Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trinity

I'm teaching a course tonight on the Trinity--that great mystery that is at the heart of Christianity and Christian life.  I'm a little nervous because it's hard to talk about something so big and so bound up in the unknown.  But Pseudo-Dionysius helps, with his hymn at the beginning of "The Mystical Theology."
Trinity!!  Higher than any being,
any divinity, any goodness!
Guide of Christians 
in the wisdom of heaven!
Lead us up beyond unknowing and light,
up to the farthest, highest peak
of mystic scripture,
where the mysteries of God's Word
lie simple, absolute and unchangeable
in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence.
Amid the deepest shadow
they pour overwhelming light
on what is most manifest.
Amid the wholly unsensed and unseen
they completely fill our sightless minds
with treasures beyond all beauty.
(This translation is from Colm Luibheid, published by Paulist Press in 1987.)

The indentations of the translation I am looking at here are a little more visually pleasing, but I am also pleased by the imagery of the text:  to go "beyond unknowing and light," into God's mysteries "in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence."

The apophatic language of Ps-Dionysius has always touched me deeply, helped me to understand God deep in my heart and being in a way that more concrete language does not.

I tell my students at the beginning of this course on theology that one of the reasons I study theology at all is the depth of mystery--that no matter how much I learn, I will never be able to explore the depths of God.  The desire to learn will never be quenched, will always be a joy.

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