We have thus far
lived out the drama of Christ's earthly life -- His Nativity at Christmas,
His revealing Himself as God at the Epiphany, His time in the desert at Lent,
His Passion and Resurrection at Good Friday and Easter. We recalled His glorious
Ascension, and at last week's Pentecost, the Holy Ghost has descended upon
the Church, sent by the Father and the Son.
God's Triune Nature has been fully revealed, and now we celebrate the Most
Holy Trinity on this day, hearing in today's Gospel, "All power is given
to Me in heaven and on earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing
them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching
them to observe all the things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold
I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world" (this is known
as the "Great Commission").
And with this Mass, the Time After Pentecost, the season that represents
the Church Age, begins. Vestments today will be white.
Symbols for the day are the natural symbols of the Trinity -- the shamrock
used by St. Patrick to explain the Trinity to the ancient Irish, the pansy
-- viola tricolor -- called the "Trinity Flower," a candle with 3 flames,
the triangle, the trefoil, 3 interlocking circles, etc.
There are no particular customs for the day that I am aware of, but I urge
meditating on the short, poetic tale of St. Augustine's encounter with the
mysterious boy at the seashore, and reading the 4th c. Athanasian Creed --
the statement of Faith that best summarizes Catholic teaching on the Trinity.
Both of these are presented below.
The Athanasian Creed
to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person
keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This
is what the catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and
the Trinity in unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the
substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another
of the Holy Spirit.
But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory,
and coeternal majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit
The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless.
The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal.
Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being.
So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but
one uncreated being and one boundless being. Likewise, the Father is omnipotent,
the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent.
Yet there are not
three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being. Thus the Father is God,
the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
However, there are not three gods, but one God. The Father is Lord, the Son
is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord. However, there are not three lords,
but one Lord. For as we are obliged by Christian truth to acknowledge every
Person singly to be God and Lord, so too are we forbidden by the Catholic
religion to say that there are three Gods or Lords.
The Father was not made, nor created, nor generated by anyone. The Son is
not made, nor created, but begotten by the Father alone. The Holy Spirit
is not made, nor created, nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and
the Son. There is, then, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three
sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. In this Trinity, there is
nothing before or after, nothing greater or less. The entire three Persons
are coeternal and coequal with one another. So that in all things, as is
has been said above, the Unity is to be worshiped in Trinity and the Trinity
who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity. It is also necessary
for eternal salvation that he believes steadfastly in the incarnation of
our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the right faith is that we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man. As God,
He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man, He was
born in time of the substance of His Mother. He is perfect God; and He is
perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh. He is equal to the Father
in His divinity, but inferior to the Father in His humanity. Although He
is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ. And He is one, not because
His divinity was changed into flesh, but because His humanity was assumed
unto God. He is one, not by a mingling of substances, but by unity of person.
As a rational soul and flesh are one man: so God and man are one Christ.
He died for our salvation, descended into Hell, and rose from the dead on
the third day. He ascended into Heaven, sits at the right hand of God the
Father almighty. From there He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
At His coming, all men are to arise with their own bodies; and they are to
give an account of their own deeds. Those who have done good deeds will go
into eternal life; those who have done evil will go into the everlasting
This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly;
otherwise He cannot be saved. Amen.