Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for June 11, 2006 -- Trinity Sunday

Although we are back to “Ordinary Time,” of the Liturgical Year, the Sundays immediately following Pentecost provide the opportunity to reflect on the core mysteries of the Faith. Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and next week is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (formerly known as Corpus Christi). Since we can never exhaust these mysteries by prayer or study, learning and understanding the doctrine of the Church is a lifelong task. Instead of discouraging us, however, such richness and majesty prompts more questions and a deeper desire to draw close to God in our minds, so that we may serve Him better with our hands and hearts.

The existence of the Blessed Trinity is an article of Faith. We profess our Faith in one God, Who is Three Divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this teaching in paragraphs 232 – 267. In words that may be surprising, the Catechism says, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (CCC 234). The Incarnation and Passion, the Eucharist and the Sacraments, even the Immaculate Conception and Assumption are all at the service of revealing God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – to the world. Even though the word “Trinity” never appears in Scripture and despite centuries of theological arguments about how best to articulate Catholic belief in the Trinity, our belief in one God in Three Persons is the foundation of our Faith.

Not only is Trinity the source of all the other mysteries of the Faith, it is also the light which enlightens them and enables us to live our calling as Christians (cf. CCC 234), because this mystery is the very life of God Himself. We know God’s works through history and Sacred Scripture, but we encounter God Himself in the mystery of the Trinity. The Trinity is also a mystery in its most proper sense: no amount of study, experimentation, or reflection could conclude that God is Three-in-One. Although the existence of God can be known through natural reason (cf. Vatican I, Dei Filius, ch. 2), the nature of God as a Trinity of Persons is unknowable without Divine Revelation: “His inmost being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 237).

The Church’s understanding of the Trinity developed during the first four centuries after Christ. The Christological heresies led to the Trinitarian heresies such as “modalism”, “adoptionism”, and “Arianism.” The Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (A.D. 325) and Constantinople (A.D. 381) clarified the nature of the Trinity as “consubstantial.” The Greek word homoousios (“same-substance”) was the touchstone of orthodox faith, defended by St. Athanasius; the term homoiousios (“similar-substance”) was championed by the notorious heretic Arius and those who believed Jesus was not God. Amazingly enough, the difference of a single letter “i” nearly split the Church. Such vigorous controversy reminds us of the importance of believing the truth, even when it is unpopular or challenging.

After describing the nature of the Trinity in itself (each Person is God, “consubstantial,” and co-eternal), the Church began to reflect upon the relationship between the Persons. Each Divine Person is properly described by His name; hence, the Father is truly and properly a Father. Although we experience fatherhood (and motherhood) through our earthly parents, God is a Father in the deepest sense. He “transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father” (CCC 239). The Persons are distinct from one another by their relationship: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds” (CCC 254). Therefore, “Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another” (CCC 255).

Continuing to explore the depth of the Mystery, we praise God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.