Monday, June 01, 2015
A Portrait of the Trinity
I have a vague idea of seeing this in southern Spain but I am sure of its location. Snotty Protestants might have a difficulties with it but we Catholics are made of more enlightened stuff. Though one might prefer not to portray the Trinity, except possibly in an abstract way, of the Athanasian Creed one has to remember any depiction is merely analogous, unless one is presenting an actual happening like the appearance of the three Angels at the Oak Mamre.
Defining God in human terms, even as 'He', is always dangerous, unless revelation itself does. defining God as 'she' as those sillier Anglicans want to do, is just to denigrate revelation and further move into paganism.
We certainly know what the Second Person looked like: a man like us in all things but sin. The First Person is a little more difficult, Jesus names him as Father, Genesis uses similar language by describing as as source and origin of all that is, but yet there is a danger in making finite the infinite.
The Third Person is even more difficult to portray, he appears as a dove at the Baptism of Jesus and as a rushing wind and tongues of fire at Pentecost but actually his presence is made known in his works, through his many gifts and through his fruit.
I like the idea that he, or rather his works are portrayed by Mary, the highest honour of our race. It is Mary that we see the work of the Spirit, by his power she is conceived Immaculate, by his over-shadowing she conceives the Eternal Word, by his presence she has before her both on earth and in heaven the Beatific Vision and by his power she is taken up body and soul into heaven.
Through her Son, in the Spirit, she is united to the Father. I suspect critics of this statue might be less inclined to criticise an image the Trinity surrounded by all the saints yet the saints unlike Mary have to wait to be united to their bodies, they too look to Mary as the source of grace.
What is good about this statue is it reminds us of the fundamental doctrine of divinisation, of us dwelling in perfect union with the All Holy Trinity that Jesus promises and is the end of the Christian life.
For me one of the problems is the little Napoleonic eagle-like dove roosting on the Cross, yet the artist is presumably trying to indicate or reinforce the presence of Spirit hovering over Mary.
Of course what we can say about Mary, we can say about the Church so we can regard this statue as the Church too, even so it is an analogy and one way of thinking about the Trinity.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake