It is truly right and just our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere
to give you thanks. Lord, Holy Father Almighty and Eternal God for with your only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit you are one God, one Lord, not in the unity of a single person but in a Trinity of one substance. For what you have revealed to us of Your Glory, we believe equally of Your Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So that in the confessing of the true and Eternal Godhead You might be adored in what is proper to each person Their unity in substance and their equality in majesty. For this is praised by Angels and Archangels,
Cherubim, too and Seraphim who never cease to cry out each day as with one voice they acclaim. When I was in the seminary my professor for the course on the Trinity began the course by telling us, In the Trinity there are 5 Notions, 4 Relationships, 3 Subsistent Relations, 2 Processions, 1 Nature and 0 Comprehension. Of course he was only partially kidding with us, there is so much we can know about the Most Blessed Trinity because He has been so gracious to reveal Himself to us. We hope in this lesson to give you some insight into our Church’s highest mystery. Simply speaking the Church professes there is only 1 God because
God himself revealed Himself as 1 God. Beginning with the Old Testament, in the book of Deuteronomy, when the Lord told Moses, The Lord is one, there is one God, in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on your today. The Church beginning with the Apostles Creed spoke of I believe in God. It was the earliest formulation of a set of beliefs for the Christians. Then with the expansion of those beliefs through subsequent Church councils, like the Council of Nicea in the year 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381. The church now begins the Creed, as you profess every Sunday, I believe in one God. Because God has revealed Himself as one and because Jesus Christ, Himself, has reaffirmed that belief. When Jesus was drawn into a debate about what was the greatest law of the Old Testament, the Lord Himself quotes this passage from Deuteronomy Chapter 6: The Lord is God there is no other and we are to love Him with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our strength. If we think of several pivotal turning points in the history of salvation, such as God entering into His covenant with Abraham; such as God leading the people of Israel out of slavery into, in Egypt into the promise land; such as the raising up of the Judges or the establishing of the Kingdom, one of the most profound moments, I believe, in salvation history is when God decided to reveal His name to Moses. Moses of course was somewhat frightened when he saw God revealed in that burning bush and the question was, well if I go back to the people who am I to tell them sent me? And God in the very beautiful, loving act gave Moses a specific name for Himself, I am who am. This bestowing of the name shows us that God wants to be accessible to us. When we know a persons name we are able to call out to them, they are accessible to us. And as if I were to call your name you might turn and look to me and want to know what I am saying to you. The same is true for God when we call upon His name, He turns to us immediately, and listens to us, to our every need, to our every thought, to our every desire. We of course hold the name of God in great esteem because it has been held in great esteem from the beginning of salvation history. Even in the Sacred Scripture the name that God revealed to Moses, I am who am, was never completely spelled out in Sacred Scripture. In fact, it was spelt only with the consonants and not the vowels. Sometimes you’ll see this written as YHWH, we call that the tetragrammaton or the 4 letters. It is spelled without the vowels because the Jewish people believed that we were not worthy to actually spell out the entire name of God. That it must be held in such esteem that we cannot spell it, nor can we speak it. So the name of God is typically translated in Scripture in the Hebrew as “Adonai” which means Lord. Or in Greek as “Kyrios”. As we say in the Mass Kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy. Or in the Latin, “Dominus”, as in the Latin Mass, Dominus Vobiscum, the Lord be with you. We use that term, Lord, to denote the power and the majesty of God. And it is the replacement of the name of God which we may not say. Even Pope Benedict early in his pontificate, re-expressed this thought for the Christian world. That even though we are not apart of the Jewish people, that as Christians we must continue to maintain the respect of this Holy Name, this YHWH, I am who am. We may not say the word or write the word because of the great reverence of the name of God. It is of course the basis of 1 of the commandments, You should not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. This means strictly speaking the actual name of God, or of course any use of the word God in reference to God. Or of course, Jesus Christ, or the Blessed Mother, or the Saints. In the entire Bible the word Lord is used 8,722 times.
It is a profound reminder to us of the desire for us to be able to call upon the name of the Lord in a way that is fitting, and in a way that keeps His actual name in due reverence. Even throughout the New Testament the name Lord is attributed on many occasions to Jesus Christ Himself. As Saint Paul relates in his beautiful hymn about the Lord, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” It is an expression of His divinity. It is an expression of His power. It is an expression of His union with the Father in the divine nature. The term Lord then can be used about God the Father, and God the Son, and it is used such throughout the entire Scripture. God continues to reveal His name to us even after the people of Israel sinned. When they were in the desert, Moses went to God, and God still again spoke His name to Moses, and revealed several attributes about Himself in connection with His name. As you read in Exodus Chapter 34, Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with him there and proclaimed his name, “Lord.” Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, and crime and sin. In speaking his name thus God shows us that he is transcendent being. And he reveals aspects of himself that are so important for us in terms of our relationship with Him. He is merciful, He is gracious, He is slow to anger. The Lord, the all-powerful God desires to assist us in remaining in a relationship with Him. So that now that we have His name and that we can call upon His name, He is always ready to help us to remain in a covenanted relationship with Him. As we just mentioned, God has revealed Himself as faithfulness and love. God is faithful to His word. He speaks, and He does not change. As we read in Psalm 119, The sum of your word is truth. But of course God is not just speaking the truth, God is truth. He is eternal truth. All that He says is for our good. And He says that without deceit, and God cannot be deceived. God has spent the entirety of salvation history speaking to us as truth so that we might can form to what He has in store for us. He sent His Son as the ultimate revelation of truth. God incarnate to live our life and to teach us with our human voice. The Lord promised the gift of the Holy Spirit who will lead people into all truth and this is how God continues to teach us throughout the ages and to show us His faithfulness in truth. In the same way that we say God is truth, we say rightly with John the Apostle, God is love. And he has manifested this to us in numerable times throughout history. In fact I like to say that the Bible is the world’s greatest love story. It is a story of a God who is so madly in love with His people that He would go to any, any reaches to help His people remain in a relationship with Him even to the point of allowing His own Son to die for us. Sometimes people would say this is only revealed to us in the New Testament, that perhaps the Old Testament God is a vengeful, or justice order God. But certainly even in the Old Testament we see the manifest love of God time and time again. Remember we’ve already spoke about how the people of Israel sinned, and God once again responded with a hymn about His love, and faithfulness, and graciousness. If you read the Book of the prophet Hosea, it is a story of a man who is called to, to bring back his wife even though his wife had gone astray. Just as God continues to call back to us, His bride, the Church when we go astray. If you read the Song of Songs, it’s almost as if God has written us a love poem describing almost the emotion of Love that He has for us, for His people. A constant desire to be, to be with us and for us to be with Him. This should not surprise us because God is not just loving, the essence of God is love. And God, in Himself, in a community of persons is an eternal exchange of love. If we take God at His word and see Him as 1 God, the belief in Him as 1 God has incredible consequences for us, especially in our faith life, in our relationship with Him. It means that 1st we must come to appreciate the Grandeur and the Majesty of 1 God who has made all things possible. It means that as we live our lives we must do so in constant thanksgiving because all that we have, all that we are able to do, comes 1st from Him, He has made all things possible. But He has not made all things possible simply for us, He has made all things possible so that we might enter into a loving relationship with Him. His love is meant to be reciprocated. And so he calls us into a relationship where we might unite our minds and our hearts with His mind and His heart. Our intellect, our will, with His intellect, and His will. Because there is 1 God and we are made in His image and likeness, as the Book of Genesis tells us, it shows us the great dignity of ourselves as human persons, being made in His image and likeness. That God would choose to create us in some ways in His divine image, a profound gift, a profound responsibility. It means that we would live our days seeking to unite ourselves with Him, and to help others to come to know of Him. The implications of God being 1 are immense. But thanks be to God in Jesus Christ who has given us the grace to respond to such a great love. The mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith because it is the mystery of God in Himself. It is the source of all the other teachings and mysteries of our faith. It is the fundamental teaching in the hierarchy of truths. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and thus enter into a relationship with Him. How Has The Mystery Of The
Holy Trinity Been Revealed? The whole history of salvation is identical to the ways and means that God has revealed Himself to us. He does this in a way which we call Theology or “theologia”. It is God’s revelation of Himself in His essence. He also does this in Economy or “oikonomia”. This is God revealing Himself to us through actions. If you think of a human person, the more a person says and does, the more you come to understand who that person is. It is exactly the same with God through the entire time of salvation history. There are traces of the Most Blessed Trinity, even in creation. There are also traces of the teaching of the Most Blessed Trinity throughout the Old Testament. However the teaching of the Trinity still remained a mystery until the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit. In Israel God is called Father in as much as He is the creator of all things. When we hear the term Father we think of several aspects of a relationship. 1, in terms of God perhaps, that he is the origin of everything. And that He is a transcendant authority who is watching over all of His creation, including us. But we can also think of Fatherhood in terms of a paternal love. The Father who wishes to have a relationship with us, and who is eminently present to us. Sometimes the eminence of God is referred to with Motherly characteristics, like in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, or the Book of Psalms. Certainly God is pure spirit and so He transcends gender, He is not male or female. But our Lord has revealed the Fatherly relationship of God in a unique and profound way. The Lord has told us No one knows the Son except
the Father, and no one knows
the Father except the Son and anyone to whom he
wishes to reveal him.
-Matthew 11:27 Even in the Gospel of John, we are told of the eternal relationship of Father and Son. In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
-John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, the 2nd person of the Trinity, who has been in existence from all eternity. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, Father and Son together from all eternity, and the Word was God, Father and Son in unity from all eternity. The Mystery of the Holy Trinity is further revealed in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The eternal existence of the Holy Spirit is made known to us through His mission in time. The Lord, himself, told the Apostles that the Father would send another advocate to guide them to all truth. And so this other advocate, who would take the place of the 1st advocate, Jesus Christ, in the mission of the Church throughout history to continue to lead the church to the Lord, to the Father, by the working of the Holy Spirit. Finally, in the event of Pentecost, the actual outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the full mystery of the Divine Trinity, is revealed as the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles after our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven. From the beginning the Church’s faith in the Most Blessed Trinity has been profoundly exemplified,
especially in Baptism. In our Lord’s last will and testament, He tells the Apostles to go forth, teach all nations, Baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul, in his writings, also speaks of the 3 persons of the Trinity. In 2nd Corinthians 13:13, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God and the
fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all. Or in Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:4-6, There is one body and one Spirit…
one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of us all,
who is above all and through all
and in all. Borrowing from the Greek Philosophers, the early Church Fathers, used terms that further developed the Doctrine of the Trinity, from what we have learned from Sacred Scripture. These terms are substance, person, and relation. The term substance is also known as nature or essence. Or in the Greek, as “ousios.” The term person is sometimes referred to as “hypostasis”. If we speak of nature maybe it’s easier to speak about ourselves first. I am a human person. I share in the human nature. I have the characteristics of what a human person is, body and soul. My “ousios” is human person. But I am a person, I am a “hypostasis”, I am an instance of a human person. I am Fr. Bazzel, and I participate in the human personhood with my own particular characteristics that make me who I am. And of course as an individual “hypostasis”, or individual human person, I can be in relation with other persons. We can use those same terms to speak about God. Perhaps in an analogous sense. Because when we speak about the Divine Nature, it is somewhat different than the human nature. The Divine essence or Divine “ousious” is being. Remember we spoke already that God told Moses, I Am Who Am. And so it’s difficult for us to speak of God the essence of God as being goodness or being truthful, because God is good. God is truth. These are not additions to His, to His nature, they are part of who He is. God is also, however, 3 persons, 3 “Hypostasis”. God is Father, Son and Spirit. But Father, Son and Spirit all share in the same 1 Divine Nature. They all share in the same “Ousious” Yet they are in relation to one another. The Father is equally God, the Son is equally God, the Holy Spirit is equally God. They are all equally participating in the Divine Nature. The only distinction is that they are in relation to one another. We use the word consubstantial in the Nicene Creed we say on Sundays. It was recently placed back there in the new translation of the Mass. Consubstantial has received a lot of debate and discussion amongst people about what that actually means. What we are simply saying here is that the Father and the Son are of the same substance, they all share equally in the same Divine Nature. In fact, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all Consubstantial, they all share equally in the same Divine Nature. The only distinction amongst the 3, is that they are in relation to one another. Of course the persons of the Holy Trinity, the Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity aren’t inseparable in their substance. Which means they are also inseparable in their activity, where 1 is all three are. However, throughout the period of Revelation and throughout time, each person has shown forth a mission for salvation history, especially in the Incarnation of Christ, and in the sending forth of the Holy Spirit. As you read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “one God and Father from whom
all things are, one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things are, and one
Holy Spirit in whom all things are.”
-CCC258 If we think of God the Father as The Creator, then certainly He is the one from whom all things have their being. If we think of God, the Son, as Savior and Redeemer, He is the one through whom we have access of the Father. And if you think of God, the Holy Spirit, as the Lord and Giver of Life, He then, is the one in whom we all have our existence. God’s very being is love. 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.
-CCC221 We have spent this time together reflecting on the highest mystery of our Faith. The most foundational truth of Christianity. And as the Catechism has told us, we now are invited into that beautiful exchange of love amoungst the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will never fully grasp God in His essence. But that is why Heaven will always be new to us for eternity God will continue to reveal Himself to us as He draws us more and more into that deep profound exchange of Eternal Love.