A Mad Lover

holy trinity

Feast of the Holy Trinity

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: June 7, 2020

We do not understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we experience it in wonder and amazement.  Nice explanations, though perhaps helpful, always fall short of capturing this mystery of God who is communion of life and love.

This is reflected in the prayer of St. Catherine of Siena.  As one author says, “Catherine is so struck by the thought of God’s love that she is stunned into prayer.”  (Murray, p. 111)  Listen to the language she uses in describing this mystery in her Dialogue:

“Let our hearts explode wide open, then, as we contemplate a flame and fire of love so great that God has engrafted himself into us and us into himself!  O unimaginable love!”

“O mad lover!  It was not enough for you to take on our humanity, you had to die as well!”

“He gave his life with such blazing love.”

Catherine uses the image of fire to capture this passionate love of God, “blazing love”, “that the fire of his charity may warm your heart and soul”, “you are nothing but a fire of love.”, “the extravagant fire of God’s charity.”

Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells a story based on thoughts of G.K. Chesterton that leads us into this mystery.

“A man who was entirely careless of spiritual things died and went to hell.  And he was much missed on earth by his old friends.  His business agent went down to the gates of hell to see if there was any chance of bringing him back.  But, though he pleaded for the gates to be opened, the iron bars never yielded.

His priest went also and argued:  ‘He was not really a bad fellow, let him out, please!’  The gates remained stubbornly shut against all their voices.’

Finally his mother came, she did not beg for his release.  Quietly, and with a strange catch in her voice, she said to Satan, ‘Let me in.’  Immediately the great doors swung open upon their hinges.  For love goes down through the gates of hell and there redeems the damned.” (Rolheiser.  Forgotten Among the Lilies.  p. 163)

It is not that we understand the Holy Trinity, we have to surrender and fall into this communion and be embraced in passionate love.  God’s love is not efficient nor practical.  When experienced, it changes us and sends us out to live in connection with all creation and with all humanity.  That communion of passionate love which is our God revealed in Jesus, is the mystery of the love we are called to live in our lives.

But, be ready to be set on fire, to be burned, to be led where you would never have imagined.

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