Trinitarian Communion

For all the commentary that Charles Taylor's monumental A Secular Age has generated, I think insufficient attention has been paid his culminating chapter, "Conversions." Here he tries to chart a path beyond secularity's dominant "immanent frame." Not surprisingly he turns to the poets as lantern bearers. Péguy enjoys a certain pride of place, but Hopkins figures prominently as well. Taylor writes:

Rejecting any doctrinal compromise with the spirit of his age, Hopkins returns decisively to the central Christian focus on communion as the goal of God's action in creation. God didn't just make us so that we could live according to the laws of his creation, but to participate in his love. What is striking is the way Hopkins brings to the fore once again the deep connection between this telos of communion and a recognition of the particular in all its specificity.

On this Trinity Sunday we might ponder that if communion is God's goal, it is because God's very life is Trinitarian communion. The fulfilled created image of God will be the realization of the communion of holy ones – as Dante saw so clearly. Communion, not fusion. Communion in which the names of each will continue to resound, now in blessed, beatifying harmony.

The Eucharist I will celebrate this morning will remember two wonderful parishioners who died far too young. Yet whose presence remains palpable. And here is how the homily concludes:

We pray that Michael and Robert may attain the fullness of their personhood in the loving communion of their Triune God. And as fellow members of the communion of saints, we dare hope that our prayers may support their entry into God's embrace.

And could we venture even further? Does their attainment of the fullness of personhood depend, in some measure, upon the living, loving relationships that they continue to inspire in us? Do we, by the lives we live, by our gratitude and generosity, truly contribute to their eternal joy?

All this we ponder, as Christians ever do, in the Presence of our Three-personed God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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