Le blog de la Bergerie                         Sharing the faith . . . in English . . . et en français!
To pray just before going to sleep is a good practice. To
try to finish your own "thinking and cogitating mode" by a sweet prayer (or
a silent hymn) makes sense to me and to address one final blessing/prayer to
the Most Blessed Trinity is to go directly to the top! I used to say the following
short exclamation before going to sleep "Blessed be God, blessed be his Holy
Name!" and I don't remember when I started directing it to the Most Holy Trinity
and incorporating into it a simple breathing exercise in it but it certainly
seemed to mesh harmoniously. And over the course of a winter, I built it up
into a dozen verses, all specifically directed towards the Trinity. It took
me a while because I kept refining it. I wanted to keep it straightforward and
simple, but theologically sound, and I even wanted it to be beautiful, to glorify
God from whom comes all truth and beauty and goodness.
The breathing part is just a rhythm, which is soothing in itself, and it is made of inhaling slowly, then holding your breath while saying the actual verse, in your heart, as silently and quietly as possible, and with complete reverence and trust, and then finally exhaling slowly. For instance: “One…". Hold your breath, say interiorly “Blessed be God, Creator of heaven and earth, blessed be his Holy Name!" then exhale. I hope my way of describing this prayer is not too confusing, because it really is a simple one, a very logical one and it goes in groups of three (of course!). Here is the text of the 12 verses:
1 "Blessed be God, Creator of heaven and earth, blessed be his Holy Name!"
2 "Blessed be God, who holds me in the palm of his hand, who knows every hair on my head, blessed be his Holy Name!"
3 "Blessed be God, the Holy One, the Almighty One, the Eternal One!"
4 "Blessed be Jesus, the Savior of the World, blessed be his Holy Name!"
5 "Blessed be Jesus, who redeemed "me", who redeemed every one of us, blessed be his Holy Name!
6 "Blessed be Jesus, the Logos, the Light of the World, the Seat of Mercy!"
7 "Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the One who reveals to us the realities of the faith, blessed be his Holy Name!"
8 "Blessed be the Holy Spirit who Sanctifies, who leads us to evangelize, causing heartstrings to vibrate, blessed be his most Holy Name!"
9 "Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Giver of Life, the Spirit of Truth, blessed be his Holy Name!"
10 "Blessed You Be, Ô Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit!"
11 "Blessed You Be, Ô Most Holy Trinity, the most perfect model of Love and Relationship!"
12 "Blessed You Be, Ô Most Holy Trinity, I (say your name), greatly thank YOU and I place all my trust and my hope in You ."
Since I am a visual type of person, since I love graphics and photography and illustrations, I've come up with a picture for each step of this Trinitarian prayer. I wondered about it for a while, I was not sure how to illustrate the attributes of God - and I do think it's almost impossible to do since He is above and beyond our own mind and imagination - but I also know that He sent us His Son and the Holy Spirit to help us. Along with Pascal, I think the infinitely big is as hard to grasp as the infinitely small, so we use images and sketches, analogies and stories. It's the same in science by the way, how can you illustrate the ADN or mapping our genetic codes? We do try and the result gives us an idea. Therefore, I thought to illustrate the love of God, I could turn to the beauty and purity of a drop of rain on the petals of a flower; to illustrate eternity, I use mountain peaks in the sunrise light; and for his omnipotence, I thought of thunder and lightning.
When I tried to illustrate the steps about Jesus, I had no problem at all. It's so much easier to illustrate Jesus (his life, his teachings) than God or the Holy Spirit. Thank God for the Incarnation! There is already a vast field of stained glass windows and icons, statues or even prayer gardens designed and built around Jesus Christ, for him and because of him, and this has been going on for 2000 years. Well, if you count the archetypical designs of the OT, such as the angels in the ark of the Covenant, the tabernacle, then we can say that there is an even much older art legacy of Christ. Actually to be completely accurate, everything about God, about the Most Holy Trinity, is "within time and out of time, it is eternal" so I should include the foreshadowing of Revelation, with all its revelations about what has happened, what is happening and what will happen...
I found the challenge to illustrate the Holy Spirit the hardest. I understand (and love) the symbols so often used of the bird in flight, the flames, the wind… but I turned to something else, I turned to the smile of a child - in this case, my beautiful and gracious grand-daughter ! - to epitomize the joy and energy that we feel when we see a lovely and loved face. I heard a terrific Lent sermon once on the soothing unction of the Holy Spirit, moisturizing our soul just like a suntan lotion can soften and nourish our parched skin, just like a smile can uplift us on a "blah" sort of day, just as a piece of beautiful music can be a soothing and peaceful unction to our itching ears…Therefore, I see (well, in this case I hear) a power in hearing the voice of a loved one, in listening to a favorite piece of music of ours, I recognize in this power the ability to transport us out of ourselves, it will put wings under us and take us one step closer to the truth, the good and the beautiful. It is especially fitting to hear beautiful singing within a church, within the liturgy, it is the very best setting and will bear much fruits.
When trying to illustrate the Trinity, I had to use the very beautiful (and profound) icon of Rubliev. It is a wonderful starting point to understand the importance of "trinitarian relationships": how we relate to ourselves (how we take care of our body and of the gifts that God gave us), how we relate to our neighbor (how we take care of our brothers and sisters, the ones next door or the ones at the other end of the world) and first and foremost how we relate to God (how we love Him and trust Him and thank Him). When we die, the only thing we take with us is our own capacity to love and how we have used it, how much we exercised it during our own life on this earth. So this is why for this step I used a prayerful illustration of love, many loves, maternal love, brotherly love, friendship, caring for our neighbor. I am talking about love and compassion and caring, repentance, patience and forgiveness, all of them being crucial facets of relationships. When we die, we certainly cannot take our bodies with us, neither do we take our material properties, no wealth, no bank accounts, but neither do we take our titles or diplomas, no matter how merited they are. Naked souls! But our souls thrive on love and relationships and we do have the promise of the resurrection, which is a huge deal. Think of it. It changes everything. Eternal life, life beyond death, being with our loved ones again and being with God.
Thank God for the Most Blessed Trinity! I am not saying that it is an easy concept to understand, at least not for myself. It certainly took me a while. I certainly wandered off for the longest time. But God was there all along. And now, after having been back within the fold of the Church for 15 years (and all I can say is Thank God for His grace and for His Church!) I feel I can "grasp" the wonderful mystery of the Holy Trinity. But although I can comprehend and appreciate it very often - it is also easily fleeting, it is not constant. This is where the will comes into place. Our will to pray and to love and to trust. The will is the motor of the conscience. And we have to exercise it regularly to have a healthy and strong soul.
So we learn and pray, we read and listen to the Church and to our spiritual leaders and then we witness and share. This Trinitarian prayer being my attempt at sharing what I have learned because I am so grateful for the faith…
Morning light on les Dents Blanches, vallée du Haut Giffre, French Alps
He knows every drop of rain and every leaf, such as the petals of a peony in Summer... I love the fact that God has counted all the hair on my head (Luke 12:7), it seems so simple and practical; but to illustrate this truth (that God knows us inside and out) I turned to something much more beautiful than my head :)
I used my capacity to find beauty in nature photography...
Thunder and lightning... Earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanoes...
Powerful and sudden changes in nature can quickly remind us of our frailty.
God created the world, the natural world, the whole universe and our own global home, and he holds the magnetic poles in the palm of his hands!
Stained glass details in Notre Dame des Victoires, the French Church in San Francisco, California
Détails de l’icône Pantocreator, par Didi Marmoud, de la Riviere-Enverse, Haute-Savoie
The wonderful ceiling of the basilica of le Sacré Cœur, in Montmartre, Paris, where they have had constant Adoration for over a 100 years...
One of the best illustration of the love of God is in the smile of a child looking at you! In this case, ma chère petite fille.
Thank God for his Saints! Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the Intercession of
Saints, for guiding us and counseling us in millions of ways,
from tiny ones to major ones, and, in the process, for helping us be part of the sanctification of the world!
A contemporary Serbian icon, from the famous Russian Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev (15th century). A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be part of a prayer group reading Fr. Cantalamessa’s book on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity and this particular Icon was part of it. It was such a good book and such a good group! It certainly deepened my own understanding of our Trinitarian faith. We ended up writing to him afterwards to thank him and we got a reply- so now I have his autograph!
- The Trinity is how God communicates his goodness to us, it is the LINK
between the invisible and the visible;
- The Trinity is the model of all human personal and social relationships (from family to church, to office, to nation,
each has as its vocation to be transformed by grace into a living icon of the Holy Trinity). Bishop Kallistos
- In the Trinity is revealed both the process and the goal of creation: that God "who is the creator of all things may at last become "all in all",
thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude.“ Catechism of the Catholic Church #294
The blessing of the Church on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at “St Peter Eastern Catholic Mission", Ukiah, California;
Details of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, l’Eglise de Notre Dame de l’Assomption, Samoëns, France;
Young flower girl with rose petals, Corpus Christi Procession, Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, (organized yearly
by the Monastery of Perpetual Adoration Sisters and with Mother Teresa Sisters);
Marcel Fonfrede’s Oratory in Vercland, who made the promise to Mary, while he was in Dachau, to build her a small oratory.
Lamb of God Tabernacle, in Haute-Combe Abbaye (12th century), France;
Chapelle de Vercland in winter, built in 1620, dedicated to St Symphorian;
Notre Dame des Victoires, the Marist French Church in downtown San Francisco, California;
Concert Baroque Vivaldi Haendel, with a French-Swiss symphony in l’Eglise de Notre Dame de l’Assomption, Samoëns,
And most of all, the source and the goal of our faith, the Alpha and the Omega, Jesus Christ,
in the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance for adoration and petition, spiritual growth and gratitude!