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A Connected Universe: Weekly Summary

Sunday
Creation itself is the first incarnation of Christ, the primary and foundational “Bible” that reveals the path to God. —Richard Rohr

Monday
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday
The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. —Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday
This is a differently shaped universe than many of us thought—and leads to a very differently shaped spirituality. As Bill Plotkin says, spirituality becomes a “sinking back into the source of everything.” Suddenly we realize, of course, that God is not “out there,” but God is in all, through all, and with all. —Richard Rohr

Thursday
How can we use nature to cultivate an awareness of God? How do we enter a space of reverence, where there are no walls and no ceilings and yet where we find a room we share with Creator Spirit? —Sophfronia Scott

Friday
The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness. —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

An Ecological Examination of Conscience

Francis of Assisi called animals “Sister” and “Brother” and viewed humans as one part of a wider family of creation. Franciscan writers Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood recommend adapting a historic Christian practice of “examination of conscience” to focus on how we have harmed or helped our relationships with the Earth:

To prepare to do an ecological examination of conscience, take a few minutes to quiet yourself and enter into a state of prayer. Going back over your day or week, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is my whole life centered on God’s overflowing love in my life, revealed through Jesus and through all of creation? . . .
  2. Do I accept with a grateful heart the gifts of God’s goodness and diversity in creation? . . .
  3. Do I pray for the forgiveness of sins between humans and the created world, and for the healing and reconciliation of our broken relationship with creation? . . . 
  4. Have I used my God-given gifts to honor and protect the diverse, interdependent, fragile nature of all life and to preserve it for all future beings? . . .
  5. Have I stolen from or damaged the habitat of other creatures by wasting or consuming more than I need? . . . 
  6. Do I seek to eliminate from the world whatever keeps all creatures from their full development intended by their Creator: pollution, greed, overconsumption, loss of habitat, disease, war, extinction of species, oppressive laws and structures? . . .
  7. Have I encouraged others to take care for creation seriously? . . .

After spending time with these questions, hold in your mind and heart the ways in which you have lived in disharmony with creation. . . Offer these mistakes up to God and ask for the strength and the wisdom to learn to live with integrity within the web of creation.

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Reference:
Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2008), 100–101.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 7-9 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: We often look up to appreciate the universe, but this massive universe is not only above us. It’s also under us, around us, and in us. It connects us all—stars, palm plants, grasses, humans and turtles alike.

Trinity: Weekly Summary

Sunday
Recognizing Trinity as relationship itself opens conversations with the world of science. This surprising insight names everything correctly at the core—from atoms, to ecosystems, to galaxies. The shape of God is the shape of everything in the universe! —Richard Rohr

Monday
When we try to understand Jesus outside the dynamism of the Trinity, we do not do him or ourselves any favors. Jesus never operated as an independent “I” but only as a “thou” in relationship to his Father and the Holy Spirit. God is love, which means relationship itself. —Richard Rohr

Tuesday
We can think of the Holy Spirit as our interior homing device—that for all our stupidity and mistakes there is this deep internal intuition that we are the sons and daughters of God. No matter how lost we get, it keeps pointing us back “home”—to love, to connection, to meaningful relationship with Someone or something else, to soul. —Richard Rohr

Wednesday
The Trinity is infinite outpouring and infinite infilling without end. It can only be experienced as a flow, as a community, as a relationship, as an inherent connection. —Richard Rohr

Thursday
The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. In this way, they make their own that trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. —Pope Francis

Friday
Wherever the human heart is healed, justice gains a foothold, peace holds sway, an ecological habitat is protected, there the human and earth community already reflect in fragments, the visage of the trinitarian God. —Elizabeth Johnson

Receiving Love

Catholic writer about the new cosmology Judy Cannato (1949–2011) suggests a practice of being on the “receiving end” of Love, which is essential to participating in the trinitarian flow. She writes:   

The entire history of the universe has been the history of the outpouring of love. Karl Rahner reminded us that grace is nothing other than the Divine’s self-communication in love. God creates in order to give God’s self away in love. All that creation has ever been invited to do is accept this gift of love. . . . Unfortunately, in our orientation toward action, we have forgotten that we are merely receivers. . . .

Being loved disarms us, brushes away our ego defenses, and then exposes us not only to the other, but to ourselves. And it is from ourselves that we most often hide our gaze. . . . Everywhere the Holy One is shouting and whispering, “Let me love you.” And all that is asked of us is to receive. In reality, that is our life’s work. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

Cannato encourages readers to practice receiving love from both God and people in our lives:

Try this exercise: sit quietly and bring to mind those who care for you—in the present and in the past. As you recall each person, receive the love that is there for you. Let it into your heart. Even if someone has a quirky way of showing love, receive the love. Sift through the dysfunction if you have to, but receive the love. Never mind if the person has never said, “I love you.” Receive the love, one by one. Hold all that love in your heart. Let it penetrate your whole being. How does it feel to consciously, intentionally receive all of that love? Can you allow that to sustain your journey for today?

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Reference:
Judy Cannato, Field of Compassion: How the New Cosmology Is Transforming Spiritual Life (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2010), 170, 171, 179.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

A Trinitarian Way of Life

Theologian Elizabeth Johnson envisions how a “revitalized trinitarian theology” might shape both the Church and our own practice of Christianity.

As glimpsed in [Jesus’] parables and practices, the reign of God is a gracious rule of saving love and communion. As a place where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, it sets up a new kind of community where “the least of these” brothers and sisters are included. . . . In this community tyranny is countermanded in the light of God’s self-giving ways; male and female are equal partners, as are Jew and Greek. Justice, peace, and the well-being of all creatures are the goal. If we are not living out the types of relationships that serve this pattern of the truth of the reign of God, then we haven’t got a clue about who God is. Knowing God is impossible unless we enter into a life of love and communion with others. . . .

Revitalized trinitarian theology makes it clear that a God conceived of as an individualized monarch or as a self-enclosed, exclusively inner-related triad of persons, a God who watches from a distance as an uninvolved, impartial observer, a God who needs to be persuaded to care for creatures—such a God does not exist. This is a false God, a fantasy detached from the Christian experience of salvation. Rather, “God is Love,” related to the world in a threefold pattern of communion. Assimilating this truth we gain fresh energies to imagine the world in a loving way and to act to counter the self-destruction of violence.

Relying on Scripture and Tradition, Johnson envisions compassionate outcomes of a renewed commitment to a trinitarian God:  

YHWH’s covenant with Israel, the ministry and life of Jesus Christ, and the nourishing bonds of community on earth created by the Spirit are all icons that reveal the one God’s unfathomable, triune, relational nature oriented in compassion toward the world. In light of the trinitarian God we can tweak Irenaeus’s axiom [1] once again to declare: the glory of God is the communion of all things fully alive. Wherever the human heart is healed, justice gains a foothold, peace holds sway, an ecological habitat is protected, wherever liberation, hope and healing break through, wherever an act of simple kindness is done, a cup of cool water given, a book offered to a child thirsty for learning, there the human and earth community already reflect, in fragments, the visage of the trinitarian God. Borne by “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” we become committed to a fruitful future inclusive of all peoples, tribes, and nations, all creatures of the earth. The reign of God gains another foothold in history.

References:
[1] Johnson refers to Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 130–c. 202), Against Heresies, book 4, 20.7: “For the glory of God is the living human being.”

Elizabeth A. Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (New York: Continuum, 2007), 223–224.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

I’m spending my time getting in touch with the inner divine spark. This practice makes it easier to see and appreciate the divine spark in every living creature. I miss a good friend who was overcome with Covid-19. However, I’m consoled that he is sharing in the full glory of God’s divine spark.
—Vincent Z.

Share your own story with us.

 

The Trinity as Love

Professor Heidi Russell describes a way of speaking about the Trinity as Love that might allow modern Christians to connect more intimately to God.

In the twenty-first century a new understanding of Trinity must be found that allows Christians to reconcile their image of God with a contemporary, scientific worldview. Theology needs to move away from concrete images of God in which God is pictured as an old man in the sky. The use of concepts such as being and person in our trinitarian theology have too often led to an understanding of God as a being or a person, or worse as three beings or three persons. Shifting from language of being and person to a concept of God as Love can help counteract this tendency to make God in our own image.

The primary analogy for God as Trinity offered [here] is Source of Love, Word of Love, and Spirit of Love. God the Father is the Unoriginate Source of Love, simply meaning the ultimate source, the source that has no origin itself because it is the origin of all love that exists. That Source of all love has been revealed in the Word of Love. The world was created in and through that Word of Love, and that Word of Love has been spoken into the world in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Source of Love is also continually enacted in the Spirit of Love, which is present in the world and active in the heart of all believers forming the Christian community into the body of Christ. As the body of Christ, this community is then called to be the ongoing presence of God as Love in the world. . .

To affirm God as Trinitarian Love means that our relationships with each other have the potential to mirror such divine, three-fold love. Russell quotes Pope Francis:

The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. In this way, they make their own that trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity. [1]

She continues:

We can choose to exercise the unfolding of love in our lives. I can meditate on a God who is Love, who has enfolded Godself as Love at the core of who I am and empowered me to participate in the unfolding of that Love in the world. Through that meditative prayer, we will come to better enact Love in the world. Our hearts can literally change our brains. Our altered brains will change our actions. That unfolding of love means I am empowered to live out my life in relationships that are loving, that engender mutuality and equality in the world. 

References:
[1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, 240.

Heidi Russell, The Source of All Love: Catholicity and the Trinity (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017), xvii, 171, 174.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

I’m spending my time getting in touch with the inner divine spark. This practice makes it easier to see and appreciate the divine spark in every living creature. I miss a good friend who was overcome with Covid-19. However, I’m consoled that he is sharing in the full glory of God’s divine spark.
—Vincent Z.

Share your own story with us.

 

Images of the Trinity

Father Richard Rohr offers several images to help readers understand the dynamism of Trinitarian love.

The Franciscan philosopher, theologian, and mystic St. Bonaventure (c. 1217–1274) described the Trinity as a “fountain fullness” of overflowing love. Picture three buckets on a moving water wheel. We can see these water wheels in rural areas of Europe. They usually have more than three buckets, but each bucket empties out and swings back, inevitably waiting to be filled again. And it always is! Most of us can’t risk letting go or emptying out. We can’t risk letting go because we aren’t sure we will be refilled. But the three Persons of the Trinity empty themselves and pour themselves out into each other. Each knows they can empty themselves because they will forever be refilled. To understand this mystery of love fully, we need to “stand under” the flow and participate in it. It’s infinite outpouring and infinite infilling without end. It can only be experienced as a flow, as a community, as a relationship, as an inherent connection.

Another image we might use is that of a spinning, whirling top of perfect infinite love that is planted inside of everything. What we recognize is that everything is attracted to everything, that life is attracted to life, that love is attracted to love. Universal photosynthesis and gravity, one might say. This is what it means in Genesis 1:26–27 where it says everything is created in the image of God. God planted this whirling, alluring attraction of life toward life in everything created.

Once we allow the entire universe to become that alive and dynamic, we are living in an enchanted world. Nothing is meaningless; nothing is able to be dismissed. It’s all whirling with the same beauty, the same radiance. In fact, if I had to name the Big Bang in my language, I’d call it the Great Radiance. About 13.8 billion years ago, the inner radiance of God started radiating into forms. All these billions of years later, we are the continuation of that radiance in our small segment of time on this Earth. We can either allow it and let the Infinite Flow flow through us, or we can deny it, which is really what it means not to believe. This is not something I can prove to anyone.

This is nothing I can make logical or rational. It’s only experiential, and it’s only known in the mystery of love when we surrender ourselves to it, when we grant the other inherent dignity and voice—the plant, the animal, the tree, the sky, Brother Sun and Sister Moon as my Father Francis of Assisi put it. The contemplative mind refuses to objectify. It grants similarity, subject to subject relationship, likeness, symbolism, communion, connection, meaning. We can use whatever words or images are helpful, but suddenly we live in an alive universe where we can never be lonely again.  

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Trinity: The Soul of Creation, sessions 1 and 4 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2017), MP4 download.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

At the beginning of inner work, I walked a beach one morning and wrote all the things causing pain at the water’s edge. I stood and watched the waves slowly wipe away the words. It was a prayer and a promise that one day the pain itself would be wiped away, and the grief eventually abated. That spot became my go-to place to pray. Integrating this into my Christian practice helps me embrace it on a deeper level.
—Carolyn R.

Share your own story with us.

 

The Pain of Disconnection

Father Richard writes about what losing our experience of God as Trinity has cost us:

We have so many people suffering from mental and emotional illnesses in our time. Many people experience alienation from society, their own families, and even from themselves. In a word, they are disconnected instead of connected. I think one of the reasons is because we’ve been told we are all on our own. How does one overcome such a gap on their own? We believe that the ties that bind us have been broken and we don’t know how to put Humpty Dumpty together again. We have been overly reminded of our individual nature, not our deepest inner connection with each other and Reality itself.

The word that emerged in all the great world religions for that deepest connection is soul, the soul of things. We all use the word. Yet it seems we’ve come to doubt the very existence of soul, not only within ourselves, but in everything else, too. Soul implies a symbiotic relationship: once we find it here in ourselves, we’ll find it over there, too. If we can’t see it over there, my bet would be that we haven’t discovered or surrendered to it “in here,” either. 

Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff (b. 1938) writes that even the simple statement, “I believe in God,” offers us an intimate reminder that we are not alone:

To say “I believe in God” means that there is Someone who surrounds me, embraces me everywhere, and loves me, Someone who knows me better than I do myself, deep down in my heart, where not even my beloved can reach, Someone who knows the secret of all mysteries and where all roads lead. I am not alone in this open universe with all my questions for which no one offers me a satisfactory answer. That Someone is with me, and exists for me, and I exist for that Someone and in that Someone’s presence. Believing in God means saying: there exists an ultimate tenderness, an ultimate bosom, an infinite womb, in which I can take refuge and finally have peace in the serenity of love. If that is so, believing in God is worthwhile; it makes us more ourselves and empowers our humanity. [1]

Father Richard concludes:

The God within is like a homing device placed within us, like those found naturally in homing pigeons. No matter where they’re released, they know how to find their way back home—across thousands of miles in some cases! We can think of the Holy Spirit as our interior homing device—that for all our stupidity and mistakes there is this deep internal intuition that we are the sons and daughters of God. No matter how lost we get, it keeps pointing us back “home”—to love, to connection, to meaningful relationship with Someone or something else, to soul. It’s only God in us that knows God. It’s God in us that loves God. It’s God in us that recognizes God. That’s Trinity 101.

References:
[1] Leonardo Boff, Holy Trinity, Perfect Community, trans. Phillip Berryman (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000), xv–xvi. 

Adapted from Richard Rohr: Trinity: The Soul of Creation, session 1 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2017), MP4 download; and

The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, disc 2 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2004), CD, MP3 download.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

At the beginning of inner work, I walked a beach one morning and wrote all the things causing pain at the water’s edge. I stood and watched the waves slowly wipe away the words. It was a prayer and a promise that one day the pain itself would be wiped away, and the grief eventually abated. That spot became my go-to place to pray. Integrating this into my Christian practice helps me embrace it on a deeper level.
—Carolyn R.

Share your own story with us.

 

Jesus in the Trinity

Father Richard points out how we misunderstand Jesus and his teachings when we think of him apart from the Trinity.

When we try to understand Jesus outside the dynamism of the Trinity, we do not do him or ourselves any favors. Jesus never operated as an independent “I” but only as a “thou” in relationship to his Father and the Holy Spirit. He says this in a hundred different ways—the “Father” and the “Holy Spirit” are a relationship to Jesus. God is love, which means relationship itself (1 John 4:7–8).

Christianity lost its natural movement and momentum—flowing out from and returning to that relationship—when it pulled Jesus out of the Trinity. It killed that exciting inner experience and marginalized the mystics who really should be center stage. Jesus is the model and metaphor for all of creation being drawn into this infinite flow of love. Thus he says, “Follow me!” and “I shall return to take you with me, so that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:3). The concrete, historical body of Jesus represents the universal Body of Christ that “God has loved before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). He is the stand-in for all of us. The Jesus story, in other words, is the universe story. He never doubts his union with God, and he hands on union with God to us through this fully participatory universe.

Many of the Fathers of the church believed in an ontological, metaphysical, objective union between humanity and God, which alone would allow Jesus to take us “back with him” into the life of the Trinity (John 17:23–24, 14:3, 12:26). This was how real “participation” was for many in the early church. It changed people and offered them their deepest identity and form (“trans-formation”). We had thought our form was merely human, but Jesus came to show us that our actual form is human-divine, just as he is. He was not much interested in proclaiming himself the exclusive son of God. Instead, he went out of his way to communicate an inclusive sonship and daughterhood to the crowds. Paul uses words like “adopted” (Galatians 4:5) and “co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17) to make the same point.

“Full and final participation” was learned from Jesus, who clearly believed that God does not so much promise us a distant heaven but invites us into the Godself as friends and co-participants. Remember, I am not talking about a psychological or moral wholeness in human persons, which is never the case, and why most people dismiss this doctrine—or feel incapable of it. I am talking about a divinely implanted “sharing in the divine nature,” which is called the indwelling spirit or the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16–17). This is the foundation on which we must and can build and rebuild a civilization of life and love. Our objective ground is good and totally given!

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 98, 119—120.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

Since I read “The Universal Christ,” I have put into practice scripture reading from the point of view of “original goodness.” I now talk to my adult children about staying connected, instead of holding an inquisition [if] they miss mass. Instead of curating music for parish liturgies based on trends, I choose based on “original goodness” —compassion, mercy, kindness, forgiveness. When my peace is disturbed by things I hear or see, I search my soul to see how I can remain connected and there is always resolution.
—Elana S.

Share your own story with us.

The Mystery of the Trinity

This week’s Daily Meditations circle around the Mystery of the Trinity, the Christian faith’s central and fundamental description of God. Father Richard Rohr writes:

The notion of God as Trinity is the foundation of all Christian thought, and yet it never has been—not truly! Our dualistic minds largely shelved the whole thing because we simply couldn’t understand it. Most Christians do not consciously deny the Trinity, but as Karl Rahner (1904–1984) wrote, “We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.” [1] What a sad statement on our fundamental understanding of God!

The Trinity reveals God more as a verb than a noun, but we rarely speak about God that way in either our preaching or our prayers. God is three “relations,” which itself is mind-boggling for most believers. Yet that clarification opens up an honest notion of God as Mystery who can never be fully comprehended with our rational minds. God is dynamic—a verb rather than a static name. God is Interbeing itself, and never an isolated deity that can be captured by our mind.

Christians believe that God is formlessness (the Father), God is form (the Son), and God is the very living and loving energy between those two (the Holy Spirit). The three do not cancel one another out. Instead, they do exactly the opposite. Recognizing the Trinity as relationship itself opens conversations with the world of science. This surprising insight names everything correctly at the core—from atoms, to ecosystems, to galaxies. The shape of God is the shape of everything in the universe! Everything is in relationship and nothing stands alone. The doctrine of the Trinity defeats the dualistic mind and invites us into nondual, holistic consciousness. It replaces the argumentative principle of two with the dynamic principle of three. It brings us inside the wonderfully open space of “not one, but not two either.” Sit stunned with that for a few moments.

The most ancient and solid theology of the Trinity proceeds from the Cappadocian (Eastern Turkey) Fathers of the third and fourth centuries and is then adopted by later Councils of the Church. Trinitarian theology says that God is a “circular” rotation (perichoresis) of total outpouring and perfect receiving among three intimate partners. Historically, most of us, except for mystics, preferred the pyramid model with God the Father at the top, which then got imitated and promoted all the way down! This is no exaggeration.

As Catherine LaCugna (1952–1997) presented in her monumental study of the Trinity [2], any notion of God as not giving, not outpouring, not self-surrendering, not totally loving is a theological impossibility and absurdity. God only and always loves. You cannot reverse, slow, or limit an overflowing waterwheel of divine compassion and mercy and a love stronger than death. It goes in only one, constant, eternal direction—toward ever more abundant and creative life! This is the universe from atoms to galaxies.

References:
[1] Karl Rahner, The Trinity, trans. Joseph Donceel(New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), 10–11.

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

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 155–158.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

Since I read “The Universal Christ,” I have put into practice scripture reading from the point of view of “original goodness.” I now talk to my adult children about staying connected, instead of holding an inquisition [if] they miss mass. Instead of curating music for parish liturgies based on trends, I choose based on “original goodness” —compassion, mercy, kindness, forgiveness. When my peace is disturbed by things I hear or see, I search my soul to see how I can remain connected and there is always resolution.
—Elana S.

Share your own story with us.

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Hidden Fields

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Our theme this year is Nothing Stands Alone. What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.