From ................ National Catholic Reporter

October 6, 1995

page 2

By- ["Father"] Robert F. Drinan

Jesuit Fr. Robert Drinan is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.


I was more ready than usual for my annual eight-day retreat. I had been to South Africa and Australia, and had been a floor manager at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association where, among other things, 375,000 lawyers adopted a resolution recommending affirmative action.

I needed silence and reflection. On the first day of the Jesuit group retreat, my mind became intensely absorbed in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I had prayed and preached about this beautiful truth for many years, but the realization that the entire Holy Trinity dwells within us struck me with unprecedented force. That the eternal God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit — resided in my soul gripped me.

The word indwell, the dictionary says, means that an entity "exists as an inner activating spirit, force or principle."

During the retreat, I was successful in deflecting from my mind other compelling truths such as the passion of Christ. I focused on the overwhelming realization that the uncreated Father and the Son he begot and the Holy Spirit that emanated from all eternity from the love of the Father and the Son abided in my soul.

I read and reread the lessons and liturgy of the Pentecost season, my favorite time. Christ promised the Holy Spirit in his long sermon at the Last Supper recorded by St. John: "I will ask the Father and he will give you another to befriend you, one who is to dwell continuously with you forever. It is the truth-giving Spirit .... he will be continually at your side; nay, he will be in you."

The concept is so shattering, it seems presumptuous even to record it. But during my 53rd annual retreat, the indwelling of the whole Holy Trinity became for me a truth that now every day calls my mind back to the core realities of being a Christian. We are in a sense almost a part of God, conjoined as we are to the Holy Trinity itself: We have lovely names for the places where God dwells in the church: tabernacles, monstrances or chalices. Every human being is like one of those . But every person is actually more closely allied to God since the Trinity breathes, lives and loves in every human soul that has not explicitly and permanently excluded God. And the soul, unlike the chalice, interacts as a person with the personhood of God.

I cannot think of any word that adequately expresses the nature and beauty of the human soul that is a home for the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is every person's advocate, teacher and comforter.

On retreat I reread 'God Dwells Within Us', written in 1971 by Marist Fr. Thomas Dubay. I spent a good deal of time with that book when it appeared, but apparently never assimilated the chapter on the Holy Trinity indwelling in our souls.

St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, had a revelation of the nature and love of the Holy Trinity for himself and for every child of God. That experience was central in everything St. Ignatius did during his lifetime. The late Fr. Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Jesuits, wrote about the Holy Trinity in language that could well indicate that he, too, had a mystical insight into the workings of God.

The intimate presence of the Holy Trinity in every human soul brings a mystical, magical and magnificent dimension to Christianity. No other religion teaches the presence of God in every single human being.

It must also be admitted that the indwelling of the Holy Trinity is a very arcane mystery to comprehend. The second person of the Trinity became a man like unto us in all things except sin. Christ, the God-man, dwells among us in his sacred humanity. The Eucharist supplements, enriches and makes even more magnificent the continuing presence of the Holy Trinity in our souls. We should indeed be "intoxicated" with God, as Spinoza, the Jewish mystic, was characterized by his contemporaries.

Ninety million new human beings are born each year. The Trinity selected each of these from all eternity. The triune God come with love to indwell in each soul. We do not know for certain how the Trinity indwells in those who have not been baptized. But we do know that the salvific will of God may well mean that the Holy Trinity dwells in every soul that has even the desire to be baptized and saved.

Every retreat leaves its impression on the soul. For me, Aug. 10-18 imparted a new and powerful realization of the presence within my soul of the entire Holy Trinity. It is an insight and grace that transforms almost everything.

[Picture caption]-I cannot think of any word that adequately expresses the nature and beauty of the human soul that is a home for the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is every person's advocate, teacher and comforter.