Thursday, July 26, 2007
A TRINITARIAN STRUCTURE TO THE LITURGICAL YEAR.
The liturgical year can also be understood as having a Trinitarian form, in that the Presence of Christ in Creation is also celebrated in the Liturgy as “Jesus lived, Jesus died, and Jesus will come again !” Even the life of Jesus on earth can be comprehended in three stages—his Birth, his Ministry, and finally his Passion, which includes his Resurrection. I am reminded of the Hindu concept of the Three Steps (Tripada) which encompass first the world, then the heavens, and finally the underworld, or world of the dead. Jesus, according to an early vision of the Trideum, or three days that form an important aspect of Holy Week, Christ lived, died, and then descended to the underworld to rescue those who died, before himself rising from the dead.
Another Trinitarian form that we find in the Judeo Christian tradition is that of the Three arch-angels, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. Once again one is reminded of the three figures that form an important part of the Indian Pantheon, where Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are represented as the three aspects of Divinity as manifested in the Cosmos. Brahma, like Gabriele, represents the Creative aspect, which is also linked to the Word. Vishnu is celebrated as the support of Creation, who helps in preserving the world as we know it. Here we remember that Raphael is also thought of as a healer, and supporter, as when he accompanied the traveler Tobit, as described in the book of Tobias. Finally there is Shiva, who is associated with destruction, but not just in a negative sense, but as the prelude to liberation. Michael is similarly depicted as struggling with the forces of darkness and evil in the world, against which he finally succeeds, and in that way presaging the creation of a new heaven and earth.