Trinity: Week 2
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Daniel Walsh, who was Thomas Merton’s primary philosophy teacher, says he’s not sure if the human person can even legitimately be called a creation, because we are a continuance of, an emanation from, a “subsistent relation” with what we call Trinity. Wow! This is getting very wonderful and also very dangerous.  He taught that the human person must see itself in continuity with God, and not a fully separate creation. We are “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (see Ephesians 1:4). How different Christian history would have been if we had believed and taught this to the ordinary beginner.
Mature Christianity is thus an invitation to share in the personal life of God, a dynamic of generated love forever continued in space and time through God’s creatures. Thus, God’s self-knowledge includes knowledge of us, and God’s self-love includes love of us. They are the same knowing, the same loving, and the same freedom.
Yes, in some sense we become an “other” that can be seen as a separate object from God, but from God’s side we are always known and loved subject to subject, just as the persons of the Trinity know and love one another. God and the human person must know (and can know) one another center to center, subject to subject; we will not and cannot know one another if we objectify one another.
This is perhaps the clearest way to describe God’s unconditional acceptance of us, forgiveness of our mistakes, and mercy toward us in all circumstances: We are never an object to God. God cannot not love God’s image in us. This is the eternal covenant.
So a fully Christian theology and philosophy of the human person must say that our personhood originates in the divine Logos, the eternal Christ, as imitations and reflections of God’s relationship to Godself. We are constituted by the same relationship that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
“The end for which the human person is created is to manifest the Truth of Christ in the love God has for himself in his Divine Trinity,” Daniel Walsh says in his lectures to the monks. This is the theology of personhood upon which Thomas Merton builds his monumental worldview, and upon which we can, too.
Divine Personhood and human personhood are reciprocal, mutually-mirroring concepts. God’s nature as relationship creates ours; and our nature is constituted by this same bond, which is infinite openness and capacity to love. We must know that we are in fact objectively loveable to honestly be able to love ourselves. We cannot pretend. Our false self is never fully ready to trust in unconditional love. Maybe forgiveness and forbearance, but not unconditional love—at best a kind of highly conditional love, which is most practical Christianity when people do not go inside of the Living Mystery.
You cannot “get” to such a place; you can only rest and rejoice in such a place.
Gateway to Silence:
Love flows in and out, in and out.
 Daniel Walsh, unpublished notes from his teaching at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Walsh taught regularly at the abbey from the late 1950s to the early 1960s.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 78-79.