Madeleines are the most famous pastries in literature. One of these small French shell-shaped sponge cake, soaked in tea, began the long journey in memory that is Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time. You have what we now call a Proustian moment when an object or incident triggers a flood of long dormant memories of a long lost life stage.
I had one last week at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, just outside of Wichita. I accompanied the students of St. Joseph’s Catholic School on their annual school trip. As I walked into the parking lot and saw it full of 15 buses and even more cars, I worried that all the students in Kansas (maybe even Oklahoma) were there, but the park could afford it. to divide large groups into manageable sizes so that everyone has a chance to feed the giraffes or pet the kangaroos.
Nicholas, a first grader, took my hand as we left. I haven’t given it much thought. Perhaps this is how he would have passed through such a place with his parents. Sometimes another student would grab my free hand because these are definitely the monkey-see-monkey-do years, but only Nicholas persisted.
We were outside a lynx enclosure when I felt Nicolas press lightly on the top of my hand. Looking down I saw that he was using his index finger to trace the really quite prominent veins on my hand. When he finished, I saw him raise his own little hand for inspection and comparison. Mine was red, full of folds and veins. His was white and smooth.
God is simply a triad of love: a loving outing, a loving return and therefore, always more, love itself.
Nicolas didn’t say anything. His moment of discovering differences was over. His attention shifted to the lynx lying in front of us, as I was carried back more than half a century to my own childhood examination at the hands of my father. Like mine now, they were red, crumpled, and veined. They were also callused and often had small bruises from daily grocery shopping. I remember looking forward to the day when I was as tall as my father, as strong as my father, but I didn’t want to inherit his damaged hands, legs or arms.
When an aged and dethroned King Lear is mistreated by a servant, the Earl of Kent comes to his aid by shouting “I’ll teach you the differences.” It is the object of all learning, especially in the first years of life: how one thing differs from another, a person from another, a place and a time from other places and times.
Would it be correct to say that we spend the first half of our life learning the differences and the second half seeing the similarities? No, it’s not that neat. The two are rarely separated. In fact, in that little moment, in front of the lynx, the touch of Nicholas’ finger on my veins taught him something about what it means to be old. It also reminded me of what it means to be a child. Serving as a father to his son, I became the son again, studying my father. Open difference and closed difference. Nicholas saw how far I was from him in life, and suddenly I found myself in my own childhood.
Today we explicitly revere and worship the mystery at the heart of our faith, our very understanding of reality.
It is possible to find Trinitarian models in life: one reality opens onto another, returns to the first, to become a new third reality. The philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel made of all human history a chain of such cut-out dolls with his triad thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
Of course, whenever we come across something deeply meaningful to ourselves, the question always remains: have we discovered this meaning or have we imposed it? Or is it always a bit of both in all our ways of learning – one more triad?
Yes, the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity corresponds to a fundamental human experience: a departure, a return and the new reality produced by this incessant process. But the church has always insisted that the mystery of the Triune God is not something we have come to through human experience or human reasoning.
Quite the contrary: it is the very cornerstone of revelation, what God himself has revealed to us. Perhaps this is why it is the first doctrine to be rejected by so many who would like to reduce the meaning of faith from that of divine revelation, which must be accepted as such, to personal, spiritual ruminations, of which we are always free. reformulate.
Far from being still, God is a fountain of love.
Yes, life weaves patterns of triads, but the human mind is always in search of the source of all unity, which is why, left to itself, the human mind would never come to understand God as a Trinity. The spirit, in all areas of human endeavor, always seeks to unify, to bring a myriad of diversity into a complete act of understanding.
The Trinity is at the center of historical and biblical revelation. The resurrection forced the early Christians to recognize Jesus as God. Yet Jesus spoke to us of two other people in God, the Father, who had sent him into the world, and the Spirit, in whom he acted and whom he promised to give to us. Jesus had a dialogue with his Father. The early Church therefore had to ask herself: “What does dialogue mean to God?” What does it mean for God to send God and promise to send God again? “
There is tension in everything we humans know. Reason insists that God must be one because the spirit, whether religious or scientific, seeks to unify the disparate in an act of understanding. Experience tells us that reality is constantly dividing to resolve into greater unity. Reason tells us that God must be unchanging and unchanging. Faith tells us that the Father comes out of himself in the Son and the Son returns to the Father, bringing forth the Spirit in the process. Far from being still, God is a fountain of love.
There is also a great irony in the way we humans get to know. The younger ones left, leaving so much life behind, to find themselves where they started, everything having changed.
Today we explicitly revere and worship the mystery at the heart of our faith, our very understanding of reality. The doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity tells us that God comes out of oneself, comes back into oneself and, in doing so, is the triad self, which we call Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“God is love”, Saint John tells us (1 Jn 4,8), not only because God commands us to love, not only because God never ceases to love us. God is love because inside himself God is simply a triad of love: a loving outing, a loving return and therefore, always more, love itself.