July 19, 2019

The Blessed Trinity

On the feast of the Holy Trinity, we should pause to find out if all our energies and efforts are directed towards the only thing that really matters for us: ETERNAL LIFE, life in God, life in the Holy Trinity.

St. Paul spells out in his Letter to the Romans (5:1-5) the steps of this process of being grafted into the life of the Holy Trinity.

  1. …we have been justified by faith. We are sinners, prone to mistakes and poor judgments. We are justified by faith in Christ who died and rose for our justification.
  2. Through Christ we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand. The death and Resurrection of Christ usher us into the family of the Holy Trinity, for free. We should be constantly comforted by this reality.
  3. During our exile on this earth, we should accept anything from the Lord, the good and the bad alike. We can do that because we hope to share in the glory of God: to be sealed in the life of the Holy Trinity forever. 

This hope enables us to boast even of our afflictions, setbacks, trials and crosses. It is so precisely because this hope that sustains us, can give us, even on this earth, a foretaste of the full glory in which we will be sealed for all eternity. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

It seems simple enough. Unfortunately our faith can be shaken, weakened, even lost. Our hope can yield to doubts and hesitations; and the love of the Holy Trinity which was poured in our hearts can be smothered by selfish emotions and dark feelings. Instead of focusing all our efforts on making the right choices for love and for being sealed into the Life of the Holy Trinity, we might fall victim to our passions and obscure drives. 

This is why, in the Gospel of John (16:12-15), Jesus, who through his Blood made us all children of the Father, promises us the Holy Spirit to guide us to all truth. It is truth concerning all that we should know about ourselves and about things as well as what is humanly possible to know about God Himself.

Truth makes us free to be love-driven in all our decisions and to be sealed into the life of the Holy Trinity. However, when our mind is at work, it cannot avoid being influenced by our heart and gut.

Mentally, by and large, we accept what the priest tells us from the pulpit; and, of course, we love what Jesus teaches us in his Gospel, but we might feel inside our heart a pull away from all this good news. Our heart/gut might offer to us pseudo-logical motives and reasons that, before serious scrutiny, will sound reasonable. The end result would be that what looks like a responsible and free decision is actually the result of our slavery to fear, passions, secret drives and the dark side of our soul.

But, if we allow Him to work in our minds and hearts, the Holy Spirit will teach us the truth about this hidden and contorted way of reasoning. And He will warn us if we are on the wrong path.

Although we are hardly ever 100% free, it is quite possible through the Holy Spirit to reach a significant degree of freedom from our passions. In the light of the Holy Spirit, passions and impulses will no longer rule us but, rather, we would be free to move in the direction in which He leads us. This inspired nudging of us towards God’s will might sound unfair and disturbing to some, but it is another sign of His love for us. Especially whenever terrible or beautiful things happen unexpectedly, we realize that we do not have control over our lives.  

If we really believe that we are living and nurtured by grace in the bosom of the Holy Trinity, we would rejoice in the certainty that the Lord is making everything (good and bad alike) work for our benefit. Hence, grounded in the love of the Holy Trinity, we should long for the highest degree of freedom which will lead us not to prefer health over illness, wealth over financial difficulties, respect over insults, success over failure, a long life over a short one, provided that we remain free to make the right decisions that will keep us sealed in the embrace of the Holy Trinity.

Thankfully, since the Lord Jesus shared fully in our struggle towards inner freedom from fears, self-interest and passions, he is very patient with us as we are confronted with daily vacillations and indecisiveness. He is not ashamed to call us his brothers [and sisters] (cf. Hebrews 2:11). 

He knows that it is natural for us to teeter up and down, waver right and left, and hesitate. But it is only through this inner struggle and over time that we get to know the different pulls in our heart/gut.

The feast of the Holy Trinity should be a welcomed moment of reflection to assess how free or still enslaved we are. The world, of course, has already made choices for us: money, power, comforts, success, fun, pleasures and yielding to any of our appetites are its common recommendations.

Jesus, on the other hand, while enjoying life to the fullest when he was physically on this earth, taught us that the choices made by the world for us could be very harmful and that they could actually lead us into a worse type of slavery.

To really know where we stand we have just to assess the degree of inner peace we have attained. Naturally, if we are worried and over-concerned about our health; if we want to have it always our way; if we do not want to relinquish control of our life over to the Father, we are not yet free and able to experience within the peace that Jesus wants to give us.

Therefore, if we find out today that we are still far from experiencing inner peace in the Holy Trinity, we must go to Jesus and beg him to pour more abundantly his Spirit of love in our hearts, because love of God and neighbor is the only “passion” that can overpower all other passions and lead us to inner freedom, inner peace and into being sealed into the eternal life of the Holy Trinity.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin