During the week, I attended the funeral of one of my school friends, which means we have been friends for at least fifty years, and her sudden tragic death has left me sad and confused. This reminded me that I had scribed the following words earlier in the year to use for a message and now seems to be a most apt time:
Over the Christmas break Allen and I watched on Netflix, Season 3 of The Crown. “Moondust”, the seventh episode, has Prince Philip transfixed by the moon landing in July of 1969. During this episode, Robin Woods becomes the new Dean who requests the use of one of the empty buildings at Windsor to use as a retreat location for mid-career priests to talk together as they struggle in their ministry, in the fast changing world. (This sounds like it could be now)
Prince Philip is less than compassionate in his first meeting with these priests and tells them to stop navel-gazing and to get out and act. However, after an anticlimactic meeting with the three astronauts he returns to the group therapy session at St George. Breaking with his natural inclination to keep his feelings bottled up, he admits to his midlife crisis, while unable to say these words. I share the narrative with you as it speaks powerfully of the need of faith in living a worthwhile and fulfilled life.
There wasn't a specific moment, uh, when it started.
It's been more of a gradual thing.
A drip, drip, drip of doubt disaffection, disease, dis discomfort.
People around me have noticed my general uh, irritability.
Um, now, of course, that's nothing new.
I'm generally a cantankerous sort, but even I would have to admit that there has been more of it lately.
Not to mention, uh, an almost jealous fascination with the achievements of these young astronauts.
Compulsive over exercising.
An inability to find calm or satisfaction or fulfillment.
And when you look at all these symptoms, of course it doesn't take a genius to tell you that they all suggest I'm slap bang in the middle of a, I can't even say what kind of crisis.
And of course one's read or heard about other people hitting that crisis, and, you know, just like them, you look in all the usual places, resort to all the usual things to try and make yourself feel better.
Uh, some of which I can admit to in this room, and some of which I probably shouldn't.
My mother died recently.
She saw that something was amiss.
It's a good word, that.
She saw that something was missing in her youngest child.
Her only son.
"How's your faith?" she asked me.
I'm here to admit to you that I've lost it.
And without it, what is there? The loneliness and emptiness and anticlimax of going all that way to the moon to find nothing, but haunting desolation ghostly silence gloom.
That is what faithlessness is.
As opposed to finding wonder, ecstasy, the miracle of divine creation, God's design and purpose.
What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say that the solution to our problems, I think, is not in the in the ingenuity of the rocket, or the science or the technology or even the bravery.
No, the answer is in here. (Points to his head and then his chest)
Or here, or wherever it is that faith resides.
And so Dean Woods, having ridiculed you for what you and these poor, blocked, lost souls were trying to achieve here in St. George’s House, I now find myself full of respect and admiration and not a small part of desperation as I come to say help.
And to admit that while those three astronauts deserve all our praise and respect for their undoubted heroism, I was more scared coming here to see you today than I would have been going up in any bloody rocket!
So, on this Trinity Sunday we, as people of Christian faith, remember and live out a life of relationships in community – with ourselves, our families, our neighbourhood and community, our parishes, our Catholic church and the wider Christian community. This becomes even more significant based on the events or violence, racism and solidarity shown on our screens this past week. It is as people of faith, that like Prince Philip, we each live a purposeful and meaningful life.
The Collect from the Mass of the Holy Trinity reflects the magnitude of our Christian faith and belief in a triune God:
God our Father, who by sending into the world
the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification
made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,
grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith,
we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The following reflection from Brother Julian McDonald cfc, was emailed to me this week and I think it speaks well of our interconnectedness:
However well or inadequately we understand the mystery we call God, we know that we were created for love and that there is something within us that draws us beyond ourselves in the direction of transcendence. Our faith assures us that it is only God who will satisfy that thirst or desire. In our limited understanding we know that God’s love is expressed in three different but interconnected ways –
- in creation, seen in all its beauty, in ourselves and in our efforts to reach out in love;
- in the person of Jesus, the perfect expression of God’s love in human shape;
- and in an intangible Spirit that breathes inspiration, creativity, imagination into us, into those around us and into the ever-evolving universe which envelops us.
Trinity Sunday invites us to celebrate the mystery of Divine love let loose in our lives, our world, human history and all of creation. Moreover, let’s not forget that one of the best and closest experiences of Divine love is reflected to us through the struggles of human love, and that the arms of God embrace us through the human arms and hearts that hold and nurture us.
And now to finish this message with the words that Pope John Paul II wrote in 2001 in Novo Millennio Ineunte about a spirituality of communion in which he indicated the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us and in our brothers and sisters:
Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, "masks" of communion rather than its means of expression and growth. (n. 43)
Let’s keep praying that the coronavirus will remain controlled in Australia, and that people will continue to do what is asked of them