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Posted by on Mar 14, 2009

A Weekend With the Holy Trinity

A Weekend With the Holy Trinity

shackcoversm

There are all kinds of stories of growing up Catholic but very few that focus on that core of the culture that is the Sign of the Cross. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” This Trinitarian invocation begins and ends almost every event, every ritual, every meal – whether it is a blessing pronounced by the Pope or the gesture we learn from our parents before we can talk.

For all of Catholicism’s lengthy tradition, its mantras and catchphrases, Trinity Sunday is the only Sunday that fails to attempt in words what is incomprehensible. The priest who has a sermon for each Sunday looks into his bag or online list of stock themes, works hard on the presentation, and raises the white flag of surrender as he steps into the pulpit. The standard disclaimer is “We really cannot understand the Trinity. It is a matter of faith.” After confusing those who are awake in the congregation with St. Patrick’s shamrock “three in one” or various other analogies, he repeats the opening disclaimer and makes a hasty retreat to the Nicene Creed, where we sleepwalk our way through beautiful Trinitarian poetry that we ignore out of repetition. “…Light from light, True God from True God, Begotten not made, One in Being with the Father…”

For those of us who graduated from Catholic schools and had a good review of the Trinitarian controversies of the first three centuries and the further travails of this teaching in Church history, the sense of incomprehensibility grows.

William Paul Young’s allegory, The Shack, presents a weekend encounter with the Holy Trinity by a deeply wounded and grieving father. It is a mystical healing encounter that shows us that our concept of God has more to do with us than with the Divine. As a work of fiction it is easier for us to comprehend than the abstractions of theology. The contemporary setting and the issue of why the innocent are slaughtered make this central Mystery more accessible to us than the writings of the mystics who lived in different times and cultures.

I encourage you to read the book. Once you do, that automatic gesture – the Sign of the Cross will be the gift that it is – an entry point to the very life of God.

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Posted by on Dec 24, 2008

The Star: Signs in the Heavens

The Star: Signs in the Heavens

christmas-eve-goa

Lackey #1:  Your Grace the neo-pagans are at the door.

His Grace:  Very Well. Let them in and call my theologians.

Lackey #1 to Visitors:  Please be seated, the palace theologians will be with you shortly. Would anyone like coffee or mineral water?

Visitor #1:  We appreciate the welcome but we were hoping to speak with his Grace. We have come a long way with a special message for his Lordship.

Lackey #1:  I’m sorry, it won’t be possible. Philosophers, sages, luminaries, and other thinking persons have to be interviewed by the court theologians. I’m afraid it is protocol.

Visitor #2:  We emailed our request for an audience some time ago and explained that we have a message based on Signs in the Heavens.

Lackey #1:  I’m sorry but we only receive messages, electronic or otherwise, from persons who are properly credentialed. It all started after that unfortunate affair with John the Terrorist and his threats against the government.

Visitor #3:  We thought that he was some sort of leader of revivals – a fringe sort of religious figure with some sort of discredited theology of liberation. We didn’t know he was a terrorist.

Lackey #1:  Most people don’t know that and we would prefer to keep it that way – but some of his followers confessed after some aggressive interrogation.

Visitor #1:  We thought that torture was outlawed here in the Commonwealth.

Lackey #1:  It is, but let’s just say that our less squeamish allies can be of great assistance. Besides, most of our citizens are in favor of  “necessary means” according to the polls if it will produce valuable information.

Visitor #2:  You mean they would give up their constitutional rights?

Lackey #1:  Not their own rights, mind you – just those of people opposed to his Grace. Well, here are the members of the Government’s Panel of Divinity. Please rise.

Theologian #1:  Welcome Ladies of the New Age or should I say Priestesses of the Orient?

Visitor #1:  Actually, we are astronomers and astrologers – scientists and visionaries.

Theologian #2:  We are interested in speaking with you. We are specially licensed to deal with the occult and other forms of demon worship.

Visitor #2:  We are not shamans or priestesses of the Crystal.

Visitor #3:  We study the stars and are accredited to the Global Space Research Council.

Theologian #3:  As unbelieving secularists how can you claim to be visionaries?

Visitor #1:  We are as perplexed as anyone else. The patterns of planetary alignments are most unusual. The probability that this is mere chance is very, very low.

Theologian #1:  Wouldn’t you say that it is just random chance in your Godless scheme of things? Besides, how would you know to come here? – and for what?

Visitor #2:  What indeed! The Star Regulus – the King Star –  in conjunction with Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces – the House of Judah – is a very unusual occurrence.

Theologian #2:  Reading the stars. Don’t you mean reading into the stars? Astrology was discredited centuries ago and now you want to revive it in your so called Age of Aquarius? You must be the laughingstock of your fellow scientists!

Visitor #3:  Empirical science is one mode of knowing certain things, including the mechanics of the stars, but it does not tell you what it means.

Theologian #3:  It is very clear from the Writings what it means. God made Creation whole out of nothing – everything in six days.

Visitor #1:  And the fossils?

Theologian #1:  A simple test of faith. God made the fossils to fool unbelievers like you.

Visitor #2:  We came here to honor the birth of a heavenly ruler. Has a child been born here?

Theologian #1:  What Child? That’s absurd. We are a republic founded by God fearing men. How could a child be the Ruler?

Visitor #3:  It has become more common for the sons of your rulers to be elected. But perhaps we are wrong.

Theologian #2:  That seems to be the case. The Child was born a long time ago and rules in Everlasting Glory. Have you not heard the Good News?

Visitor #1:  With all due respect, it hasn’t been such good news.

Theologian #3:  What the hell!

Visitor #2:  Yes, I am afraid that that has been the case.

Theologian #1:  Did you come here to insult us or did your stars send a message with you.

Visitor #3:  We will have to look elsewhere. She is not here.

Theologian #2:  You’re going to look a long time. He came as a man.

Visitor #1:  I thought it is written “He became one of us.”

Theologian #3:  The correct wording is “He became man.”

Theologian #2:  Perhaps you could let us know when you find her. We would be most interested in seeing who she is.

Visitor #2:  Yes, perhaps we should be on our way. We are free to leave aren’t we?

Theologian #1:  It’s a free country isn’t it?

Visitor #3:  Peace Be With You

Lackey #1:  Ladies – this way please.

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