Have you ever wondered about the Holy Trinity? Have you ever noticed it was Trinity Sunday and hoped to learn more? You may know it is a mystery. Perhaps you have thought that there must be a way to get to know these three Persons of the Trinity.
It’s a beautiful thing to set out to pray by first acknowledging the presence of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each is a part of our lives, at the heart of our existence as God’s adopted sons and daughters. Give it a try, and you might just feel a little more comfortable reading about some of the great mystic saints and other holy ones of Christianity.
A number of years ago, one friend wrote a foreword to another’s book. Popular Catholic radio show host and author Jennifer Fulwiler said Gary Jansen, the author of a number of practical books on prayer, is a “mystic.” I gave this particular book, “Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross” (Loyola Press, $9.95), to a few people, and at least one commented: “You said the guy who wrote that book is a friend of yours. But he’s a mystic!”
You can almost hear the exotic music in the background, can’t you? We think of mysticism as something foreign to our experiences. But it needn’t be. It really shouldn’t be.
Intimate union with Christ
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that:
“Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called ‘mystical’ because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments — ‘the holy mysteries’ — and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all” (No. 2014).
That’s pretty clear. We’re all called to a deeper union with God. Really, when you think about it, this is the journey of our lives. And so, with each passing year, the liturgical seasons we celebrate should be richer. What that looks like will be different for each of us, but it’s amazing to me, when you are really praying and have some people in your life doing the same, you recognize God’s work more and more in one another and in the world. You see differently. You love differently. The beatitudes become the background music to your lives. It can be contagious. Jesus can truly radiate through you. And you’ll find the Holy Spirit giving you words that people need to hear. This is all possible because you know you are a beloved son or daughter of our heavenly Father, the creator of the world. And you know this miracle is, regardless of what tough servings of suffering you’ve been dealt in life. This is a little bit of what life in the Trinity looks like.
St. Maria Faustina Kowalska
A surefire way to get serious about this path is to invite the saints into your life. One of those saints was a contemporary to most of us. Pope St. John Paul II made it a point to introduce St. Maria Faustina Kowalska to the world. Hers was surely a mystical union with God, which resulted in the Divine Mercy devotion that has landed somewhat at the heart of the Church. So many pray for divine mercy on us and on the whole world. When we look and see the anger and misery all around us, we should see these as pleas to pray so we more and more can be instruments of God’s merciful love in the world.
In my book, “A Year with the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living” (St. Benedict Press, $44.95), I include this from Sister Faustina’s diary:
“On one occasion, God’s presence pervaded my whole being, and my mind was mysteriously enlightened in respect to His Essence. He allowed me to understand His interior life. In spirit, I saw the Three Divine Persons, but Their Essence was One. He is One, and One only, but in Three Persons; none of Them is either greater or smaller; there is no difference in either beauty or sanctity, for They are One. They are absolutely One. His Love transported me into this knowledge and united me with Himself. When I was united to One, I was equally united with the Second and to the Third in such a way that when we are united with One, by that very fact, we are equally united to the two Persons in the same way as with the One. Their will is One, one God, though in Three Persons. When One of the Three Persons communicates with a soul, by the power of that one will, it finds itself united with the Three Persons and is inundated in the happiness flowing from the Most Holy Trinity, the same happiness that nourishes the saints. This same happiness that streams from the Most Holy Trinity makes all creation happy; from it springs that life which vivifies and bestows all life which takes its beginning from Him” (“Diary of Sister Faustina, paragraph 911).
That may be very different from your prayer. That’s OK! But the depths she plunged are an invitation to give God time and see what he wants to show you, reveal about himself and his presence in your life and in the world.
To stay with Faustina for a moment: There is so much about Divine Mercy with which she can help us, and it’s something that so many need. Here’s the prayer John Paul II prayed on our behalf at Faustina’s canonization Mass in 2000:
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of divine mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you!
May it be so! Make the Holy Trinity, Mary, and the communion of saints truly a part of your life.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review, a regular columnist in Our Sunday Visitor and author of “A Year with the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living.”