Officially, we are done with the Easter season, and yet we aren’t running back to the wearing of the green for Ordinary Time. In fact, this weekend and next, we celebrate an extension of the heart of those 50 days of Glory, Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi Sunday. They are meant to offer further catechesis or doctrinal teachings that every Christian must know. In some ways this weekend is one of the hardest weekends to preach...how do you explain The Trinity? We could run to two saints/contemporaries of the 4th century, St. Patrick and St. Augustine. Every explanation seems to lack, even St. Padraíg’s explanations of The Trinity being like a shamrock or St. Agostino’s imagery of a child he saw while he was walking along the shore of a beach contemplating who God is. (He asked the child what was going on and the child said, “I am trying to empty the sea into this hole.” “How do you think,” St. Augustine asked her, “that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?” She answered back, “And you, how do you suppose that with your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?”)
So, how do I even come close to talking about the relationship between The Trinity? Well, perhaps I will fail in the ways of explaining and sound like I’m too much like modalism or partialism or Arianism or Manichaeism. Perhaps, I can only share examples of how I learned more about The Holy Trinity, through the trinity (yes, that is most certainly a small case trinity). You see, my formation in becoming a pastor for you and my preparations to help spiritually direct men for the Priesthood has directly come from The Trinity’s (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) love in sending me my little trinitarian brothers, parochial vicars, Fr. Suso, Fr. Thomas, Fr. Bearer. You can see from the photograph on the cover of the bulletin that for the first time the four of us got together in one place (when we were gathered at the Orihel home for the Memorare Center Matching Program). Do you have ANY idea what it felt like for me to have this trinity together at the same time? A year after I first came to St. Francis de Sales Parish, I was given the beautiful and terrifying gift of helping to form a newly ordained...and an Italian one at that! That meant when he came here, I was also being adopted into his loving family of Michael, Jay, and the perfect Italian cooking of Stephanie. Anthony and I learned together what it meant to share in the Heart of The Father by loving Fr. Schleicher in his struggling last few months, and to figure out how to be not just a Priest who shows up for the Sacraments, but to do so because of the relationship The Father has for His Son. Through Anthony (and his family), I better understood who The Father is to me, so I could become more like Him with you.
This is an essential part that must happen to every diocesan Priest. It was vital for me because of what would happen next...when I thought I would have to go solo here at the parish, they sent me another newly ordained...and a Korean at that! Being with Fr. Thomas shaped me (and may have even twisted me...heeehee) in understanding how The Father would so love me He would send me His Son so that I might be saved. Louis showed me what it meant to hear the voice of Jesus more profoundly in my life. He did so NOT in the craziness or busyness of trying to figure out the pastoral issues of dealing with finances and administrative issues, but to do it without worry or freaking out or feeling guilty for not being perfect. (Louis told me to learn from his mother, that you can’t guilt a Korean—it has no power—so just do the right thing and get over it.) Louis walked with me in the steps of Jesus, and never doubt He is always present.
It was during this time I finally accepted that maybe I could actually do some more spiritual direction (a gift I never thought I had for my first 10-12 years of Priesthood). It was at this time I was asked to become involved with our seminarians who went to discern Priesthood...and met this comedic and uncontrolled kid known as Jacob. I became a spiritual father to him for years, and he my son. Then, when Fr. Thomas was leaving, and I thought I would be left solo to run this place, I got a call that they wanted me to take on another newly ordained...and a Spirit-filled son at that. Yes, the Bishop called me to his office to introduce me to my newly ordained, Fr. Jacob Bearer...whaaat? How can I live with the one I was given to help? Aaah...I would have to look upon him as not just The Father or The Son, but the one I witnessed as being led by the breath of The Holy Spirit, who blows where He wills. The tongues of fire and the rushing winds, and yes even at times the peaceful dove, filled the room where Fr. Suso and Fr. Thomas once slept. Finally, God would give me the third person for my little trinity. Some may wonder how a Priest becomes a Father...it must always be because you want to know His Heart through His Son and never running away from the breath of The Spirit that brings you to new life!
Well, do I know how to explain The Trinity perfectly and theologically...maybe not any better than some of the saints. But, I do know I have known and have been constantly loved by God through the examples of those He has placed in my life. AND RIGHT WHEN YOU THINK YOU KNOW IT ALL...The Trinity follows up with not only the trinity of pastors for you...Fr. Diederich (who Baptized my father), Fr. Schleicher (who taught my mother), Fr. Bline...but God would even be more profoundly loving by sending us Fr. Merzweiler. I was one of his spiritual fathers, and he my son, when he discerned to enter the seminary! Oh, how much intimate love The Trinity has for us to know our parish story has only begun!
Fr. Bline, your pastor