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Indwelling Trinity: The Consummation Covenant

Copyright © 1997 James H. Dobbins

O Lord, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before me, you hem me in and rest your hand on me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?

If I take the wings of the dawn, if I settle at the
farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.
My soul you also knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my actions; in your book they are all written; my days were limited before one of them existed.

Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
try me, and know my thoughts;
See if my way is crooked, and lead me in the way of old.

(Psalm 139)

The one who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to Him.

(John 8:29)

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling in him.

(John 14:23)

The doctrine of the Indwelling Trinity is founded in this quote from the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of John. But as we meditate on all three of these passages, we can see how beautifully this doctrine develops through all of these passages of scripture. Psalm 139 is so incredibly beautiful, and lays down such a marvelous foundation for the doctrine of the Indwelling Trinity. If we read the quote from Psalm 139 slowly, we see how beautifully the relationship between God and David is expressed. David is absolutely awestruck at the continual loving presence of God with him. He sings to us that God is always with him, before him and behind him, His hand is always on him. God knew David intimately before he came into existence. God knit him in his mother's womb. His every thought is known by God before it is ever expressed. God knows the depths of his soul; every action he has ever taken is known and remembered by God, and even the number of his days is known. And how does David respond? He says "Probe me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; See if my way is crooked, and lead me in the way of old." What a beautiful expression of trust and love.

The thing which strikes me so in this psalm is David's understanding of the inseparability of the love and knowledge of God for him as an individual. In our everyday life we encounter so many different people, and there is hardly a one in whom we would confide all of the innermost secrets of our heart and life. We value their feelings toward us, and we instinctively know that their love for us is usually dependent to some extent on their knowledge of us. And so we hide parts of our inner self so as not to jeopardize that love, for we crave to be loved. But in this beautiful psalm, David tells us that God knows us intimately, infinitely, down to the core of our being, body and soul, and also loves us infinitely no matter what He knows about us. He wants to be with us. He wants us to want Him to be with us. The infinite knowledge God has of us, and His simultaneous infinite love for us, cannot be separated. He will love us infinitely in spite of anything we might do. And David tells us how we should respond. He does not tell us to act as we do toward men, trying to hide parts and parcels of our inner self. Mindful of God's infinite love, David says, with full confidence, "Probe me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; See if my way is crooked, and lead me in the way of old." How different from the willful and self-centeredness so prevalent in our world. Probe me, and lead me. Submission to the will of God because of his confidence in God's inseparable infinite love and knowledge, and because he understands how much God desires this intimate and loving relationship with each of us individually, what He is willing to forgive to achieve it.

This is then mirrored when Jesus speaks to us in the eighth chapter of John. The Father is always with Him and has never left Him alone. Why? Because He always does the Father's will. "I always do what is pleasing to Him."

In this statement of Jesus, we see a parallel to Psalm 139 in that both speak of the continual presence of God with them, but they also speak of the desire to submit to the will of God as a condition of that intimate relationship. In David's case, he recognizes the failings of his human nature and begs God to probe him, determine the errors of his ways in every respect, and then lead him on the right path. In the case of Jesus, isn't He telling us that He has never failed, has never sinned, has never been separated, even for an instant, from the Father? Jesus always does what is pleasing to the Father. What an expression of intimacy in His relationship to the Father. He does not say He tries. He says He does; no exceptions. He does not ask to be corrected by the Father, for there is no need. How could any man say this? He is leading us into the doctrine of the Indwelling Trinity. He is leading by example.

Chosen-ness in Christ: Covenant of Divine Consummation

All of the above leads us into the full teaching of the Indwelling Trinity in chapter fourteen of the gospel of John. We see the same conditions, the same filial relationship. However, this indwelling presence of God in our soul is the essence of the New Testament covenant relationship, the essence of being the new chosen people of God. The central key to the Divine intimacy called for by the new covenant is the indwelling Trinity; the objective is not just to have God always near us, but to be intimately united with God, in what St. John of the Cross calls the transforming union; to have the infinite God within our finite soul in such a way that we become one with Him by participation.

The character of being chosen by God means the same thing to us today that it meant to the Jews. God has extended to us the same chosen-ness He had extended previously only to the Jews. He had made covenants with the Jews, covenants which had been broken by man.

At the Last Supper, Jesus made a new covenant, an everlasting covenant, not with one nation, but with a borderless nation made up of all, Jew or gentile, who desire to be a part of His new eternal nation. He made this covenant with His apostles and those who would follow His teachings given through them. It is a covenant sealed in His Blood. It is eternal, and thus will never again be repeated. It is the final covenant between God and man. Thus we have the words of the consecration in the Mass of Pius V, "This is the chalice of My Blood, of the new and everlasting covenant: the Mystery of Faith. It will be shed for you and for many for the remission of sin." This is taken from the gospel of Matthew, "And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you; for this is my Blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'"(Matthew 26:27-28: Ignatius Bible)

The significance, the role we have as a chosen people in the life of the Church, is to recognize the importance of this gift, and to live our part of the covenant. It was sealed in the Blood of God, not the blood of an ox or goat or sheep. It is the last chance we will get to enter into a covenant relationship with God. It gives all who desire to be so, the power to become children of God, His chosen ones. "When the Son of Man is lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself." All are given the opportunity. Those who respond to the call of the Father are given to Jesus as His own, and He is their Savior.

In His final prayer to the Father (John 17), Jesus said (paraphrased) "I do not pray for all, but for those You have given Me." Those the Father gives to Him are the ones who respond to the call. It is they who bear the responsibility to live the covenant life. It is they to whom Jesus referred as the "many" when He said at the Last Supper, "... which is poured out for many...". To do this, we must keep the Commandments. This will let us enter Heaven, as Jesus told the rich young man. But Jesus also calls us all to a life of perfection. In His encounter with the rich young man, Jesus continues (again paraphrased), "If you would be perfect, sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me." He calls each of us to a state of being where we can meet His challenge to "be you perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect". He is calling us all to put aside everything of our own making that stands between us and God, that creates a clouded veil between us, and walk with Him, holding His hand, letting Him lead us into His kingdom to share in His inheritance.

This does not mean we should not be wealthy. It does mean we should be indifferent to whether we are or are not. If we are, use that wealth for good, and do not pursue wealth as the end in itself. Pursue God instead, and if He sends us this reward, use it for good, for His purposes. But if He sends us poverty, accept it as His will, and still pursue Him regardless. Do as He calls us to do, regardless of our own desires. Be a faithful people in this desert exile. Do not complain about the manna, but accept it gladly as His gift, recognizing that He always knows best what we need. Allow ourselves to be led, and stop trying to lead God toward what we want. He knows the best route to the promised land; we do not. This is what being a covenant people is about.

The Church, recognizing this responsibility, and recognizing the leadership provided by the Holy Spirit since Pentecost, assumes a role which is both teacher and minister. The Church is obligated to do what it can to lead us, preparing us spiritually, to receive the Holy Spirit so He can make us holy, so He can divinize our souls, so He can make us true children of God. Our responsibility is to recognize this Spirit led mission, and respond faithfully. To do otherwise is to behave as the grumbling Israelites in the desert, never satisfied, always wanting something different and more to their own liking. God said that for forty years He endured these people, and not one of them entered the promised land. To live the covenant life is to live a life of submission to His will, His plan, for us. That is the life of the Church, the mission of the Church. Our manna is the Eucharist. Our life is the Holy Spirit, for Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." We follow, He leads.

In considering the idea of chosen-ness and what it means to the Church,

there are some other things to consider beyond those already mentioned. In Psalm 139, in the beautiful prayer of love, David is almost mesmerized with the understanding that God knows him infinitely and intimately, and loves him infinitely at the same time. The infinite love and knowledge of God are inseparable. Nothing David can do will make God stop loving him. And so David says 'probe me and lead me'. This psalm epitomizes the height of the expressible relationship the Jews had with God. It is a betrothal, but not a marriage.

The relationship evolved over the centuries from a covenant of power and authority with Abraham, into a covenant of care and love for His faithful with Noah, into a covenant of belonging with Moses, at which time God gave us the Ten Commandments. None of these Commandments include the word "love", and yet Jesus told us that all the Commandments and all the Law were founded on His two commandments of love. This tells us how these Ten Commandments should be read by our hearts; not legalistically, but as expressions of how two people who love each other should behave toward each other. They are commandments of love that should not require enforcement.

In Psalm 139, we see the level of development to which this relationship has grown. Looking back on the series of covenants, we can see a covenant relationship grow from acquaintance to friendship, and finally betrothal. This betrothal in its most perfect form is what is epitomized in Psalm 139.

In John 8 we see Jesus expressing His relationship with the Father, not just a filial relationship as we know it, but one which is so deep and so intimate that, unlike David, He never has to ask the Father to probe Him and lead Him in right ways, for He always does the will of the Father. He does not try; He does. And He knows He does. Every moment of every day He knows the will of the Father and does it.

In John 14, Jesus finally explains. "If any man loves Me, he will keep my word, and the Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode in him." This one thing is what the covenant relationship of the Church is most characterized by; it is the fruition of our chosen-ness. We cannot separate chosen-ness and covenant. This fruition, the completeness, is the spiritual marriage of the soul with God that takes place in the innermost depths of the soul, that region St. Teresa of Avila characterizes as the Seventh Mansions. It brings to completion in spiritual marriage the betrothal relationship described by David in Psalm 139.

In Psalm 139, God was seen as close but outside, caring for us, leading us, guiding us, protecting us, teaching us. The God who is committed to us and we to Him by covenant, the God who was always seen as outside, is now, in Jesus, the bridegroom of our soul. The betrothal is over, the spiritual marriage is consummated through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Just as marriage is as far as the relationship can go between man and woman, the spiritual marriage of our soul with the indwelling Trinity is as far as we can go this side of Heaven. There is no more intimate spiritual relationship, other than that which exists within the Trinity itself. It is only through Jesus and the Holy Spirit that this marriage can take place. Man and woman united in sacramental marriage become one spiritual entity having Jesus as the glue binding them together. It tears His spirit when people divorce, for He must remain with each party, loving each, existing in the midst of division. The Indwelling Trinity and man become spiritually one. God shares His divine nature with us by participation, divinizing our soul, letting us share in what belongs to Jesus as a matter of right. Thus the fullness of revelation found in Jesus brings with it the fullness of the relationship, the fullness of the chosen-ness and the completion of the covenant. That is why Jesus said what He did at the Last Supper. This is THE Mystery of Faith. It is the new and everlasting covenant, sealed in His Blood, because it is the culmination of the entire history of covenants, from acquaintance to spiritual marriage. That is why the Jews should have recognized the importance of this. They should have seen that a betrothal without a marriage is just teasing; a promise of unity that would never come without Jesus. The marriage had to come, it had to, for the fidelity of God demanded it. That is what Jesus brought, even doing so through the line of David who expressed the betrothal so beautifully.

In hindsight, it is so clear. It is not the earthly kingdom God was bringing. He was bringing to completion the chain of covenants, was completing the chosen-ness of His people, was bringing to fullness the revelation of God to man, granting us the unity of God and man through the Indwelling Trinity. This Indwelling Trinity is the mark of chosen-ness for us today; it is the net effect of the covenant relationship, it is the spiritual marriage which is the fruit of our sanctification and divinization by the Holy Spirit acting within. This is what separates us from all other people who are or who ever were. It is our indelible mark of uniqueness in salvation history. It is what the Father calls each of us to, and when we respond positively He gives us to Jesus. It is all those of us who respond to the call of the Father for whom Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17.

This spiritual marriage of the soul with God is mirrored in the marital relationship between man and woman, where two become one without either losing their unique identity. The only relationship more perfect is that which exists within the Trinity itself. Being a covenant people, being the new chosen people, and being the bride of Christ, united to Him in love within the depths of our soul where no one else can enter, is the essence of the new and everlasting covenant relationship between man and God, revealed to us and defined by Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God.

Relationship is an essential concept here, for it is a true and intimate relationship, not a one-sided authoritarian relationship. We, as a covenant people, living temples of God, true children of God, intimately united with the God within, are, as a priest friend once told me, "chosen to be extensions of the Divine kenosis and, thereby, to be an active 'Divine invasion' into fallen Creation". All this is continually happening, while at the same time God is creating a distinctly unique relationship between you and Himself deep within your soul. It is distinctly your own relationship, responsive to that which makes you unique. And yet He also brings us all into the marvelous identity with each other through Himself as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. He brings Himself to us individually in a totally unique union of love, and brings us all into union with Him and with each other in the Mystical Body, a union whereby we are all spiritually united in and through Him. The all-encompassing Mystical Body of Christ, the Church and all of its members, in all of their roles - Church militant, Church Penitent, Church Triumphant - are spiritually united in love through Jesus Christ, the common Head of the Mystical Body. This sense of spiritual union with each other, as well as with Christ, requires us to pray for each other, to offer prayer and good works for the spiritual healing of each other, prayers and good works becoming the spiritual salve used by Jesus to heal those in need.

If we love Jesus, if we keep His word, then the Father will love us and They will dwell within us. That is Jesus' promise, not just a possibility. The difference here, compared to the old covenant relationship understood before Jesus, is the explicit statement that God dwells within and is not just close at hand watching us from outside and probing our minds and souls. In David, we saw an awareness of closeness and love, an awareness of intimate knowledge, but not necessarily the kind of interior intimacy we find in Jesus' statement, in His promise. He and the Father will dwell within our soul, making our soul their abode. That same combination of inseparable, intimate and infinite knowledge and love, perceived by David, is now united substantially with the very substance of our soul, while at the same time preserving our identity and free will. This closeness, this intimacy, is something we must spend time contemplating.

The richness of this doctrine, the importance of it, cannot be probed fully by reason and logic alone. It requires an infusion communicated by the Holy Spirit, a change in our understanding of who we are, and why we are, and what we are. We are each God's child, loved by Him. We are each a being which holds the infinite Triune God within. We are each a being made to love God with our whole soul, our whole mind and our whole will. We are each a true child of God, His gift to us so we can participate in Him as He dwells in us. And all He asks in return is that we love Him, and obey Him, for to God, love and obedience in us are inseparable, just as in Him knowledge and love are inseparable.

How Do We Respond?

The concept and the reality of the indwelling Trinity, and how we should respond, are clear in the works of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. We also have the promise of Jesus in John 14:11, "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me"; in John 15:4, "Abide in Me and I in you."; and in John 17, that for those who love Him, "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that You sent Me, and that You loved them even as You love Me. ... I made known to them Your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Some feel Our Lord was only speaking metaphorically. The night before He died He prayed for each of us who believe His word as communicated to us through the gospels. It was not a time for riddles and metaphors; not a time for guessing games and parables. This was His final day to teach us. The time of fulfillment of His mission had come. It was a deadly serious moment, but one filled with hope and love for those apostles, and for us through the ages who believe in Him because of what He teaches us through the apostles. For many, the reality of what He said is just too much; too much to grasp, too much to take responsibility for, requiring too much be given up if one is to live the reality of this promise. It is reminiscent of the disciples complaint in John 6:60, "This saying is hard. Who can accept it?" Sadly, the reality is something far too many grow up without ever being taught. Hard teachings are avoided in the pulpit. Hard teachings are avoided in religious education classes. Parents who grew up without a grasp of this sublime reality can never pass it on to their children, and ignorance abounds and multiplies.

For one who seeks God, the longing is something that never subsides. It is a consuming desire. Many seek God in all sorts of places, through all sorts of prayer and exotic methods, but if we just believe what Jesus told us, we need look no farther than the depths of our own soul.

Jesus also told us what we must do to have this relationship with Him. In John 13:8, Jesus told Peter, during the washing of the feet, that "If I do not wash you, you will have no part in Me." He was washing feet, but He was speaking of washing souls. As He said, He is the living water that refreshes. Water can refresh when we drink it and it becomes part of us, but it can also refresh when we use it to clean our bodies, and the dirtier we are the more refreshing it is. It cleans the outside and refreshes the inside. He is the living water Who refreshes our soul. He refreshes by cleaning our soul through forgiveness of sin in the sacrament of Reconciliation, and refreshes our soul by His living presence within as our souls are divinized through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. He slakes our thirst, satisfying our longing for Him. He comes and dwells within and radiates His Light within us. But He and the Father are one, and where They are is also the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth. If Jesus is within, the Trinity is within.

To receive the indwelling Trinity our soul must be cleansed by the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. He does this through sanctifying grace. The cleaner we are, the more evident will be His presence and the more complete the divinization of our soul. As Paul tells us, He lives His life in us. It is how He satisfies our inner longing for Him. Jesus told us, "seek and you will find". It was Himself of which He spoke.

But how do we seek? How do we find Him, or rather have Him find an abode within us? We must have the strength to separate from that which is familiar and close and desirable to the senses, and develop the detachment we need to seek only that which has eternal value. We seek only Him, not things having mere worldly value, no matter how precious and important they might seem. As we seek, we are brought more and more to the reality of the need to seek within, not externally. Eventually, we find Him; we find the Trinity, in all its splendor and majesty, dwelling within the deep recesses of our soul. This should give us some idea of the infinite value of our soul to God, of the vastness of our soul, of the beauty of a soul in sanctifying grace, of the unbounded potential capacity of the soul for Love. How beautiful must this soul be, clothed in the garments of grace, filled with the majesty of God's presence.

This God, dwelling within, desiring to permeate our entire soul to overflowing with His Being, is sometimes held in check by our foolhardiness. We fail to respond to His prompting of grace, we cling to worldly things, we are fearful to turn control over to Him, we are not open to Him. He asks us to trust Him, and we trust ourselves more. He asks us to love Him, and we love only His consolations. But eventually, if we persevere, we turn inward enough to begin to appreciate the treasure within, the infinite value of the loving relationship He so very much wants with each of us. We are responding to the call of His grace.

The Holy Spirit within communicates His grace and His gifts to us, guides us, teaches us, inspires us, and leads us ever closer to intimate union with God Himself. We find all this within the depths of our own soul. When we do we realize we did not find this through logic, through reason, through anything over which we had direct control. We found it through detachment from the world and abandonment to God's will; by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us unimpeded. We detach enough, and submit sufficiently, that God then takes charge and brings us to where He desires and in the manner He desires, and this is unique for each of us. We each arrive at a decidedly unique relationship with God dwelling within, and in the depths of our soul we communicate directly, intimately, and continuously. When we do encounter God within, God communicates Himself directly to us, and in ways we cannot fathom with reason or the senses. He communicates as much of Himself as is needed for us to fulfill His desire for us, and can do so in an instant. He communicates as much of Himself as we are disposed to receive.

Through these experiences, we learn the need to remove all impediments between us and God; every attachment for worldly things, every lack of virtue, every inclination that takes us on a path away from God's will. We cannot do this alone, but it can be done by God working in us. Jesus told us we can do nothing without Him. And so we submit, we ask His help, and we pray He brings us within the depths of Himself so He can form us into that which He desires we become. We assist by trying to enter the depths of our soul as often as we can, seeking Him Whom we know is within, Him Whom we know loves us infinitely.

As we seek Him within, we recognize that we are bathed in His love, but this is also a time when we can be tempted to withdraw from the search, for we may be plagued with doubt as to our worthiness, filled with awareness of our shortcomings. This is the time when we should charge forward with earnest, for He knows better than we what these faults are, and He is the Great Physician Who came to heal, not to condemn. If it were not He Who calls, we could not begin the journey, and He would not call us if He did not want us. So, filled with love and trust and faith and confidence, we plunge within the depths of our soul, knowing He is there to find, there to receive us. In this search we learn more and more the meaning of real love; a love that is deep, is centered on the Other, one which is not self-seeking. The more we focus on God, the more we seek Him for love of Himself, the more of His infinite love we will receive. Thus, we seek as pure a love as possible, knowing that because of our weakness some of the motivation is directed toward self for we desire for ourselves what will result from union with God. But God knows this imperfection well, so we need not fear it as long as we approach God with the greatest purity of love we can offer, and then trust in Him to purify us further with the infinite power of His Love.

Those who ask how to enter these depths of the soul need to seek not method, but grace. The vehicle which calls God to shower this grace upon us is prayer. To seek God is to pray, and to seek that which is not inferior to oneself. That means one must seek nothing of this temporal world, for all things of this world are necessarily inferior to our immortal soul. It is only by operation of grace that one is able to enter within, for God cannot allow you to seek Him within if you are sullied and improperly clothed. So, we must seek a life of grace, and seek the Sacrament of Love, Holy Eucharist, as often as we can. Through operation of grace, we seek, and find, the peace of soul found by being possessed by God within, regardless of what is transpiring in the world outside. "My Peace I give to you."

The more we do this, the more we traverse within, the deeper we go, the better we recognize the obstacles we have placed there between us and God, and the more determined we become to remove those obstacles. Tauler calls them scales; Teresa of Avila calls them reptiles and vermin. Regardless, they are obstacles which block the Light within, and so they must be removed if we are to eventually come into the secret place from which He calls us.

By finding the Trinity within, we find our very selves being formed into the image and likeness of the Trinity, for by operation of increasing sanctifying grace God is communicating more and more of Himself to, impressing more of His image and likeness upon, our soul, there in those depths where He resides. Our soul takes on the nobility of God, by participation, through operation of love and grace; we have found, and have to some degree become, that which we have diligently and lovingly sought. Tauler tells us "Then the power of the Father will come and call the soul into Himself through His only-begotten Son, and as the Son is born of the Father and returns to the Father, so a man is born of the Father in the Son, and flows back into the Father through the Son, becoming one with Him." 1

The Instrument of Divinization

When we speak of the divinization of our soul, we speak of a doctrine that has been held by the Church since the beginning. Although several of the prominent spiritual fathers have written about this, it seems to be a doctrine that few Catholics, and even fewer Christians, are familiar with. I once asked a Franciscan priest friend of mine why this is so, and his answer was interesting. He said they spent three years during formation studying this in a course series on mystical theology. However, they were advised not to devote much time to teaching it to their congregations because it is not something which can be covered in a fifteen minute homily, requires a series of classes in an adult education setting, and many adults are not interested in a series. It seems the laity are more interested in the quick sound bite kind of education than in something that takes meaningful reflection. That is obviously a generalization, but a sign of the times. I know this is not the case for anyone who is reading this book, especially this far into the book, for anyone who is engaged in this reflective challenge is searching for a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God and is willing to ponder, meditate and devote the necessary time to allow His infinite Love to possess them.

As we investigate the Divinization process, we must focus on the power and the instrument of Divinization; the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit must accomplish this task while contending with three forces in conflict with His objectives; free will, ignorance, and the attractions of this world. Free will is something He will always respect, for it is God's free gift to us. Ignorance He can deal with through infusion and inspiration. The attractions of this world are powerful and require great graces to overcome, for we use our free will in seeking these attractions above God. It is these attractions which are among satan's most powerful weapons distracting us in our search for union with God. The attraction of the immediately available delight is always powerful. Tauler spoke of this in his Spiritual Conferences:

Often it happens that when God comes to us with His touches and His gifts, He finds the soul occupied. Other guests are there, and he has to turn away. He cannot gain an entry, for we love and desire other things; therefore, His gifts, which He is offering to everyone unceasingly, must remain outside. 2

Our objective, in pursuing God, is to possess the Holy Spirit and let Him possess us. We must become docile in His hands so He can do in us what He knows must be done for His great work, for the plan of the Father for us, to bear fruit. To the extent we fail to cooperate, we deprive ourselves of the wonders God had planned for us, the supernatural wine cellar of the mansion Jesus said He was preparing for us in His kingdom; delights of which, as Jesus told us, the mind of man has not conceived.

Recognizing that the Holy Spirit is the gift of the Father to us, as Jesus told us in the gospel, Fr. Luis Martinez, the late archbishop of Mexico, in his book about the Holy Spirit, tells us:

His ideal is to produce Jesus in us, and through Jesus and with Jesus, to take us to the bosom of the Trinity and glorify the Father with the supreme glorification of Jesus. ... To be devoted to the Holy Spirit is to open our soul for Him to dwell there, to dilate our heart that He may anoint it with His divine charity, to deliver our whole being up to Him that He may possess it with His gifts, to give Him our life that He may transform it into a divine one, ... To be devoted to the Holy Spirit is to possess Him and to let ourselves be loved and moved according to His good pleasure; ... to let Him infuse into us a new life, the marvelous participation in the life of God. 3

St. Paul speaks often of our role as the Temple of God, that place wherein God resides. He speaks repeatedly of this in his letters to the Corinthians. Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem and threw out all the merchants, all those who corrupted the temple with things not of God, with the mercenary idols of this world. The temple, the place of abode for God, must have no other purpose, no other function. God's infinite love for us demands there be no divided loyalties, no dual purposes for our temple. We must receive Him, and reserve the innermost recesses of our soul for Him, and Him alone. He offers us His infinite Love, so we must offer Him all we are able.

All of this means that if the Holy Spirit is to come to us and perform His works in us, He can do so to the extent we are disposed to receive Him, to the extent we have done what we must to prepare for Him. Each of us has what we might call our own little Pentecost, and the extent to which we receive the Holy Spirit, the power of the results of this little Pentecost, is a function of the degree to which the soul is prepared to receive Him. When properly prepared by turning away from the temptations and attachments of this world, when we die to self to live in God, we become those who

... receive Him [the Holy Spirit] not by way of any mere mode of experience, but within the secret abyss, the hidden kingdom, in the blissful depths of the soul where the noble image of the Holy Trinity lies concealed. The soul has nothing more precious than this. 4

All of this preparation is forsaking a temporal and immediate delight available to us now, in favor of an unknown delight in God. Our minds cannot conceive of the treasures God has waiting for us, and it is very hard to desire something about which you know little or nothing, or so it seems. But what is the greatest treasure we could receive? It is God Himself. He gives us Himself, He shares Himself with us out of love for us, and, as Tauler says, nothing is more precious. Our task is to recognize and prepare for that preciousness. It is hard to appreciate what we have not sought, desired and found. God remains conceptual, elusive, someone for whom we have not fostered a burning craving from within. We have no inner fire. God is someone talked about, someone far away to whom we pray who may or may not hear us, someone to whom we give attention occasionally amidst the myriad of temporal delights to which we are continually drawn in every direction, but not someone we know well enough, desire enough, or to whom we are willing to make a commitment or a consecration.

But when the soul does seek God, it will find Him. When it does ask for the grace to know Him, it will receive. When the soul does knock on the heart of God, He will open His heart to receive it. When this happens, when the Holy Spirit is allowed to work in us unimpeded, then we discover the Trinity within.

... the image of the Trinity lies in the most intimate region of the soul, in its most secret and inmost depths, where God is present essentially, actually and substantially. Here God acts, makes His home, and rejoices in Himself, and it would be as impossible to separate God from this inmost depth of the soul as it would be to separate Him from Himself. This is by God's eternal decree; He has ordained that He will not and cannot separate Himself. There, in the depths of the soul, the soul possesses by grace all that God has by nature....

There are three who give testimony in heaven, that is, in the interior heaven of our soul: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. These are your witnesses, who give you true testimony that you are a child of God. They enlighten the depths of your soul, and so your own soul becomes a witness. 5


1   Tauler, Johann, O.P., Spiritual Conferences, TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, 1978, p. 144.
2   Tauler, Johann (1300-1361), Spiritual Conferences, TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, 1978, p. 91.
3   Martinez, Rev. Luis, The Sanctifier, Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, 1982, pp 44-45.
4   Tauler, p. 109.
5   Tauler, pg 142, 145.

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