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Trinity Rublev

Trinity Sunday 2022

Trinity Rublev

Next week is the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time (Counting Time). On Sunday, June 12, Trinity Sunday takes precedence and hence replaces the Sunday in the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time.

Let us pray (in silence) [to God the source of all being, through the eternal Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit]

pause

Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given to us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity,
and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity,
may we, through the steadfastness of this faith,
evermore be defended from all adversities;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

The above is my reworking for my Book of Prayers in Common in which I seek to provide a set of collects with history and commentary.

Trinity Sunday is a Feast Day, hence this collect is not used during the week following – the collect on weekdays, this year for next week, is that for Ordinary Week 11.

Trinity Sunday is notorious for, through attempted explanations of the Trinity, oversimplifying the doctrine to the point of affirming exactly what the doctrine is not trying to convey. Sermons regularly erroneously stray into tritheism/polytheism (that there are three gods); modalism (that there are three forms of God – like steam, liquid, and ice); and Subordinationalism (God the Father is the greatest. Coming in second is God the Son, followed by the second runner-up, the Holy Spirit).

Click on the following link to read my commentary and reflection on Trinity Sunday and its collect: Trinity Sunday; or read below.

The following may be another useful quote:

A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional word, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways–in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.

Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings- just as in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. [Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis p. 137-138]

On the top of this page is Rublev’s icon of the Trinity reflection 1 reflection 2

In the New Zealand Anglican Church there is no requirement to use a creed at a Eucharist. My suggestion is that Trinity Sunday be one Sunday when the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed be said by all. Just to stir things along a bit, it might be said as per the original, ie, omitting the Filioque (“and the Son” – added at the non-ecumenical 3rd Council of Toledo, 589). Some provinces have restored the original. Others of us in communities that use the Filioque might find ourselves suddenly pausing for a breath at that point and so find ourselves proclaiming: “… who proceeds from the Father <sudden need to draw breath> with the Father and the Son…” Who knows, a majority in a community, may suddenly all find themselves needing to draw breath at this point…

Lambeth Conference 1978 passed “that all member Churches of the Anglican Communion should consider omitting the Filioque from the Nicene Creed, and that the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission through the Anglican Consultative Council should assist them in presenting the theological issues to their appropriate synodical bodies and should be responsible for any necessary consultation with other Churches of the Western tradition.”

Lambeth Conference 1988 passed “that further thought be given to the Filioque clause, recognising it to be a major point of disagreement (with the Orthodox) … recommending to the provinces of the Anglican Communion that in future liturgical revisions the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed be printed without the Filioque clause.”

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church (USA) in 1985 recommended that the Filoque clause should be removed from the Nicene Creed, if this were endorsed by the 1988 Lambeth Conference. This has not been implemented. The Anglican Church of Canada conforms to the Lambeth resolution.

Some relate Trinity Sunday to the Athanasian Creed. This is not the most popular of creeds nowadays. From a liturgical perspective, it may be worth highlighting “the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship” – this is the universal Christian faith: worship. On Trinity Sunday, of course, it is worth continuing: “the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity”. Some other parts of the Athanasian Creed may be harder work to explain (not that explaining the Trinity will be particularly an easy task…).

The Church of England has used the Athanasian Creed as a source for:

We proclaim the Church’s faith in Jesus Christ.
All   We believe and declare that our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, is both divine and human.
God, of the being of the Father,
the only Son from before time began;
human from the being of his mother, born in the world;
All   fully God and fully human;
human in both mind and body.
As God he is equal to the Father,
as human he is less than the Father.
All   Although he is both divine and human
he is not two beings but one Christ.
One, not by turning God into flesh,
but by taking humanity into God;
All   truly one, not by mixing humanity with Godhead,
but by being one person.
For as mind and body form one human being
so the one Christ is both divine and human.
All   The Word became flesh and lived among us;
we have seen his glory,
the glory of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

Creeds and Authorized Affirmations of Faith – E7

I am not, however, suggesting that this replace the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Symbol/Creed, nor do I think it is helpful to have a second credal declaration in one service. One creed and a solid Eucharistic Prayer (our Christian Shema) I think is quite sufficient.

Resources beyond this site:
Textweek
Resources for Preaching from Downunder

In with the comments, please also remember to feel free to add links and suggestions for hymns, prayers, etc. for Trinity Sunday.

Commentary on the Collect

This is from the Gregorian Sacramentary for the octave of Pentecost, through the Sarum Rite, and to the 1962 Roman Missal (after which it was altered – see below):

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui dedisti famulis tuis in confessione verae fidei, aeternae Trinitatis gloriam agnoscere, et in potentia maiestatis adorare Unitatem: quaesumus, ut eiusdem fidei firmitate, ab omnibus semper muniamur adversis. Per Christum Dominum nostrum…

Cranmer 1459 has it as:

ALMIGHTYE and everlastyng God, whiche haste geven unto us thy servauntes grace by the confession of a true fayth to acknowlege the glorye of the eternall trinitie, and in the power of the divyne majestie to wurshippe the unitie: we beseche thee, that through the stedfastnes of thys fayth, me may evermore be defended from all adversitie, whiche liveste and reignest, one God, worlde without end.

Normally we celebrate in liturgy the great acts of God. Trinity Sunday is an exception. It celebrates a doctrine. 

We live in a world that so often fears difference. We bully them, persecute them, will not employ them, do not want to live in their neighbourhood, kill them, go to war with them. Yet the universe, rather than being uniform and unanimous holds wonderful diversity in unity. This beautiful multiplicity held in harmony in our universe is no accident because the source and heart of all reality is the one we call “God” – three in one. To live the Trinity life is to rejoice in diversity and to work towards holding it in unity.

Six blind persons at the zoo were feeling an elephant. “Elephant is like a wall”, said one stroking his side. “No – elephant is not like a wall, elephant is like a rope”, said another clutching the tail. “A rope? No – elephant is like a sheet,” said the third holding the ear. “Elephant is like a soft, large hose” said the fourth grasping the trunk. “No – elephant is like a tree” said another, firmly wrapping his arms about a leg. “Elephant is definitely like a solid pipe,” said the sixth taking hold of the tusk.

As we explore the nature of God from the different facets we perceive, we can see God “beyond”-creator, God “beside me” as friend and companion in Jesus, and God “within” as Holy Spirit. Ultimately, we acknowledge we are like blind persons feeling an elephant – acknowledging that God is not merely a human construct (there is an elephant), but that we have a most limited understanding of God. The apophatics are right – God is not like this, God is not like that…

The Medieval votive Mass of the Holy Trinity became the basis for the Trinity Sunday propers. The feast entered the church’s universal calendar in 1334. It was added by the Avignon Pope John XXII.

Trinity Sunday has a particular popularity within the English tradition of Christianity due to St Thomas Becket calling for its celebration throughout the realm. Recent Anglican reforms have re-highlighted that this is a feast day and the collect for Trinity Sunday is not to be used during the week following. The collect for the week is that of the Ordinary Sunday which Trinity Sunday replaces. 

The version in BCP (TEC):

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The version in Common Worship (CofE)

Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Roman Catholic Collect for this day was altered after Vatican II. The portions retained of the traditional collect are highlighted:

Deus Pater,
qui, Verbum veritatis et Spiritum
sanctificationis mittens in mundum,
admirabile mysterium tuum hominibus declarasti,
da nobis, in confessione verae fidei,
aeternae gloriam Trinitatis agnoscere,
et Unitatem adorare in potentia maiestatis.

Translated as:

Father,
you sent your Word to bring us truth
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you, one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and living our faith in you.

Current ICEL (2011):

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.

Those interested in inclusive languages or the variety of images for God may be interested to note this is the only Sunday Roman Catholic opening prayer (collect) in the Latin addressed to “Pater” (Father). Only one weekday opening prayer (collect) is addressed to “Pater” (the Saturday of the first week of Lent). The Roman Catholic collect is later than the Anglican one, originating with Alcuin.

The Church of South India Book of Common Worship collect for Trinity Sunday:

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast revealed thyself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and dost ever live and reign in the perfect unity of love: Grant that we may always hold firmly and joyfully to this faith, and, living in praise of thy divine majesty, may finally be one in thee; who art three Persons in one God, world without end. Amen.

New Zealand Anglicanism, clearly influenced by this collect has:

God of unchangeable power,
you have revealed yourself
to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
keep us firm in this faith
that we may praise and bless your holy name;
for you are one God now and for ever.
Amen.

NZPB p.606

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