Today we honor the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We smile over the story of St. Patrick explaining the Trinity by holding aloft a three-leafed Shamrock, but we cannot do much better than that.
WhiIe I don’t care for bugs, I use one for expressing my inability to explain what the Scriptures tell us about the Trinity. I think of a tiny flea on the top of my head, and although he is well hidden under my hair, I picture him as crawling around up there. He is poking his feelers into my scalp in an effort at understanding the thinking going on under his little feet. It is a hopeless task, but he has to do his best at grasping what is going on in that only world he will ever know.
Let me switch to the story of three saints who spent their lives investigating the Trinity. The oldest of the three, St. Basil, was born in Cappadocia in central Turkey in 330 A.D. He and his younger brother Gregory had the means to study both in Alexandria and Athens, and in both places they were accompanied by their life-long friend, another Gregory.
Basil and Gregory’s parents were well-to-do Christians who at their passing handed over the family property to their eldest daughter Makrina. That lady, whom the church also honors as a saint, sharing her brothers’ interest in the Blessed Trinity, provided a quiet home for them and the other Gregory. There she cheered them on as they did their best at plumbing the great mystery of the Trinity.
In their attempts at understanding the Bible’s teaching on the Trinity, the three young men never strayed far from St. John’s telling us that God is love. It had them looking on God as a verb as well as a noun.
Going a little beyond St. Patrick’s holding up a shamrock, Basil and the Gregories asked us to picture a Greek dance called the Perachoresus. In the Perachoresus three friends hold hands, joyfully circling each other, expressing their love.
Let me tell you about another interest of mine that turned my thoughts to Makrina. I had been reading about an Irish Protestant lady who came along fifteen hundred years after Makrina. This lady was the wealthy widow of another Gregory, an English landlord in Galway. She had been nursed by an Irish Catholic woman who filled her head with stories about Ireland’s mythical heroes.
After Lord Gregory’s death, Lady Gregory turned their estate at Coole in Galway into a home for young Irish writers, feeding them while they developed their talents. In time she was to join W.B. Yeats in founding the Abbey Theater in Dublin. Together they produced a string of marvelous comedies and dramas.
I once had the pleasure of walking through Lady Gregory’s estate at Coole. There I came on the tree where Yeats, Sean O’Casey, and John Millington Synge had carved their initials.
The feast of the Blessed Trinity makes me thankful for all the wonderful ladies who give their lives to fostering talent.