This coming Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Spirit. As I contemplate this feast, memory takes me back to my battles with cancer.
In October of 2012, I found myself wondering if I was developing multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells from my bone marrow. On a routine physical exam and blood work we found a protein that was elevated, suggesting this cancer as a possibility. I had battled testicular cancer when I was in my mid-twenties with subsequent relapses in 1998 and 2000, so it was not fun to contemplate having another bout with cancer.
The medical challenge caused me to go deep in prayer, and one more time, to work on my faith in God. As I found myself contemplating the trees and leaves at a golf resort where my wife was attending a conference, I experienced a communion with the Holy Trinity and wrote this poem:
Your arms engulf me,
Your touch is delicate.
Not by the fire that purifies my soul,
But by your warmth, Father,
I realize you are here to console me.
My heart is at peace,
Weightless and without care,
For there are no regrets from yesterday,
No worries about tomorrow,
But simply joy in being here with you,
Joy to be here with my brothers and sisters.
As I rest in you
I feel complete.
I am in you,
And you are in me.1
This poem was in part inspired by Jesus’ high-priestly prayer where Jesus prays to the Father for his disciples, so that they may be one with the Father as Jesus is one with the Father.
God is calling us to be in relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father engulfs us with God’s arms to take care of us and to love us, to understand our shortcomings and to give us mercy. It is an energy that flows with the Holy Spirit, which listens to the Father and Son and imparts knowledge, wisdom, and love to our hearts. The Son, the Word incarnate, in full communion the Holy Spirit, has become visible and audible to what God wants us to see and hear. Jesus came into the world so that we could see and hear how God wants us to be. Everything the Father has He gives to the Son, so we too can have what the Father has. Seeing God in person through Jesus helps us relate better to God. God wants us to be in relationship with God, and we can do this if we acknowledge and realize that the Holy Trinity dwells in our hearts.
We have just celebrated the Pentecost as we awaited the arrival of the Holy Spirit. It is the tradition of our Western and Catholic church that the solemnity of the Holy Trinity comes the following Sunday after Pentecost. We started this relationship with the Holy Spirit with our baptism as the Holy water was washed over our heads. Now through our lives, we have been asked to take a risk in developing this relationship with God so that then, as Pope Benedict XVI states in Benedictus, “to risk giving oneself to the other can great love ensue.”2
When we make the choice to be in relationship with Jesus and learn how God wants us to be as God made us out to be, we take a step in the direction of risking and leaving behind the type of life we have. With the Holy Spirit burning in our hearts, we can make decisions daily to live as Jesus lived, imparting love, understanding and charity to all.
We are invited to share in this relationship within the Holy Trinity, to experience this energy of Three in One to help stabilize us from the chaos of the material world. In turn, we are invited and called to be in harmony with our community as we share the energy, love, and charity of the Holy Trinity with each other. Then, as a community, can we then reflect our world in the truth as God intended it to be.
Saints help us learn of God’s ways. One such saint is St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, who was born in 1880 in France and grew up near Dijon which had a Carmelite monastery. After reading the original and first edition of St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul, she decided to become a Carmelite nun. She died of Addison’s disease at the age of 26. Pope Francis canonized her as a saint in October 2016.3
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity is known for her poem, “Oh My God, Trinity Whom I Adore.”
“O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling, and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole, and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.”4
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us!