Excerpts from Tauler’s Sermon 29, Feast of the Blessed Trinity II (Johannes Tauler: Sermons, Paulist Press, 1985)

We speak of what we know, and we bear witness to what we have seen. (John 3:11)

All of the feasts we have observed throughout the year, whatever they have commemorated, have led up to this one feast and found their consummation in it, just as the course which creatures run, especially rational creatures, has its goal and end in the Holy Trinity, for in a sense it is both beginning and end. When we come to speak of the Most Blessed Trinity, we are at a loss for words, and yet words must be used to say something of this sublime and ineffable Trinity. To express it adequately is as impossible as touching the sky with one’s head. For everything we can say or think can no more approach the reality than the smallest point of a needle can contain heaven and earth.
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To experience the working of the Trinity is better than to talk about it. In fact one shies away from a busy scrutiny of this mystery, especially as the words are borrowed from the world as we know it, and also because of the disproportion between the subject and our intelligence to which all this is unutterably high and hidden. For this subject even surpasses the understanding of the Angels. So let us leave the learned discourse to the scholars…You, however, should allow the Holy Trinity to be born in the center of your soul, not by the use of human reason, but in essence and in truth; not in words, but in reality. It is the divine mystery we should seek, and how we are truly its Image; for this divine Image certainly dwells in our souls by nature, actually, truly, and distinctly, though of course not in as loft a manner as it is in Itself.
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You are concerned with so many external affairs, always busy with one thing or another; this is not the witness of which Our Lord said, “We bear witness to what we have seen.” This witness is to be found in your inmost ground, beyond sensual images; within this ground the Heavenly Father begat His only-begotten Son, swifter a million times than the twinkling of an eye. And this happens in the swiftness of eternity that is forever new, in the inexplicable splendor of His own Being. Whoever wishes to experience this must turn inward, far beyond exterior and interior faculties, beyond imagination, so that he may sink and melt into that ground. Then the power of the Father will come and call the soul into Himself through His only-begotten Son, and as the Son is born of the Father and returns into Him, so man is born of the Father in the Son, and flows back into the Father through the Son, becoming one with Him. Thus Our Lord says: “You will call me Father and will not cease to walk after me. This day have I begotten you, through and in my Son.” And now the Holy Spirit pours Himself out in inexpressible and overflowing love and joy, flooding and saturating the ground of the soul with His wondrous gifts.
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This, then, is the true witness: “The Holy Spirit, testifying to our spirit that we are the children of God.” And thus we receive this testimony in our hearts, as it says in today’s Gospel. In Heaven, that means in the heaven within our soul, there are three who bear witness: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. They are your witnesses who give the true testimony that you are a child of God. They illuminate the depth of your ground, and thus your own ground becomes your witness. And this witness also testifies against you and against all the disorders within you; and this testimony enlightens your reason, whether you like it or not, and reveals your whole life to you, if you will only listen.
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And now, if you wish to contemplate the Holy Trinity within you, keep these three points in mind. First, keep God alone before your eyes, His honor, and not your own. Secondly, in all your works and exterior activities keep a close watch over yourself; be constantly mindful of your utter nothingness, and observe carefully what occupies you most. Thirdly, ignore what goes on around you: If it is not your business, do not pay attention to it; it will take care of itself. If things are good, let them be so; if they seem bad, do not criticize and ask questions. Turn into the depth of your ground and remain there, so that you may hear the voice of the Father Who calls you. He calls you to Himself and endows you with such riches that, if it were necessary, you could answer all the questions of the entire clergy in the Church; of such clarity and brilliance are the gifts God bestows upon His lovers.

Categories: Meditation

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin College and the director of ccel.org and hymnary.org.