Proverbs 8: 14, 22 – 31
Romans 5: 1 – 5
John 16: 12 – 15
One of the great lines from Father Benson, which is among my favourites, is something he said about the Holy Trinity. Writing to Father Rivington in 1875, he says:
I quite feel that the practical neglect of the doctrine of the Trinity has been the great cause of the decay of Christendom. The Church – the Sacraments – Hagilogy, I had almost said Mythology – have filled the minds of devout people, partly for good partly for evil. ‘Thyself unmoved, all motion’s source’ this mystery of the circulating life of the eternal Godhead, has been almost lost to sight, spoken of as a mystery, and not felt as a power or loved as a reality.
It seems like a bit of an outrageous claim, that the decay of Christendom is because of the practical neglect of the doctrine of the Trinity. Any school child, after all, can tell you that three does not equal one, and nor does one equal three. For many however, the Trinity is just that: a mathematical impossibility. So how is it then, that the neglect of this mathematical formula, and a nonsensical one at that, is the cause of the decay of Christendom?
For Father Benson, the Trinity had nothing to do with mathematics. It’s not about trying to convince people that something which makes no sense, actually does. The Trinity isn’t about math. It is about God, and it has to do with the reality of God who can be known, felt, and loved, in practice. And that’s what Father Benson is getting at here. He’s not speaking of the almost or nearly neglect, as in saying about something well that’s practically impossible, as in it’s unlikely to happen. Instead Father Benson is speaking of the practice, the experience, the experiential. What he is saying, is that people are no longer experiencing the Trinity and that the circulating life of the eternal Godhead is no longer a felt power or a loved reality. Because that circulating life of the eternal Godhead is no longer a felt power, or loved reality, it is rejected as a nonsensical mathematical formula, and one more thing to discredit, an already largely discredited, and irrelevant Church.
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 / Rom. 5:1-5 / Jn. 16:12-15
This afternoon when our Brother Robert L’Esperance makes his Profession in Life Vows in the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, we shall sing the 9th century Latin hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, in the 17th century translation by Bp. John Cosin, as a prayer for inspiration and enlightenment. Its memorable final verses make it appropriate for this Sunday. “Teach us to know the Father, Son, and thee, of both, to be but One, that through the ages all along, this may be our endless song: praise to thy eternal merit, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”