises Ezekiel, “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” (See Ezekiel 37:9-14.)

Without God as Holy Spirit, there’s no inner momentum, élan vital, or aliveness to heal our wounds. When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. As in Ezekiel’s vision, the water flows from ankles to knees to waist to neck as the New Earth is hydrated. (See Ezekiel 47:1-12.) Like Pinocchio, we move from wooden to real. We transform from hurt people hurting other people to wounded healers healing others. Not just as individuals but as shapers of history that keeps moving forward through the Spirit’s power.

The Indwelling Spirit is this ability of humanity to keep going, to keep recovering from its wounds, to keep hoping. One thing we love so much about young children is their indomitable hope, curiosity, and desire to grow. They fall down, and soon they’re all grins again. Another generation is going to try again to live life to the fullest. But all too often, by the time they’re sixty they don’t smile so much, and we ask, “What happened between six and sixty?” I see it as loss of Spirit, because if you trust that the Holy Spirit is alive within you, you will keep on, despite every setback.

References:
[1] Jack Levison, Fresh Air (Paraclete Press: 2012), 13-14.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 144-147.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr

Trinity: Part 2: Weekly Summary

Trinity: Part 2

Summary: Sunday, May 12—Friday, May 17, 2019

When all three of those divine qualities start drawing you, and when you’re at home with Infinity, Immanence, and Intimacy—all Three—you’re living inside Trinitarian spirituality. (Sunday)

Living faith in the God of Jesus Christ means being formed and transformed by the life of grace of God’s economy: becoming persons fully in communion with all; becoming Christ to one another; becoming by the power of the Holy Spirit what God is: love unbounded, glory uncontained. —Catherine Mowry LaCugna (Monday)

[Raimon Panikkar’s word cosmotheandric] is the fusion of cosmos (world), theos (God), and andros (man) and suggests a continuous intercirculation among these three distinct planes of existence in a single motion of self-communicating love. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Tuesday)

The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau (Wednesday)

From a metaphysical standpoint, the Trinity is primarily about process. It encapsulates a paradigm of change and transformation based on an ancient metaphysical principle known as the Law of Three. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Thursday)

Once you experience God as all-vulnerable, then perhaps God stands in solidarity with all pain and suffering in the universe, allowing us to be participants in our own healing. (Friday)

 

Practice: Ecstatic Dance
Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that, energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dance. —Gabrielle Roth [1]

God cannot be known by thinking but by experiencing and loving. As you read about the theological framework and practical implications of Trinity—perichoresis or circle dance—I hope you will take many opportunities to explore this concept in your lived experience.

Here’s one way you might play with a childlike spirit and feel Trinity’s flow in your body. You may even lose track of where you, the dancer, end and the dance itself begins.

Adapt this practice for your own body’s abilities and needs. For example, you might move from a seated position if you’re not able to stand or use colors and images as inspiration if you’re not able to hear music.

Choose a favorite or new piece of music—classical, world, contemporary; anything that calls you to move!—and find a place in which you can listen and move without inhibition, barefooted if possible.

Allow your body to lead, following the invitation of the music. Let your mind take a back seat and tune in to the sensations of each part of your body.

Feel your feet connect with the ground. Let limbs and joints turn and bend as they will. Swing and sway your head, shoulders, hips. Sink deep into your body, remembering what it is to be a human animal.

Dance until you are pleasantly tired and then gradually slow your movements, perhaps to another musical tempo. Continue moving in smaller, gentler ways: breathe deeply, stretch your arms and legs, roll your head.

Come to a seated position and rest in stillness.

References:
[1] Gabrielle Roth, https://www.5rhythms.com/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (CAC Publishing: 2016), 51.

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2013)

Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company:1997, 2016)

Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco: 1991)

Raimon Panikkar, Christophany: The Fullness of Man (Orbis Books: 2004)

Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016)

Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, William Paul Young, Trinity: The Soul of Creation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), MP4 download

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau

Trinitarian Revolution

Trinity: Part 2

Trinitarian Revolution
Friday, May 17, 2019

I think we are in the beginnings of a Trinitarian Revolution. History has so long operated with a static and imperial image of God—as a Supreme Monarch and Critical Spectator living in splendid isolation from what he (and God is exclusively envisioned as male in this model) created. His love is perceived as unstable, whimsical, and preferential.

Humans become like the God we worship. So it’s important that our God is good and life-giving. That’s why we desperately need a worldwide paradigm shift in Christian consciousness regarding how we perceive and relate to God. This shift has been subtly yet profoundly underway for some time, hiding in plain sight. In order to come together in politics and religion, to take seriously new scientific findings in biology and quantum physics, and for our species and our planet to even survive we must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything.

In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn popularized the phrase “paradigm shift.” [1] Kuhn said that paradigm shifts become necessary when the plausibility structure of the previous paradigm becomes so full of holes and patchwork “fixes” that a complete overhaul, which once looked utterly threatening, now appears as a lifeline.

I believe we’re at precisely such a moment when it comes to our image of God. Instead of the idea of the Trinity being a theological conundrum, it could well end up being the answer to Western religion’s basic problem.

God has forever redefined power in the Trinity! God’s power comes through powerlessness and humility. The Christian God is much more properly called all-vulnerable than almighty, which we should have suspected and intuited by the shocking metaphor “Lamb of God” found throughout the New Testament.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority, God is still “the man upstairs,” a substantive noun more than an active verb. In my opinion, this misunderstanding is partly responsible for the quick expansion of practical atheism and agnosticism we see in the West today. Rational and sincere people wonder, “If God is almighty and all-loving, then why is there so much suffering in the world?” But once you experience God as all-vulnerable, then perhaps God stands in solidarity with all pain and suffering in the universe, allowing us to be participants in our own healing. This does not make sense to the logical mind, but to the awakened soul it somehow does.

Let the Trinitarian Revolution take root!

References:
[1] See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th ed. (University of Chicago Press: 2012).

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 35-36, 171.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau

God’s Ecstasy

Trinity: Part 2

God’s Ecstasy
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) brilliantly integrated learning across fields such as mathematics, religion, science, and philosophy. God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World—which she called “a book on science for Christians”—explores Trinity from both a scientific and contemplative point of view.

. . . Trinity [shows] itself as world, especially with the characteristic Trinitarian trait of living-together, symbiosis, mutual indwelling, interacting, sharing. From elementary particles in the atom, through atoms in molecules, molecules in cells, cells in organisms, organisms in societies, to social actions and even ideas—all of them being organized as systems—the Trinitarian image, as a Many-One, as a Community, has been present and growing. “Growing” (from the inside out) is the right word; the Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. God is creating a self-creating world.

[Or as I like to say, it just makes sense that God would create a world that continues to create itself! —Richard]

Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. So is spontaneous order, and adaptation by natural selection. What we now call complexity, and recognize as doing its creative work on the very edge of chaos, is at the heart of this miraculous picture. There may not be an external Designer and a micro-managing Providence from the outside, but neither is the world devoid of divinity. The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing.

I have called this creative act God’s ecstasy. Ecstasy means standing outside oneself. It is kin to the kenosis of Philippians 2:6—being God is not a thing to be clung to, so God empties Godself, taking the form of limitation in finitude, and is born as a universe. It is the defining divine act: self-giving, being-bestowing. Ecstasy has the connotations of extreme love and supreme joy. . . .

The cosmic complexity has supported the development of consciousness, and now we can know and understand and contemplate this beautiful and marvelous universe. We can appreciate it as the externalization—the ecstasy—of Creativity itself, of the trinitarian God: manyness so symbiotic as to be one whole living being.

The conclusion for the religious person should be that the world is God’s most personal work, therefore something for us to know and admire and revere, to take part in, to contribute to creating—since it is made as a self-creating universe. This is participating in the divine life. . . .

My hope is that others will get a sense of how the universe is radiant and exciting and how we are poised right on the creative edge, right where the new action is happening. God’s action, our action. A Self-creating universe that is God’s ecstasy, God standing—indeed, God dancing!—outside Godself, still doing the Godly things: being One, being Community, sharing being, indwelling, rejoicing, always being more.

Reference:
Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company:1997, 2016), 9-10.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau

Practical Participation

Trinity: Part 2

Practical Participation
Monday, May 13, 2019

The all-powerful truth of the Trinity is the Father, who created us and keeps us within him. The deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we all are enfolded. The exalted goodness of the Trinity is our beloved Lord: we are held in him and he is held in us. We are enclosed in the Father, we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are enclosed in us. All Power. All Goodness. All Wisdom. One God. One Love. —Julian of Norwich [1]

Over the next few days I’ll share other writers’ perspectives on Trinity which have helped form and clarify my own thinking. Catherine Mowry LaCugna’s (1952–1997) book, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life, has helped to make the Trinity once again practical and participative more than mere abstract theology. LaCugna wrote:

The doctrine of the Trinity is ultimately a practical doctrine with radical consequences for Christian life. . . . The doctrine of the Trinity, which is the specifically Christian way of speaking about God, summarizes what it means to participate in the life of God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. The mystery of God is revealed in Christ and the Spirit as the mystery of love, the mystery of persons in communion who embrace death, sin, and all forms of alienation for the sake of life. Jesus Christ, the visible icon of the invisible God, discloses what it means to be fully personal, divine as well as human. The Spirit of God, poured into our hearts as love (Romans 5:5), gathers us together in the body of Christ, transforming us so that “we become by grace what God is by nature,” namely, persons in full communion with God and with every creature. . . .

Christians believe that God bestows the fullness of divine life in the person of Jesus Christ, and that through the person of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit we are made intimate partakers of the living God (theosis, divinization). . . .

God is not self-contained, egotistical and self-absorbed but overflowing love, outreaching desire for union with all that God has made. The communion of divine life is God’s communion with us in Christ and as Spirit. . . .

God moves toward us so that we may move toward each other and thereby toward God. The way God comes to us is also our way to God and to each other: through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is our faith, confessed in creed and celebrated in the sacraments.

Confessing faith is incomplete unless it becomes a form of life. Living faith in the God of Jesus Christ means being formed and transformed by the life of grace of God’s economy: becoming persons fully in communion with all; becoming Christ to one another; becoming by the power of the Holy Spirit what God is: love unbounded, glory uncontained.

References:
[1] Julian of Norwich, Fourteenth Revelation, chapter 54, See The Showings of Julian of Norwich, trans. Mirabai Starr (Hampton Roads: 2013), 149-150.

Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life (HarperSanFrancisco: 1991), 1, 3, 15, 377.

Image credit: Haystacks at Giverny (detail), Claude Monet, 1884. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Creativity that makes the world is built into the world as its own essence. . . . Randomness, the pool of all possibilities, is part of how it’s done. . . . The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing. —Beatrice Bruteau

The work of the Center for Action and Contemplation is possible only because of friends and supporters like you!

Learn more about making a donation to the CAC.

FacebookTwitterEmailPrint