Back With More Reposting

In the midst of trying to finish my paper on the Creed, an accompanying audio/video project and all the other matters of life, I reposted two older Trinity Sunday reposts.

However, I am back for a third… and why not! It is Trinity Sunday after all and that means three!

In the midst of life I have been reading and commenting on three (Trinity!) different posts. One is from Frank at Why I Am Catholic, and it is about the Corapi matter. I choose to not say much about that, but I did weigh in over at YIM in the comments. Humility is a gift and I think that God offers it to me all the time, but I am clumsy and drop it, don’t notice that God is giving it to me or otherwise turn my nose up at it, however unintentionally.

The second post is from Allison (formerly of YIM) and now she hosts Rambling Follower, a relatively new blog. She wrote about an older couple who were seeking to marry in the Church and who had a less than great experience. In trying to look at the human side of things and explore how we can block the pathway to Christ, a flurry of comments came up about law, doctrine and rules. Now rules, doctrine and law matter, but without love they are nothing. Again, the blessed gift of humility is sought, with a dose of wisdom. 

Finally our third example is from Deacon William Ditewig at Deacons Today: Dalmatics and Beyond. Bill was writing about the aforementioned Corapi matter and once again, a post generated some strong comments in the thread. So once more, I prayed for the gift of wisdom as I left my own comments.

All three posts remind me of the essential need and the foundational matter of the Roman Catholic Church and that is the intersection of the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. We must have both.

To which I now point you to a fine Trinitarian story called The Three Hermits by Leo Tolstoy and a post that first went up over at the parish blog in 2007. If there was ever a short tale that underscored the need for the spirit of the law, it is this one!


I am away this weekend, but I have a moment and I wanted to republish this post from August of 2007. We have added many new readers since then, so this may be new to you.

It is a great reminder that we live in a day to day world of practical measures that often demands doing and saying more and more and more just to keep going… but that at the heart of the Trinity is a purity and a simplicity that is startling in its clarity.

Peace and Blessings to all.

The Three Hermits is a short story by Leo Tolstoy, based upon on old Russian legend. It is a lovely allegory about prayer and simplicity.

The story basically says this- a bishop was traveling on a boat. When on this boat, he hears about some hermits. These hermits live on an island that the ship was passing. A fisherman told the bishop about being stranded overnight on that island and encountering these three holy hermits.

The bishop is compelled to go see this trio and convinces the captain of this ship to send him ashore in a rowboat. Off he goes to see these old men who are apparently living lives of simplicity and prayer.

Upon arrival he informs them that he wants to see what he can do to teach them something about the Lord. After all it would appear that he is so well schooled and learned as the bishop and they are but three simple ones on an island. The men say little. Undeterred, the bishop forges ahead and asks them to spell out just how they are saving their souls and serving God.

He quickly learns that they have but one prayer… “Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us”. While happy to hear that they know the Trinity, the bishop now goes into an explanation of how to pray the right way. To this end, he attempts to get them to memorize the Lord’s Prayer.

All day long he would say the words, the men would try and try to memorize and repeat them and each time the three holy, old men would just fumble their way through. Finally though they got it and the bishop was satisfied.

At this point the bishop takes his leave and as he rows back to the main ship he hears them praying the Lord’s Prayer in unison. He is so pleased that he could share his great knowledge with these simple servants. Unable to sleep he is standing on deck in the silent night. He feels so good about how he could teach these men this prayer and he thanks God for the chance to have enlightened the island dwellers.

Suddenly he notices something white and shining traveling towards the boat. It was moving at such rapid speed he could not fathom what it might be! Needless to say he was alarmed and turned to the helmsman to see if he knew what was happening. The helmsman just about loses controls of the ship.

And in the great white light he could suddenly make out the three hermits running across the surface of the water! The helmsman nearly faints and the bishop is shaken to the core.

As the hermits neared the ship the holy old ones said in a single voice “We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God”.

The bishop- realizing with gravity what has happened, simply tells them that their own original prayer will truly reach the Lord. Understanding that he – the great bishop – could not teach these men, he simply asked them to pray for “us sinners”.

Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.

This story so beautifully illustrates that sometimes the learned have much to learn from the simple. Which pretty much sounds like something Jesus tried to tell us in many ways.

If you would like to read the story please click here.