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Tristan and Isolde and the Three in One

July 21, AD2017

trinityI found myself placed next to a high powered High Court Judge at a dinner party in one of the most exclusive clubs in London. What on earth was I going to talk to her about I was thinking, when, discovering that I was a Catholic writer, she made everything simple for me.  She asked me to explain to her the mystery of the Holy Trinity! Fortunately, I had just heard my parish priest avoiding a similar question on Trinity Sunday by telling the story of St Augustine at the seaside.

Even Jesus Did Not Explain the Holy Trinity

There were no funfairs in those days, no amusement arcades to waste your money in, and no piers to walk along, so St Augustine settled down on a sand dune and started thinking about the Church Council that had pronounced that there were three persons in one God. He was having great difficulty understanding this profound mystery of God’s love when he was distracted by a little boy who was filling a little bucket with water from the sea and pouring it into a hole that he had dug only a few yards away. “What are you trying to do?” Saint Augustine asked. “I’m trying to put the sea into that little hole.” said the boy. “You will never be able to put the mighty sea into that little hole, ” said the saint. “Neither will you be able to fill your little head with the mystery of God’s love.” said the little boy, who promptly vanished leaving the great theologian wondering whether or not the little boy had been an angel or a figment of his imagination.

Sadly the Judge wasn’t impressed and turned to talk to someone else. When she turned back to me again to ask me to pass the salt I tried to retrieve the situation. I explained that not even Jesus tried to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Jesus Was a  Practical Jew

Jesus was not a Greek who was primarily interested in what a thing is in itself, but a Jew, who is always more practical, more existential, more interested in explaining what a thing can do. He was far more concerned with telling us how to enter into the life of the Holy Trinity, than in giving the sort of theoretical explanations that came later. In order to understand what it means to enter into what St Paul called, “the love that surpasses the understanding,” the Fathers of the Church, up to and including St Bernard, used the human analogy in the commentaries on the Song of Songs, and I decided to do the same for my friend the judge. To my surprise my explanation seemed to satisfy her, so much so that she said she would come to my forthcoming book launch, so let me repeat what I said to her so you might decide to come too.

The Father and I Are One

You may remember that in Wuthering Heights, Catherine Linton’s love for Heathcliff was so great that she said, “I don’t love Heathcliff, I am Heathcliff.” In other words, she wanted to enter into him more fully and more completely than their human bodies allowed, and remain there forever. She was not so much saying what had happened, but what she desired to happen more than anything else. She wanted to lose herself in him and wanted him to lose himself in her. You find the same idea in the story of Tristan and Isolde. When the two reached the heights of human love, their union was so sublime that at one moment Tristan actually calls Isolde, Tristan and Isolde call Tristan, Isolde.

You find exactly the same thing in the gospels. At one moment Jesus calls himself the Son of God and at another moment, God. Although the love of Tristan and Isolde is as close as any human mind can imagine, not even Wagner, whose music describes their love more perfectly than any words, suggests that they merge to become a new single identity. Genuine love is between two. Just as there are always two separate persons in human love, so there must surely be two separate persons in divine love. Although Jesus insists time and time again that, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30), and that, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11), it is perfectly evident that their individual identity is never lost, no matter how close their union. However, the Gospels go one step further. The love that binds them together is not a blind impersonal force, but a separate personal love in its own right.

Returning to the human analogy to try and explain what this means, in Wuthering Heights Catherine and Heathcliff see that the mutual love that binds them together seems to have something of an identity of its own, that is equal to the love that each has for the other. If anything, it is greater because it appears to have a personality that can unite them, even when they are separated by time and place, and even by death. In God alone, the love that can in this life be experienced in some measure, can be found in its most complete form, and experienced in an endless ecstasy and to all eternity.

Profound Truths Inspire Divine Love

Jesus does not tell us these profound truths because he wants to exercise our minds with dry abstract truths about the inner nature of what was later called the Holy Trinity, but because he wants to inspire us with the truth. The truth is that the Father and the Son have chosen to make their home within us so that the most sublime love affair imaginable actually takes place within our inmost being. The reason for this is even more incredible. It is for no other reason than that the love which is the Holy Spirit that binds the Father to the Son, can bind us too into this love so that we can experience it as it penetrates us more and more. The ultimate experience of God on earth, that is only known to those who arrive at Divinisation or Mystical Marriage, is Trinitarian. In other words, they become clearly aware that they are caught up in, and experience in some measure, “the love without measure” that endlessly revolves between the Father and the Son within their own inner being. This realisation is, in fact, the sign that a mystic is a true Christian mystic and not some Neoplatonic hybrid.

Read, reread, and reflect on all Jesus said and did in St John’s account of the Last Supper, and these profound truths will come alive in a way that nothing I can say ever will. Then you will receive far more than mere words, through the Spirit who inspired them, and what you will receive will bring you to your knees in thanksgiving and in adoration.

But all has not been said, for, in this profound mystical vortex of loving that revolves between the Father and the Son in which we are caught up, we are not alone. We are at one too, with all who have chosen to enter into this ecstatic joy, with relatives who have chosen the same path, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and lovers, children and grandchildren, and not just our extended family but the whole extended human family, living and dead. They are not just living with us in Jesus, but travelling with us too into eternity.

Our own personal joy and satisfaction is enhanced beyond our wildest dreams by re-meeting our own families and in knowing and loving them as never before. Even in the best of families, the pernicious cancer of selfishness prevented us loving each other as we would have wished. But now that the cancer has been spirited away and we have been transfused with pure love, there is nothing to prevent us from becoming the genuine loving families that we never really were on earth. This supernatural homecoming is however, the prelude to joining together for the last time, in order to set out upon our final and unending journey into eternal life and loving. And we, together with all who we love and hold dear, are bonded ever closer together, as we draw ever nearer to the blissful union with the pure unadulterated and infinite loving and goodness, that resides in Our Father who is in heaven.

Just in case you do decide to come to the launch yourself, my book is called Wisdom from the Christian Mystics. It will be launched in London on Thursday 8th February 2018. If you can’t make it, I’m sure Amazon.com will help you out.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

David Torkington is a Spiritual Theologian, Author and Speaker, who specializes in Prayer, Christian Spirituality and Mystical Theology. He was educated at the Franciscan Study Centre, England, and the National Catholic Radio and Television Centre, Hatch End, London where he was later appointed to the post of Dean of Studies. He was extra mural lecturer in Mystical Theology at the Dominican University in Rome (The Angelicum). His personal spirituality is predominantly Franciscan, and his Mystical Theology Carmelite, all welded together with a solid blend of Benedictine moderation. He has sold over 300,000 books in more than twelve different languages. His book ‘Wisdom from the Western Isles’ teaches the reader how to pray, from the very beginning to what St Teresa of Avila calls the Mystical Marriage. His personal conviction is that there is only one way forward for the serious searcher who wishes to be transformed into Christ in this life, and that is, in the words of St Teresa of Avila, “There is only one way to perfection and that is to pray. If anyone points in another direction then they are deceiving you.” David's website is http://www.davidtorkington.com

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  • Charles Otis Fears

    My analogy on the Holy Trinity and Creation

    There is only One God and in this God there are Three Persons God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons make up the One God so we cannot say God exist with
    out one of these Persons.
    Look at the world it is made up of longitude, latitude, and altitude all three must be present for the world to exist.
    For time to exist, in order for us to measure time or to talk about time there has to be a past, present and a future.
    Look at matter it is made up of height, width and depth, all three must be present for matter to exist.
    Take the atom it is made up of neutron, proton and electron and all three must be present for the atom to exist.
    Also look at the elements, they can be in the form of gas, solid or liquid, such as water, it can be liquid, or steam, or ice. Take a piece of ice put in a pan and heat it. Now from that piece of same ice you will have a solid, liquid and gas, (steam).

    Next think about the sun it is a Ball of fire and from it comes light and heat, Imagine the sun being God, the Ball is God, the fire God the Father, the Light, God the Son and the heat God the Holy Spirit. A flame does the same thing; it is a flame of fire, which puts out light, and heat. Here again we can compare it with the Trinity, the Flame being God, the Fire being God the Father, the Light God the Son and the Heat
    God the Holy Spirit.

    One other important out look. The human family, in order for a complete family to exist there must be father, mother, and a child. A child cannot be made with out a father or mother and a father or
    mother cannot make child by their self. Also for a woman to conceive, there has to be the woman, the man and God. For in the Old Testament God said I knew you before you were in your mother’s womb.

    Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    Isaiah 49:1 Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.

    Isaiah 49:2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
    saiah 49:3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

    Isaiah 49:4 But I said, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain
    and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
    Isaiah 49:5 And now the LORD says– he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God
    has been my strength—

    Isaiah 49:6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

    Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

    Luke 1:36 Even
    Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.
    Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

    Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”
    Then the angel left her.

    Luke 1:39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,
    Luke 1:40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

    Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and
    Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Luke 1:42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed
    is the child you will bear!

    Luke 1:43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
    Luke 1:44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb
    leaped for joy.

    Then what about each person, we are made up of mind, (intelligence), body, and soul.
    Here a gain there are three separate functions but one in the same. What effects one effects the other.

    And one last thing the church, the church is made up of the church militant, the church suffering, and the church triumphant. Here are three separate functions, but one and the same church. The church militant are us on earth fighting against evil, the church suffering are those souls in purgatory, and the church triumphant are those in Heaven.

    So it is with God from God comes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit..

    Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    Note the us has to be the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, because only God can create.

    Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and
    female he created them.

    John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

    John 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
    John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

    John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

    Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him
    Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”
    Note Jesus is called Immanuel (God with us) so since He is God with us, And there is only One God. He has to be one in the same God as the Father and the Holy Sprit.

    John 20:28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are
    those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    Note Here a gain Jesus is called Lord and God, since there is only one God, There has to be a trinity and Jesus is the Son

  • Maria A.

    The visions of Bl.Emmerich describes the Trinity as Three brilliant sources of light- the Three in One , as Three Divine Persons , Perfection itself in Father – Mother Love , in an ongoing exchange of loving communion ..of love as light .

    Adam , created in that image , yet , Eve is separated later ..and the risk in us imagining the Trinitarian Communion, as that of humans , esp. with a romantic slant might be ,it can add to the confusions so prevalent in our times .

    In fact , The above mystic mentions how Adam and Eve too were created full of light, hairs like beams of light , was destined to bring forth holy children , in perfect harmony and holiness , more so in the power of spoken word ..

    Bl.Mother came close to that plan , in her being conceived immaculate , by her holy parents , from a line that The Father had carefully protected and cultivated , against all enemy attacks and warfares that were meant to destroy that line .

    The Divine Mercy image with its rays of light /Spirit from The Heart also given for our times that are bombarded with false images .

    True , looking forward to being in that loving communion has to be our hope in joy .