May 31, 2010

The Trinity - the enchanting harmony of divine love

How can we describe the kind of contemplation devotion to the Trinity opens to us? One of the Fathers - if someone knows who it is, I cannot find my research on this observation but I think psuedo-Dionysius - contemplates an analogy of the Trinity with a musical chord – a perfect triad of notes from whose creative resonance all things flow. Like a musical chord which penetrates the depths of the heart, each Person freely acts with in the one freedom in the perfect harmony of one triune love - one note does not absorb the others nor do the parts of the chord cancel each other out. Contemplating the Trinity is like listing to music – in his Life of Moses, Gregory of Nyssa calls this the mysterious siren sound that echoed in the contemplation of the People of Israel encamped at Mt. Sinai. (See Exodus: 19:19.)

At this point, we might take our cue from Gregory of Nyssa who describes a resonance of heart in this mystery of the One and Three. Speaking to those about to be baptized, he explains his experience of God as his Divine Companion, “I have not even begun to think of unity when Trinity bathes me in its splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me. (Oratio 40.41 – as cited in Catechism of the Catholic Church #256)

In musical terms, we might describe his observation as follows: one cannot attend to any one of the triad notes without being taken up into their unity, and at the same time, one cannot attend to the captivating resonance of the triad without being overwhelm by the distinct quality of each note. The Father’s love for each of us revealed in Christ Jesus and communicated to us in the Holy Spirit is symphonic. It implies a range of harmonies that are beyond our power to hear – the very inner life of God, and yet it is our dignity to participate in by grace.

To participate in the music of God – this is to make of our life the praise of his glory. In the enjoyment of this perfect song of love, the heart contemplating it at once feels lost in a mystery that seems to completely absorb it -- and curiously at the same time, feels at home, more distinctly itself than it has ever been before. Something like the Unity of nature and distinction of Persons in the mystery of the Trinity becomes the rhythm of its own heart in relation to God, and then curiously in relation to all those entrusted to it. Elisabeth of the Trinity explains throughout her writings that this is the great canticle we will sing without cease at the end of time, and that we begin to sing it even now in faith- its harmonies taking up the whole of our life and establishing the lyre of our hearts in the divine melody flowing from the very Heart of God.