The Rev'd Carlos de la Torre
Christ Church, New Haven, Conn.
May 27, 2018
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today, the Church Catholic celebrates through its prayer, worship, and praise the nature of God. The divine Trinity of persons is lifted up, in a special way creating for us a heighten awareness of God’s full reality. Today, above all days, we celebrate the fullness of God.
And like all Feasts of the Church, this Feast calls us to focus our attention on a divine truth that’s always been with us and will always be true.
Just as God shares in our humanity in the Incarnation we celebrate on Christmas Day, and just as God is raised from dead forever on Easter, today, we remember God, the Most Holy Trinity, this day and always.
Like many of the Church’s Feasts, this day invites us to center ourselves in the divine mystery of God. Focusing us to dwell in God’s nature, God’s reality, first and foremost through our worship experience in this place.
After all, all the Feasts of the Church invite us to praise God for his mighty works and at the same to find ourselves in the midst of what we’ve come to celebrate. In other words, this Feast, this day, Trinity Sunday, is as much about God as it is about us.
We come to understand the Trinity most fully, and most intimately, primarily through our worship and praise of God through prayer, litanies, and glorious hymns and anthems. Our grasping of the Most Holy Trinity is attained through our acts of devotion. Through art and hymns, the Church comes closer to grasp God’s divine nature.
If you had the chance to read this week’s Epistle, you received a quick refresher on some of the images and explanations for the Trinity. Fr Stephen pointed us to one image in particular, Andrei Rublev’s depiction of the Trinity.
Borrowing imagery and symbolism from the Book of Genesis, Rublev writes for us a divine image of the three persons of Trinity seating around a table. All three persons are distinct, and at the same time seem drawn to each other in a deep and intimate way. The persons of the Trinity, as Bishop Kallistos Ware puts it, are in divine Union with each other. And this divine union we see a glimpse of our own destiny, we too shall come to divine Union with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as they are in Union with each other we shall be in Union with God.
Rublev’s depiction of the Trinity, like any depiction, manages to capture the truth of this wonderful mystery without being able to encompass all of it.
And this is a good thing. After all, there is no human image, theology, or summa that is able to capture the full nature of God. Rather, all of it, all the art and theology, affirms for us what God has already revealed to us. Pointing us to the fullness of God which we will all encounter on the last day.
Our art, our theology, and our prayers acts as our yes to God. It is our affirmation that We believe in one God. As if we were the Blessed Mother, Mary most holy, when we speak of the Most Holy Trinity, when we utter the words “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are saying “yes” to God and proclaiming who God is, who God has always been, and who God will always be.
At Mass, our opening acclamation: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, captures at least two powerful points. It affirms God’s divine nature and calls us back to our Baptism. You and I, and all the baptized, and the soon to be baptized, are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We are are baptized in the name of God, bringing us one step closer to Union with God. Not in the form of a great singularity or as a fusion with God but as the Trinity itself, we enter into utter intimate harmony with God.
If you’re anything like me, you have an interest in religious art. Guessing that you’re here, where we’re surrounded by religious art, I think it’s a safe bet to make that you enjoy religious art, even if just a bit. One of the most powerful pieces of relgious art of 19th century is arguably Jean-François Millet’s renowned painting “The Angelus.”
If you’re not familiar with this painting, I commend that you search for images of “The Angelus.” You will find thousands of images online, as well as thousands of websites to purchase printed copies. It’s really that popular.
The painting depicts two farmers bowing in a field over a basket of potatoes to say a prayer, the Angelus, that together with the ringing of the bell from the church on the horizon marks the end of a day's work.
“The Angelus” both the painting and the prayer itself, capture for us God’s divine action in the Incarnation and in the faithfulness of the Blessed Mother.
If I were to follow in the vein of the French artist, and attempt to capture the reality of the Most Holy Trinity, well… I would paint a picture of all of you.
I would paint a picture of you from the altar looking towards the tabernacle as we offer to God our sacrifices and gifts of bread and wine. I would paint the reflection I see of you every time I lift chalice at mass. I would paint our participation in the Trinity through our prayer and worship of God. I would paint Teddy's Baptism, in which he is baptized in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… I would paint our choir singing of Te Deum as clouds of incense fill this sacred space.
And yet my depiction, like your own depictions of the Most Holy Trinity, only point us to the true and full nature of God. A reality we might not be able to fully understand or comprehend but one that we are able to adore and worship. A reality that makes us sing:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts:
Heaven and earth are full of thy Glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.