Saturday, January 3, 2009

Putting The Third Leg Of The Trinity In A Dualistic Catholicism

One of the discrepancies I've found intellectually difficult to deal with is the dualistic nature of a Church which is based on a Trinitarian concept of God. I've also found it difficult to deal with this dualism in Church teaching of family. Family is also a trinitarian structure. In truth a family is mother, father, and children. It's not just true that two become one, it's also true that two become three.
This is born out in the Nativity story when the two faces of God, Father and Holy Spirit, become three in the person of Jesus Christ. In a sense it's the story of the male and female aspects of God procreating a third face, a human face, a new expression of Divinity, and in this act humanity is shown it's trinitarian nature--creators, nurturers, expressers of Divine potential.

In the Divine person of Jesus humanity is also shown it's true eternal nature and it's future as God wills it. We may think we are finite with a definite starting point, but that's a dualistic illusion of sense perceptual Newtonian physics. Quantum physics says something else entirely.

If you think about it, there are threes and triangles all through our lives. We start as youth, pass to adulthood and become elders. Biologically, we can progress from child to parent to grandparent. A balanced family has representatives of all three stages, Family is triangles encased in bigger triangles, all of whose angles are intimately connected with each other.

The Church teaching that Jesus is the groom and the Church is the bride does not describe the trinitarian nature of God or family. It describes a dualistic relationship, and in practical application, the relationship between the Magisterium and the laity is not a marriage, it's an endless parent/child relationship. The third stage, or leg is missing.

Worse, it's a form of heresy. It is based in a hierarchical understanding of the Trinity and not an egalitarian one. Rather than reinforcing the idea of the Trinity as uniquely equal expressions of the same personhood, the clerical nature of the Church symbolizes the supremacy of the Father over the Son and leaves the Holy Spirit floating out there, not really relevant to the clerical structure. It also frees the Magisterium to be accountable only to God. I wish I was that lucky.

Over time the reality is that the Holy Spirit has actually become imprisoned by the Magisterium. Pope John XXIII tried to open the prison, but it didn't take long for the gates to clang shut again. It amounts to what I see as a purposeful repression of what should be the third leg of the Church triangle. This leg is manifested in the human interaction with the Holy Spirit and the Communion of Saints and Angels, other wise known as the Church Triumphant. It belongs to any believer, as a right of baptism. This leg has a legitimate part to play both with in the hierarchical structure and in the lives of the faithful.

In practice, this third leg is relegated to the realm of personal piety and subordinated to the judgement of the hierarchy. This is not surprising given that this interaction doesn't always conform to traditional Church thinking. (see Joan of Arc) It never has and it never will until it's mission is accomplished, and that mission is bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. As in 'let it be done on Earth as it is in Heaven'.

A Church which really honored the action of all three legs of the trinity, rather than relegating the third to 'personal revelation' would be a whole lot more transparent. It would listen to it's St. Francis's and Padre Pio's and St Theresa's and maybe hear important universal messages it needs to incorporate. It would share those gifts rather than keeping them behind monastic walls under vows of silence.

To be honest, I am so tired of meeting truly gifted Catholic psychics and healers who are terrified of using their gifts in a Church setting, or suborning them to the Charismatic movement. A vocation in the third leg of the Church isn't about being slayed in the Spirit or babbling in tongues. It's about a mission and understanding your part in the mission. It's about a profound conversion. It's about healing on the soul level and watching that healing manifest in the physical. It's a vocation about a whole lot of things and many of those things are directed at this reality, at enlightening us about world and our experience of it. It is first and foremost about understanding just how inner connected we all are. It doesn't manifest in division and exclusion, it manifests the exact opposite.

Interactions with my hypothetical third leg of the Church is why I find it fascinating to read Acts, especially the stories about Peter. Personally I think Jesus chose Peter to be His successor because Peter had the most connective (psychic) talent and therefore Jesus gave him very personal lessons about the transcendent reality in which our material reality is based. (see walking on water) In my opinion the church was to be thoroughly grounded in the third leg of the Divine Trinity, the Holy Spirit, (see Jesus's last instructions) and that's why Peter was chosen. Not because he was persona christi, Peter was hardly that, but because he was wide open to the connections with the transcendent reality Christ brought and taught.

I'm going to close this with two stories about Peter from the Acts. Both stories demonstrate how serious the Church Triumphant was and is about maintaining the mission of Jesus to bring the Father's kingdom to fruition on earth. One is a direct lesson for Peter about the scope of the mission he was involved with, and the other demonstrates how important Peter was to the spreading of the Good News.

They also clearly demonstrate what interaction with the Church Triumphant is like. The first story is from Acts 11. It follows a story in Acts 10 which describes a vision Peter was given and didn't understand. In chapter 11, with the help of others, he gets it.

Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.

So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers confronted him,
saying, "You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them." (Not just the poor, but the righteous will also always be with us.)

Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,

"I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. (Every major work I have ever been involved with involves four energy beings and some sort of representation of a light energy matrix. Peter saw them as four corners of a sheet, I see them as four light beings raising a dome of energy.)

Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.

I also heard a voice say to me, 'Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.'

But I said, 'Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'

But a second time a voice from heaven answered, 'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.'

This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
(Like a lot of us, everything has to happen to Peter three times, and first we say, no way, ain't doing it, especially if it involves going against the religious grain.)
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea.

The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house.

He related to us how he had seen (the) angel standing in his house, saying, 'Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.'

As I began to speak, the holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.'

If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?" (Part of the mystical vocation is to get over telling God what He can and can't do.)

When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, "God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too." (This acceptance of life-giving repentance and baptism in the Holy Spirit for gentiles, is a very important part of Peter's mission. He will support Paul when others of the Jerusalem church will not.)

Shortly after his vision Peter is back in Jerusalem and Herod has begun persecuting Christians as heretics. Herod orders the imprisonment of Peter with the intent of beheading him as recorded in Acts 12. Herod was thwarted by the Church Triumphant who still had many things for Peter to accomplish.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. (picture Houdini.)
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, "Get up quickly." The chains fell from his wrists.

the angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me."

So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. (At first this is exactly what your conscious mind needs to think is happening. To recognize anything else would trip every fear trigger you have, but these states are very real.)

They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him.

Then Peter recovered his senses and said, "Now I know for certain that (the) Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting." (Peter is actually functioning on dual consciousness, one in normal reality, and one in the transcendent reality. It is like 'coming to your senses', when one returns to a single consciousness.)

The first story about Peter also offers clues as to why the Church may have developed along the lines it has. For every Peter with a dream and an angelic experience, there's a gnostic, and a jansenist, and a Joseph Smith, and a Jim Jones. How does one tell the difference? By taking a much larger view of things and understanding God doesn't contract. God expands and unconditional love is always the key. Namaste.


  1. Colleen, I love the graphic! This should be in NCR also. This is fantastic and is so helpful. No wonder the Church is limping around and not getting very far.

    "The Church teaching that Jesus is the groom and the Church is the bride does not describe the trinitarian nature of God or family." So true and that concept just never made any sense to me. One is left in the air trying to contemplate it. One essentially is placed on a ferris wheel and the ferris wheel is the bride? It makes no sense.

    This next quote really caught my attention in its truth: "Worse, it's a form of heresy. It is based in a hierarchical understanding of the Trinity and not an egalitarian one. Rather than reinforcing the idea of the Trinity as uniquely equal expressions of the same personhood, the clerical nature of the Church symbolizes the supremacy of the Father over the Son and leaves the Holy Spirit floating out there, not really relevant to the clerical structure."
    I would add here that it leaves the Holy Spirit floating out there for the laity as well. I do understand your point though.

    The New Year is off to a spiritually inspired dashing start with this Colleen! Thank You!

  2. Thanks butterfly. I think this is important as well. The Church is falling way behind in examining the issues of expanding consciousness and what it means for humanity.

    Had they cherished their people who had connections with the 'other side' instead of persecuting them, they would have been way ahead of the curve.

    A lot of progressives are heading down the mystical path and they are not finding much help with in the Catholic Church. This is too bad because reception of the Eucharist really does escalate the progress of one's talent.

    On the other hand, that very progress eventually makes one very sensitive to the over all energy of the Church, and right now, it's dense and uninviting, and way off course.

    The ironic thing is that's as true for mystical conservatives as it is mystical progressives. The problem is that one groups security blanket is the other groups straight jacket. HMMM that might be the title for today's article.

    1. "The problem is that one groups security blanket is the other groups straight jacket."
      So true :-)

  3. "Had they cherished their people who had connections with the 'other side' instead of persecuting them, they would have been way ahead of the curve."

    It seems the "Church" has always been focused on maintaining the power. It sees itself as the only purveyor of God's wisdom and the only entity capable of explaining it to the lowly laity. But, in reality, they are locked in a battle with God. I think the Church is the one who keeps God in a box on a shelf and only takes God out when it's useful to their own ends.

  4. Actually, dense and uninviting is being nice, I would call the energy of the church right now repulsive.

    Interesting isnt it how once one starts the path of mysticism, the euchrist accelerates the process to a point, and then in order to continue to grow, one has to leave that behind as well.

    It makes me wonder, how did some of the catholic mystics such as thomas merton survive within the church? It seems like today, anyone, clergy or laity who steps into true mysticism is ostracized from and by the church if they are lucky. The unlucky ones are villified and censured.

    I've reached a point where I dont think I can go back. As much as I loved mass, it has become a meaningless ritual to me now. Empty, hollow, a shadow instead of the light that it really could be.

  5. Carl you ask: "It makes me wonder, how did some of the catholic mystics such as thomas merton survive within the church? " I've wondered that myself, but I do recall him having difficulty getting his writings approved. He managed to get things published without the approval though. Merton was part of the Church Triumphant that Colleen has been writing about. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and recall the early Church in Jerusalem when the Jews who had converted to Christ teachings still went to the synagogues, until they were thrown out. I feel a little like those early Christians in my own Church when I do go, which admittedly has been less and less due to the politics which has left a deep scar in my soul. Recent incidents such as excommunicating Fr Roy and Sister Lears has had its impact on me and I am in solidarity with them.

    Also, about Merton is the fact that he lived when the Church was going through a period of great change by way of VII which really paved the way for him to succeed. Most recently, however, he is not being given the honor or credit he deserves by right wing reactionaries against VII.

  6. I think you have good points about Thomas Merton Butterfly. VII helped him, especially in his interactions with the Orient.

    Although, there are conspiracy theorists who say Merton was murdered, and debunkers who say he committed suicide. I think he was a cloistered monk who wasn't used to radios around the bathtub.

    Carl, your take on Mass being left behind when one reaches a certain point is spot on.

    I know what the straw was in my case. I was teaching high school CCD and the week we were supposed to dedicate to sexuality was turned into a cake a candy holiday and no teaching was done. I walked out after that 'party' and never returned.

    At that time Bishop Morlino ran the diocese and he apparently didn't think any of us were qualified to teach sexuality correctly so he brought in material and presenters from some outfit like Focus on the Family.

    That may have been the final straw, but there was much more that went on before then and too much since then.

  7. According to St John:

    Jesus as the Son of God:

    34 Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”?
    35 If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods”—and the scripture cannot be annulled—
    36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”?
    37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me.
    38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand* that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’