THE TRINITY: MODEL OF OUR COMMUNITY LIFE
Paolo ARCHIATI, OMI, Vicar General
Encouraged by positive comments about what I shared last time, especially the two suggestions offered by Pope Francis about building community, I was wondering what I could share in this latest edition of OMI Information, when I received the news of the sudden death of one of our missionaries in the Province of Argentina-Chile: Father Emile TROTTEMENU. I got to know this confrere on two occasions: the General Chapter of 1998 and during the retreat I preached for his province a few years ago. One detail about this missionary remains fixed in my mind, something those who knew him always pointed out and a fact which I myself was able to verify and which made him immediately “likeable” for me: it is said that Father Emile was unable to treat any subject without “changing the subject” to the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
There it is, I told myself -- the theme I was looking for. At the beginning of this series, we emphasized the two models Eugene offered his Oblates for their community life: the first Christian community in Jerusalem and the community of the Apostles around Jesus. To these two models, we can certainly add a third without fear of betraying the thought of our Holy Founder: the Trinity as model for our community life. It is an “ideal” of community that invites us and helps us to set our gaze on high!
Scripture tells us that when God created us, he created us “in his image and likeness.” Researchers have written many volumes trying to explain what this image is, where it can be found, and how the human creature was created in the image of God.
All human persons have this image in themselves, like an indelible seal. It is an image that we are called to discover and rediscover throughout our journey. We are called to make it shine forth in the relationships we build with other human persons throughout our existence.
We are created in God’s image. The Oblate religious community is definitely a great place to discover and to live this “vocation”. A member of my community recently preached a retreat in an Oblate province and offered, as a help in rediscovering and living deeply community life, questions like these. In our community, can we look upon our brother and ask ourselves: what are the hints of the Trinity in this brother? Where does the image of God reside in him? Why is it sometimes difficult for us to see, to contemplate, to let ourselves be surprised by the image of God who dwells in our brother? Why is this? And what attitudes do we need to develop to recognize it more easily?
Our prayer manual reminds us that our Founder adopted for his Congregation the Morning Prayer he used since his seminary days at St. Sulpice. “For him,” we read in the manual, “the Trinitarian form of this prayer reflects the essence of our vocation: to live as a true son of God, imitate Jesus Christ and work for the glory of God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
In its original expression, it is a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, asking for forgiveness, offering and sacrifice. The text reflects the theology and vocabulary of its time. However, I think that beyond the concepts and wording that express these things, this prayer can be for us an invitation to rediscover our relationship, as individuals and communities, with each of the three Persons into whose communion we are called to enter.
Allow me to propose a meeting, and perhaps even more than one, whose aim is to allow those who participate to share their personal relationship with the three divine persons, drawing their inspiration from the experience of their lives. This kind of sharing may be the beginning of a renewal in the life of our local community.
This is not the place to deal with the Holy Trinity from the theological or scriptural point of view. Nevertheless, I would like to highlight some characteristics of the three divine Persons as the Word of God presents them, especially the Gospel. They can be found in ourselves and rediscovered in our brothers, precisely because we are created “in the image of God.” Concerning the Father, whom we call in the creed the Creator and Lord of all things, the Gospel highlights the characteristics of kindness, mercy, unconditional love, tenderness and forgiveness. Concerning the Son, there are emphasized his free and total obedience to the Father’s will, the capacity to be welcoming, the gift of his life for the salvation of all, his “oblation” on the altar of the cross. The Holy Spirit, the mutual love between the Father and the Son, is called the comforter, the advocate, the one who leads us to the truth in order to make us free and to see ourselves as brothers and sisters, children of a same Father.
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