There is a legend concerning St. Patrick but you have probably not heard this one – yet! According to Finnean mac Eoran, a young priest in the company of St. Patrick, in the year AD 450 St. Patrick was invited to preach to King Aengus of Munster at the great fortress of the Rock of Cashel. Patrick’s teaching was plain and straightforward and after listening the King was convinced of the sincerity of Patrick and the truth of the Catholic faith. So, the king requested to be baptized in the name of the Trinity. During the ceremony, the Saint lifted his crozier (staff) high in the air and brought it down hard. The point of the crozier was driven through the king’s foot, but the king didn’t flinch or cry out. Then Patrick invited the king to enter the river, where he noticed the kings wound, and he baptized this great Irish warrior king. Patrick never said a word about the event and the brave king thought that driving the crozier through his foot must be part of the ceremony. Father Finnean mentioned that no one else volunteered to be baptized that day.
Of all the mysteries of the faith that the Church proclaims, the Mystery of the Holy Trinity is the most central, the most important, the highest and greatest of all the mysteries. This mystery is so important that we are baptized in the name of the Trinity, we begin our day with the sign of the cross which reminds us of the Trinity, we begin each Mass and sacrament, and almost all our prayers with the name of the Trinity, and our Creed begins with our profession of faith in the Trinity.
Any yet, while it is the most important and familiar Christian mystery, it is probably the hardest to identify with, and certainly, the hardest to explain. Nevertheless, the central nature of the Holy Trinity is the most comforting, the most familiar, and the most relevant aspect of God in our lives. The Holy Trinity is a community of persons, which we can put in another more familiar way by saying, the Holy trinity is a family. We can all relate to that, the Trinity is a family, a relationship, a community, a bond of love between three distinct but united “persons”: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The very identity of God is a family, a community of love, a closeness, and a relationship. Our God is not isolated, alone, aloof, in fact, our God is always engaged with others, never alone, always showing love and being loved. Even without words every human heart understands what the Holy Trinity is about, because, every human heart, every soul, longs for what the Holy Trinity has, in fact what the Holy Trinity is, a relationship of love. We all long to love and be loved and we want our families to be places of love.
In the Holy Trinity, each Divine Person, lives, for the other, loves the other, serves the other. It is in this love that they experience love – as Jesus says – “it is in giving that we receive.” All of us long not only to belong, but to love and be loved. God intends every family to be a place where this love is present, where it surrounds us, where it is made real, and is really alive. It is in the midst of this love that people learn how to love and be loved. This love is not focused on ourselves, it is focused on the other, and in this way a person learns to love as a gift – unselfish love. Of course, we don’t always manage to live this way, but because we fail does not mean it is not true, nor that we should not try. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love each other not for what they receive but simply because they are. Now, we are made for the same sort of love – and who doesn’t want to be loved, and love, like this?
The greatest Christian mystery, it turns out, is the closest to our heart and just like explaining the reasons for love, it is impossible to truly express or understand. We can show people we love them, we can tell people we love them, but explaining what love it, or means to us, well, some things are just too big for words. I think the Holy Trinity must be felt, experienced, lived, to be understood. And even then, it cannot be completely explained some things are just too big for words – just like love.