I am basing my few words this Sunday on Roublev's famous icon of the Trinity, a copy of which is on display in the church and a copy of which which I am giving to each parishioner on a prayer card.
You will see that the Trinity is represented by three angels - as the icon is also believed to be about the three angels who visited Abraham and Sarah at the Oak of Mamre in the Book of Genesis. Neverthless, certain important features of God as Three Persons can be gleaned from the icon.
Contemplation of the icon of Roublev (15th century) is worth the effort. It tells us something through the language of the heart that words cannot express. There are many aspects to this icon. It looks like a snapshot of the relationship that exists between the Three Persons.
We see that the Three Persons are equal in appearance and stature.
We see that the Father is on the left and the Son in the middle, the Spirit on the right.
We see the right hand of the Father commissioning or sending forth the Son and the Spirit- likewise the Son and the Spirit appear with heads slightly bowed; yet they retain their equality with the Father, as they each hold a sceptre of authority.
The tree behind the Son reminds us of the Cross at Calvary.
The two fingers of Jesus pointing outward refer to His divinity and His humanity.
The table in the icon has four places and so the fourth side of the table facing the front of the icon is meant for us – we are invited into this loving relationship with God as Three Persons. The psalm this Sunday reminds us ‘you have made [man] little less than a god! (Psalm 8)
At the centre of the table is the Eucharist – the Body and the Blood of Christ (served from the one chalice in the Orthodox tradition) – and we are invited through the Eucharist to partake in the heavenly banquet ’Blessed are those who are called to His Supper’.
The colour blue –signifies divinity –the amount of blue exposed or revealed in the icon in each Divine Person correlates to the measure in which they have been revealed to us – the Father is a mystery, and while 'no-one has seen the Father’(John 1:18); ‘to have seen Me is to have seen the Father’(John 14:9), Jesus told Philip at the Last Supper. The Spirit also has a large amount of blue exposed, because we have received the Spirit : ‘the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (St Paul to the Romans 5:5 in today’s epistle).
Behind the Father is a house - reminding us of our heavenly home.
Contemplation on the icon stirs our minds and hearts to ponder on the central mystery of our Faith – one God in Three Persons. We can ‘look forward to God’s glory’, (Romans 5:2). It reminds us, in the wrds of St Paul elsewhere, ‘to fix our gaze on heavenly things, not on things on earth.' (2 Cor 4:18)
Contemplation is an important aspect or rather type of prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has much to say on it (CCC nn. 2709-2719) that is worth reading. ‘In this prayer we still meditate but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself’ (2709); ‘contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, to his likeness’ (2713); ” it is silence, the ‘symbol of the word to come’ or ‘silent love’ “(2717).[It is Trinitarian:] ‘ in this silence, unbearable to the outer man, the Father speaks to us in his Incarnate Word, who suffered died and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.” (2717)
Contemplation lifts our hearts amidst the reality of the toils and sufferings of life, bringing patience,perseverance and finally hope to journey on to our ultimate goal (Romans 5:5).
Posted by FrJohnCobh