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The Most Holy Trinity

By Sean Martin
John Paul II Generation

‘Tis the season to focus and meditate on the Holy Trinity. We celebrated in the Catholic Church the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity this past Sunday, a week after Pentecost Sunday. We celebrate Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, next Sunday. The Catholic Church in her great wisdom desires us to come to an understanding and love for our Triune God by placing these three solemnities on consecutive Sundays in the Liturgical year.

Why is the teaching of the Holy Trinity so important?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith’” (CCC 234).

The teaching of the Trinity is so very important that the first Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church directly dealt with the doctrine and many other Church Councils affirmed our belief in the Trinity. The Fourth Lateran Council held in 1215 AD stated that “we firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple” (CCC 202).

What does God look like? Is God male or female?
God is spiritual substance or being. His divinity is neither male nor female. We attribute a masculine pronoun to God because that is what has been revealed to us, particularly in the Scriptures. God is one, truth, living, omnipotent, eternal, immense, infinite, unique, simple, unchangeable, transcendent, mystery, holy, love, faithful, and compassionate. God is the fullness of goodness and being and of every perfection. He is without origin and without end.

How can we explain the Holy Trinity?
The Holy Trinity is ultimately a mystery. We can understand this mystery through reason and Divine Revelation, but we will never be able to fully understand and explain it. The Church teaches the Mystery of the Trinity using the terms substance, person, and relation.

All three persons of the Trinity are unified because they are of the same substance (or essence or nature). The Trinity is one God in three persons. "The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God” (CCC 253).

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are really distinct from one another. The names Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not simply names or modes or parts of the same divine being, rather they are truly three persons of the same substance. The three Persons of the Holy Trinity’s “distinction lies in the relationship of each to the others” (CCC 252). “’He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son.’ They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: ‘It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.’ The divine Unity is Triune” (CCC 254).

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