Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Pastoral View of the Trinity

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I came across the below article on the Trinity from a pastoral perspective as I was searching on the nature of Trinity and personalism in order to think about the Sacraments within this Trinitarian framework rather than the way they are often set forth in abstract ways. I believe this Trinitarian emphasis has alot to say to us about the way we think about sacramental efficacy as coming from God who says and does what he says he will do via his personalism found within his own being. I leave it for your reading.

A Pastoral View at the Holy Trinity

by Angelo Xuereb

Christian Faith teaches us that everything proceeds from the Trinity of God. We also learn that whatever exists in this world has also the Trinity as its end. Therefore in Catechises and Pastoral work it is of utmost importance that relevant teaching with an appeal to modern man be given on the subject.

Maybe in people's mind the teaching about the Trinity is still a taboo. It is so difficult, and one may get disturbed thereby, that the best thing seems to be not to speak about it at all. In practice, although Christians declare their faith in Holy Trinity, they do not really believe very much in it in their practical daily life. It is also an undeniable fact that "though many declare their faith in the Trinity, they are actually 'monotheists' in their religious life....... perhaps out of fear that in the Catechism of the mind and the heart (as opposed to the printed Catechism) the fact that one believes in the Incarnation changes nothing, as if the Trinity does not exist" (Karl Rahner, "Il Dio Trino come fondamento originario e transcendente della storia della salvezza", in Mysterium Salutis 3, Brescia 1969, 404).

It is the conviction of the masses that "the mystery of the Trinity is a theological theorem without any implications whatsoever." (Bruno Forte, Trinita' come storia, Napoli 1933, 13).

These ideas led the philosopher Kant to declare, "From the doctrine of the Trinity we cannot take anything for our practical life, even if we believe we can understand it, because it goes beyond every idea of ours." (Immanuel Kant, Il Conflitto della facolta', tr..A Poggi, Genova 1953, 47). These comments from people of profound thinking should inspire us to give a more pastoral touch to our teaching about the Trinity with a moral, spiritual and even social implication.

Scholastic theology treats the subject of Trinity from the metaphysical aspect. So it is full of subtle distinctions of reason, while there is no link with everyday life. Principally, this theology is based on the interrelations between individual persons. Therefore, today we can glean out the essential from such a theology, avoid making emphasis on details, while adapting it to modern man.

Phenomenology and personalism could be of great help to present a more pastoral view of the Trinity with an appeal to out daily life. However, it is worth mentioning that a more pastoral view of the Trinity, will in no way disentangle this mystery. It will remain there. "In fact, the Trinity dogma is an absolute mystery that, even after its revelation, cannot be understood in its essence. This thesis is an unequivocal conclusion of the Teachings of Vatican Council I" (Karl Rahner, Linee Fondamentali della Dottrina del Magistero Ecclesiastico sulla Trinita', Brescia 1980, 440).

Therefore, while we speak with great humility on this subject, we should never pretend to solve this mystery. On the other hand we should not be overcome by exaggerated fear of heresy if we speak about this mystery. It should be said that 'a mystery' is not something we should decline to say anything about it. The unwarranted pretension of man is found only in trying to explain this mystery as if it were a mathematical theorem. In his writings St. Augustine declares, "Who can understand the omnipotent Trinity? But not speak about it, when in fact he speaks about it? Only very rarely we find a person who speaks about it and really knows about what he is talking" (St. Augustine, L- Confessions, Bk. 13, 11).

Therefore, while not denying metaphysics, which is the queen of all sciences, we know that the study of phenomenology and personalism may help us to speak about the Trinity. Phenomenology is the philosophical study which originates from phenomenona. Therefore, when we come to look for a phenomenon which is similar to Trinity, we conclude that the society of men has a semblance to it. Society is made up of persons having an intimate connection with each other. In fact, according to an English proverb, "No man is an island.". We all have interrelations and intercommunications. Today we are living in a phase of human history wherein the world is becoming a "global village". Communications by means of radio, television, video, as well as by means of internet, are bringing humans to a more intimate connection with each other. And by this, we may aptly explain what the scholars meant by "relations" by means of communications which man is experiencing today.

So much so that if we examine the Scholastic Theology we can see what St. Thomas says in order to explain that the Son is the Word. After explaining that the common word is a means to express an idea, he concludes that "the term Word, when used for God, should not be considered in its strict meaning, but in a personal way"( St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Teologica, I, Q 34 2).

Therefore, as very well defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, that the Son is the communicative word, by this he revealed to us the mystery of the Trinity. This is also a community who love each other in a perfect manner. "These words, being the fruit of faith of the early Church, show how for Christians to believe in God does not simply mean to think that God exists, but means much more than that. It means that you declare with your own lips and in your heart that God is Love. And this means that you recognize that God is not solitude: because in order to love there should be at least two persons, in a so magnificent relation that one is open to the other. Love God is a communion of Three: The one who Loves, the one who is Loved, and Love received and given: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Believing in Love God means believing in a God who is One in three person, a communion so perfect, that the Three are really One in their love. It is a communion interwoven in so very real relations, that they are verily Three in giving and receiving love, in getting together and are mutually accessible to love"( Bruno Forte, Introduzzjoni Qasira góall-Fidi, Malta 1997, 11).

So, the mystery of the Trinity throws light on our interrelations, which should be based on the real love when one person becomes accessible to another person. This orientation may throw light on how the relationship between married couples in their families should be. Apart from this, Trinitarian Love is an example of how human relations in a parish community should be. It should be united for the common good to reflect the one God in three Persons.

Hence, in both catechises and pastoral work emphasis should be made on how beneficial communication is, that even in God himself there is a bond of love. We are living in a period of time when the world is passing from a strong communication phase. Although such means of communication may serve for some people to approach evil, nonetheless in themselves they are beneficial. Consequently, the emphasis should be on their use for a good purpose, that is for learning and relaxation, as well as for the service to the Gospel to disseminate the message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then, in order to learn knowledge about the mystery of the Trinity, we can make use of the Bible which speaks in simple terms. The Bible speaks mainly on Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the centre of the story of humanity. He was involved in our story in order to redeem us, give us the example and teach us. And was precisely Christ who thought us about the Trinity. So much so that in catechises and pastoral work we can employ the same words and expressions of Christ when he spoke about the Father and the Holy Spirit.

In this way the Trinity will not remain a mystery far away from the ordinary lives of Christians. Rather, on the contrary, Christians will start beholding in the Trinity as an example and an ideal of how people should love one another, keep unity in the family and the parish, while at the same time not comprehending such a mystery with his limited mind. Although beholding it as something hazy, and they believe in it, nonetheless it will remain for them a mystery which they adore with all due reverence and faith.


Anonymous John said...

I much prefer these related essays on the nature of Real God.

1. www.dabase.net/dht7.htm
2. www.dabase.net/dht6.htm
3. www.dabase.net/spacetim.htm

The fact of the matter is that there are 3 fundamental aspects to manifest existence. The "creator", the sustainer, and the transformer or the destroyer--better known as death.
Christianity as a whole has always failed to take into account the last aspect.
Right human life both individual and collective only begins when the mystery of death has been truly understood.
These related references provide a unique understanding of the significance of death.

1. www.dabase.net/dualsens.htm
2. www.easydeathbook.com
3. www.dabase.net/2armP1.htm#ch2
4. www.dabase.net/proofch6.htm#idol

5:14 am  

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