All posts tagged: Trinity

Technology and the Mystical After Auschwitz

Introduction Technology has accompanied the evolution of human beings from time out of mind. The use of simple instruments to attain food or construct shelter can be considered as elementary forms of technology. Relatively more complex forms, such as a lifter or a shadoof, reflect the more articulate awareness of the importance of technology in the accomplishment of simple tasks. Technology has become ever more complex throughout the centuries, though the growth of complexity was not very obvious before the modern technological revolution in the 18th century. However, not only military equipment was developed nearly constantly before that time, not only construction technologies evolved in the entire known history of civilization, but, most importantly, a complicated technical knowledge was present even at the beginning of the human epoch. Such technology was probably kept as knowledge reserved for the few for a long time. This is clearly shown by the technological contrast we find between the popular work on machines written about by Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century CE on the one hand, and …

Good Friday: Creation Always Exists in Darkness

The predominant Christological concept governing William Congdon’s 1960 painting “Crucifix no. 2” is that of kenosis. The painting conveys a sense of abject abandonment, leaving no doubt that Christ’s self-sacrificial act of obedience, “to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8), is indeed an ultimate form of self-emptying, and especially so, not in spite of, because of his being the God-Man. Beyond this immediate kenotic impression conveyed by the work, the Christological insights of Hans Urs von Balthasar can flesh out further the significance of this particular representation of Christ. How we understand Christ’s relationship to his mission and the significance of this relationship in Congdon’s image will be our focus. Then we will consider what it means to involve ourselves in the viewing of Christ’s mission–as Congdon’s representation does—especially in light of the fact that Christ is the ultimate form of revelation, the image that in fact structures all revelation. We shall ultimately see that theological reflection and artistic representation inform and draw out the deepest meanings of one another so …

Fatherhood and the Eucharist

Father’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of fatherhood. Rather than becoming enmeshed in secular images of fatherhood, our notion of fatherhood as Christians should be derived from God the Father. Likewise, the archetype of gift within the child-father relationship is revealed in the Eucharistic sacrifice. On this holiday, we give cards, special meals, our time, a new toolbox, or other gifts to show gratitude and love. Like most holidays, Father’s Day can easily be overcome by consumerism and a superficial image of fatherhood. Consumerism and superficiality can morph the idea of gift into something entirely disconnected from the I-thou relationship. A gift is intimately connected to the I-thou relationship because a gift is something both offered and received by persons. It becomes the expression of the gratuitous love that one has for one’s father. I would like to suggest that our concept of gift can be seen anew in light of the Eucharist. Because gift implies offering, we can turn to Christ’s sacrificial self-offering on the Cross as the perfect gift. …

Trinity Sunday: A Feast Celebrating Liturgy

This weekend in the United States, we celebrate Trinity Sunday.  For the most part, our parishes will be inundated with a series of beige homilies, which celebrate not so much the mystery of the Triune God but the mathematical puzzle of 3 and 1. Those sermons that dare to preach on the Trinity itself will often apologize for the strangeness of the doctrine. The English syntax of the Collect Prayer for this particular feast embodies the challenges that any preacher faces in preaching this weekend: God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.[1] On one level, the complexity of preaching on this feast day pertains to its …

The Liturgy: Work of the Holy Trinity

It is well known that the reforms of the liturgy associated with Vatican II had as their goal greater participation on the part of all. Many things changed in the external celebration of the rites designed to facilitate this, and those changes have borne abundant fruit. But the renewal of the liturgy also wished to provide a fresh understanding of the meaning of the rites, a deeper theological grasp of what the words and the signs mean. And ultimately of what God does, what God accomplishes when the sacred liturgy is celebrated. Deepening this theological grasp is of immediate pastoral relevance, for it means greater interior and conscious participation in the rites themselves. This theological renewal is a work that we can take up anew, a question that continually needs our attention. This is the approach that The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes, and here I would like to show how useful some of its formulations are for a deepened understanding of the liturgy. After ten brief paragraphs that deal with preliminaries (CCC §§1066-1075), …

Improving Catholic Homilies, Part 2: Less Moralism, More Gospel

In the first installment of this series, I addressed one problem with Catholic homilies: the tendency to focus on too many points, rather than a single teaching or idea woven throughout the homily. The second common problem with bad Catholic homilies is this: far too many preachers neglect the Christian Gospel, true evangelization, and instead merely peddle sentimental moralism. Too often Catholic homilies are bad because they do not always work from and toward the amazingly Great News of the Christian Gospel. The center and key of all reality is that God the Father has primordially loved every human being from all eternity and is at work reconciling each of us and our entire sinful world to himself in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now that is great news! And that Gospel message is the only and totally sufficient basis, orientation, and motivation from which all of Christian faith and life must be believed and lived. There is no other foundation, no other reason, no other energy than this Good News …

Trinitarian Matters

After the joy of the Easter season, it may feel like a letdown to celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The proclamation that Christ has risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, seems more important than announcing the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. The descent of the Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost, who go forth to breathe Jesus’ own spirit over creation, seems more vivifying than letting the world know that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Yet, as the Church teaches, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §261). How can something seemingly so abstract be so central to Christian faith? The readings for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity open us up to the centrality of the Trinity in Christian life. In Proverbs, Christians see reference to the Word’s participation in the very act of creation. The wisdom of the Word was “beside him as …

Living as a Child of God

While we are vaguely aware that each of us is a “child of God,” we might reflect on what it means for us to be specifically a “child of God. As Jesus said, “I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become as little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). He himself was very aware of being the Son of God, as we see in his “Our Father” and in all sorts of ways in John’s Gospel, but what does being a child mean for us who have struggled so long to become adults? Each of us begins existence in the smallest of ways, the joining of cells from our parents which implanted themselves in the womb of our mothers and started to grow. Our life in the womb seemed uneventful, to say the least, and we might say that we suffered from a sort of sensory deprivation if it were not that we were completely unaware of any other way to live and were indeed not equipped to deal …