I love learning new things about God, and I love that there are always new things to learn. Father Michael Gaitley’s book, The ‘One Thing’ Is Three: How the Holy Trinity Explains Everything, gave me some new insights into the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and in particular, a proof that, while God is one in being, He must be more than one person.
As Saint John tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Thus, in the beginning, before God created the heavens and the earth, God was love.
But if God was just one person, God would have had no one to love then, except Himself. (1)
Saint Thomas Aquinas defined love as “to consistently will and choose the good of the other.”
Love, then, implies the existence of some other person to love.
Therefore, God cannot be just one person.
God must be at least two persons. Jesus revealed to us that He was the Father’s only begotten Son. He and the Father are one, but they are distinct persons in their relationship to each other of Father and Son. We can also say that they are distinct in their roles: the Father as Creator, the Son as Redeemer.
The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the love that exists between the Father and the Son, which is then poured out onto the world for the sanctification of our souls. The Father is Creator, the Son is Redeemer, the Holy Spirit is Sanctifier.
Family provides an imperfect analogy for the Holy Trinity. The love of a husband and wife can generate a child. Similarly, the Father and the Son actively spirate the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure I can define “spirate.” The term comes from the Council of Florence, and I haven’t found it in the dictionary. These Bible verses convey the idea that the Holy Spirit is like a river of love flowing out from the Father and the Son:
- “the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26)
- “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5)
- “Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1)
Jesus invites us to share in the perfect love of the Holy Trinity, most especially through the gift of His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit we receive through Baptism and Confirmation.
Glory be to the Father,
Who by His almighty power and love created me,
making me in the image and likeness of God.
Glory be to the Son,
Who by His Precious Blood delivered me from hell,
and opened for me the gates of heaven.
Glory be to the Holy Spirit,
Who has sanctified me in the sacrament of Baptism,
and continues to sanctify me
by the graces I receive daily from His bounty.
Glory be to the Three adorable Persons of the Holy Trinity,
now and forever. Amen.
O ETERNAL TRINITY
a prayer of St. Catherine of Sienna
Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.
I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.
Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.
You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God! Amen.
(1) Self-love is good, but true self-love is knowing you are the beloved son or daughter of the all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving creator of the universe. I can love myself because God loves me, and with an all-encompassing love that I cannot fathom.
Image: The Coronation of the Virgin by Diego Velazquez (downloaded from Wikipedia Commons).