Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Trinity Sunday—26 May A.D. 2013


Albrecht Durer—Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Albrecht Durer—Adoration of the Trinity (1511)

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[Latin Text]
[English Text]
[Athanasian Creed]

Almighty and everlasting God, Thou who hast given to Thy servants 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 difficulties.  Through our Lord....(Collect of the Trinity Sunday)

    This morning, those of us who recite the Divine Office according to the traditional Roman Breviary read a statement of beliefs about the Holy Trinity known as the Athanasian Creed.  It is named for Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, whom I mentioned to you a few weeks ago as one of the great saints that seem to arise when the Catholic Faith is in danger.  You may recall that Athanasius was the Faith's champion against the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Athanasius may or may not have been the author of the Creed, but it reflects his correct understanding of the relationship between the three Divine Persons of the Trinity.

    I just love Athanasius' political incorrectness.  He starts out with a statement of fact based on objective truth—there is no room for the “dialogue” so common with Modernist churchmen:

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.

Now this is the Catholic Faith: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity;

Neither confusing the Persons nor distinguishing the nature.

    I won't read the entire Creed to you, but he goes on to say that while the Persons of the Trinity are distinct, they are all equally God.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct Persons, but they are all equally glorious, majestic, uncreated, infinite, eternal, and almighty.  There are not three gods, but rather one God in three Divine Persons.

    Athanasius explains the relationship between the Persons.  It is very important to understand that in considering these Persons there is no “before” and no “after.”  Indeed, there was no such thing as “time” until the triune God created the universe, for “time” is meaningless without the three dimensions of the material universe.

    Athanasius and other Fathers of the early Church do, however, speak of the generation of the Second and Third Persons by the First:

The Father was made by no one, being neither created nor begotten.

The Son is from the Father alone, though not created or made, but begotten.

The Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son, though neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

    What is it that Athanasius means by “begetting” and “proceeding”?  Saint Augustine proposes that the Father knows Himself from all eternity, with a knowledge so powerful and real that He begets the Second Person, sometimes identified as the Λόγος or the Word of God.  The Word or the Second Person is essentially the Father's knowledge of Himself—so powerful is this knowledge that it assumes a reality of its own, begotten within the one substance of God.

    And then, according to Augustine, the Father and the Son, love each other with a love that is so powerful and real that the third Person, the Holy Ghost proceeds from them, possessing Himself the same divine substance as the other Two.  All three Persons are equally God, and since all of this took place before the creation of space and time, there is no question of “before” or “after.”

    After setting forth the Catholic teaching on the Trinity, Saint Athanasius continues:

This is what everyone who wishes to be saved must hold regarding the Blessed Trinity.

But for his eternal salvation, he must also believe according to the true Faith in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Athanasius explains that Jesus Christ is true God and true man:

Begotten of the substance of the Father before the world began;  born in the world of the substance of His Mother.

Equal to the Father in divinity; less than the Father with respect to His humanity.

And, although He is God and man, still He is only one Christ, not two.

One, not by any turning of the divinity into flesh, but by the taking up of humanity into God.

Athanasius has a few words about our Lord's death, resurrection, and ascension, as well as the resurrection of all men in time for the general judgment.  He ends as politically incorrect as he began:

Those who have done good shall go into eternal life, while those who have done evil shall go into eternal fire.

This is the Catholic Faith, and anyone who does not believe it fully and firmly cannot be saved.

Dei via est íntegra
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