Boosting your relationship with the Holy Trinity

You cross yourself and begin to pray. But then you realize that not only Jesus, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit are God. And you don’t know who to pray to or how to pray because you don’t want to make any of them feel neglected. What do you do?

Luckily enough, Christians have asked themselves how the fact that God is One in three persons affects the way he relates to us and how we relate to him.

But the first thing we must take into account is that when it comes to having a relationship with God, it’s not about a competition of who gets more attention.

“The persons of the Trinity are one God, so you don’t have to worry about neglecting one or the other—the Holy Spirit, for example, never feels forgotten,” said Father Daniel Barron, director of spiritual formation at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.

Father Barron especially called to mind the passage in which Phillip asks Jesus to show his disciples the Father, “and that will be enough.” And Jesus scolds him: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:8-9).

That, however, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek a unique relationship with each one.

“Still, it gives God great honor and glory that we really know and love Him as He is: three distinct persons,” Father Barron continued. “God reveals himself to us as Love—not a solitary monad far away, but an inseparable community who desires to draw us into that union.”

A way to do this is to practice the “triple colloquy” that St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests in his Spiritual Exercises, he said.

A colloquy is an intimate conversation which the saint recommends at the end of each meditation and is to be done with a transparent heart, without a fear of showing affection. He suggests a “triple colloquy,” by speaking with each person of the Holy Trinity.

“As one begins to pray this colloquy, one begins to experience that there is a distinct relationship that develops with each of the persons of the Trinity. It’s difficult to put into words, however, and perhaps unique to each person,” Father Barron said. “Still, when we open our hearts to God, he opens his heart to us. We can even trust that God is working in and through our imagination to reply. Don’t be afraid to listen and let the Lord speak!”

In the process to grow in relationship to the triune God, however, there is much that may need purification and healing.

“Perhaps the biggest obstacle to a deepening relationship with the Trinity is emotional pain. Wounds from our human relationships can keep us locked down in spirit and unable to open up to the love of God,” Father Barron said.

“If a person feels like emotional pain is keeping him/her from intimacy with God, the first step to healing is going to prayer and telling Jesus the whole story of the hurt… It’s even good to ask Jesus where he was when this happened and why he allowed it,” he said. “As you pray this way more and more, you gradually realize—in faith—that you are not talking to yourself and that you are not alone. If you are not alone, it doesn’t hurt so bad. The more frequently you let Jesus see your wounds, the more quickly his wounds will heal yours.”

COMING UP: Swole.Catholic helps people strengthen body and soul

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St. Augustine once said, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

Humans are both body and soul and both must be strengthened. This is the reason for the existence of Swole.Catholic, a group of people who dedicate themselves to nurturing their soul while strengthening their body, and through their ministry, motivate others to do the same.

According to Paul McDonald, founder of Swole.Catholic, they focus on encouraging faithful fitness. “We must take care of our temple of the Holy Spirit, because our bodies are one of God’s greatest gifts to us,” he said.

McDonald solidified the idea of faith and fitness when he was a sophomore in college. While “going through a huge moment in my life, at the same time I was really learning about the gym and learning ethical statements on my own. Both things clicked together,” he told the Denver Catholic. As a young guy, he started bible studies, and in those studies, he always had an analogy back to the gym.

He decided to make shirts for him and the guys in the bible study during his senior year. The shirts ended up becoming good conversation starters, and he decided he needed to do something with it — evangelize and motivate others to take care of their body and soul.

Thus Swole.Catholic was born. “Swole” is a slang term for bulking one’s muscles up from going to the gym, and of course, the Catholic part is self-explanatory — not only because of the Church but also for our faith and how it defines us in all we do. Swole.Catholic launched officially in Jan 2017.

The ministry consists of a website which provides resources to helps people with Catholic gyms, Catholic workouts, Catholic trainers, podcasts as well as workout wear.

The workout wear works as an evangelization tool. The word “Catholic” is printed on the front of the shirts and a bible verse is placed on the back.

“This raises questions or interest in others. It also works as a reminder of the purpose of the workout,” McDonald said. He added, “Most of the gyms we are going to have mirrors and all that, making you focus into yourself.” But the real purpose of the workout, as the members of Swole.Catholic say, is to strengthen your body and soul to live a healthy life.

Swole.Catholic also has rosary bands, a simple decade wrist band that people can wear while they workout and be flipped off at any time to pray a quick decade.

“Because everyone’s faith journey is different and everyone’s fitness journey is different, what we are trying to do is connect people with people [for them] to be able to have the correct support with their faith and fitness,” McDonald said.

That is why Swole.Catholic now has outposts around the country, with passionate Catholic members who love to help and inspire others in the fitness world while pursuing God in everything they do.

“Each one has its own flavor,” McDonald said. “In Florida we have a rosary run group where a bunch of girls meet up and pray rosary while they go for a run.” Among the outposts, there is also a group of guys in North Dakota who do a bible study and lift together. Similar to these two groups, members from other states have formed their own Catholic fitness groups and are now part of Swole.Catholic, including in Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Wyoming and more.

“We encourage faithful fitness,” McDonald concluded. “We think your fitness fits in your faith as much as faith fits in your fitness. We are body and soul and we need to be building both.”

To join a group or a workout, visit swolecatholic.com or find them on Facebook.