Preaching and writing about the Trinity is an extremely difficult task. This is due to the fact that the Trinity is a mystery and is beyond our human understanding, yet it is foundational to our Christian faith. So what is the Trinity and why is the Trinity important?
Let’s start with what the Trinity is. Within the Trinity there are different roles and relationships. The Father is the source of all things. The son is eternally begotten of the Father (eternally begotten means that Jesus is equal with the Father in substance, essence and nature). And the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. That’s easy enough right? Well, here comes the tricky part. While each person of the Trinity is distinct, they share the same divine essence and are equal in their deity. Pretty confusing I know. If you think of the relationship within the Trinity as something similar to a ceiling fan. Where each blade is unique yet all three blades operate together, or as Michael Fitzpatrick informed me on Monday, a tub of Neapolitan ice-cream; three flavours – one tub. So to use modern terminology, each person of the Trinity, is “same same but different.”
Saint Augustine explored this relationship between the three persons as one of mutual love and unity. He saw the Trinity as the perfect example of love, describing the Father as the lover, the Son as the beloved, and the Holy Spirit as the bond of love between them. Augustine goes on to note that this divine love is not static but eternally active, perpetually flowing among the three persons of the Trinity. Now why is this important?
It’s important for many reasons. One of those reasons being for our salvation. The work of salvation is a cooperative effort of the Trinity. The Father sends the Son into the world to become incarnate, to die on the cross, and to rise again for the redemption of humanity. The Son accomplishes salvation through His sacrificial death, and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of salvation to believers, transforming them and empowering them for a life of faith and holiness.
The Trinity is a mystery and is an extremely important doctrine for Catholicism. The Trinity is three in one and one in three. And each person of the Trinity plays a unique role in our Salvation. When you sit down to pray this week be conscious of which person of the Trinity you are praying to. If you normally pray to God the Son maybe try praying to God the Holy Spirit.
Deacon Isaac Falzon