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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
General…

THE HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY

TRINITY IS A TERM donating the specifically Christian doctrine that God is a unity of three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church teaches that the fathomless mystery we call God has revealed himself to humankind as a Trinity of Persons. Each of them played a part in the founding and spreading of Christianity. Each performed a distinct role in the work of our salvation. The Father sent his Son on earth in human form. After the Son’s Ascension, both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify, give courage and strength to the Apostles  and those who would join them, and to direct  and govern the Church founded by the Son.

The Father created us and planned an eternal life for us. He communicates the word. The Son is the Redeemer, the Incarnate Word who speaks only the words He hears from the Father (cf Jn 8: 26; 12: 49). The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier who enlightens the mind to help it understand God’s words and opens the heart to receive them with love and put them into practice (cf Jn 16: 12-14).

The mystery of the Blessed Trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament because God saw that his Chosen People were not yet ready to accept such a mystery. Living, as they were, surrounded by adorers of many gods, any knowledge of the Trinity of persons in the one God, might have weakened their monotheism.

Nevertheless, the Old Testament gives intimations that there are more than one Person in God. In Genesis, God says, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness” (Gen 1: 26). God the Father revealed the imminent coming into the world of God the Son (Is 9: 6-7). The book of Psalms says: “He said to me; You are my son. This day I have begotten you.” (Ps 2: 7).

In the New Testament, God reveals this doctrine even more clearly. For example, at the baptism of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father was heard: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3: 16-17). God the Son commanded the Apostles to baptise “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28: 19). Moreover, in 1 Cor. 12: 4-6, the Bible refers to God with three names: Spirit, Lord, and God corresponding to Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father. In Acts 2: 33, the Son was the mediator of the activity of the Spirit. There are some passages in which all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in the same context viz the Apostolic Benediction of 2 Cor 13: 13 (the earliest trinitarian formula known) and the Baptismal formula of Matt 28: 19).

In the unity of the Godhead, there are three Persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three gods but one God.”

We can satisfy ourselves as to the feasibility of God’s triune realities. For example, the triangle is one distinct form with three distinct and equal sides. The clover leaf is one leaf with three distinct and equal petals. As visual-aid can be used, especially made for this purpose, one large candle with three wicks close together, burning as one flame.

Think of the Father as a spring of life begetting the Son like a river and the Holy Spirit like a sea, for the spring and the river and the sea are all one nature. Think of the Father as a root, of the Son as a branch, and of the Spirit as a fruit, for the substance of these three is one. The Father is a sun with the Son as rays and the Holy Spirit as heat. The Holy Trinity transcends by far every similitude and figure. So when you hear of an offspring of the Father, do not think of a corporeal offspring. And when you hear that there is a Word, do not suppose him to be a corporeal word. And when you hear of the Spirit of God, do not think of wind and breath. John of Damascus concludes, “Rather, hold your persuasion with a simple faith alone. For the concept of the Creator is arrived at by analogy from his creatures.” There are many physical trinities on earth, therefore, a Spiritual Trinity, who is God in heaven, is not against human reason - it is simply above human reason!

Christopher Columbus had a tremendous devotion to the Blessed Trinity. He invoked the Holy Trinity at the beginning of every enterprise and everything he wrote began with the words: “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity.”

When he presented to the Council of Salamanca (that assembly of all the learned of science and theology), his theory of the New World to be discovered, he began, “I come before you in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, because  our sovereigns have commanded me to submit to your wisdom a project which has certainly come to me inspired by the same Holy Spirit.”

On his third voyage in 1598, he vowed to consecrate to the Trinity the first land that he would discover, and hence the island he reached was called Trinidad.

St Augustine of Hippo states: “In the Father resides unity, in the Son equality and in the Holy spirit the perfect union of unity and equality. These three qualities are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all united because of the Holy Spirit.” John Wesley challenges: “Tell me how it is that in this room there are three candles and but one light, and I will explain to you the mode of the divine existence.”

God is “family” - the model of unity for all people and the model of communion among people. The “family” of God, the Trinity, is the image of perfect harmony, of all integration and dialogue of love with all other people. This unity of all in the peace of the “house” of the Father will be completely achieved when the “power of salvation” of the Risen Lord reaches, through his disciples, every man on earth.

Furthermore, the God we worship as Christians is not in a faraway heaven where he does not care about our joys, sufferings, problems or anxieties. He is the “Emmanuel,” “God with us” (Mt 1: 23), the God who stands at our side every day, “yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28: 20).

We celebrate this feast so that we are offered a further opportunity to meditate on the God we believe in. It is not enough to say “I believe in God.” It is more important to know what god we believe in. When we reach heaven, we shall see and understand it more clearly with the added light of the Beatific Vision, which will be given to our  glorified bodies.

Meanwhile, let us show our gratitude to God the Father who, in his love, made us intelligent human beings, the highest and noblest of his creatures on earth giving us adopted sonship. Let us thank the all obedient, all-loving Son of God who carried the divine Father’s plan for our adoption, by sharing with us our humanity. Let us be eternally grateful to the Holy Spirit - the fruit of the love of Father and Son who has come to dwell in the Church and each member of the Church, and to direct our faltering steps towards the everlasting happiness awaiting us beyond the grave.

 

 


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