Where One Is, All Are

 

‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen’. These words are so familiar to us all, we make the Sign of the Cross at least a few times a day, and as such is probably something we take for granted, or think little of, seeing them only as a mere traditional way to enter into prayer.

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But the Sign of the Cross is so much more, indeed it espouses to us the very essence of our God, who is at once three divine persons – the Blessed Trinity-and one God. But before Christ came to give us the fullness of God’s truth, the Jewish people believed in only one God and indeed the Old Testament is evidence of this.

So does that mean that God came first, then Christ and then the Holy Spirit? Actually it doesn’t. That God chose not to reveal the three divine persons in God before he sent his Son to us does not mean that there is an order in which each member of the Trinity came into being. In fact, the Blessed Trinity has been here for all eternity and has no beginning. ‘The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation.’ (CCC 686)

A simple way to understand the relationships in the Trinity is to think of the divine persons in this way. God the Father is God knowing – that is the perfect knowledge and wisdom that God has; God the Son – the ‘thought’, the living image of God knowing who is thus God known; and the Holy Spirit, the living love that flows between the divine persons of the Father and the Son. Thus the Trinity is made up of God knowing, God known and God loving-and-loved. (cf. The Faith Explained pp 78)

There is no subordination of one divine person to the other, that is for instance, God the Father does not rule the roost and tell the other divine persons what to do. They are equal, united and complementary. Each member of the Trinity has been attributed their own distinct role however they are inseparable and whilst we may attribute roles to each individually, theologically speaking, the Blessed Trinity in its divine unity is in everything together. That is, where one is they all are.

However, because some activities carried out by the Trinity seem more applicable to a particular Person we would say that a certain role was appropriated to them. For instance, God the Father is considered to be the Creator. But as we explained earlier, it is actually the Blessed Trinity who carries out the work of Creation. It is because God the Father is the divine person of the Trinity from which the principle source of all knowing and loving comes, and his relationship to the other members of the Trinity (God knowing), the role of Creator fits him best. God the Son is the living image of God that is a tangible, visual image of God that we can see and know (God known). To him we have appropriated the work of redemption because of his crucifixion, death and resurrection.

Once again however, we must remember that although we have attributed to him the work of redemption and the title of redeemer, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are also present. Finally, to the Holy Spirit, as the living love proceeding from both the Father and the Son (God loving and loved), is appropriated the role of the sanctification of souls, or the action of grace. Thus when we speak about Baptism or Confirmation we talk about the grace of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. But here too we must realise that God the Father and God the Son are present too in this work of sanctification.

The Blessed Trinity is truly one of the mysteries of our Catholic faith. ‘The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself.’ (CCC 234) While here we have tried to explain to some degree the role and relationship of the three divine Persons, there is still much about the Trinity we are not able to understand or grasp fully. However the important things to note are firstly that the Blessed Trinity has no beginning and has been here for eternity. Just because the existence of the three Persons was not revealed to us until Jesus Christ came to redeem us, does not mean they did not exist.

The Blessed Trinity is all in all. The divine Persons are inseparable and together, in a united front, carry out all the works attributed to each of them separately. While we have appropriated roles to each Person, one cannot act without the others and thus all three carry out the work of creation, redemption and sanctification.

Filed Under: FaithSacraments

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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