The sign of the Cross.. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. So simple…yet, so complete… the basis of the Christian faith…the foundation upon which all is built. One God, Three distinct Persons. On this first Sunday after Pentecost…which was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the faithful followers of Jesus, the Holy Mother Church calls us to gather and to celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which is at the very core of the Christian belief… the Trinity or the Triune Godhead… God the Father…God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It’s a hard idea to grasp, that’s for sure… and yet, it is this fundamental Truth that is at the base of our Christian Creed…. Even with all the ‘fracturing’ and all the splintering from the Truth… If you belong to a Church or a community and call yourself a Christian, yet, don’t believe in the Trinity… you are not a Christian. Period.
Throughout the gospel, this mystery is revealed to the faithful. And although the word ‘Trinity’ is not actually used, we can find references to this ‘Triune’ nature of God in several different passages. One such instance is in the Gospel of Luke 3: 21-22, during the Baptism of Jesus; “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, / and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
We also find reference to the Trinity in the writings of Peter: “who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” The Trinity is never fully explained, but in the Gospel of John we find several times when Jesus is speaking to His disciples and the language that He uses stresses the Oneness of He and the Father. Such as in John 10:30, 38:-
“The Father and I are one.” / “…the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
And again in John 14: 8 -11 we read:
“Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ / Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? / Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. / Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me…’ “
There are other references to the Trinity in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament as well. And even though it is not something that we can fully comprehend, it is one of those beliefs that we have to rely on our Faith to embrace. We have been told that it is a Mystery… one of those things which we will never fully understand until we are there with God in Heaven. Yet, it is so very important, even so, many still get it wrong. In order to help us understand, I will rely upon those great men of the past..those great saints of the Holy Mother Church who lived through so many difficult times in the history of the Church… Who so often had to defend this Truth when a heresy would spring up, trying to destroy what Jesus Christ had built. Just as God worked through the writers of the Holy Gospels, He also has worked through many of the Church’s great and holy saints …giving them the grace…and the words they needed to try and explain the un-explainable.
“The Church, though dispersed through out the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one.”– Saint Ireneaus – Against Heresies
Saint Augustine wrote much on the Most Holy Trinity,and since he is perhaps one of the most gifted theologians, he tried to help the faithful to understand the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, devoting much of his writings to this absolute dogma of Faith.
“The true objects of enjoyment, then, are the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are at the same time the Trinity, one Being, supreme above all, and common to all who enjoy Him, if He is an object, and not rather the cause of all objects, or indeed even if He is the cause of all. For it is not easy to find a name that will suitably express so great excellence, unless it is better to speak in this way: The Trinity, one God, of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things. Thus the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and each of these by Himself, is God, and at the same time they are all one God; and each of them by Himself is a complete substance, and yet they are all one substance. The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son: but the Father is only Father, the Son is only Son, and the Holy Spirit is only Holy Spirit. To all three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. In the Father is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality; and these three attributes are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all harmonious because of the Holy Spirit.”
On Christian Doctrine Book I. Chapter 5.5
And finally, one more quote from the great Saint Augustine of Hippo, we get this beautifully written paragraph found in his book, ‘On the Trinity Book.‘ Please enjoy and have a blessed feast day.
‘All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when “there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,” the same Trinity “sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire,” but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, “Thou art my Son,” whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again;” but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith’.
On the Trinity Book I. Chapter 4.7
In Praise of the Trinity
With our whole heart and voice we glorify Thee, we praise Thee, we bless Thee, God the Father unbegotten, the only-begotten Son, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the holy and undivided Trinity.
For Thou art great, and dost wonderful things: Thou alone art God. To Thee be praise, to Thee glory, to Thee thanksgiving forever and ever, O blessed Trinity!