The Mystery of the Holy Trinity
February 23, 2013 The Mystery of the Holy Trinity
Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 232-267.
In the Gospel of today we can see a manifestation of the Holy Trinity. Not only because the Father speaks to the Son, but also because the cloud overshadows the apostles. That cloud is the figure of the Holy Spirit, who also overshadowed Mary in the Incarnation.
Today we will speak of the mystery of the Holy Trinity according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Hopefully it will foster our prayer in this Lenten season. The Catechism divides the exposition of this mystery in a little introduction and three points.
“Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God: the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit; the Most Holy Trinity” (CCC, 233).
“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them” (234). That is to say, in order to understand something about the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus in Easter, we need to know first about the Trinity, because the one who suffered and rose again from the death is one of the Trinity.
“The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin"” (234). The revelation of the Trinity has as its purpose that we enter into communion with God. God let us know who he is, so that we can know him and love him forever.
1. The Revelation of God as Trinity
(The Father and the Son) “Many religions invoke God as "Father". In Israel, God is called "Father" inasmuch as he is Creator of the world” (238).
“The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood […] no one is father as God is Father” (239).
“Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matt. 11:27)” (240).
“For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1)” (241).
“Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial" with the Father, that is, one only God with him. The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381 […] confessed "the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, […] true God from true God, begotten not made"” (242).
(The Holy Spirit) “Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father” (243).
“The Spirit is sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had returned to the Father. The sending of the person of the Spirit after Jesus' glorification reveals in its fullness the mystery of the Holy Trinity” (244).
“The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father." […] "With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified"” (245).
2. The Holy Trinity in the Doctrine of the Faith
“The Church uses the term "substance" (rendered also at times by "essence" or "nature") to designate the divine being in its unity, the term "person" or "hypostasis" to designate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the real distinction among them, and the term "relation" to designate the fact that their distinction lies in the relationship of each to the others” (252).
“The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the "consubstantial Trinity". The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire” (253).
“The divine persons are really distinct from one another.”God is one but not solitary." "Father", "Son", "Holy Spirit" are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: "He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son." They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds." The divine Unity is Triune” (254).
“The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another […] "everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship." "Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son."” (255).
3. The Holy Trinity in our life
“"O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!" God is eternal blessedness” and “God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life”. God wanted us to be inserted in the mystery of his communion of love. “"He destined us in love to be his sons" (Eph 1:4-5), and "to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:29), through "the Spirit of sonship" (Rom 8:15)” (cf. 257). That is why he came to earth and sent us the Holy Spirit. “The whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them” (259).
“The ultimate end of the whole divine economy [the work of salvation] is the entry of God's creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: "If a man loves me", says the Lord, "he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him" (John 14:23)”. And let me finish with a prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, quoted in the Catechism, in which we see how we can pray to the Trinity:
“O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you […]. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action”. (260).
May God in this Lent grant us a spirit of prayer. May God grant us to realize that he lives in our heart, that God is our guest, and we have to look after him.