[Ordinary of the Mass]
“All powerful, eternal God, Thou hast given Thy children the true Faith.
They adore Thee in the glory of Thy Trinity and in the grandeur of Thy Unity;
may the firmness of this belief strengthen us in the face of life's
This we ask of Thee through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who with Thee and
the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end.”
What I just read is the Collect for this
Trinity Sunday. The collect is the prayer that can be said to “set the tone”
for the Mass and the Divine Office on a given day. It is significant that the
Church insinuates that the essence of the “true Faith” is found in the
“adoration of the glory of the Trinity, and the grandeur of its Unity.” This is
so because the knowledge of the Trinity is the essential thing that
differentiates God’s revealed religion from the natural knowledge we are able to
have with unaided human reason. It is the difference between Faith and mere
You know that men and women are capable
of deducing God’s existence, many of His characteristics, and His moral
expectations of us from what we are able to see in the world around us. One of
the few attributes of God that we could never hope to guess about God is His
existence in a Trinity of Persons. The reason for that is that apart from
purposeful revelation of Himself by God, His Trinitarian existence has no
visible effect on the world in which we live.
We know God by the things He causes in
the World. Saint Thomas Aquinas lists five ways by which we know God.
Without the First Mover there would be no motion. Without the First Cause there
would be no chain of things caused around us. Without a Necessary Being nothing
could have come into existence. We would observe no degrees of being and truth
in nature if we had no Perfect Being with which to compare them. We see an
intelligent order in things that could not have come into existence without a
supremely Intelligent Being giving them that order.
But the Trinity is hidden from even the
most careful philosophical analysis. To experience the Trinity would be like,
so to speak, being invited into God’s house, taking a seat, and looking around.
But even that would not work very well, for God is pure spirit, and is beyond
the range of our perception.
What God did for us is really special.
It testifies to His great love for us, and the love that we ought to return.
The Second Person of the Trinity, who exists in eternity, entered into human
history at a particular place and time, took human nature so that we could see
Him, and told us about His beloved Father and Holy Ghost. There are a number of
such references throughout the Gospels. But, most specially, He even arranged
for the human beings of His time to perceive these Two
(Father and Holy Ghost) with their senses—both sight and
hearing! All three of the synoptic Gospels record that at the Baptism of Jesus
in the Jordan: “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove
upon him; and a voice came from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am
For a brief moment in time, mortal men
and women were able to perceive all Three Members of the Trinity with their
senses. And some of the luckier ones got to spend days, hours, and even years
in the company of the Second Person, and were literally saturated with “the
riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God”!
Now, it is dangerous for a priest to
disagree with Saint Paul, so perhaps I won’t do exactly that, but maybe I can
suggest an addition to the piece we heard from his Epistle to the Romans:
“O the depth of the riches of the
wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and
how unsearchable his ways!”
My point is that beyond His wisdom and
knowledge is the incomprehensible love that God has shown
to His often rebellious human creatures. To redeem fallen mankind, God allowed
Himself to be shackled with all the inconveniences and limitations of a human
body. And it wasn’t like He became a king in a palace in some great city of the
world—He became the Son of a carpenter in a poor backwater town in a primitive
nation, at a primitive time. Bishop Sheen used to say that many people love
dogs, but none love them enough to want to be a dog—sharing their fleas, walking
on all fours, and eating dog food out of a bowl. Yet our Lord became one of
us! And also shared the company of His Divine Family with us.
I am going to suggest three ways in
which we may respond to this incomprehensible love:
First, by keeping His Commandments. As
He told us at the Last Supper: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in
my love; as I also have kept my Father' s commandments, and do abide in his
Second (and this one is easy),
demonstrate your sincere faith in the mystery of the Trinity by always making
the Sign of the Cross carefully and deliberately—never in haste, as though it
were some off-hand or meaningless gesture. Never be ashamed of the Sign of the
Cross if you pray in a public place or say grace before meals in the company of
And, thirdly, do the best you can to
cooperate with the command we received in today’s Gospel, to “teach and to
baptize all nations.”
On some level, we are all missionaries—we will attract people to the Catholic
Faith by our good example, “living a life that would not make sense if God did
And, then, when we do attract people to the Catholic Faith, our own knowledge of
that Faith should be adequate to answer their basic questions.
“So, God has given
us the true Faith.
f we adore Him in the glory of His Trinity and in the grandeur of His Unity,
the firmness of our belief will strengthen us in the face of life's