By Sr. Mary Paul Friemel
The most ardent desire of the human heart is communion, because we were created in the image and likeness of God, Who is Trinity, and Whose Persons live in communion with each other (FLiC art. 9). At our Baptism, we are graced with the Indwelling Life of the Trinity Who animates us, gifts us with Faith, Hope, and Love, and feeds our desire for communion. This desire is also our greatest dignity, for “(t)he dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God (GS art. 19).” Our Triune God “never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for (CCC 27).” “This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity - this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed - is called “heaven.” Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness (CCC 1024).
What is the nature of this Communion? In order to answer this question, we must seek (in a totally feeble and inadequate way) to identify the attributes of the Trinity. Fr. Samual Tiesi, TOR, in his book, The Trinity, Our Family Now and Forever, describes the Trinity as the Divine Family; giving, receiving, and inviting us to join into “(t)heir loving embrace, into union with them (Tiesi, 21).” Characteristics inherent in any relationship in which there is giving, receiving, and invitation are openness, trust, reciprocity, interdependency, and vulnerability. These qualities in the Trinitarian relationship would, of course, be perfect: eternal openness, mutual trust, loving reciprocity, humble interdependency, and perfect vulnerability. In our relationships with one another, we are called, in our best but imperfect way, to imitate these divine attributes.
Where and how can I experience this Communion? We know that in its most perfect form it is a communion that we could not bear to enter into as human beings here on earth (although we long for it), for it is a communion into which we will be drawn into the perfect love of the heart of God Himself, which will be heaven. But what about our time on earth? Is this communion simply a dream withheld from the masses; reserved only for the most holy and pious? Is it simply an abstract ideal that remains as a theological discussion? Or is this communion really something that we can experience and live? In God’s perfect design and in the beauty of His grace, He has made it possible for us to experience this Communion, though not complete, while on earth in the Church, in marriage and family life, in Religious Life and in our relationship with others. Further, within each of these relational groups, we are called not only to live in Communion in a vertical fashion with the Trinity, but on the horizontal plane as His Communion is manifested in our relationships with one another.