Saturday, March 21, 2009

St. Patrick meets St. Basil

Ever wonder what will be the outcome if these two “great” men (St. Patrick & St. Basil the Great) of our Church come across each other? The result will certainly be an unparallel view on the doctrine of the Trinity. What do I mean by this?

Remember that St. Basil the Great, one of the Cappadocian Fathers alongside with St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Gregory Nazianzus, who pioneered the Church’s understanding of the origin of the Trinity from Eternity: The Father as the Unbegotten, the Son as the Begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father through the Son. These fathers rephrased Monotheism in a way that the plurality of persons in the Trinity made the unity of God more dynamic.

St. Patrick, on the other hand whose feast we celebrated a couple of days ago, explained his view on the Trinity by using a “shamrock”. He would argue that like the Trinity a shamrock is both one leaf and three. Shamrock might seem simple analogy yet undeniably powerful.

When these two combined ---the result is an entirely richer one ---the Trinity ROCKS!

However, the question which I posed earlier is just hypothetical one. Reality check! It is 21st century already and the meeting of these two great men from two different time and space is indeed an impossibility. With this being said, we are just thankful that our Doctrine on the Trinity has been handed down to us by our early Fathers in a far more intelligible way than before.

Though these two great men’s path may not cross one another at this present time, the people representing them can still make the impossible possible. What do I mean by this?

This day, some of the seminarians studying for the diocese of Sacramento here at “St. Patrick’s” Seminary (with seminarians from Oakland, Reno, Guam, San Jose) met with the people representing the faith of “St. Basil the Great” of Vallejo. Though the meeting was not about the discussion on the Trinity, an in-depth reflection on the event may lead us to the profound mystery of the Trinity. This might sound “way-over-the-top” but the point that I’m making is the sense of community that I was able to experience during the meeting. This is what we are all about as Catholics, as believers of Christ and the Trinity! We are all called to share in that “Oneness”, in that perfect relationship that governs the Trinity. The sense of oneness and community that I experienced from this simple event reflects, at least in a simple way, what the Trinity is all about. What do I mean by this? As seminarians, we are being prepared to a life where we can configure ourselves in Christ. To be configured in Christ means that by virtue of ordination, we will be able to gather and shepherd the People of God as one ---to reflect the beauty of the oneness of the Trinity. This is our mission, to bring everyone into this reality of unity and communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. How can we do this? As early as now, the seminary provides us with tremendous opportunities to establish a non-superficial relationship with the people whom we will be serving in God’s time. With this being said, the meeting that took place between St. Patrick’s seminarians and St. Basil’s faithful ones is a powerful experience of this reality.

It might have been a simple tour of the seminary provided by St. Patrick’s to St. Basil but the experience is far deeper than meets the eye. Seeing these young and not-so-young people expressing their amazement and joy in seeing the seminary and how it operates created an atmosphere of belongingness. As much as they are warmly welcomed by the seminarians here at St. Patrick’s, it feels 100 times better as a seminarian to feel their passionate welcome to us as their soon-to-be shepherds. Though as seminarians we might to be able to reflect St. Patrick himself in the fullest sense or as the faithful people of St. Basil may not be able to reflect also their patron in strictest sense; what matters most is the fact that we can reflect in our littlest way the mystery of the Trinity in our short meeting.

St. Basil, we thank you for the short visit! Till next seminary tour….AMDG

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