Celeste tells me that when she first met me she did not like me.  You were like, seven stories above everybody, she says.   Now that I know you, you’re just like the rest of us.

She means the residents of Gabriel House and not the staff.  This Grail Center in Cincinnati is actually two large old houses on quiet Hosea Avenue.  All the girls have jobs in the city or are college students like me.

Her remarks are both reassuring and disturbing.  I know that I don’t wear a cover-up smile.  I did not know until now that the veil I feel inside me can be felt by others as something so off-putting.

Sometimes the veil feels like the huge white mosquito net that once cascaded from the ceiling above my bed, protecting that little girl I used to be.

Sometimes the veil feels like sticky spider webs that still cling even though I try to pull off every last icky bit.

Then there is the veil in my head, that is not a veil after all, but more like a fog beyond which I can still make out the distant edges of something totally wonderful.

I am getting my undergraduate degree at a Catholic liberal arts college for girls.   They gave me a four-year scholarship.   It is a lovely place.


EdgecliffEdgecliff College, later merged with Xavier University, Ohio


I take as many courses as they will allow.  I am feeling the lost years and time slipping away.

A course in theology is required.   I need to write a term paper on any relevant topic.  In the library I see the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas.  I start leafing through its pages.

I see a heading.  Why the Holy Ghost is Called Love.   For me, love has been pushed back so hard it is now in the distance, beyond the fog.

By the time I leave the library I have written my term paper.  It is only three or four handwritten pages, the suggested length.   The few footnotes are all from the Summa.  I have not tried to be original.  This is freshman theology, after all.

What I have done is write down my own way of understanding this love triangle called the Trinity.  It goes something like this.

The Holy Ghost is called love because it is the love of the Father for the Son which returns to the Father and bonds them.

But there can be no time and no separation in the One God.   All three – the Father, the Holy Ghost, and the Son are One God and one nature, but each, being God, is of necessity also a total person.   So we have one Nature and three Persons.  God is a Trinity.

I cannot really go beyond these ideas of Aquinas.  But I pick up on his word “spirate” and try to clarify the concept a little with the description of breathing in and out.  I change the word Ghost to Spirit, which resonates with the breathing metaphor.

Father Gary Martin, S.J., a young Jesuit priest, returns our term papers as we leave the classroom.  My paper is the last one.

This is publishable, he says as he hands it to me.  I would have it published in our journal except that our journal is a male publication, you understand.

Then he is out the door.  I look down at my paper.  He has given it an A+.  But publishable?   In a Jesuit in-house publication?  I can’t really take this in.

Something else occurs to me.  In the thousands of hours of being read to at Grailville, in all their talks about the Holy Spirit and woman, they identified the Holy Spirit, love, with the woman.  I never heard anything about the Holy Spirit being the Love between the Father and the Son.

Eleanor gave many of the readings.  She is thoughtful and would take the time to read my paper.  I send it to her.  I get a card back from her.




She is kind and too generous with her praise.  But her saying “the idea of breathing is beautiful” doesn’t tell me anything about what she thinks of Aquinas’s argument that the Holy Spirit is the Love between the Father and the Son.


Trinity Red


Nevertheless, something about the structure of this love triangle rings true.


1 Comment

  1. louise brown

    Hi Doreen
    I found your story so interesting. Thank You for writing it. I love family history because no one should be forgotten. Life is so short.
    Thank You
    Louise Brown