Thoughts, Musings, & Ramblings of a Catholic Housewife

The Blessed Trinity

Note from Rebecca: Below is the text of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) night on the Holy Trinity that Harold and I taught in December 2012.  The majority of what is below came from a few sources – most of which are cited.  The one source that is not cited is our RCIA resource book.  We are given several handouts about whatever subject we are teaching about and it is up to us how to use these resources.  Harold and I chose to do some research of our own and to basically use various parts from the resources we were given in combination with the other sources we’d found.  We took a little bit from each and put them together in a way that made sense to us (since we were teaching). 🙂

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In the name of the Father, God the creator of all. The Son, God the Redeemer & fount of mercy, and the Holy Spirit, God the Sanctifier, breath of love who sustains us & gives us new life.

We started with the sign of the cross – we begin so many things with this simple but profound prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We invoke the Blessed Trinity each time we pray. You have a handout about the sign of the cross. I highly encourage you to study it. What I want to briefly touch on here is that each time you make & pray the sign of the cross, you are invoking the Blessed Trinity – expressing a belief in that mystery. I also wanted to point out the way many people position their hand when making the sign of the cross. It reminds us of two great and important mysteries of our faith – three fingers together to remind us of the Blessed Trinity – three persons in one God and two fingers together to remind us of the dual nature – the hypostatic union of Christ. He was at once totally, 100% divine and totally 100% human.

The Blessed Trinity

The one God is three divine Persons, each having the fullness of the divine nature, who live in a perfect communion of love. This is the central mystery of our faith.

So what does that mean?

A mystery, if you recall, is something that is UNKNOWABLE without direct revelation from God. The Trinity is the central mystery of our faith and life because it reveals who God is in his inmost being. (CCC 234). This mystery is not illogical, contradictory, or unreasonable, nor is it opposed to a belief in the one God. In such cases as the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation (the “enfleshment” of the second person of the Trinity as Jesus Christ), we humans with finite minds try to understand a divine and, therefore infinite reality. Our minds are wonderful creations but are still limited. A blind person must take it on faith when we say that the light in the kitchen is on. Throughout life, we are obliged to, because of our limitations, to accept things on the testimony of reliable sources. *insert quotes on reliable sources here?* Reason alone could never conceive of the reality of three persons in one nature, nor for that matter, of one person, Jesus Christ, having two natures (divine and human). All our human capabilities, aided by God’s supernatural Revelation, do not enable us to grasp or comprehend the mysteries of the Infinite such as the Blessed Trinity. The whole of our supernatural knowledge, just because it is the very nature of SUPERnatural, is beyond us.

The existence of the Trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Gn 1:26 ” Then God said: “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness. “

It is boldly proclaimed in the New Testament. Three events in the life of Jesus show us the Trinity: his conception, his baptism, and his Transfiguration. When the angel came to Mary to invite her to be the Mother of God, Mary understandably asked how it was possible. Gabriel replied: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35) At Jesus’ baptism, the Heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon him accompanied by the voice of the Father saying : “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17; see also Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22) During his public ministry, shortly before he began his final journey to Jerusalem, Jesus took the apostles Peter, James, and John to a high mountain where he was transfigured before them. His appearance was transformed, his clothes beame dazzling white, and with him appeared Moses and Elijah, symbolizing the Law and the Prophets – that is the entire Old Testament. In the course of this astounding event – which, for a moment, revealed Jesus’ own divine glory – a cloud, representing the Holy Spirit, overshadowed the three apostles, and a voice once again proclaimed: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35)

There are other places within the New Testament where the Godhead of the Son, the Holy Spirit, and even the relationship of the Father and the Spirit are revealed. Jesus says: “I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:30). In Acts, Peter rebukes a fellow Christian: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4) Finally, in John we hear Jesus say : “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.” (Jn 15:26)

One of the clearest scripture verses, that supports the doctrine of the Trinity, is Mt 28:19. In Jesus’ commission to his apostles, it is plainly revealed that the three Persons belong to a single Godhead. “batizing…in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus uses the singular “name”, not “names”, to show us that all three Persons are one God.

There are three Persons in God and only one nature. Simply, nature answers the question “What?” while person answers the question “Who?” According to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen “A person in the Trinity does not mean the same as a person in this world. A person in the Trinity means a relation or a relationship.” Bishop Sheen used this example to illustrate “Remember your chemistry. What is the chemical symbol for water? H2O. That is its nature. It has only ONE nature BUT is it possible to have various relationships within that one nature? Most certainly. It can be liquid, ice, or steam. Is the liquid a differnt nature from H2O? No. The ice? No. The steam? No. Somehow, the three are in one. Just as in the Sun, there is substance, light, and heat – yet only one Sun.” The actual distinctions among the three divine persons is in their relation to one another. Each of the divine persons is God, whole and entire. Although the divine persons are inseparable in what they are and do, it is possible and common to identify “works” that are proper to each. Generally, The Father, the first person of the Blessed Trinity, is refferred to as the Creator. He is an uncreated Being who created all things from nothing; he is the first cause. He is a loving Father who continually cares for his people, drawing them to himself in mercy. In his plan born of love, God created us to share his life forever. Sin, however, cut us off from God and from our destiny. Nevertheless, in his great mercy, the Father did not put an end to us or abandon us.

The Son, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is also called the Redeemer. In his perfect knowledge of himseld, the Father begot his one Word, the Son. The Son is not created by the Father, but begotten; he is the uncreated image of the Father. The Son is completely divine and coequal with the Father, and nothing was made without him. He became Jesus Christ, taking on a complete human nature while remaining comepletely divine. “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman.” (Gal 4:4) The Father sent forth the Son to reveal his plan, to show us how to live, and to pay the price for our sins. His sacrifice of his Passion and Death are the fullest sign of the total self-giving nature of God’s love.

The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, can also be called the Sanctifier. In their perfect love for each other, the Father and the Son spirated the Holy Spirit. Spiration, according to Merriam-Webster.com, means

1) a obs: the action of breathing as a creative or life-giving function of the Deity

b (1): the act by or manner in which the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father

or from the Father & the Son  (2): the relationship subsisting by virtue of this procession

2) obs: the action of breathing as a physical function of man and animals

The Holy Spirit is not created by the Father and the Son, but proceeds from them as an uncreated divine Person – we can think of this as a divine “sigh of love”. The Holy Spirit is completely divine and coequal with the Father and the Son. He is the Spirit of God that moved over the waters at creation; he brings about a new creation in each soul through the grace of the sacraments of the Church. Once Christ, the Son, had paid the price for our sins, the Holy Spirit came to activate the new and eternal life won for us by Christ’s redemptive self-giving. “When the time for Pentacost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly, there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then, appeared to them tounges as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tougnes, as the spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:1-4) The Holy Spirit empowers and guides the Church to fulfill her mission to preach to Good News of salvation to the whole world and to make God’s life available to all men and women, without exception.

Pope Benedict 16th first encyclical was “Deus Caritas Est”. That means “God is Love.” So many people get so enthusiastic about that statement. “God is love.” It is unique to the Christian faith. A Muslim or a Jew would simply say “God loves.” That’s true – he loves the world. But love is more than something He does. “God IS love” – love is his being – it’s who he is! What we sometimes miss is that, by saying “God is love.”, we are expressing the Blessed Trinity. To say that “God is love”, we are saying that there is play within the one God of a lover, the beloved, and the love that they share. We say in the creed “We believe in ONE GOD” but that one God has revealed himself to be a play of lover, beloved, and loved. (Fr. Robert Barron)

The Blessed Trinity is a mystery. Every mystery of faith flows from and is connected to the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. We were created for love; we live to respond to and then grow in that love; we die to self so that we may be resurrected to enter that love forever at the end of our earthly life. We will never, in this life, be capable of fully understanding and comprehending this. It is just not possible. We experience in these matters an insufficiency, as sense of sad resignation. We feel inadequate, left out – and this is right. We have, therefore, Heaven to look forward to and work toward. Our faith, as Christ himself so often emphasized, is of central importance to our lives. It gives us the strongest, most certain assurance that the world of the supernatural is not an empty dream. Our faith convinces us that the Trinity of God the Father who made us out of love, God the Son who came among us to save us out of love, and God the Holy Spirit who infuses us with love and who sustains us in the Church will be revealed to us at the very hour Jesus opens his arms to welcome us into Heaven with the words: “Come, O blessed of my Father; inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Mt 25:34). This Kingdom is God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Blessed Trinity – our true home. (CCC 102, 232-260).

Glory be to the Father, Who by His almighty power and love created me, making me in the image and likeness of God.  Glory be to the Son, Who by His Precious Blood delivered me from hell, and opened for me the gates of heaven. Glory be to the Holy Spirit, Who has sanctified me in the Sacrament of Baptism, and continues to sanctify me by the graces I receive daily from His bounty.  Glory be to the Three adorable Persons of the Holy Trinity, now and forever.  Amen.

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