Monday, June 17, 2019

Perichoresis, the ring dance of the Holy Trinity (Fr. Patrick Michaels)

  In my last year of Seminary, I was short units in Theology, so Fr. Larry Terrien offered me an independent study of Theology and Art.  One of the projects was to depict the Trinity.  I tried a number of mediums including three overlapping painted panels, but finally realized that a stained-glass rose window would be most fitting.  It went through a number of variations but I found this one spoke best to Fr. Terrien’s prompt.

  Perichoresis is a Greek term which dates back to Maximus the Confessor in the 7th century referencing the Trinity as being perpetually in a ring dance, giving place to each other out of love.  Two spinning circles, containing three and six swirls (the yin and the yang, with an extra swirl and then doubled*), one inside the other, represent a dynamic.  The Trinity is in the center of the window, while the outer ring expresses our experience of them in our lives, through covenant and sacrament (clockwise from the top: Pentecost, Covenant, Triumph of the Cross, Eucharist, Creation, Healing).  The use of the color wheel, which begins with the three primary colors (yellow, blue, red) and expands into the secondary colors made from combining them (green, purple, orange) serves to connect the swirls, giving a unity to the dynamic.  The quality of a stained-glass window that most attracted me was that the experience of the work would change as the sun moved, so that it was another level of dynamic.  The idea that we would experience God in a constantly changing world, not as contrary to it but as a part of it, the source of its dynamic, was very attractive to me as my sense of God as a static reality was changing.

--Fr. Patrick Michaels

*Note:  The yin and the yang capture a concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposing or contrary forces (like male and female) may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Images courtesy of the artist, Fr. Patrick Michaels.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day! (St. Pachomius)

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, with a special word of thanks today for our pastor, Fr. Patrick Michaels, spiritual father to all of us!

  The Church Fathers had much to say about spiritual mentorship.  St. Pachomius the Great proposed that a spiritual father is a man of tradition – one who hands on the wisdom and practices he has learned from his teachers; a man of Scripture – one who takes in the Word, making it a part of his very being; a man of prayer – one for whom petitions on behalf of others give expression to his love for humanity; a man of humility – one interested in furthering God’s kingdom rather than creating his own; a man of ministry – one whose prayer and humility blossom into service of others; and a man of miracles and visions – one who embraces God’s vision and is willing to allow the power of God's love to work in him, thereby accomplishing the extraordinary.

  The parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are so very grateful to you, Fr. Pat, for all you do to embody and fulfill this beautiful vision of the spiritual father.  May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire you and affirm your myriad gifts as you continue to serve this parish as spiritual mentor and guide in the years to come!

(To read more about St. Pachomius & spiritual mentorship, click here -- the article begins on page 6.)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

I was his delight (Elizabeth Gilbert)

I want God to play in my bloodstream 
the way sunlight amuses itself on the water.

--Elizabeth Gilbert, 
Eat, Pray, Love