Trinity Sunday—7 June AD 2020
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Albrecht Durer—Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
[Ordinary of the Mass]
“In the name of the
Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
Virtually every Catholic prayer begins with the Sign of the Cross—at
least with the gesture, even if the words may vary. And, when we make
that Sign of the Cross, we are doing several things at once.
First of all, we are announcing our intention; that everything we are
about to do will be for the praise and glory of God. Secondly, we are
announcing our authority for doing it—just as a policeman might arrest a
criminal, “in the name of the Law” —we are praying, or offering Mass, or
conferring the Sacraments in the name of God, and by His authority.
Thirdly, when we make that Sign of the Cross, we are making a brief
profession of our Catholic Faith; that we believe in the One and only
God, who has revealed Himself to us in Trinity.
this revelation is an all-important part of our Faith. Anyone can know
that there is a God. All it takes is for a person to be interested in
the world around him. Through his observations, and with the use of his
human intelligence, he can come to realize that there is motion, and
causality, and order in the universe—things don't happen without cause;
randomness does not bring about order and organization. There has to be
some original principle of creation and order in the universe. So, a
man who observes, and who thinks will come to a basic understanding of
God. He will, so to speak, see the "finger prints" or the "foot prints"
of God, as God interacts with the world around him.
no amount of human reason would bring us to a knowledge of the Trinity.
We could never hope to guess that this God, whom we know from His
effects on the universe, is a God in three Persons; that He is Father,
and Son, and Holy Ghost. That is because, while the One God acts on the
universe, the activity of the Trinity is, we might say, proper to the
inner life of God:
* Before all creation; before the beginning of time itself, the
Father knew Himself in His all-powerful mind. And His knowledge
is so powerful, that His thought of Himself has its own
reality. His thought, His idea of Himself, His Word, begets the
Second Person, His Son. (In fact, we sometimes refer to the
Second Person as “the Word.”
* And, likewise, before all creation, the Father and the Son
knew one another. And they saw in each other the infinite
goodness and perfection that each One possesses. And this
mutual adoration of Father and Son—this mutual love—is so
powerful that it has its own reality, just like the knowledge of
the Father had its reality. And from this “sigh” of mutual love
proceeds the Holy Ghost, the third person.
again, these things were in the mind of God—internal to Him, so to
speak—and could not be detected by merely human observers and thinkers.
But thankfully God's love for Himself, and for the creatures of His
creation, caused Him to want to reveal Himself to them.
He did gradually. To the Jews He revealed primarily His unity; the fact
that there is only one God. But even the Jews were occasionally given a
glimpse of the Trinity that would one day be revealed.
* In Genesis they heard of the “Spirit of God moving over the
* In Isaias they learned that this “Spirit of the Lord”
brought “wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel,
fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord.”
* They also were allowed a glimpse of the angels in heaven
worshiping God in His Trinity; “Holy, Holy, Holy.” “1 - 2-
course, in the New Testament the revelation is much more clear:
* Through Gabriel, God tells Mary that by the Holy Ghost (and
without the help of man) she will conceive the Son of God.
* When Jesus was baptized God appeared in Trinity; Jesus in the
Jordan, the voice of the Father, and the Holy Ghost as a dove.
* And likewise at His transfiguration, the voice of God
acknowledged Jesus as “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
* Or in this
passage we heard today, telling us to "baptize all nations in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Sometimes we speak of the Trinity as a “mystery.” Perhaps that is a bad
word. Mystery doesn't mean something impossible. It doesn't mean
something illogical, or even unknowable. It simply means that we would
not have known that there is a Trinity if God had chosen not to tell us.
that points us to a fourth and final understanding of what we do when we
make the Sign of the Cross: As we said before, we are announcing our
intention and the authority for our prayers; and we are professing our
Faith. But, perhaps, most important of all, when we make the Sign of
the Cross, we are acknowledging God's love for us that He loves His
creatures enough to tell us about His Trinity, which we could never know
on our own—that He loves us so much that He takes us into His own
private life, introducing us to the members of God's own family—and even
allows us to participate in Their life through prayer, the Mass, and the
hopefully—whenever we make the Sign of the Cross, we are telling God
that we love Him in return—that we love Him in Unity; and that we
love Him in Trinity; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.