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The Blessed Trinity The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. CCC, no. 261

Outline      

Mystery How can we speak about God What God is not Who God is God is a Unity in a Plurality The Family as a sign of the Trinity

God is Holy Mystery It is right and just to sing of You, to bless You, to praise You, to thank You, to worship You – for You are God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible , always existing and ever the same, You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. Anaphora of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

What is a Mystery? 

Biblical Greek = mysterion, "that which, being outside the unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation.“

“The mystery of God is not a puzzle to be solved. It is a truth to be reverenced. It is a reality too rich to be fully grasped by our minds, so that while it continues to unfold, it always remains mostly beyond our comprehension.” -USCCB Catechism

“The true profession of the mystery of the Trinity is to own that we do not comprehend it" -St. Jerome De mysterio Trinitatus


40 Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways of knowing and thinking. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

41 All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The manifold perfections of creatures - their truth, their goodness, their beauty all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we can name God by taking his creatures’ perfections as our starting point, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator". - Catechism of the Catholic Church


42 God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God--"the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the invisible, the ungraspable"--with our human representations. 16 Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

43 Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that "between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude";17 and that "concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church

Nature and Personhood 

Nature - the collection of distinctive features by which a species is characterized and distinguished from others.

Our nature is human. A dog has a dog nature and not a human nature

We are more than just our natures though. We are persons.

Every human has one nature per one person

Imagine if there were three different people with the exact same nature (being, substance, essence)

“Shield of the Trinity" or "Scutum Fidei"

What God is Not

What God is Not 

God is not three different Gods (Polytheism)

God is not one person (Monarchiansim)

God is not one god in three different modes (Modalsim)

What God is Not: an Analogy ď Ž

The Trinity is neither a democracy, nor a communist society; this is to say that in the Trinity there is no individualism, and no suppression.

ď Ž

The Trinity is not a democracy: in America, we get individualism, but not communion. We refuse to restrain ourselves and specialize in excess and addiction, no matter what it costs us.

ď Ž

The Trinity is not a communist society: in communism, men suppress everything and obliterate the individual. Men specialize in compromising with the state in a way that destroys them. Here, all goes to the communal.

Who God Is

Who God Is 

The Trinity is One. We do not speak of three Gods but of one God. Each of the Persons is fully God. They are a Unity of Persons in one divine nature.

The divine Persons are distinct from each other. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three appearances or modes of God, but three identifiable persons, each fully God in a way distinct from the others.

The divine Persons are in relation to each other. The distinction of each is understood only in reference to the others. -USCCB Adult Catechism

Who God Is The Christian communion imitates the Trinity. In the Trinity, there is no suppression of the individual nor any inordinate exaltation of the individual. There is both the tightest unity and the fullest expression and perfection of the individual person. The Trinitarian persons are most deeply in each other, and most deeply being themselves. Christian communion, through charity, establishes a union more profound than the world understands, and leads to a happiness and perfection that the world knows not. (Phil 2:5-8)

Unity in Plurality

God is a Unity in Plurality 

Deuteronomy 6:4 Jewish Shema Yisrael: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.“

Genesis 1:26-27 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; ..." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God is a Unity in Plurality 

Matthew 28:18 "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost“

Lam 4:20 The breath of our nostrils, the LORD's anointed, was taken in their pits, he of whom we said, "Under his shadow we shall live among the nations."

Who God is: an Analogy

The Family as a Sign and Participation in the Trinitarian Life 

“God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen 1:26)

Unity in plurality of God (Also see Mt 28:19)

God is not alone. Therefore man cannot be alone, because man is to “image” God and God is a “communion of persons”

The Family as a Sign and Participation in the Trinitarian Life 

Thus, in order to truly be like God, man needed a “suitable partner,” (Gen 2:20) who was an equal of his same essence

God puts Adam into a deep sleep and removes a rib from his side, which he created Eve from” (Gen 2:21-23). Thus, woman is created of the same essence of man.

The Family as a Sign and Participation in the Trinitarian Life 

In order for this “partner” to be “suitable” she would need to complement man’s need to initiate (in the Father’s image) by her need to reciprocate (in the Son’s image) “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him, male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27)

The Family as a Sign and Participation in the Trinitarian Life 

The unity in plurality of Man reflects the image of God.

This unity between man and woman is not merely one of the soul, but one of the body, for he said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23)

This shows a unity of the whole human person, body and soul

The Family as a Sign and Participation in the Trinitarian Life 

God commands man to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28)

Man will not simply have his wife as a helpmate, but will create a family. God desires male and female to be one in an intimate union with each other and also to be procreative.

This is how he most images God, for as JPII says, “God in His deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since He has in Himself fatherhood, sonship, and the essence of the family, which is love.”

The Family as a Sign and Participation in the Trinitarian Life ď Ž

Therefore, man images God through his body (most especially in the marital embrace), because it is through our bodies that we are able to express/communicate love.

ď Ž

In this act male and female communicate complete self-giving love which also begets life. So much so that nine months later they have to give that love a name.

Scriptural support for the Trinity

Father, Son, & Holy Spirit 

2 Corinthians 13:13 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all.“

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 There are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord: and there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all

Eph 4:3-6 3 Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling. 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism. 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

Father, Son, & Holy Spirit 

1 Pt 1:1-2 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers dispersed through Pontus, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, elect, 2 According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace unto you and peace be multiplied.

Romans 15:30 I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,

2 Cor. 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Father, Son, & Holy Spirit 

Hebrews 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Matthew 3:16–17 As soon as Jesus Christ was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and landing on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'

“Shield of the Trinity" or "Scutum Fidei"

The Blessed Trinity  
The Blessed Trinity  

The Blessed Trinity