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The Trinity: The Cornerstone of Christianity

Catholic Apologetics #22

On the Octave Day of Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, where we recall the most fundamental mystery of the Christian Faith – that the one, true God is a triune God. There is but One Almighty God as God Himself declared to Moses on Mount Sinai. Yet, in the New Testament we realize the true nature of Our God – He is three Persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are but the same God, in three different, divine Persons.

The feast of the Blessed Trinity was first introduced in the 9th century and was only added to the general calendar of the Church by Pope John XXII in the 14th century, and yet the mystery of the Trinity of Persons in God has always been part of Revelation. Even before Christian times, the existence of distinct Persons in God was manifested in many ways, though merely “implicitly and under a veil, so to speak,” as St. Thomas says (Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 2, A. 8) – e.g., “Let us make man to Our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). But in our Christian era, this teaching has been made fully explicit: “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:18).

Since the beginning of the Church’s history, many lies and heresies have sprung up as Our Lord warned that many antichrists would come. Some heretics taught that Jesus was not God, some taught that there were actually three gods, and some taught that the three Persons were just three different roles of the same Person. All of these heresies were condemned.

We as Catholics are called upon to fully learn the teachings of the Church concerning the Trinity and to submit in faith to those teachings.

Is Jesus Divine?

YES! Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity – God the Son. Along with God the Father and the Holy Ghost, They are but one and the same God existing in three different Persons. In the Old Testament, God told Moses, “I Am Who am” (Exodus 3:14), stating that God Himself is the source of all existence. Now in the New Testament we read that Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) The Jews understood Our Lord’s words very clearly to mean that He and the God of the Old Testament are one and the same. Rather than giving the assent of faith to this Revelation, however, they hardened their hearts in the greatest of all sins, the sin of unbelief.

Furthermore, St. Thomas the Apostle, in John 20:28, addresses Jesus as “My Lord and my God.” In John 10:30, Jesus declares: “I and the Father are one.” All of these references illustrate that Jesus Christ is truly divine.

Truths of the Holy Trinity

  1. The Trinity is one. There are three Persons but only one God. Each Person is God wholly and entirely.
  2. Each Person is different from the other two. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not different roles of the same Person. Each Person has a different origin.
  3. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all share one nature, and each, though distinct, is fully God.

Roles of Each Person of the Trinity

  1. The Father sent His only Son: “When the appointed time came, God sent His Son.” (Gal. 4:4; John 8:42)
  2. The Son came to die for us and free us from sin.
  3. The Holy Ghost was sent by and proceeds from the Father and the Son.

While the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are each God, the three Persons each have a separate purpose in relation to the salvation of the world. However, each of the Divine Persons of the Trinity act in perfect unity since God is one and has but one purpose. For instance, while we attribute Creation to God the Father, Redemption to God the Son, and sanctification of souls to God the Holy Ghost, all three Persons participated in Creation and the Redemption and now in the sanctification of souls.

In time we can understand the Trinity and the nature of the one God better, but only in Heaven will we truly experience the joy of serving the One God and seeing the mystery of the Holy Trinity face to face.

As for now, let us begin everything we do with the Sign of the Cross: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” as we recall this most important belief of the Christian Faith.

“You see the revolving circle of the glory moving from Like to Like. The Son is glorified by the Spirit; the Father is glorified by the Son; again the Son has His glory from the Father; and the Only-begotten thus becomes the glory of the Spirit. For with what shall the Father be glorified, but with the true glory of the Son: and with what again shall the Son be glorified, but with the majesty of the Spirit? In like manner, again, Faith completes the circle, and glorifies the Son by means of the Spirit, and the Father by means of the Son” (St. Gregory of Nyssa).

 

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