Trinity: Part One: Weekly Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Trinity: Part One: Weekly Summary

Trinity: Part One

Summary: Sunday, May 5—Friday, May 10, 2019

The mystery of Trinity is embedded as the code in everything that exists. (Sunday)

If we take the depiction of God in Rublev’s The Trinity icon seriously, we have to say, “In the beginning was the Relationship.” (Monday)

Trinity overcomes the foundational philosophical problem of “the One and the Many.” (Tuesday)

There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—a giving away, a sharing, a letting go, and thus an infinity of trust and mutuality. (Wednesday)

The Way of Jesus is an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead. (Thursday)

God placed this alluring attraction of life toward life in everything that God created. Thus, we might say the Trinity is the soul of creation. (Friday)


Practice: Friendship

The Trinity reveals that God is relationship itself. Irish poet and priest John O’Donohue (1956–2008) drew insights on friendship from Celtic spirituality. As you read O’Donohue’s words, consider how you might grow and nurture soul friendships in your life.

. . . The old Gaelic term for [soul-love] is anam ċara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and ċara is the word for friend. . . . With the anam ċara you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. . . . You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul.” . . . The soul is a divine light that flows into you and into your Other. This art of belonging awakened and fostered a deep and special companionship. In his Conferences, John Cassian [c. 360–c. 435] says this bond between friends is indissoluble: “This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part.” [1]

In everyone’s life, there is great need for an anam ċara, a soul friend. In this love, you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. The superficial and functional lies and half-truths of social acquaintance fall away, you can be as you really are. Love allows understanding to dawn. . . . Where you are understood, you are home. . . . When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person’s soul. . . . This art of love discloses the special and sacred identity of the other person. . . .

It is precisely in awakening and exploring this rich and opaque inner landscape that the anam-ċara experience illuminates the mystery and kindness of the divine. The anam ċara is God’s gift. Friendship is the nature of God. The Christian concept of god as Trinity is the most sublime articulation of otherness and intimacy, an eternal interflow of friendship. This perspective discloses the beautiful fulfillment of our immortal longing in the words of Jesus, who said, Behold, I call you friends [John 15:15]. . . . In friendship with him, we enter the tender beauty and affection of the Trinity. In the embrace of this eternal friendship, we dare to be free. . . .

Consequently, love is anything but sentimental. In fact, it is the most real and creative form of human presence. Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other.

All presence depends on consciousness. Where there is a depth of awareness, there is a reverence for presence. Where consciousness is dulled, distant, or blind, the presence grows faint and vanishes. Consequently, awareness is one of the greatest gifts you can bring to your friendship. . . . [P]ray for the grace of recognition. Inspired by awareness, you may then discover beside you the anam ċara of whom your longing has always dreamed.

[1] John Cassian, “The First Conference of Abbot Joseph: On Friendship,” Conferences, 16.3. See John Cassian, The Conferences of the Desert Fathers, trans. Edgar C. S. Gibson (Aeterna Press: 2015), 269.

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (Cliff Street Books: 1997), 13-16.

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

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

Richard Rohr: Trinity: The Soul of Creation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), MP4 download

Richard Rohr, The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2004), CD, DVD, MP3 download

Image credit: Rublev Troitsa (detail), Andrei Rublev, c. 1400–1410, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If we take the depiction of God in The Trinity seriously, we have to say, “In the beginning was the Relationship.” The gaze between the Three shows the deep respect between them. —Richard Rohr
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