Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves. (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2)
Understanding the mysteries of our faith, such as the Most Holy Trinity is made possible by both Faith and Reason. God reveals the truth of the Trinity through revelation to the faithful. But God has also created us with the desire to know the Truth through rational contemplation of our human experience, which we call Philosophy in particular and through intellectual analysis which we would call the natural sciences.
I am who am. God is. God is a total unity of three persons, an everlasting community of living love, of mutual self-giving. There is no holding back, there are no hidden agendas, there is no manipulation - the inner life of God is absolute, no-holds-barred generosity, eternal and unlimited self-donation. God is: three perfect divine persons who perfectly share the unique divine nature.
The way of redemption showcases these roles in a clear manner. The Father designed and organized how mankind would be redeemed (Galatians 4:4-5). The Son carried out the plan (John 6:37-38). The Holy Spirit sees to it that every person experiences a desire for God's saving grace (John 14:26, John 16:8; Romans 1:19-20). For those who receive and cooperate with that grace, their lives are altered through the transformation of their minds and hearts.
God has been revealed to us as Trinitarian and has invited us into that inner life and communion of love, which alone is the origin, goal, and meaning of our life. As we read in the Catechism, “By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (CCC 221). On Trinity Sunday, the Church proclaims the truth about God—that God is love (1 John 4:8)—and the truth about us: we are made for this love. We eternally belong to God—we have an eternal home!‘What’ is the Trinity?The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the most fundamental of our faith. On it everything else depends, and from it everything else derives. Hence the Church’s constant concern to safeguard the revealed truth that God is One in nature and Three in Persons. The Trinity is “the central mystery of Christian faith and life…[and is] the source of all the other mysteries of faith” (CCC 234)
All teaching in the Church about the Trinity begins in Scripture which shows how each member of the Trinity fulfills a specific role, and it also reveals how those three roles interrelate. The Church has conceived “a theological process by which an essential aspect of the Trinity – common to all three divine Persons – is specifically attributed to one of them,” explains the Dominican Gilles Emery. For example, the Creation is attributed to the Father, the Redemption to the Son, and the sanctification to the Holy Spirit; omnipotence to the Father, wisdom to the Son and goodness with love to the Holy Spirit. In simple terms: The Father creates a plan, Jesus Christ implements the plan, and the Holy Spirit administers the plan.
The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature. They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which place them in correspondence to each other. The Father generates the Son; the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son [CCC 48].
We must keep in mind that the action of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is always one and the same. Each act of God is the work of Trinity as a whole. So, we cannot attribute a property or an action to one specific divine person alone. But to this, we must immediately add that the way the divine persons operate depends on how one of them relates to the others: the Father to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, and vice-versa. So, in the Trinity, the Father is the One who loves – the source and the beginning of all things; the Son is the beloved and the Holy Spirit is their love for one another. The Catechism of the Catholic Church stipulates: “… each divine person performs the common work according to his unique personal property” (CCC 258).
At the beginning of time, we were slowly made aware of the reality of God the Father. The Great I AM. It was revealed to us through the prophets and patriarchs that there was one God and only one. But as time passed, we were also made aware of the Messiah who was the Son of God. As we came to know this Son, in the person of Jesus, we came to realize that He also was I AM. He also was God. Then the Son began to reveal to us that He would send His Advocate, the Holy Spirit. And we came to realize that this Holy Spirit is also God, also I AM. This was God’s way of slowly revealing the full truth of Who He is over time. He is One, yet He is also Three. One God, three divine Persons.
The more deeply we ponder and absorb this revelation of God, the more we know and love God. Since we are created to love God, we will be happier with abiding joy and peace the more we love. Because when we do what we were made to do, we experience fulfillment of our meaning and purpose.
To love him more, we must know him better, as the old proverb says, "You cannot love what you do not know." To use a crude example: someone who has never tasted apple pie can't say, "I love apple pie." But if that same person has experienced a piece of home-baked apple pie, right out of the oven, then he knows what it is, and he can say, "I love apple pie." If we know who God is, if we go beyond vague, fuzzy ideas and really get a clear view of his glory and his goodness, it will stimulate our spiritual taste buds and stir up our love. This is the reason that God has revealed himself to us. He wants us to know him, to love and serve him.
Today, on this feast of the Blessed Trinity, we need to ask ourselves: how well do we know God?
How will we come to know God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit better?
Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.