Holy Trinity

Perfect Unity

Father, Son, Spirit:
Not earthly symbiosis –
Holy mystery
Forged before time existed
God’s own perfect Unity

written in response to today’s prompt at The Daily Post

re-drafted from its original haiku form:
Father, Son, Spirit:
Not earthly symbiosis –
Perfect Unity

Perfect Tri-Union

A cord of three strands
Without beginning or end
Binding history
Together in creation
The Father broken-hearted
The Son obedient to death
The Spirit yet remaining
Ever-present help
In perfect tri-union
Countless blessings flow

written in response to today’s Daily Post daily prompt, as a conjoined tanka and reversed tanka

‘Singing of the Source and Course of Holy Church’ by Wu Li (吳歷)

“The Supreme Ultimate contains three–”
muddled words indeed!

In fact, they start with primal energy
to speak of original chaos.

From books of the past, we learned of old
of sincerity, wisdom and goodness;

the Mysterious meaning now we understand
of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Persons distinct: close at hand, consider
the flame within the mirror;

the Essence is whole: far off, please note
the wheel that graces the sky.

The Holy Name has been revealed,
His authority conferred;

throughout the world in this human realm
the sound of the teaching supreme!

Wu Li (1632-1718) was a Chinese landscape painter, poet, and calligrapher from Jiang-su who lived during the Qing Dynasty.

Wu was a convert to Catholicism. Having become a member of the Society of Jesus, in 1688 he was ordained one of the three first Chinese Jesuit priests, at the age of 57, after 7 years of training in the Saint Paul College in Macau, taking the name Simon-Xavier a Cunha. He spent the remaining 30 years of his life as tireless priest serving rural villages.

Wu composed many poems reflecting his own preaching career and religious feelings, which are collected in an anthology, San Yi Ji. His sermons from 15 Aug 1696 to 25 Dec 1697 and other religious activities were compiled by Zhao Lun, a convert in Jiading, in a book, Kou Duo (Record of Word and Deeds), the first collection of sermons by a Chinese priest.

In the poem above, Wu Li set out to distinguish the Christian doctrine of the Trinity from confusion with an apparently similar conception in Confucian thought, and by implication to reject the idea of the One self-evolving into the Many which underpins virtually all Chinese (indeed, all “pagan”) thought.

Augustine and the Sea Shell

St Augustine of Hippo spent over 30 years working on his treatise De Trinitate [about the Holy Trinity], endeavouring to conceive an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity.

He was walking by the seashore one day contemplating and trying to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he saw a small boy running back and forth from the water to a spot on the seashore. The boy was using a sea shell to carry the water from the ocean and place it into a small hole in the sand.

Augustine approached him and asked, “My boy, what are doing?”

“I am trying to bring all the sea into this hole,” the boy replied with a sweet smile.

“But that is impossible, my dear child, the hole cannot contain all that water” said Augustine.

The boy paused in his work, stood up, looked into the eyes of the Saint, and replied, “It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do – comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intelligence.”

Augustine was absorbed by such a keen response from that child, and turned his eyes from him for a short while. When he glanced down to ask him something else, the boy had vanished.

Some have said that it was an angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson on pride in learning. Through this story, the sea shell has become a symbol of St Augustine and the study of theology.