For The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity we have Father Hanly’s homily for his 50th Anniversary of Ordination and we also have a homily by Father Hanly for the Feast of the Holy Trinity.
50th Anniversary of Ordination
Father Hanly’s homily from the Mass to celebrate his 50th Anniversary of Ordination on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity on 7th June 2009, just before his departure for New York to celebrate his 50th Anniversary of Ordination at Maryknoll in New York. Father was ordained on 13th June 1959.
This photo is of Father Hanly bowing before the altar at Maryknoll, New York, at the Mass to celebrate his 50th Anniversary of Ordination.
More photos from that celebration can be found here.
Celebrate the Holy Trinity
In his homily for The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B, Father Hanly encourages us to celebrate the Holy Trinity, the community of love.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Second Reading: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
Some young New Yorker, during the service of the Most Holy Trinity, must have had one or two to drink too many. Anyhow, at the back of the Mass…
The priest started, “Today is a very special occasion…”
And he yells out, “Hooray for God!”
And everybody said, “Where did that come from?”
But, in a sense, it’s the only feast day, now think of this, it’s the only feast day that we have, of all the feast days in the church, that is about the Most Holy Trinity.
It’s God, “Hooray for God.” And so he was right.
I thought, because everybody says that explaining the Holy Trinity is almost impossible, it’s a great mystery, and you all know the stories, well many of the stories, about St Augustine sitting on the beach. Have you heard that one?
He’s thinking and thinking and thinking. And a little boy comes up and he’s got a little pail, and he keeps running down to the water and picking up the pail and putting water in this little hole he has, about this big. And he goes back and forth, and back and forth.
And St Augustine is, hmm, a little bit annoyed and so he says to the little fellow, “What are you trying to do?”
He said, “Well, you see that ocean out there. I’m going to put the whole ocean in this one little hole.”
“Well,” St Augustine said, “everybody knows you’ll be here for ten years and you won’t even begin your work. It can’t be done. It just can’t be done.”
And so the little boy opens one eye and he says, “And St Augustine, explaining the Holy Trinity to all your people, it’s the same problem. It just can’t be done. It’s a huge mystery, a huge mystery.”
Now, everybody thinks mystery means, like, mysterious. It doesn’t.
We say the Mass is a mystery. A mystery is a great truth hidden and to be uncovered and recovered and thought about as you read the whole paragraph or the whole sentence.
So it’s a truth to be found by the inquisitive heart, or we Catholics would say, “If you have faith, you have the key to understanding the Trinity.”
I thought what I would do is, instead of trying to explain the Trinity, I’d read an approach to mostly stories that you might have heard or you might not have heard.
But on the Most Holy Trinity Sunday, the first thing you must recognise is it’s a celebration. It’s not trying to explain the Holy Trinity, it’s celebrating the Holy Trinity.
So the first thing is this very ancient song, which I will not sing, but I will recite it:
All hail, adored Trinity;
All hail, eternal Unity;
O God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, ever One.
The first thing when you approach this subject is there’s a warning. You must be very careful about talking about the Trinity.
In the Book of Timothy, St Paul’s letter to Timothy, he writes, “God dwells in inaccessible light.” That means don’t even try to think about it – God dwells in inaccessible light.
And here’s a story that goes with it.
A young man climbs the sacred mountain and finds at the summit the aged guru in deep meditation. He’s really asleep. So he wakes him up.
“What do you want?” the guru says.
And the boy answers, “I want you to explain God to me, that I too might learn how to worship Him properly.”
And the old man smiles, “A God that can be explained is not a God that should be worshipped.”
Think about that. If you can explain God, it’s not God.
Because God dwells in inaccessible light.
You cannot explain God. The awesome God, the real God, the God we worship, our God is beyond our grasp, beyond all telling, inexplicable and incomprehensible and inaccessible. He is divine and we are only human beings.
But there is an old adage we keep trying. The old adage, it’s written in the Holy Book that in the Garden of Eden, God made man in His own image and likeness, and, ever since then, man has tried to return that gesture by trying to make God in his own image and likeness. (Chuckles.)
The next little story is a way of approaching the mystery.
A gypsy man stopped at a well in a town square for a drink. After he drank he continued gazing into the well as if he was looking down at someone at the bottom of the well.
A little boy saw him, and though the man was big and tall and rough and ready, he had a kindly face, and so the little boy approached him.
“Who lives down there?” the little boy asked.
And the gypsy man answers him, “God lives down there. God does.”
And the little boy says, “Can I see him, too?”
“Of course, you can,” said the gentle gypsy man. And he picks him up in his arms and he leans him over the well.
And the little boy looks down deep into the well, but all he could see was his own pale reflection in the water below. Disappointed, he turned to the gypsy man.
“But all I can see is me,” he said. “All I can see is me.”
“Ah,” said the gypsy man, looking into his eyes. “Now you know where God lives.” And he picks the little boy up and puts him on the ground, and he looks into his eyes and he says, “God lives in you.”
Nice story, huh?
And that’s true. If you’re looking for God, don’t look for Father Hanly’s homilies, don’t look for wonders from outside, look into your own heart.
So the first thing that you might or might not have learned today is: if you’re looking for God, look for Him in your heart. Look for Him with your heart and your history, and think of Him in terms of your own history and God and how He has touched it and moved you and many things.
That’s not an explanation, it’s a relationship.
Blessed be God, the God of power and might.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
Three Gods in one?
No, three persons in one God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
Impossible to understand. But, if you think for a moment, if you think of relationship, how I relate to God, ah, then the Father is somebody special, and Jesus the Son is the one He sends to us to die for us on a cross that we might be free from sin and live as children of God, and God the Holy Ghost who has been sent to us by Jesus himself to make us awake to what is in our own hearts.
And in our own hearts is a desire to learn how to love. It always comes back to love.
The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and the Holy Spirit is that love that binds them together, and we become one with God Himself.
God is Father, God is Son, God is Holy Spirit. A caring Father who creates us, a brother who dies and lives for us now and forevermore, a Holy Spirit who inspires us, comforts us if we invite Him, and guides us safely home.
(Inaudible) blessed be the Trinity, a community of love.
Now I have a little story about a little girl, five years old, and she’s in Sunday school, like we have here, and she hears all about the Blessed Trinity. And here’s her reaction to it. This is a true story, I believe.
A little girl of five hears the Good News from her teacher in her Sunday school and writes in her prayer pad after she has heard, she says this: “Thank you God, for coming inside me right into my heart so that I’ll never, never, never be alone.”
Why does God bother? Why does He bother at all?
On Calvary’s Hill the secret is out. If you look at the cross on Calvary and then you know the secret of why God bothers. God who dwells in inaccessible light, another phrase, who dwells in inaccessible light, wants to be, needs to be, yearns to be loved by us.
It’s God’s vulnerability that we cherish most of all. He opens the heavens and comes down. He comes to meet us on our own terms, revealing Himself to us first, that we may come to know Him later, and in the knowing of Him, learning to love Him, and in the loving of Him, learn to serve.
For thus it is that in the knowing and the loving and the serving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we enter into the ebb and flow of the very life of God Himself.
We do not need an explanation, for He is in our hearts from the moment we breathe and for all eternity.
And the final poem:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
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Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for The Holy Trinity, Year B
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Father Hanly's sermon for The Holy Trinity, Year B, "50th Anniversary of Ordination " was delivered on 7th June 2009. Father Hanly's sermon for The Holy Trinity, Year B, "Celebrate the Holy Trinity" was delivered on 3rd June 2012. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.
We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.