MUENSTER, Sask. — A mathematical formula that goes against the conventional understanding of arithmetic describes our journey to God, Rev. Mark Blom, OMI, of St. Albert, Alta., told the annual Newman retreat, Jan. 23 - 25 at St. Peter’s Abbey.
Everyone knows that one plus one equals two, but when we speak of God, one plus one always equals three, he said. Whenever there is the Word and God, there is always relationship, because God is always seeking relationship with each of us, he told the 25 retreat participants.
The divine mathematical formula speaks to the trinitarian dimension of God who is one and three in one. God is three persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — who are in relationship with each other, Blom remarked. The Father is completely loving to the Son who receives this love unconditionally and returns it to the Father. The outflow of the love between the Father and Son is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus illustrated his close relationship to God the Father when he refused to give in to the temptations of the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). The devil offered Jesus fame, wealth and glory when Jesus was at his weakest. The aim of the devil was to make Jesus deny his sonship with God the Father and break their relationship.
Similarly, the devil wants us to turn away from God and deny that we are sons and daughters of God, Blom said. Temptations which question God’s love for us may come in subtle doubts or through major crises. Questioning and suffering are part of the Christian journey. Jesus did not refuse to be tempted and he did not run from his trials. He faced them and showed us that we can resist evil and the lures of the world.
The understanding of relationship deepens when people become more aware of who they are as persons in relationship to God and as persons in relationship to others, Blom commented. People are relational and seek relationships, as well as truth and goodness. The desire for these can only be partially satisfied by the world. There is an emptiness within, a void that only the Holy Spirit can fill. The Spirit is the fundamental being of our existence. The Spirit gives meaning to relationship, truth and goodness.
An important factor in comprehending the meaning of relationship is the awareness of who we are and what makes us think and act the way we do. Our minds and experiences both interpret and shape reality. Some people place much emphasis on their intellect when deciphering information. Others use instinct or gut feelings, and another group weighs in their feelings and emotions, Blom remarked.
The antithesis of relationship, truth and goodness are fear, shame and anger which can plunge people into spiritual darkness. The negativity manifests itself in passive aggressiveness, blaming or perfectionism. Citing some examples of these, Blom said people may become obsessed with overworking, having control or become gluttonous for information, wealth or power.
Temptations, suffering and emptiness can be transcended with the help of the Holy Spirit which brings meaning to conflicts and peace to confusion and disorder. God cannot be explained through thinking, reasoning, desires or the physical, Blom commented. God can be experienced in a withdrawal from all that is familiar and corrosive.
A sacred prayerful silence is a means to begin the process of withdrawal. The Holy Spirit is there to help bring healing and completion. Beneath brokenness and confusion is the true self that seeks relationship with God and others. The true self is found when cutting through the layers of anger, hurt, sadness, fear and despair.