Saturday, May 21, 2016

Holy Trinity Sunday

Masaccio, Holy Trinity fresco, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

In the beginning the Word was; he lived in God and possessed in him his infinite happiness. The same Word was God, who is the Beginning… The Word is called Son; he was born of the Beginning who had always conceived him, giving of his substance always, yet always possessing it. And thus the glory of the Son was the Father’s glory, and the Father possessed all his glory in the Son….and the Love that unites them is one with them, their equal, excellent as the One and the Other; Three Persons and one Beloved among all three…. In that immense love proceeding from the two the Father spoke words of great affection to the Son….: “My Son, only your company contents me, and when something pleases me I love that thing in you; whoever resembled you most satisfies me most, and whoever is like you in nothing will find nothing in me. I am pleased with you alone, O life of my life! You are the light of my light, you are my wisdom, the image of my substance in whom I am well pleased. On creation. “My Son, I wish to give you a bride who will love you. Because of you she will deserve to share our company and eat at our table, the same bread I eat, that she may know the good I have in such a Son; and rejoice with me in your grace and fullness.” “I am very grateful, the Son answered; “I will show my brightness to the bride you give me, so that by it she may see how great my Father is, and how I have received my being from your being”….“Let it be done, then” said the Father, for your love has deserved it. And by these words the world was created, a palace for the bride made with great wisdom and divided into rooms, and above, the other below. The lower was furnished with infinite variety, while the higher was made beautiful with marvellous jewels, that the bride might know the Bridegroom she had. The orders of angels were placed in the higher, but humanity was given the lower place, for it was, in its being, a lesser thing. And though beings and places were divided in this way, yet all form one, who is called the bride; for love of the same Bridegroom made one bride of them. Those higher ones possessed the Bridegroom in gladness; the lower in hope, founded on the faith that he infused in them, telling them that one day he would exalt them, and that he would lift them up from their lowness so that no one could mock it anymore; for he would make himself wholly like them, and he would come to them and dwell with them; and God would be man and man would be God, and he would walk with them and eat and drink with them; and he himself would be with them continually until the consummation of this world…..For as the Father and the Son and he who proceeds from them live in one another, so it would be with the bride; for, taken wholly into God, she will live the life of God. By this bright hope which came to them from above, their wearying labours were lightened; but the drawn-out waiting and their growing desire to rejoice with their Bridegroom wore on them continually, So with prayers and sigh and suffering, with tears and moaning they asked night and day that now he would determine to grant them his company….. In these and other prayers a long time had passed; but in the later years their fervour swelled and grew when the aged Simeon burned with longing, and begged God that he might see this day. And so the Holy Spirit answering the good old man gave him his word that he would not see death until he saw Life descending from the heights, until he took God himself into his own hands and holding him in his arms, pressed him to himself. The Incarnation. Now that the time had come when it would be good to ransom the bride serving under the hard yoke of that law which Moses had given her, the Father, with tender love spoke… “Surely your bride’s delight would greatly increase were she to see you like her, in her own flesh.” “My will is yours,” the Son replied …..”This is fitting, Father, what you, the Most High, say, for in this way your goodness will be more evident, your great power will be seen and your justice and wisdom I will go and tell the world….I will go and seek my bride and take upon myself her weariness and labours in which she suffers so; and that she may have life, I will die for her, and lifting her out of that deep I will restore her to you”. Then he called the archangel Gabriel and sent him to the virgin Mary, at whose consent the mystery was wrought....and the Word lived incarnate in the womb of Mary. And he who had only a Father now had a Mother too, but she was not like others who conceived by man. From her own flesh he received his flesh, so he is called Son of God and of man. When the time had come for him to be born, he went forth like the bridegroom from his bridal chamber, embracing his bride, holding her in his arms, whom the gracious Mother laid in a manger among the animals that were there at that time. Men sang songs and angels melodies….but God there in the manger cried and moaned; and these tears were jewels the bride brought to the wedding. The Mother gazed in sheer wonder on such an exchange: in God, man’s weeping, and in man, gladness, to the one and the other things usually so strange. St John of the Cross, Romances on the Blessed Trinity.