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Within the treasury of God’s wisdom and knowledge, within the treasury of His truths, there are some things which we human beings can understand (or at least grasp to some extent) by reason alone, that is by the natural use of our minds unaided by grace and supernatural faith. For instance, by simply looking at the physical world around us we can discover that God exists: the world implies the existence of an omnipotent Creator Who causes, orders and sustains creation. By looking at man we can discover the existence of a spiritual, immaterial soul. Some of man’s properties—his ability to know and to love—imply that he is made up of more than just a physical body.
Now within that same treasury of God’s truths there are other things which can in no way be known without God revealing them to us and without the gift of supernatural faith. Such truths do not go against our reason—they are not unreasonable, but they do surpass our reason, which must receive them through God’s revelation and which must be aided by supernatural faith in order to grasp them, and even then they remain in a certain obscurity as long as we live in this life. The Blessed Trinity, the fact that God is One God and Three Divine Persons, is not only one of these types of truths, it is the loftiest truth there is. Nothing is greater, nothing more profound, nothing more beyond our poor human minds than the inner nature of God Himself. We believe that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit because He has revealed it to us through Scripture and Tradition; and He can neither deceive nor be deceived.
So the question arises, “Can we know anything about the Blessed Trinity? And if so, what can we know?” Like all the mysteries of God, the Trinity can be simple enough for even a child to grasp something of It, and at the same time deep enough that even the brightest theologians cannot exhaust It.
We have a great little tract on the Trinity, which we used to hear at the end of every Mass; it’s from the beginning of the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…And the Word became Flesh. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is called “the Word” or “Logos” in Greek. When we know something, we form an image of that thing in our mind. This image is a representation of the thing known. For instance, when we come to know a chair, we form an image of that chair in our mind. In philosophy we call this image an interior “word.”
And so, the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is an image of the Father Who contemplates Himself. He is the concept, you might say, which the Father has when He knows Himself. And yet this concept, this image, this “interior word” is so perfect, is such a true representation of the Father, that it is actually the same divine nature as the Father, in Whom to think and to be are the same thing: the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Now the Eternal Father loves the Son Whom He begets from all eternity, that perfect image of Himself; and the Son loves the Father from all eternity; and this perfect divine love between them, this eternal force, if you will, which comes forth from the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. It too is divine; It is of the same nature as the Father and the Son. And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever…and He will teach you all things.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the one eternal, omnipotent God, Who eternally knows and loves Himself; and Who wants us to share in that everlasting knowledge and love of Himself, Who wants us to enter into eternal communion with the Three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. This is why He created us—union with the Blessed Trinity: If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word, and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and will dwell in him.
This union with the Blessed Trinity begins at our Baptism, as we hear in the Gospel: Baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And this union is strengthen at Confirmation, when God grants us an increase in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This union is perfected, in a sense, in Holy Communion, which is a foretaste of our heavenly union with God.
At every Holy Communion we become so closely united to Christ that we can love the Father with Christ’s love; we can love Christ with the love of the Father; and we can love the Holy Spirit with the love of the Father and the Son. At every Holy Communion we become caught up, as it were, in the midst of the Holy Trinity—entering evermore deeply into that union with all Three Divine Persons, entering evermore deeply into the depths of God.
At the end of our Lord’s life He prayed: Father, I pray for them also…that they may be one in Us. This is the last wish of the Son, that we for whom He gave up His life might be united eternally to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Do not let the incomprehensibility of the mystery make you think that God is distant and unreachable. No, He is dwelling within your soul; and He has created you for the very purpose of being united with Him, Father Son and Holy Spirit for all eternity. May every Holy Communion bring us one step closer to this eternal union. Amen.