Albrecht Durer—Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
[Ordinary of the Mass]
Today is the last day to receive your Easter Communion. Confession &
Communion after Mass for those who request it.
Please do not speak to anyone else in the sanctuary—before, during, or after
Mass. Only truly necessary communication! Jesus Christ is truly present in
the tabernacle, waiting to hear our vocal and mental prayers. Unnecessary
talk distracts those speaking with Jesus, and denies the reality of God’s
presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Only pagans converse with each other
while ignoring God.
8:00 AM Corpus Christi; Friday, 7:00 PM First Friday; Saturday,
10:00 AM First Saturday
Chronologically, today is the first Sunday after
Pentecost. But in the early fourteenth century Pope John XXII composed a
Mass and Office and ordered that the Sunday be observed in honor of the
Blessed Trinity. The Mass contained collects and a preface that go back to
Pope Saint Gregory the Great in the early sixth century, composed to refute
the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. Pope Gregory’s
preface is used on most Sundays of the year.
The Mass previously offered on the first Sunday after
Pentecost will be offered tomorrow—and even today its collects are added to
the Sunday Mass and its Gospel is read in place of the usual Last Gospel of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;”
On this first Sunday after Pentecost Holy Church bids
us celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity. For Catholics, it is a matter
of rote behavior that there are three Persons in one God. We embark on our
spiritual life with the Trinitarian Baptism demanded by our Lord. We begin
and end virtually all of our prayers with the Sign of the Cross, while
naming the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But we should be aware that
the existence of the Trinity is something we would not know unless God—in
and act of love for us—had chosen to reveal this mystery of His Divine
We can know God's existence by virtue of the things we
experience around us. In his Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas
gave us five ways in which it is possible to recognize God's existence.
I won’t discuss them in detail today, but there is a
good discussion on the Internet for those who are interested.
Briefly, Saint Thomas points to things like motion, causality, and
contingency—things that we could not be witnessing if there were no First
Mover, First Cause, and a Non-Contingent Being.
Aquinas also calls attention to the order in the
universe—in everything from the stars and planets, all the way down to the
subatomic structures. Ordered systems don't come into existence without
some one (some intelligence) ordering them. Indeed ordered things often
tend to become disordered over time—we call that “entropy.”
But we have no such indications—no such “proofs”—that
God exists in Trinity. We have no way of experiencing the Trinity unless
God reveals It to us Himself. It is something like the inner private life
of a family—in this case a family of Divine Persons.
Now, there are a few “hints” that can be found in the
Old Testament. In Genesis we read that “the Spirit of
God moved over the waters.”
In Isaias we read about the angels before the throne of God singing “Holy!
Isaias even lists some of those gifts that we attribute to the Holy Ghost:
"wisdom, understanding, piety, fear of the Lord....”
But none of this clearly demonstrates the reality of one God in three
We know the Trinity precisely because the Second Person
added human nature to His divine nature to become the man‑God. The first
human knowledge of the Trinity was granted by the Archangel Gabriel to the
Blessed Virgin Mary:
Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow
thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be
called the Son of God.
Notice that the Archangel named all three Divine
Persons: The Most High; the “Holy” called the “Son of God,” and the Holy
Ghost. Notice also that the “Holy” was to be born of Mary, who is rightly
called “Mother of God,” for the “Holy” (Jesus Christ) was equally God with
the Father and the Holy Ghost.
We are not saying that Mary was
the Mother of God the Father, for all three Persons exit from all eternity,
while Mary was a being, created in time, who was overshadowed by God the
Holy Ghost. Mary gave all of His human substance to God the Son of God; and
then gave Him birth at Bethlehem. She is the Mother of God because Jesus
Christ is God.
During His public life, Our Lord spoke often of the
Father, and promised to send the Holy Ghost to be an “Advocate” for His
Church. His words enabled the Fathers of Catholic Church to describe the
Trinity in some detail. This morning in the Office we read something called
the Athanasian Creed, which presents a compact summary of this
I encourage you to read it for yourself, but will briefly summarize:
“Whoever wishes to
be saved * must before all else adhere to the Catholic Faith. He must
preserve this Faith whole and untarnished; * otherwise he shall most
certainly perish forever.”
“We worship one
God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity; Neither confusing the persons * nor
distinguishing the nature.” That is to say that there are three
distinct Persons, but all three equally share the Divine Nature.
All three Persons share the same “uncreated,” “infinite,”
“eternal,” “almighty” nature of the one God. (One God, not
There is no before or after, with each Person existing from
eternity, and no Person being created. The Son is said to be “begotten of
the Father” and the Holy Ghost is said to “proceed from the Father and the
Son” but neither is created and all three are eternal.
In created time, the eternal Son entered human history:
“He is God, begotten of the substance of the Father before the world began;
* He is Man, born in the world of the substance of His Mother … a substance
composed of a rational soul and a human body, Equal to the Father in
divinity, * less than the Father with respect to His humanity.”
The one Christ, both God and man, suffered for our salvation,
descended into Hell, rose from the dead at Easter, and ascended into heaven,
where he reigns as both God and man at the right hand of God the Father,
giving all who believe in Him and do good in this life the assurance that we
will one day join them.
Again, I encourage you to read the Athanasian Creed for
yourself at your leisure.
One final thing: The Gospel this past Ember Wednesday
began with our Lord saying: “No man can come to me, unless the Father, who
has sent Me, draws him….”
Saint Augustine comments that the Father does not draw us by force, but
instead draws us by pleasure.
We have an aphorism: “Not with a stick, but with a carrot.” We believe that
the Son is equal to the Father, and by that belief we are drawn by the
Father to the Son. There is no greater pleasure—no “sweeter carrot,” if you
will—for the minds of men and women than the Truth.
And Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life!