Trinity as Evolutionary Principle

Guest writer and CAC teacher Cynthia Bourgeault continues exploring Trinity and the Law of Three.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting—it has been found difficult and left untried.” —G. K. Chesterton

While Richard and I speak in different ways about the Trinity, and no doubt to slightly different audiences, I think we share a common underlying vision. The key to reawakening the power of this primordial Christian symbol, we both believe, lies in shifting the Trinity away from an abstract theological speculation on the inner life of God and re-imagining it as a pattern in the very fabric of reality—a template that is coded into all of creation.

Post-Einsteinian physics demonstrates that life is not static, but dynamic. As our theological paradigm shifts away from a static universe to a universe in perpetual motion, the whole Trinitarian frame shifts with it. Like a key clicking into place, the Trinity reveals itself as a metaphysical code that unlocks theology and science and illustrates a fresh understanding of a creative and contemplative engagement in the world.Read More »

Learning love from the Holy Spirit

Jesus says in Gospel reading (John 14:21-26) that love is the key to union with God. Loving him, he says, involves cherishing him and embracing him so closely that we also cherish his ways and desire to imitate him. We embrace his teachings, his ways of handling problems, his ready and willing forgiveness, his servanthood, and his Holy Spirit.

Hmmm, can we really be that loving? Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything we need to know so that we really can love like him!

In the reading (Acts 14:5-18), Paul and Barnabas heal a lame man with Jesus. It’s their love for Jesus and their fellowship with the Holy Spirit that stirred up their compassion for the crippled man and enabled them to do the miraculous. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they felt the calling to reach out to him and the courage to shout out loudly, in public, “Stand up!” before they had any evidence that their prayers would work.

Whenever we help others, we are partnering with the Holy Spirit. It is this Person of the Trinity who enables us to go beyond our human abilities so that we actually live in the realm of Christ’s abilities.

Notice how Paul relied on this partnership: He looked “intently” at the man. Why? Read More »

Trusting in the Holy Spirit’s plan

Gospel reading (Acts 11:1-18) describes an important turning point for the early Church. Since Christianity was the fulfilment of Judaism, it seemed logical to the first Christians that Jewish laws should be obeyed. To eat with Gentiles was a sin, according to Jewish law, because they dined on food that was forbidden in the Torah.

The scene opens with Peter in trouble for breaking this law. He had evangelized Gentiles without first converting them to Judaism. The resulting uproar sent him to Jerusalem to defend his actions. The council’s disapproval created a major obstacle, not only to Peter’s ministry, but to the whole idea of spreading Christianity beyond Jewish boundaries.

Peter went through Jesus to reach the hearts of the council members and open them to God’s plan. The key that unlocked the solution was their trust in the Holy Spirit’s power to give direction and guidance through supernatural gifts such as Peter’s vision.

Similarly today, when we face the trials of being misjudged and dealing with the disapproval of fellow Christians, we can get through it with success by trusting Jesus and relying on the gifts of his Holy Spirit.

If people have shut a door on something that God wants you to do, Jesus wants to lead you to an opportunity elsewhere where you can proceed. If he’s given you a passion for which there seems to be no outlet, look for an outlet that you hadn’t planned.Read More »

For the glory of God

On the Gospel reading (1 Cor 10:31–11:1) gives us a great motto that we should post on our bedroom mirrors so that it’s the first thing we see as our sleepy eyes awaken each morning: “Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”

Everything! Brush your teeth for the glory of God. Kiss your family “Good morning!” for the glory of God. Go to Mass for the glory of God (in other words, we don’t go to church just for what we can get out of it). Do your work for the glory of God. Drive politely for the glory of God. Shop and eat and greet others for the glory of God. Say yes to the needs of the Church for the glory of God. And receive all that he wants to give you (the compliments, the money you earn, the answered prayers, the good times and rewards) all for the glory of God.

This should be part of our daily prayers every morning: “Holy Spirit, help me to do everything today for the glory of God. Amen!”

By making it a daily habit to start the day this way, the glory of God becomes integrated into our character. When we remember to see our activities through the lens of “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God”, we become stronger in avoiding all kinds of sins. It sanctifies each moment of every day.

Often, we see religious activities as separate from our normal activities. We take “time out” from our schedules to go to church. We stop what we’re doing when we want to pray. We think that only Clergy and Religious can be religious all of the time and that a layperson who is like that is a “fanatic”. But why?Read More »

Trusting in the Father’s nearness

The Father is with you always. Do you believe that? Really? If so, then why do you sometimes feel lonely? Or worried? Or abandoned?

Jesus asks (John 16:29-33): “Do you really believe?” We say we do, but our actions reveal the truth. Sometimes we act as if God has abandoned us. We take matters into our own hands as if God doesn’t care or doesn’t have the power or desire to help.

Jesus knew that his closest friends would abandon him at the worst time of his life, when he’d feel most vulnerable. Yet, he gained strength from knowing that his Father would be there. Even when he cried out from the cross, “Father! Why have you abandoned me!” he knew in his wounded heart that the Father only felt distant because he was far from the sins that Jesus now bore, but the Father was still united to the Son in divine love.

Surely the Father could have helped Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by speaking to the disciples in their prayer time, telling them to support Jesus in his time of need. Maybe he did and their fears and shock or tiredness drowned out the message.

We all have friends and family who should have helped us during a difficult situation but didn’t. How does that make us feel? That’s the way Jesus felt, too, except — Jesus trusted in his Father’s nearness.Read More »

Only God’s love can propel our pain to being purposeful

If God loves us, there should be no suffering and afflictions. This may sound right, but I’m afraid that this is also a wrong conclusion to bad and incorrect theology.

It is so commonplace to find atheists coming up with this argument against the existence of God – that if he exists, and if he is indeed a God of love and goodness, then the very existence of turmoil and suffering and anxiety in life proves that God does not exist. This is the same trite argument over and over again in the vitriol that goes on in comments made by angry atheists on the Internet whenever someone makes a reference to God’s love or providence in life.

I guess to be fair, it is a logical conclusion to arrive at if one’s notion of God is one whose raison d’etre is diametrically opposed to sin, suffering, pain and fear. God’s very omnipotence then should also render him being capable of obliterating all traces of things that he detests. For these pundits, omnipotence equals Omni control. I do understand this kind of logic, but it is a flawed logic.Read More »

One Suffering

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

They will gaze on the one they have pierced. –Zachariah 12:10a, quoted in John 19:37

Let me use our classic Christian logo, the cross, to illustrate what Jung is trying to say about the transformative power of images. The cross is a deeply disturbing image of a naked bleeding man, with arms nailed open, dying on a crossbeam–a most unlikely logo for anything. It has probably been cheapened, and the shock taken away, by reason of too much familiarity. But perhaps this is because we do not gaze long enough or deep enough. Jung says the cross might be the most significant image in Western civilization. The very fact that we keep repainting and sculpting this now ubiquitous image tells us that the soul must need to see it. Those who never gaze upon the cross, allowing it to work its metamorphosis, miss out on a huge healing secret, a divine disclosure that most humans would never dare to imagine on their own.

One of my favorite lines from Jung is revealing here. He says, “The whole world is God’s suffering.” [1] This is not poetry but precisely the fruit of mystical seeing, or gazing until a deeper message comes through. Mystics see things in wholes. They connect smaller anecdotes and images to see bigger patterns. Jung saw every act of human suffering as a participation in what Christians would call the eternal crucifixion of the One Christ. There is only one suffering, as it were, and we are all participants in it. [2]

When the single image morphs into a universal image, you get its archetypal significance, and as the prophet Zechariah says, “You will weep for him as you would weep for your only child, you will mourn for him as if he is every child” (Zechariah 12:10b). That is how images can transform us, but only if we can move beyond the mere literal, specific image to the universal and always true image. Fundamentalists find this very hard to do; mystics and great poets seem to be able to do nothing else. Mystics wait for experiential knowledge of the Divine and are not satisfied with mere memorized answers.Read More »