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Person and Nature
I have spoken in previous years about the philosophical language of person and nature, of the answer to the questions 'who is it?' And 'what is it?' Of how that language helps us to avoid mistakes about the Blessed Trinity. Three persons - one God, three 'who is its?' - 'one what is it', The Father who is God, the Son who is God, the Holy Spirit who is God. Today I want to say a little bit about how we may experience the Holy Trinity in our prayers or better how the Holy Trinity is revealed in our prayer.
The God of the Old Testament should be enough; The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness. A God who will come with us, be with us even though we are headstrong and sinful. Islam and Judaism are content with this.
But love gives much more, love demands more. When The Son becomes man a process begins which makes God fully known to us and invites us to share in what God is. St Paul says: The Grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. To know God begins with the grace, the gift, the self giving of Jesus Christ the Lord. This gift of himself is the way in which he announces the love of the Father. This love is revealed in Jesus's whole existence above all in his passion and his death. But this would be to much for us to accept or share were it not for the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the divine gift that makes us part of the very depths of the divine mystery. Part of God's life.
We are called to proclaim the Gospel, that God loved the world so much that he gives his only Son so that all who believe may have eternal life. The eternal Father already gives everything he has and is, eternally in love to his eternal Son who from all eternity Gives the Father all he has received. And this gift, which is the fullness of divine love, given, received and returned is the Holy Spirit. God is perfect, complete, in need of nothing more - and yet out of love for us the Father surrenders the Son to the effects of sin, not just death but of feeling abandoned by the Father, because by doing this the Son, loving us to the end, reveals the greatness of the Father's love for us, the love at the heart of God the love to which our hearts are opened by the Holy Spirit.
How to notice the Trinity in our prayers
One useful way to meditate upon the great mystery of God's inner life which Jesus has revealed to us is to reflect upon the one to whom we are praying. Sometimes it's obvious. 'Our Father' is praying to God the Father, 'Come Holy Spirit' is addressed to God the Holy Spirit and 'Lord I am not worthy to receive you' is addressed to Jesus, God the Son. The Eucharistic prayer is prayed through the Son, to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. We can reflect on this question too when we consider our private prayers. To whom do I pray?
Yet If we pray to the Father we pray to the one Jesus reveals, and to whom Jesus enables us to pray by the gift of the Holy Spirit, if we pray to Jesus we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to recognise in him the Father he reveals, if we pray to the Holy Spirit we pray to the one who is sent by the Father and Son, making it possible for us to pray and to believe.
The mystery of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, revealed by Jesus, is the mystery of Divine Love,; Human love is difficult enough to comprehend, but if because it puzzles us and makes demands of us we decided not to have anything to do with love we would be sad inhuman people. How much more true us this of Divine love. God wants us to know him, love him and serve him, in this life and be happy in the next. For this reason he has revealed to us that to know and love the One God, is to know and love the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.