Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Holy Trinity – One God in Three Persons

-- Updated below --

Revelation informs us that the Lord God is a Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Here, we see the necessity for revealed truth, for although the existence of God can be discerned by observation and reason, that He is a Trinity could not be known purely by these methods. But having been revealed to us, reason allows us to now have a greater understanding that God is a loving communion of three distinct persons in one undivided nature, substance, and essence – each possesses the fullness of the other and each has always existed.

The Trinity is a mystery - one that we should always respect in trying to understand it, so that our imperfect attempts at explanation do not inadvertently lead us to stray into error. Nevertheless, since ours is a faith that seeks understanding, we should not simply come to a halt when confronted with a mystery, but should instead proceed ahead to seek understanding, but with caution.

Although a mystery, we can begin to grasp some understanding of the Trinity by understanding that God is Truth and God is Love.

God told Moses that He is the "I am." What does this reveal about God? It means that God simply "Is." That is, He is Truth in person, the Ultimate Reality who is complete in Himself and, therefore, He is One.

But the One who Is is also Love and love is by its very nature relational – it requires an “other.” That is, love is not self-oriented, but must extend outward -- an "other" is required for love to exist, one who loves and one who is loved. Love does not exist in a vacuum.

Accordingly, God is not a one-dimensional being who exists in solitude, but, rather, being Truth and Love, and complete in Himself, He exists as one person (Father) who loves and is loved by a second person (Son), and this everlasting Love proceeding from and to each of them is not merely a sentiment, but is a person as well, namely, the Holy Spirit.

This Love of God is complete, total, and perfect love in its truest and fullest sense -- a “spousal” type of love that is unitive and fruitful/procreative, encompassing both the unconditional, gratuitous, and sacrificial love of agape (caritas), and the joyous wanting love of a purified and ennobled eros.

The perfect love of God (to which we also are called) involves not merely a relation of persons, but a communion of persons -- three are one. This love is also fruitful, that is, it is creative. Love is dynamic, not static, stagnant or sterile, and it bears fruit, seeking to spread outward and grow and generate new love and life. Accordingly, this loving communion of three persons in one divine being, although complete in Himself, chose to share His love even more and create mankind -- the God of Truth and Love is, by His nature, the Creator.
There is only one source of true love, and that is God. Saint John makes this clear when he declares that "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8,16). He was not simply saying that God loves us, but that the very being of God is love. Here we find ourselves before the most dazzling revelation of the source of love, the mystery of the Trinity: in God, one and triune, there is an everlasting exchange of love between the persons of the Father and the Son, and this love is not an energy or a sentiment, but it is a person; it is the Holy Spirit.
--Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Youth Day 2007
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, who helps us understand Jesus' words and guides us to the whole truth (cf. Jn 14: 26; 16: 13), believers can experience, so to speak, the intimacy of God himself, discovering that He is not infinite solitude but communion of light and love, life given and received in an eternal dialogue between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit - Lover, Loved and Love, to echo St Augustine.
--Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, 11 June 2006

By understanding the Trinity, we understand not only who and what God is, but we also gain an understanding of who we are as human persons because man, male and female, is made in the image and likeness of God, that is, we are each made in the image and likeness of the Trinity. To be made in the image of the Triune God means to be made in the image of truth and love. We are made to love and be loved in truth.

As demonstrated by the fullness of love in the Trinity, and as revealed by the spousal meaning of the human body, male and female, this love we are made for is not merely relational, but is a love which is unitive and procreative, a love which draws the individual toward a communion of persons and bears the fruits of not only new biological life, but also eternal life, as well as more and new love, and generosity, kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, chastity, modesty, self-control, joy, and peace.

See also --
Immaculate Mary, the Virgin Mother
St. Joseph and the Fullness of Love in the Theology of the Body
Our Father in Heaven

Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Pastoral Visit to the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro
Holy Trinity Sunday, June 19, 2011
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When one thinks of the Trinity, what comes to mind is the mystery of the God who is Three in One, one God in three Persons. But today's liturgy draws our attention to the reality of love that is contained in this first and greatest mystery of our faith. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, because God is love: the Father gives everything to the Son, the Son receives everything from the Father with gratitude, and the Holy Spirit is like the fruit of this mutual love between the Father and Son.

The texts of today’s Holy Mass speak of this love; they do not dwell so much on the three divine Persons - there is only one sentence in the Second reading which refers to them - but on the love which constitutes their essence.

The first passage that we heard from the Book of Exodus, and on which I focused in a recent Wednesday catechesis, is surprising because the revelation of God’s love takes place after the people had committed a serious sin. The covenant of Mount Sinai has just been sealed, and already the people are lacking in faithfulness to God. As Moses is kept away, the people ask Aaron to make a god who is visible, accessible, manageable, made to man’s measure. Aaron agrees and makes a golden calf.

Coming down from Mount Sinai, Moses sees what has happened and breaks the tablets of the covenant, the two stones on which the "Ten Commandments" were written, the concrete content of the covenant with God. All seems lost, all friendship broken. Yet, despite having committed the gravest of sins, God, through the intercession of Moses, decides to forgive His people and calls Moses to ascend the mountain once more to receive His law, the Ten Commandments.

Moses then asks God to reveal Himself, to show him His face. But God does not reveal His face, rather He reveals the fullness of His goodness with these words: "The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity" (Ex 34.8). This self-definition of God manifests His merciful love, a love that conquers sin, covers it, eliminates it. There can be no clearer revelation. We have a God who renounces the destruction of the sinner and wants to show His love in an even more profound and surprising way right in front of the sinner in order to always offer the possibility of conversion and forgiveness.

The Gospel completes this revelation, because it indicates the extent to which God has shown His mercy. The evangelist John refers to this statement of Jesus: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life" (3:16).

In the world there is evil, there is selfishness, there is wickedness, and so God might come to judge the world, to destroy evil, to punish those who work in darkness. Instead He shows He loves the world, He loves man, despite his sinfulness, and sends what is His most precious possession: His only begotten Son. He not only sends Him, but He makes a gift to the world.

Jesus is the Son of God who is born for us, who lived for us, who healed the sick, forgave sins, welcomed everyone. Responding to the love that comes from the Father, the Son gave His life for us: on the cross the merciful love of God comes to a climax. And it is on the cross that the Son of God obtains for us the possibility of sharing in eternal life, which is communicated to us with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, in the mystery of the cross, there are three Divine Persons: the Father, who gave his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world, the Son, who carries out the will of the Father to the very end and the Holy Spirit - poured out by Jesus at the moment of his death - who comes to render us participants in divine life, to transform our lives, so that our lives are animated by divine love.

Dear brothers and sisters! Faith in the Triune God has also characterized this church of San Marino-Montefeltro, in the course of its ancient and glorious history. . . . You are rightly proud of and grateful for what the Holy Spirit has worked through the ages in your church. But you also know that the best way to appreciate a legacy is to cultivate and enrich it. In fact, you are called to develop this precious deposit in one of the most decisive moments in history.

Today, your mission is having to deal with profound and rapid cultural, social, economic and political transformations that have determined new reference points and changed attitudes, customs and sensibilities. Even here, in fact, as elsewhere, there are difficulties and obstacles, mainly due to hedonistic models, which cloud the mind and threaten to undo all morality. The temptation has crept in to believe that the wealth of man is not the faith, but his personal and social power, his intelligence, his culture and his ability to manipulate scientific, technological and social realities. Thus, in these lands, the Christian faith and values have begun to be replaced ​​with a presumed wealth, which in the end reveals itself inconsistent and incapable of containing the great promise of truth, goodness, of beauty and justice, which for centuries your ancestors identified with the experience of faith. Moreover the many families in crisis must not be forgotten, compounded by a widespread psychological and spiritual fragility of spouses, as well as the fatigue experienced by many educators in their attempts to ensure continuity in the formation of young people, conditioned by various uncertainties, first among all their role in society and employment opportunities.

Dear friends! I know well the commitment of every member of this Church, especially in promoting Christian life in its various aspects. I urge all the faithful to be like leaven in the world, showing both in Montefeltro and San Marino that you are present, proactive and consistent Christians. . . . I invoke God's blessing on your journey of today and tomorrow and I recommend all to "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor 13:11). Amen!


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