Friday, February 4, 2011

The Trinity and Sick Babies: Sharing the Fruits of Our Contemplation

I coordinate the youth confirmation program at my parish, and this week I've been immersed in interviewing the teens preparing to be confirmed this spring. Each of them was asked to fill out a questionnaire prior to their interview, as a springboard for discussion and to aid in an assessment of their readiness for the sacrament, both in terms of knowledge of Church teaching and spiritual preparation and openness. Some of the questions were simple and straightforward, while others were more open-ended and abstract.

There was one question in particular which was so open-ended and abstract that pretty much every teen said something along the lines of, "Yeah...I wasn't quite sure what you wanted for this one." (Honestly, I don't know what I wanted, either, since I didn't write the questions in the packet.) The question was this:

"Both the Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed talk about God as Trinity. How does the mystery of the Trinity speak to us of the ways God loves?"

[Insert Final Jeopardy music here.]

The main analogy that I've used to discuss the Trinity with the teens is that of a family, who are many in persons but united in being (as a family) and in purpose. Naturally, every analogy falls short, but the main thing I like about the family analogy is that we see the most authentic love in a family when the members sacrifice for one another and offer themselves as gift to the others -- this love of self-giving truly is the love of God, whose three persons continually pour themselves out to one another (and to us!) in the mystery of their united Godhead.

I suggested that in our families, we can perhaps most easily see this type of self-giving love when one of our family members are sick or suffering, and we are thus called out of ourselves to serve the one in need. And so, when one of my girls became feverish tonight, I think God was allowing me to stop contemplating his Trinitarian mysteries (for now), and start putting love into action. And so off I go to care for my little one in need!

Peace and all good,


  1. Oh my goodness Leslie! Such kindred spirits! Most analogies just latch on to anything that has 3 in them, but most of them miss the mark by a mile! The most important thing to understand about the Holy Trinity is not how a being can be 3-in-1, but the central point that is that God is family united in life-giving, self-donating love and the BEST analogy is the family. I often tell people, "stop searching so hard for weird analogies like the 3 states of water, the parts of a plant, etc...go with the only comparison the Church goes with when She compares the Holy Trinity to anything...go with the family!"

  2. Amen, Kim! And I had almost forgotten about the good ol' 3 states of water analogy - I think that's what they told me back when we were going through our own sacramental prep at O.L.D. - hahaha! :)