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The Trinity: A Mystery for Eternity
Insight Scoop ^ | May 25, 2013 | Carl E. Olson

Posted on 05/25/2013 2:02:26 PM PDT by NYer

A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, May 26, 2013, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

• Prov 8:22-31
• Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
• Rom 5:1-5
• Jn 16:12-15

The apologist and novelist Dorothy Sayers dryly noted, in an essay titled “The Dogma is the Drama,” that for many people, even some Christians, the doctrine of the Trinity is, “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the whole thing incomprehensible.” There are likely a few Catholics who would candidly admit, “Well, the Church teaches that the Trinity is a mystery—and it’s certainly a mystery to me!”

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (CCC 234). It goes on to explain that this great mystery is the most fundamental, essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith” and that it is a mystery of faith “in the strict sense”—it cannot be known except it has been revealed by God (CCC 237). A theological mystery such as the Trinity is a truth about God known only through divine revelation, not by reason or philosophy. It is like a well with no bottom from which we can drink endlessly, our minds and souls never going away thirsty.

Belief in the Trinity—one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is a distinctive mark of the Christian Faith. The first few centuries of the Church were filled with controversies and careful definitions regarding the one nature of God, the three Persons of the Trinity, and their relationship with each other. Yet the dogma of the Trinity cannot be proven in the usual sense of “proven” and “proof.” But this does not mean that the dogma of the Trinity is contrary to reason or that reason cannot be applied to understanding it to some degree (cf. CCC 154); it means that the Triune reality of God is ultimately beyond human reasoning. As St. Augustine remarked, “If you understood Him, it would not be God” (CCC 230).

Today’s readings do not use the term “Trinity,” of course, because it doesn’t appear in Scripture. But they are some of the many texts the Church has looked to as either foreshadowing the reality of the Trinity or giving explicit witness to it.  The reading from Proverbs is one of several Old Testament passages that describe the wisdom of God, which is often referred to as a sort of personal being or reality. Some of this language is taken up in the New Testament to refer to the Son, including St. Paul’s description of Christ as “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). Or, similarly, in a passage that bears a strong resemblance to today’s reading from Proverbs, the “one Lord, Jesus Christ” is described as the one “through whom all things are and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:6).

While the Old Testament contains hints and suggestions, the mystery of the Trinity was revealed with the Incarnation—first at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, and then in His teachings. Jesus spoke of the intimate communion between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, including in today’s reading from the Gospel of John. “Everything that the Father has is mine,” Jesus tells the Apostles, “for this reason I told you that he”—the Holy Spirit—“will taken from what is mine and declare it to you.” The Father sends forth the Son so that, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, we might have peace with God, while the Holy Spirit pours out God’s love, all so we might be justified and made right with God.

In his great work The Trinity, St. Augustine summed up the heart of the Church’s belief in the mystery of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by simply stating, “If you see charity, you see the Trinity.” God is One and three Persons; He offers His divine life and love to those who believe in Him (CCC 257). The Trinity is not just a mystery to us, but also for us.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: trinity

1 posted on 05/25/2013 2:02:26 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (Rv 21:6)

The icon of the Holy Trinity is a symbolic representation of the three Persons of the Godhead, united forever in an eternal embrace of divine love and eternal light. Within the oval mandala, representing eternity and divinity, are depicted the traditional iconographic symbols for the three members of the Holy Trinity. A seraph represents the unceasing praise of Heaven in the hymn of the cherubim "Holy" chanted three times, inscribed around the icon in Aramaic, Greek and Arabic.

God the Father is represented by a hand reaching down out of a segment of a circle, breaking into human history, giving His Law (Ex 19) and speaking to man through His Living Word-Jesus.

God, the Son, is represented through His Incarnation, the mystery of His humanity-divinity and the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins that His sacrifice brought to man. We also see Mary Magdalene, the repentant sinner, at His feet.

God, the Holy Spirit is depicted in the form of a dove, in a circle burning with flames of fire, as the Holy Spirit is symbolized at the Baptism of Christ and in His descent upon the Church at Pentecost.

2 posted on 05/25/2013 2:04:30 PM PDT by NYer ( "Run from places of sin as from the plague."--St John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would not come until he left.
The Gospels tell of God on earth. The Acts tell of the Holy Spirit in the church on earth.

3 posted on 05/25/2013 2:18:24 PM PDT by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: NYer

People who believe the Trinity is a mystery have never read their bible cover to cover.

Christianity is NOT a mystery religion.

Read Romans 1:20 - what it says about the Godhead, and what you can know about it, and who can know it.

You either believe Romans 1:20, or you believe the Trinity is some mystery. There is no reconciling that verse with the belief we cannot grasp the nature of God. The problem is not so much that God is hard to find, the problem is that Mankind loves the dark, and it’s own ways instead of the things of God.

What are the things of God? Read Romans 1:20.

By the way, both Catholics and Protestants need to read their bible, and believe it instead of commentaries and pronouncements. Why take 2nd hand stories when you can go to the source?

4 posted on 05/25/2013 4:59:07 PM PDT by BereanBrain
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To: BereanBrain

Romans 1:20 is talking specifically about natural knowledge of “God’s eternal power and divine nature,” not the knowledge of the Trinity that was only revealed by Jesus when he taught his disciples “that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me” (John 14:10). If you “read your Bible cover to cover”, there are plenty of references to divine mystery, some using the actual Greek term “mystery”—e.g. Ephesians 3:3 (”the mystery made known to me by revelation”), 1 Corinthians 14:2 (”he utters mysteries with his spirit”), 1 Corinthians 15:51 (”Listen, I tell you a mystery”), etc.—others using other vocabulary to convey the concept that “no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). This does not make Christianity a “mystery religion” in the sense of the pagan mystery religion. It simply means that God’s eternal knowledge includes more than human reason can attain without revelation, as exemplified when Jesus told Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. . .” (Matthew 16:17-18)

5 posted on 05/25/2013 9:16:34 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: NYer

One aid I have observed is comparing the Trinity to a Play.

God the Father as the author of the Play (His Plan), God the Son (Christ Jesus) is the main Actor in the Play (His Plan), and in the rafters, God the Holy Spirit runs the spotlight which glorifies the Son.

6 posted on 05/25/2013 9:24:28 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Fedora

God’s Triune nature is, if you really believe Romans 1:20, defined in General Revelation (that’s what Romans 1:20 is talking about).

Yes, there are mysteries (we know not the time or hour) but they are NOT mysteries of things we have need to know of. Christianity is not a mystery religion.....we do not believe in a mystery. However there may be some mysteries about our beliefs. So you are right quoting about the mysteries, but that is not a mystery of the nature of God.

Why does man have such a time understanding the Trinity?
Let’s look a moment.
God exists as three in one. That is, he is both Three and One. And the oneness is indivisible from the three-ness. Jesus existed, The Father existed, and the Holy Spirit existed forever, and will forever. They had no beginning or end. And yet they are one.

Now let’s look at our physical universe (why, because that’s what Romans 1:20 says speaks to it).
The universe has 3 physical dimensions. Each is infinite, and without all three the volume of the universe would be zero, it would not exist.
In addition time, which is not a dimension of the universe btw, has a past,present and future.
Everything in the universe is essentially three in one at it’s core nature.

Now, some accuse Christianity of worshipping “3” gods. This can no more be the case than you could divide the universe into 3 “parts”.

7 posted on 05/25/2013 10:36:42 PM PDT by BereanBrain
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To: BereanBrain
We agree that there are mysteries such as the time and the hour, and that God is Triune in nature. We differ over whether God's Trinitarian nature is included in the scope of the mysteries inaccessible to human reason alone.

With respect to Romans 1:20, I would suggest that the problem in the historic discussion of this verse stems from the usage of the English term "Godhead" in some translations to render the Greek word "theiotes", which also appears as "divine nature" in other translations. This word was essentially an older English pronunciation of the word "godhood" and, as such, carried the root sense of "god-ness" or "divinity." However, since at that time English speakers also generally assumed that God was Trinitarian in nature, the same English word could also refer to God's Trinitarian nature. In Webster's listing for "Godhead" these definitions are distinguished as two distinct meanings. In the ancient Greek used at the times Romans was written, however, the word "theiotes" simply carried the first meaning of "Godhead" in the general sense of "divine nature", using a root word that went back to Homer and had been adopted by later Greek and Roman writers. The word Paul uses is also used by Plutarch, for instance. On this I would reference Liddell and Scott's Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon.

With respect to Romans 1:20 citing the physical universe as a reflection of God's nature, I would observe that Paul was writing before Descartes introduced the modern coordinate system analyzing the universe in terms of three dimensions, and Paul's contemporaries would not have understood his words as referring to a three-dimensional model of the universe. Paul specifically referenced two aspects of God's nature reflected in the universe: 1. His eternal power 2. His divine nature. The relevant question is what he was alluding to by these terms and, specifically, whether he was talking about the Trinity when he used "theiotes". I would suggest that in context he was alluding to Greek philosophical discussions of God's existence, which were familiar to Hellenstic Jews of Paul's time such as Philo of Alexandria, and were echoed by other early Christian writers like Justin Martyr who referenced Greek philosophy and literature when engaging in apologetics--as Paul does in Acts 17:28 when he alludes to the poet Aratus' Phaenomena.

8 posted on 05/26/2013 12:35:04 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Cvengr

I like that!

9 posted on 05/26/2013 1:43:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer
The Trinity: A Mystery for Eternity
1 and 1 and 1 Makes One. A meditation on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity
The Trinity: Three Persons in One Nature
Essays for Lent: The Trinity
Pope to theologians: focus on the Trinity
Defend the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity! [Catholic caucus]
Hold Fast to the Confession of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit [Catholic Caucus]
[Ecumenical] Lent through Eastertide - Divine Mercy Diary Exerpts: The Holy Trinity
One God, Three Equal Persons: St. Gregory of Nazianzus {Ecumenical Thread}

Radio Replies Second Volume - The Holy Trinity
The Blessed Trinity {Ecumenical}
A Mystery for Eternity (Reflection on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity)
On the Trinity (Angelus Address from 5/30/2010)
Mystery of the Trinity
The Trinity: More Than Just Doctrine
Origen on the Trinity: A Man Ahead of His Time
Why Mormon Baptism Is Invalid: Sect´s Concept of the Trinity Differs from Christian Notion
Radio Replies First Volume - The Holy Trinity
‘We live to love and be loved,’ teaches Pope while reflecting on Trinity (absolutely beautiful!)

Deathbed Request: 'Tell me About the Trinity’
Catholic Doctrine on the Holy Trinity
The Most Holy Trinity
What You [Catholics] Need to Know: Trinity [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Holy Trinity (excerpt from the Light of Faith by St. Thomas Aquinas)
The Concept of the Most Holy Trinity - The Relationship between the Three Persons in One God
A Brief Catechism for Adults - Lesson 3: God and the Holy Trinity
Sheed on the Trinity (Catholic Caucus)
The Father as the Source of the Whole Trinity - Greek and Latin Traditions About the Filioque
Trinity Facts

The Real Trinity
We believe in one only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Brief Reflections on the Trinity, the Canon of Scripture, and the Protestant idea of Sola Scriptura
Why Do We Believe in the Trinity?
The Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday (and the Trinity season)
Trinitarian Mystery
HaSheeloosh HaKadosh: The Holy Trinity
The Divine Trinity

10 posted on 05/26/2013 1:44:39 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer; red irish; fastrock; NorthernCrunchyCon;; Finatic; fellowpatriot; ...

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11 posted on 05/26/2013 1:47:23 PM PDT by narses
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To: Fedora

Actually, just about everything in the universe is 3 in 1. Not just space.

12 posted on 05/26/2013 2:20:08 PM PDT by BereanBrain
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To: NYer
The reference to "mystery religions" misses the point. The "mystery" is how there are three persons in one God. One can logically deduce the existence of God. There is no way one can logically deduce the Triune nature of God. It is known to us only because it was revealed.

When I was a visiting professor in Turkey I occasionally got into discussions with my fellow faculty members, all of them Muslims, about differences between Islam and Christianity. The Trinity was always a sticking point. They wanted to know what was the logic behind it. The problem is, there is no logic behind it. It's a brute fact, no more the consequence of reason than any other brute fact. Again, we know it not because we can deduce it, but because it was revealed to us.

13 posted on 05/26/2013 2:21:34 PM PDT by JoeFromSidney ( New book: RESISTANCE TO TYRANNY. Buy from Amazon.)
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To: BereanBrain

That’s an interesting line of thought; but I think readers in Paul’s audience would have been more familiar with Judaism’s emphasis on the number 7 (as in the 7 days of creation) or Pythagoras’ theory of number which emphasized all the numbers up to 10. (I’m not saying Paul followed Pythagoras, just that this was an intellectual framework that would have been familiar to his readers if they were thinking of the universe in terms of number.) Personally I think all numbers reflect God’s glory in one way or another. For instance God is One; the image of God is created male and female in Genesis; we have the Trinity and other instances of three as you mention; the four four-faced cherubim seen by Ezekiel; the twelve tribes of Israel; the 144,000 servants of God in Revelation; etc. George Ferguson’s “Signs and Symbols in Christan Art” has a bit on Christian number symbolism in Chapter 11 that’s an interesting read.

14 posted on 05/26/2013 9:59:59 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: JoeFromSidney

Yes, exactly. For a Christian the relation between Father and Son and between Father, Son, and Spirit are revealed facts (and lived realities) to be experienced and affirmed, serving as premises for deduction rather than as conclusion to an argument. However once the revealed premises are accepted in faith, the relation between the divine Persons can be expressed to human understanding in terms of analogy to the human psyche’s internal self-communication between different faculties of the same psyche, as Augustine developed in “On the Holy Trinity” Book 10 and Aquinas later elaborated.

15 posted on 05/26/2013 10:26:51 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Fedora

Man is three in one. Body, soul, and spirit.
When man sinned, on that day, he surely did die (in spirit).
The holy spirit comes to us and inhabits us today, in which we receive regeneration.


There are innumerable examples.

God exists as 3 in 1, just like Man does...we are an image of God. Of course ours is a very very poor image.

16 posted on 05/27/2013 10:08:23 AM PDT by BereanBrain
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To: BereanBrain

Thanks for elaborating. A couple other examples I was thinking about last night were Abraham’s three visitors in Genesis 18 and the seraphim’s three “Holies” in Isaiah 6.

17 posted on 05/27/2013 10:13:06 AM PDT by Fedora
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