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.”