Praise to the Holy Trinity and Praying for our Beloved Dead

One of the central mysteries of the Christian faith is that of the Holy Trinity. Because it deals with the very nature of Who God Is (Divine Love, three Persons Who are distinct yet one), it is certainly difficult to wrap our minds around and even to write about. The great teachers and theologians have tried to describe this mystery from nearly the beginning of the Church (such as St. Augustine’s classic treatise On the Trinity written in the 4th century).

But I’ll skip the detailed theological analysis for now. Instead, I’d take a look at how we respond in love to the great mystery. We were created by God to be in communion with Him Who is Trinity. Our whole being has a “trinitarian” imprint stamped into it the moment we are baptized into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For those who are sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters to Christ, and united in the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity shapes who we are and how we love God in return.

For all those who remain faithful to Jesus the Son, we will be heirs to the divine love of the Trinity in Heaven and are destined to praise, worship and adore the Triune God sharing in that beautiful Communion of His Persons.

That all means that, in our earthly life, it is our mission to praise and adore the Holy Trinity already. While they are many ways to do so, we do that most perfectly in the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which is a prayer of thanksgiving to God the Father through Jesus the Son and in the Holy Spirit.

The celebration of the Mass itself is a sacrifice of praise and a supreme act of worship because we are sharing in the sacrificial prayer of Jesus the Son offered to God the Father. But various parts of the Mass can amplify that praise.

The language of praise can often be expressed only in poetry and music, because prose just doesn’t say enough. As a young child, I remember with fondness belting out the joyful and glorious hymns sung to the Holy Trinity at the beginning of many Masses. They certainly swept up the congregation into the mystery, power and beauty of the God Whom we were there to worship. Some of these hymns had ancient origins, dating at least back to the 4th century. Others are more recent, such as the hymns of the great 18th century English composers Charles Wesley and his contemporaries.

For your prayer and reflection on this Holy Trinity Sunday, I am including the lyrics to the 18th century hymn: Come Thou Almighty King. Other beloved hymns to the Holy Trinity include All Hail Adored Trinity (based on 5th Century Trisagion prayer from the Greek liturgy) and Holy God We Praise thy Name (written by an 18th Century German priest, but based on the ancient 4th century Latin praise hymn, the Te Deum).

Come, thou Almighty King,
Help us thy name to sing,
Help us to praise!
Father all glorious,
O’er all victorious!
Come and reign over us,
Ancient of days!

Jesus our Lord, arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall!
Let thine Almighty aid,
Our sure defense be made,
Our souls on thee be stayed;
Lord hear our call!

Come, thou incarnate word,
Gird on thy mighty sword –
Our prayer attend!
Come! and thy people bless,
And give thy word success,
Spirit of holiness
On us descend!

Come holy Comforter,
Thy sacred witness bear,
In this glad hour!
Thou who Almighty art,
Descend in every heart,
And never from us depart.
Spirit of power.

To the great one in three
Eternal praises be
Hence – evermore!
His sovereign Majesty
May we in glory see,
And to eternity
Love and adore!

Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, here’s a prayer for those who have given their lives in service of their country (from the U.S. Bishops Conference)

God of power and mercy, you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears, that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters.
Keep in your mercy those men and women who have died in the cause of freedom and bring them safely into your kingdom of justice and peace.

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