An image for the Church in a Christmas Gift Catalog.

Seven Seat TricycleWell, I didn’t get the gift I wanted this Christmas  😉 Maybe the fact that it cost $20,000 had something to do with it  🙂 It is the Seven-Seater tricycle in the Hammacher and Schlemmer Catalog.  I suspect it is one of those corporate “team-building” items and thus a large corporation might be able to afford the hefty cost or even just rent it for corporate “retreats.”

At any rate I was intrigued when I saw it as something of an image of the Church. I know that I exaggerate when I “see” these things, but it is good to reminded of the Lord and His Church in many ways.

That it is a Tricycle reminds us surely of the Trinity, the foundation on which our faith rests and rolls.  Or perhaps the three wheels speak to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus (from whose wounded side came forth his Bride, the Church, and whose resurrection means she is a bride, not a widow).  Or is it the three Sacraments of initiation (Baptism confirmation, Eucharist) that enable us to fully participate (or ride) in the Church. Or perhaps the three wheels are the three degrees of Holy Orders (Bishop, priest, deacon), on which the Church both rides and is steered.

7x3cycle 1The seven seats may speak to the seven sacraments, or the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the seven churches of Revelation. But we ought not forget that the number “7” is also a number specifying perfection and fullness. And thus the seven seats speak to the “full number of the elect” that is known only to God. And this is my preferred interpretation, that the seven riders represent the full Membership of the Church.

Each of the seats is adjustable. And this speaks to the different gifts that all bring and the Church’s capacity to use different gifts and adjust the to needs and gifts of others, while also insisting that one find a seat and act in a way that does not violate her main task as making the journey to heaven.

The seats are arranged in a circle. And this indicated the equal dignity of every baptized member. In the Church there are different roles and there is authority, but in terms of dignity before God, all are equal. The Pope has supreme authority in the Church but he is no more baptized than anyone else. In the Church authority is exercised among equals.

Note that all the riders hold on to a single, circular handle bar. And this speaks to the fact of One Lord, one Faith, One Baptism. Yes, we all hold to the one, true faith, and to a church that has among its four marks that she is “One.” Even the driver’s steering wheel is attached on and through the circular bar.

There is only one steering wheel. And this remind of the Pope in the universal Church and the Bishop in the local Church. Only one person can steer. Give everyone a steering wheel and there is chaos, power struggle and an accident waiting to happen. If no one is pope, everyone is pope and that is very, very bad. It will be noted that the driver is the only one to steer, but he is able to get feedback, advice and encouragement from the other riders. And thus his leadership is collaborative, but it is ultimately a single leadership. Every body, needs a head. A body with two heads is a freak, and a body with no head is dead. Every body, including the Church needs a head. Thus this image of the church has one steering wheel. And for those who say the head is a book not a pope, I say that books can’t see to steer; it takes a real person to see, to be inspired, and to steer.

Every seat, including the driver’s has pedals. And this means that everyone must do their part.  If one member suffers or lapses, all the members will suffer; if one member has an energy burst and can pedal gloriously, all the members are glorified. If one member is struggling, there are six others to compensate. But all must reasonably do their part, play their role, and contribute to the journey of the Church to glory. If too many are allowed to stray or pedal backwards, or drag their feet, then the forward progress gets difficult and other members suffer. Thus the Church must correct and insist that all do their part.

Every seat must be filled, or the work gets harder for those who remain and may eventually stop or go backwards if too many seats go empty. And thus evangelization is going to be key to keep the seats full and the work of the Lord’s Church moving forward. Further, if there are empty seats, it means some are being left behind, and this should be considered unacceptable for the Church that is make sure the full number of the elect find their way home. Every empty seat is a disgrace, a failure of mission, and makes the work even harder.

Well, more can be said. Feel free to add your own commentary on this seven-seater tricycle. Here’s a video that shows the trike in action. The video is funny to since it is kind of a spoof,  crafted on the TV ads of the 1950’s with silly elevator music and a lot of dumb waves and staged enthusiasm, like those old ads. Someday I would love the chance to ride one of these tricycles. You may note that some of the scenes in the video depart from proper eclessiology – find the errors in the video!

19 Replies to “An image for the Church in a Christmas Gift Catalog.”

    1. Yes. That is an “error” at least potentially. Those who can pedal ought to do so. There is nothing in the video to indicate that the lax person is not able and needs the others to pedal.

  1. Is the ecclesiology error that there is only one God, not two, since the video ended with two bicycles? Or did I miss the error? Or what are the other errors? I’m not a theologian, that’s for sure.

    That video is hilarious. I feel a lot better knowing for sure that dogs go to Heaven. And that Heaven is a continuous picnic

    1. Ecclesially, the “two” tricycles seem to indicate more than one church. But there is only one Church founded by Jesus. Notice too how the one church, tries to run the other Church off the road. There are other errors, but lets see if others will note them.

  2. The Church always steers us into action to serve others not picnic or relaxation. I believe this is what Pope Francis is inculcating in us. We must serve others putting aside our comforts for the comfort of the marginalized. Baruch HaShem! You saw GOD even in the tricycle. GOD Bless you.

  3. The trinity isn’t equal, that is, one of the wheels is larger and seems to guide the whole trike more than the other two wheels which seem to be there primarily for stability.

  4. The trinity of wheels isn’t equal, that is, one of the wheels is larger and seems to guide the whole trike more than the other two wheels which seem to be there primarily for stability.

  5. I like how some people have their backs turned to God they are still moving toward Him without their knowledge.

  6. At first it appeared that only women would enter the kingdom and the power of direction would go to a female..but..then…the kingdom is ruled by men alone…but then…after eating and drinking together it seemed that they joined one another on each cycle….Roman and Orthodox ?

  7. Wonderful, Msgr. I love how you see the Hand of God and His Church in everything. Very Eastern Church of you. Confuses my Latin Catholic, scientist husband, but I love it. Thank you.

  8. Merry 6th day of our Christmas Octave, Mrgr. – six geese a-laying a-waiting 7 swans swimming… I enjoyed pondering on your attempt to create a purposeful meme to call to mind “Church” yet can’t help thinking the mechanical reality lacks a certain ‘mystical’ element? Coincidentally just a couple days before you posted this I sat mesmerized by my screensaver, a randomly floating animated version of Jamie Zawinski’s XScreenSaver on my opensourced Linux laptop called MöbiusGears where seventeen cogs roll along, set in motion by an invisible “unmoved-mover” similar to this at (with 15 cogs) and I thought to myself a similar thought to your own: that’d make a good mental image for how we Church members separated by space and time can still commune perfectly by the mystery of the Holy Spirit, worldwide if one extrudes the idea into a solid 3-D body…!

    However even this ‘mechanical’ attempt of my quite limited sense-intellect illicits only a fleeting sense of enchantment. Perhaps rather, to honor holy mother Church the majestic beauty of natural forms found in the Bible are better suited to describe her abiding splendor, for example Moebius Arch on Mt Whitney in the Alabama Hills of California? “When my glory passes I will set you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back; but my face may not be seen.” — Ex. 33:22 Indeed the footnote appended to this section of scripture adjures the Hebrews for attempting to control the holy presence of God in a mechanical model (the golden calf) so perhaps its ok that the metaphor is incomplete – for God will not have it otherwise, it is a mystery!

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