This week we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. I’ve heard priests say that this is a hard week to preach because but what can be said about the Trinity? They would be right. It is a mystery, a spiritual truth that is beyond human understanding, and revealed to us only on God’s time. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t ponder it. While the Prayers of the Mass for this weekend are all about the Trinity, every time we gather to pray the Mass, we begin with a prayer to the Trinity.
The Mass begins with the Sign of the Cross and the prayer:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
There are three options to the Greeting that we can pray at the beginning of the Mass, but this prayer, which teaches us about each person of the Trinity, comes from 2 Corinthians 13:14.
Ambrosiaster (AD 400), which is the name given to the unknown author of a commentary on the epistles of Saint Paul, wrote, “The love of God has sent us Jesus the Savior, by whose grace we have been saved. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to possess the grace of salvation, for he guards those who are loved by God and saved by the grace of Christ, so that the completeness of the Three may be the saving fulfillment of mankind.”
There is one golden thread that runs through Ambrosiaster’s quote, and that is the thread of love.
In past years, I have meditated on the Trinity enough to recognize that I would differentiate between the persons of the Trinity by the differences in my relationship to each of them. I pray to the Father not only as creator, but as a father. Jesus is my savior, friend, and brother. The Holy Spirit gives me inspiration and sanctification (not necessarily in that order.) Everything I need for life can be found in each person of the Trinity, which is good, however I then realized that I need to change my view a bit, because this thinking tended to become more about how the Trinity could serve my needs instead of me serving God.
In 1 John 4:7 we learn that God is Love and we know that love requires koinōnia, which is the Greek word for communion or fellowship. Being made in the image of God, we, are called to be in communion. We were made to be in communion His Trinitarian love.
In the Nicene Creed, we learn that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, and in their relationship, all of the love of the Father is poured into the Son. All of the love of the Son is given to the Father. This love is so strong that it becomes another person, the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, the same Spirit given to us at Baptism.
I’ve come across some examples of the Trinity that I have loved meditating on, and want to share them with you.
The first example is from St Bonaventure, who wrote that the Trinity is like a water wheel with three buckets on it. The same water flows through all three buckets, showing the unity of three persons in Trinity; the flowing water is love, what God is; God is flowing love. This example shows us that while they are three persons, they flow into each other, and the flowing love flows into and captures each one of us.
My second thought on the Trinity is this quote I found: God the Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the Love between them. This quote could be the caption of the snapshot of the Trinity that we find in the Gospels, when Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River. Jesus comes up from the water, the voice of the Father, the Lover, is heard, saying, “This is my Beloved Son,” and the love between the Father and the Son is so strong that it is visible in the form of a dove.
If we could see clearly with spiritual eyes, we would see the same scene at our own baptism. As we are washed with the water, Heaven opens up over us, the Father proclaims us as his Beloved, and we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We enter into Trinitarian love and we are reminded of it every time we pray.
In the Catholic faith, every time we pray, we make the Sign of the Cross, and we pray as we hope to live, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Thanks for praying with me, Julie