Unity of Triune Love
by Abbot Sophronius (10th century Coptic Hermit)
(Translated from Coptic by George Bebawi, Ph.D., As appeared in Coptic Church Review; Vol.25, number 4, Winter 2004
God is love because He is triune; or is it because He is triune that He is love? Love and Trinity are the same. In the Godhead there is the spring of love, the Father; the revelation of love, the Son; the giving and the communion of love, the Holy Spirit.
The Father loves His Son and the Son is His beloved. The Son sends the Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Father, and that is why the Son said “All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:14
The Holy Spirit is the Sprit of communion; He proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son and opens the fountain of love for us.
The Father is the beloved of the Son and the beloved of the Holy Spirit. For each of the Three is lover and beloved.
W H E N
The Son takes His office as Mediator, the Son is the beloved of the Father.
The Son offers His life for the world, the Father is the beloved of the Son.
The Holy Spirit proceeds for the Incarnation of the Son, the Son is the beloved of the Holy Spirit.
The Son sends the Holy Spirit of the Father, the Holy Spirit becomes the beloved of the Son.
The movement of love of the Holy Thriad is the perichoresis, where Each exchanges His movement with the other. When we pray in the beloved Lord Jesus Christ, we receive from Him the Holy Spirit because the Son is the Head of the new creation. But we also receive the Son our Lord from the Holy Spirit in order to rest in the Father.
The movement of the humility of God, the Trinity, is like that; the Father comes to us in His Son, and the Son comes to us in the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Son from the Holy Spirit, we ascend to the Father to rest in Him.
Let us embark on this journey by taking our beginning with the Son who eternally took His beginning from the Father - the true Beginning (arche) of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Let us surrender to the Love of God the Father who is revealed in His Son and is communicated to us in the Son through the Holy Spirit.
We surrender to the Son who emptied Himself and took our form. We accept to be crucified with Him in the mystery of baptism, that by His humility we may have the first taste of divine love - the love that does not take anything from us but gives everything first to receive us. The humble love of the Divine who empties Himself, even of His holiness, to become a slave in order to lift up the slave to the divine love; for God loves for no reason, no necessity, because love is His very nature.
Let us explore with holiness the divine love and take the holy word of God as our beginning, and His love as our goal. Let us have no reason for loving God as the Trinity has no reason for being the Communion of love of the Three, who love because love is their nature.
Let us look at the cross to learn sacrificial love, the love of the Trinity who offered the Son for sinners; who was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 1:4)
When we die we can love even to the point of physical death for then, and only then, we can complete our baptism and receive divine love, and then love like the Trinity because our love comes from Him.
The Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son takes us to the Bosom of the Father. The holy apostle told us that since we are the children of the Father, the Father sends the Spirit of His Son (the Spirit who rests in the Son from Eternity or from the beginning, and because of His Incarnation rests on Him) to be for us our Unction, to anoint us in Him and with Him because He is the second Adam and the head of the new creation which receives the Holy Spirit for eternal life.
Let us pray in Jesus our true Intercessor to be anointed by the Holy Spirit in Him and by Him who is our high-priest to rest in the Bosom of the Father.
True prayer in the Holy Spirit is when we cry Abba Father. This short cry includes the mystery of our salvation. We look at the Spring of Love, God the Father, the Revelation of Love, God the Son, and the Communion of Love, God the Holy Spirit. When we are adopted we know that they are not three gods but one God in Three. We discern the Three and we discern the moment of divine love because divine love is not static but dynamic.
In His mercy the Father moves always to the Beloved and the Beloved moves always to the Holy Spirit. Let us not imagine distance or time but just as our blood moves by the pulse of our heart and by our breathing so in like manner the Three move towards each other. This movement is one of distinction and differences. The three are not just names in the Godhead but Three Hypostases in one Ousia. Three Beloved in the one communion of Love; three lovers in the one undivided love. The Father is the Spring from whom comes the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son is the Revelation who reveals the Father and gives the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Gift of communion who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son and brings the whole creation to this communion.
Let us recapitulate:
God is love; that is why God is Trinity.
Love is communion and communion is between more than one
Self love is the foundation of love
Self giving is the very communion between two, but shared love of two with a third transcends the closed relationship of the two. When two who love each other as equals share their love with a third equal, they move from the exclusive dyadic love to the communal triadic love. Triadic love is perfect for these reasons:
1. It is communal because more than two is a community.
2. It does not stop at exclusive dyadic love because a third who shares the love of the two, gives back the same love of the two.
3. It is the circle of infinite movement for two do not make a circle, but three close the circle as each stands in the one third of the circle and makes it complete.
If we apply this to the Holy Trinity we can see that the movement of love is a movement of perichoresis (AGreek word which is equivalent to the Latin circumcession); both mean penetration and dance.
Concluding in Grace:
Now generation reaches its climax, and procession its goal to perfect the plan of our salvation. The One who is always with the Father and in the Father has created in Himself the new humanity. It was new from the very moment of his conception but it had not met our death. It met death in the flesh by the power of the Anointing which Jesus received for us at His baptism. At His conception in the womb of Mary, Jesus received from the Holy Spirit the foundation of the new creation. This new creation has its beginning in the Holy Spirit and in communion with the Father because the Father is its Arche (source); the Son is its Mediator and the Holy Spirit is its life. This happened secretly while the world was asleep.