Richard Rohr on Mirroring

Fr Rohr

Contemplative knowing intuits things in their wholeness, with all levels of connection and meaning, and perhaps how they fit in the full scheme of things. Thus, the contemplative response to the moment is always appreciation and inherent re-spect (“to look at a second time”) because I am now a part of what I am trying to see. Our first practical and partial observation of most things lacks this respect. It is not yet contemplative knowing. Frankly, when you see things contemplatively, everything in the universe is a mirror.

The originating mystery of Trinity both names and begins the mirroring process, allowing us to know all that we need to know by the same endless process of mirroring and reflecting. We know things in their depth and beauty only by this second gaze of love. “Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what God has made” (Romans 1:20).

A true mirror first receives an image and then reflects it back truthfully—but now so that I can see myself, too. The all-important thing is that you find the right mirror that mirrors you honestly and at depth. All personhood is created in this process, and our job is always to stay inside this mirroring. Our task is to trustfully receive and then reflect back the inner image transmitted to us until, as the apostle Paul expressed, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This is the whole spiritual journey in one sentence! All love, goodness, and holiness is a reflected gift. You take all things into yourself by gazing at them with reverence, and this completes the circuit of love—because this is how creation is looking out at you. The inner life of the Trinity has become the outer life of all creation. The divine mirroring will never stop; mirroring is how the whole transformation process is personally initiated and finally achieved.

Continue reading “Richard Rohr on Mirroring”


Richard Rohr on Rubliov’s Ikon of the Trinity

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

Take Your Place at the Table

In Genesis we see the divine dance in an early enigmatic story (18:1-8). “The Lord” appears to Abraham as “three men.” Abraham and Sarah seem to see the Holy One in the presence of these three, and they bow before them and call them “my lord” (18:2-3 Jerusalem Bible). Their first instinct is one of invitation and hospitality—to create a space of food and drink for their guests. Here we have humanity feeding God; it will take a long time to turn that around in the human imagination. “Surely, we ourselves are not invited to this divine table,” the hosts presume.

Continue reading “Richard Rohr on Rubliov’s Ikon of the Trinity”

Richard Rohr on the Trinity

Just as some Eastern fathers saw Christ’s human/divine nature as one dynamic unity, so they also saw the Trinity as an Infinite Dynamic Flow. The Western Church tended to have a more static view of both Christ and the Trinity–theologically “correct” but largely irrelevant for real life, more a mathematical conundrum than invitation to new consciousness.

In our attempts to explain the Trinitarian mystery, the Western Church overemphasized the individual “names” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but not so much the quality of the relationships between them, which is where all the power and meaning lies! You can make all the names feminine, masculine, or neither, if you prefer neutral words. Each naming will have both its strengths and limitations because we are dealing with metaphor and unknowability. So do not spend too much time arguing about gender. The real and essential point is how the three “persons” relate to one another–infinite outpouring and infinite receiving.

The Mystery of God as Trinity invites us into full participation with God, a flow, a relationship, a waterwheel of always outpouring love. Trinity basically says that God is a verb much more than a noun. Some Christian mystics taught that all of creation is being taken back into this flow of eternal life, almost as if we are a “Fourth Person” of the Eternal Flow of God or, as Jesus put it, “so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3).[1] Continue reading “Richard Rohr on the Trinity”

Richard Rohr – The Trinity as a Circle Dance


The fourth-century Cappadocian Fathers tried to communicate this notion of life as mutual participation by calling the Trinitarian flow a “circle dance” (perichoresis) between the three. They were saying that whatever is going on in God is a flow that’s like a dance; and God is not just the dancer, God is the dance itself! The Incarnation is a movement—Jesus comes forth from the Father and the Holy Spirit to take us back with him into this eternal embrace, from which we first came (John 14:3). We are invited to join in the dance and have participatory knowledge of God through the Trinity.

Trinity is the very nature of God, and this God is a circle dance, a centrifugal force flowing outward, and then drawing all things into the dance centripetally. If this God names himself/herself in creation and in reality then there must be a “family resemblance” between everything else and the nature of the heart of God. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – The Trinity as a Circle Dance”

Richard Rohr – Understanding the Trinity

The Blessed Trinity is the central and foundational doctrine of the Christian faith. But as the Jesuit Karl Rahner (1904-1984) observed, what is supposed to be the heart of the nature of God has, until recently, had few practical or pastoral implications in most people’s lives. We did not have the right software installed!

For too many Christians, the doctrine of the Trinity was unfathomable, abstract, and boring theology because they tried to process it with their left brain, their dualistic mind. Remaining there, it was not much more than a speculative curiosity or a mathematical conundrum (yet surely never to be questioned by any orthodox Christian). However, the Trinity perfectly illustrates the dynamic principle of three and was made to order to demolish our dualistic thinking and to open us to the mystical level.

The Trinity can only be understood with the contemplative mind. It is only God in you that understands; your small mind cannot. I call this participative knowledge. The Trinity can’t be proved rationally. You must experience its flow in your life. You must have moments where you know that a Big Life is happening in you, yet beyond you, and also AS you!

Unfortunately, Christians mostly gave up even trying to understand the Trinity. But if we’re resolved that we want to go into the mystery, not to hold God in our pocket, but to allow God to hold us, then I think we must seek to understand the Trinity experientially and contemplatively, which is not to understand at all, but to “stand under” a waterfall of infinite and loving Flow.

Adapted from The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, discs 1 and 2
(CD, MP3 download);

and The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity, disc 1
(CD, DVD, MP3 download);

and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pp. 71-72

Gateway to Silence:
God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.

Charles C. Twombly – Humility and the Desire for the Other in a Russian Icon

To the right is an icon, a Russian icon.  During the Middle Ages, Russia (as we might call it today) was out of the European loop.  It was more linked to the Byzantine Empire and Asia than to Europe.  But this icon, painted (or written) by the great iconographer, Andrei Rublev, is dated around the beginning of the fifteenth century and therefore falls within our time-line.

Let’s look at it.   It’s sometimes called “The Old Testament Trinity” or “The Hospitality of Abraham.”   It’s a representation of God, but what we actually see are three angels, very feminine ones at that.  So where’s God?  For the Orthodox Christians of the East, God could not be represented at all, at least in his eternal being.  God is a spirit; he’s invisible.  So we have three angels instead.  The story of the three mysterious visitors in Genesis, chapter 18, gives us warrant to call them an image of God because the word of the Lord comes through their mouths in such a way that God himself is said to speak. Continue reading “Charles C. Twombly – Humility and the Desire for the Other in a Russian Icon”

Richard Rohr – Trinity Sunday: Surface versus Depth


If we just stay on the fearful or superficial side of the religious spectrum, religion is invariably defined by exclusionary purity codes that always separate things into sacred and profane. God is still distant, punitive, and scary. Then our religious job becomes putting ourselves only on the side of “sacred” things (as if you could) and to stay apart from worldly or material things, even though Jesus shows no such preference himself.

After the beginnings of mystical experience (which is just prayer experiences), one finds that what makes something secular or profane is precisely whether one lives on the surface of it. It’s not that the sacred is here and the profane is over there. Everything is profane if you live on the surface of it, and everything is sacred if you go into the depths of it—even your sin. To go inside your own mistakenness is to find God. To stay on the surface of very good things, like Bible, sacrament, priesthood, or church, is to often do very unkind and evil things, while calling them good. This important distinction is perfectly illustrated by Jesus’ parable of the publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14).

So the division for the Christian is not between secular and sacred things, but between superficial things and things at their depth. The depths always reveal grace, while staying on the surface allows one to largely miss the point (the major danger of fundamentalism, by the way). Karl Rahner, the German Jesuit, and one of my heroes of Vatican II, loved to call this “the mysticism of ordinary life.”

Adapted from Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate
. . . Seeing God in All Things
(CD, DVD, MP3)


Richard Rohr – A Trinitarian Prayer


In the name of the Holy Formless One,
In the name of the Son, who took Form,
In the name of the Spirit between these Two,
All things are made one. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – A Trinitarian Prayer”

Richard Rohr – Patristic Reasons for the Trinity

Our Franciscan Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), who wrote a lot about the Trinity, was deeply influenced by a lesser-known figure, Richard of Saint Victor, who had died in 1173. Richard said, “For God to be good, God can be one. For God to be loving, God has to be two because love is always a relationship.” But his real breakthrough was saying that “For God to be supreme joy and happiness, God has to be three.” Lovers do not know full happiness until they both delight in the same thing, like new parents with the ecstasy of their first child. Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Patristic Reasons for the Trinity”

St. Patrick’s Creed

sf.patrick - final

Because there is no other God
nor ever was nor will be in future days,
other than God who is unbegotten Father,
without beginning,
yet from whom is all beginning
and who holds all things in being
as we have come to learn; Continue reading “St. Patrick’s Creed”

Richard Rohr – Meditations on the Mystery of the Trinity


One reason so many theologians are interested in the Trinity now is that we’re finding both physics (especially quantum physics) and cosmology are at a level of development where human science, our understanding of the atom and our understanding of galaxies, is affirming and confirming our use of the old Trinitarian language—but with a whole new level of appreciation. Reality is radically relational, and the power is in the relationships themselves!

No good Christians would have denied the Trinitarian Mystery, but until our generation none were prepared to see that the shape of God is the shape of the whole universe!

Great science, which we once considered an “enemy” of religion, is now helping us see that we’re standing in the middle of awesome Mystery, and the only response before that Mystery is immense humility. Astrophysicists are much more comfortable with darkness, emptiness, non-explainability (dark matter, black holes), and living with hypotheses than most Christians I know. Who could have imagined this? Continue reading “Richard Rohr – Meditations on the Mystery of the Trinity”

The Lord of The Dance – A ‘Perichoretic’ Song

Continue reading “The Lord of The Dance – A ‘Perichoretic’ Song”

Conversion in Cultural Perspective

Conversion is a much discussed topic these days, whether in the context of the much abused concept of proselytism or in terms of a theology and anthropology of missions.

Paul Hiebert, who was a professor of missions and anthropology at Fuller on Pasadena, Ca. and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deedfield, Ill. wrote in 1978 a seminal article on the theme of ‘Conversion, Culture and Cognitive Categories’.

Continue reading “Conversion in Cultural Perspective”

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