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: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash