The Mystery of God

The Most Blessed Trinity
 ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’
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Beloved in Christ,[i] today is the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The Blessed Trinity is the source of all life and of all creation, and is the meaning and goal of every human life. It is the most important belief of our Faith.
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We believe that God is 3 Divine Persons in One God.
God the Father – is God.
God the Son – is God.
God the Holy Spirit – is God.
3 “Persons” with the same Essence, and so we say that they are “Consubstantial,’ of the same substance; One Divinity.
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Those who deny the divinity of Christ naturally also deny the Holy Trinity. Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims do not know about this inner life of God.
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In the past we have spoken of how this Holy Trinity is reflected in the family. Husband loves wife, and wife loves husband, and this love brings another person into the world, yet it is one family; so, this is a sort-of-image of the inner life of God.
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Priests on this day often wrestle with how to preach on the subject of such a great mystery. Today, I thought we could delve deeply into some theology; so I’d like to give you a 2 week course in 8 minutes on the Holy Trinity!
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In God, there are 4 Relations, 3 Persons, 2 Processions, and one Essence;
and let us preface this by saying that there are two operations in God: knowing and willing, due to his Intellect and Will. This is true of human beings and of angels as well: the operations of knowing and willing. God has an intellect and Will.
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When we ourselves ‘think a thought,’ the thought is something in itself, but it is not ourself. The thought comes from ourself, but it is not ourself. It is a little bit like that with God, but on an infinite scale.
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God the Father is the source of all, he is the first principle of life. From the ‘knowing’ in God – his intellect – proceeds the Son, he is called the Word, like a thought of God that comes forth. This is the 1st Procession in God: the Procession of the Son from the Father; we say that the son proceeds by generation, or by an eternal begetting; this is not something that began in time, since God is outside of time; the Son has always been. So this is the first Procession.
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The 2nd Procession is due to the Will in God, his willing. From the Father and the Son, proceeds the Holy Spirit, who is Love. Love is in the Will.
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Procession in God must therefore be either by an operation of the intellect, by which the Word proceeds – the Son – or by an operation of the will, by which Love proceeds – the Holy Spirit.
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St. Thomas Aquinas says that since God knows all things by a single act of intellection, and loves all things by a single act of the will, there cannot be several ‘Sons’ or several ‘Holy Spirits.’
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Now there are two primary heresies regarding the Holy Trinity: some will say that the Son of God is God’s first and greatest creation, such as the Jehovah Witnesses. This is the heresy of Arianism.
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Others, such as the United Pentecostal Church or other Oneness movements – they say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are merely names given to modes or aspects of God, not distinct Persons. This is known as the heresy of Sabellianism.
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Those are heresies, but they are nothing new. By a proper study of what Jesus Christ has told us in the Holy Scriptures about his relationship to his Father, and their relationship to the Holy Spirit, theology has enabled us to understand some true things about the mysterious inner life of God.
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The Son of God proceeds from the Father by ‘generation.’ This is because this procession is due to the Intellect; the thought of the Father generates an image of himself that is identical in all ways except Fatherhood. This image is of the same divine nature as the Father, sharing a single Will.
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The Holy Spirit proceeds not by generation, but by Spiration from the Father and the Son. This means that a single act of the will, shared between the Father and Son, results in the spiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has its origin not in an act of the intellect, as with the generation of the Son, but in an act of the will. This is, in fact, an act of love between Father and Son, and so this 3rd Person of the Blessed Trinity is called Love.
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If we can grasp that the infinite love of the Father pours itself out to the Son, and the infinite love of the Son pours itself back to the Father, and from that, proceeds the 3rd Person, the Holy Spirit – well, this eternal chase of love within God is called the circuminsession.[ii]  St. John Damascene said that these Divine Persons dwell in each other, always One, in the intimacy of their friendship.
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Our discussion has focused on the inner life of the Trinity. But beyond that inner life, God has created all things: the world, the angels, the universe, ourselves; and the 2nd Person of the Blesssed Trinity, the Son of God, has united himself to this creation, to this world by Jesus’ taking humanity to himself. Why did he do it?
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Because he wishes to bring each of us into the loving intimacy of the Holy Trinity. At the Cross, at Mass, Christ offers himself, pours himself out to the Father as he has always been doing. We too are swept up with Jesus at Holy Mass, we are also offering outself with him, and through Christ we become participants in the very life of the Trinity.
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St. Peter tells us that we participate in the Divine nature of God. St. Paul says, God, has raised us up together, and has made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus. Eph 2:6
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In a superb talk on the Holy Trinity, lecturer Tim Staples says: ‘we become the flower that is flowering this earth; the cause of that flower is the Holy Spirit, and in a way, become the love that is proceeding from the Holy Trinity into the world.[iii]
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In Chapter 22 of the Book of Revelation it gives us a great vision of the Holy Trinity: It says: ‘He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming forth from the throne of God and the Lamb. And in the mist of the city street, on both sides of the river, was the Tree of Life.’
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The throne of God signifies the Father, the Lamb signifies the Son, and the water is the Holy Spirit. The Divine life of God flows from, proceeds from, the Father and the Son. The water of life is the Holy Spirit, clear as crystal.
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The result? Divine Life for us, Zoe, straight from the heart of God. When we find this, we have found the Tree of Life.
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May the Blessed Virgin always help us – Mary help us, to forever praise the Most Blessed Trinity, to whom we owe our existence, and in whom is our destiny. To the Holy and undivided Trinity, be everlasting praise, honor, power, and glory, from every creature, and to us forgiveness of all our sins, forever and ever. Amen.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Bernadette]

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[i] Ideas for this homily can be found  in the tape series by Tim Staples on the Holy Trinity.

[ii] or the pericoresis

[iii] For more on this, see the Theology of the Mystical Body, by Mersch.

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