Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Trinity Sunday—31 May AD 2015


The Holy Trinity

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


“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 difficulties.
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.”[1]

    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 human knowledge.

    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.[2]  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.[3]

    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 well pleased.”[4]

    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!”[5]

    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 love.”[6]

    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 non‑believers.

    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.”[7]  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 not exist.”[8]  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 difficulties.”


[1]   Collect for Trinity Sunday.

[2]   Summa Theologiae Ia, q. 2, a. 3.

[3]   For a more detailed treatment, see:

[5]   Epistle: Romans xi: 33-36

[7]   Cf. Gospel: Matthew: xxviii: 18-20

[8]   Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard, Priests Among Men.




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