Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The great feasts of summer, part 1: Trinity Sunday

The Easter season has drawn to a close with the feast of Pentecost, but I love the summertime feasts of Trinity Sunday and especially Corpus Christi. Being that Matt and I are on the south side of town now, we were at St. Matthew's Cathedral for Trinity Sunday. They had a wonderful young deacon preaching the homily, and surprise surprise - he incorporated the Theology of the Body into his sermon.

The Theology of the Body - and particularly Christopher West's commentary on it - has come under fire in recent weeks. This was fueled by a somewhat controversial Nightline interview in which West was portrayed as taking John Paul II and Hugh Hefner as heroes. Suddenly it seemed that every Catholic pundit had something to say and everyone wanted to jump on the West-bashing bandwagon - although most bloggers maintained charity. (Three of my favorite editorials on the flap are here: Jimmy Akin's commentary, Prof. David Schindler's criticism and Dr. Janet Smith's response.)

I am certainly not well versed enough in theology to even critique the critiques, but suffice it to say that I do think ToB has gotten somewhat of an unfair bad rap here. There seems to be a misconception that ToB exclusively relates to sex, and perhaps Christopher West is partly responsible for this. I have read The Good News about Sex and Marriage and found it to be solid, frank and open - exactly what is needed to explicate the "hard teachings" of the Church on sexuality. However, I have also listened to a talk of his about marriage and the Eucharist and as I recall, his language there did indeed veer on the side of too explicit. Let us not forget that the marriage of Christ and his Church is mystical, not fleshly! There is a genuine need in our modern world to understand the proper and holy function of sex - but narrowing the focus of ToB to the bedroom at the expense of what it has to say about ALL human love does not do it justice.

But, as the deacon reminded us last Sunday, ToB at its fundamental level is about relationships. God is present as a communion of Persons in the Holy Trinity. Since we are made in His image and likeness, we mirror that communion of persons in our own human relationships. The Hold Spirit proceeds from the love between the Father and the Son; so too, the life-giving love of husband and wife brings forth children. For the first time, I really felt I understood, at least a little bit, why God is Triune. The Trinity will always be a sacred mystery - that does not mean it is wholly inexplicable. Altogether a great homily and I look forward to more.

Side note: Does anyone know if any of the churches in the South Bend area have a Corpus Christi procession? I have a vivid memory of taking part in the Corpus Christi procession at St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, MN a few years back. I would love to do it again.

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