The Divine Trinity in Our Daily Life
by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.
The Incarnation and Birth of the Son of
God Reveals the Mystery of the Trinity,
for the Only-Begotten Son was Sent by the Father, and Conceived
by the Power of the Holy Spirit in the Womb of the
Virgin Mary. So when the Divine Word, Begotten of the
Father for all Eternity (as to His Divine Nature) became
the Son of Mary (as to
His Human Nature), the Three (3) Divine Persons
of the Trinity Acted-together in the Accomplishment of this Great
Mystery. Whether it is a Matter of God coming to us, or our going to
God, in either-case the Three (3) Divine
Persons are involved, as the New Catholic Catechism
"Being a Work at-once Common and Personal, the Whole Divine Economy makes known both what is Proper to the
Divine Persons and their one Divine Nature. Hence the Whole Christian Life is a Communion with each of the Divine Persons, without in any way
separating them. Everyone who Glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the
Father draws him and the Holy Spirit moves him" (n. 259, John 6:44).
When we speak of the Inner-Life of God, we refer to the different
Relationships of the Divine Persons, the FATHER
Eternally-begetting, the SON Eternally-begotten, and the HOLY
SPIRIT Eternally Proceeding from the Mutual Love
of the Father and the Son. Yet, as we pointed-out, when we
speak of the Redeeming Mission of the Incarnate Son of God,
it is a Work of the Three (3) Divine Persons, every
Spiritual Gift coming from the Father (James 1:17),
Merited for us by the Son (Romans 5:19;
Luke 24:46, 47; Hebrews 13:8), and Infused into the
Soul by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). What a Marvelous Thing it is to realize
that the Inner-Life of the Divine Persons, that Eternal Procession
of Infinite (∞) Knowledge and
Love, the Contemplation of which will be the Source of our
Beatitude in Heaven, takes place within the Soul
of every Person in the State of Grace.
Summary of Origins
Father possesses Two (2)
Internal Divine Processions
|God the Father
(Begotten, not Made, not Created)
The Son of God,
Second Person of the Holy Trinity
|God the Father
& God the Son
(As One Principle)
(not Made, not Created, not Generated)
The Holy Spirit,
Third Person of the Holy Trinity
It was for these Reasons that our Holy Father, in Preparation-for the Millennium, Wished to
bring about a Greater Awareness of the Three (3) Divine
Persons dwelling-in the Soul, Whose
very Life we Share through the Gift of Sanctifying Grace.
That Trinity of Persons is the
Infinite (∞) Source of all Reality, from
Whom all Creatures Emanate, and to Whom all must Return. To make us more Aware of our
Relationship with the Divine Trinity, the Holy Father directed that a Whole-Year be Dedicated-to the
Prayerful Reflection of Each of the Divine Persons.
A Reflection on what little we know about the Eternal Father, the
First Person of the Blessed Trinity, will necessitate a look at what the
Scriptures and Theology make known to us. The Doctrine of the
Trinity is the most-Profound and most-Fundamental Dogma of our
Christian Faith. While Man can come to a Knowledge of the
Existence of God by Reason alone, he could never
arrive at a Knowledge of the Divine Trinity without the
Aid of Divine Revelation. That Doctrine was
Foreshadowed in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament was Taught-explicitly by Our Lord
and His Apostles (Matthew 28:19). And even after Christ
Revealed this Truth to us, It remains an
Incomprehensible Mystery, beyond our Capacity to Fathom.
To gain some Understanding of what little we Know of God the
Father, will necessitate a consideration of Him in Relation-to the other
Persons of the Trinity. Being an
Infinite (∞) Intelligence,
God, in a Single and Eternal Act, Perfectly-comprehends the Plenitude of
His Divine Essence and Perfections. In that
One (1) Eternal Thought is expressed the Totality of His Being
and Perfections in a Mental-Image or Word. Thus, this
Infinite (∞) Intelligence begets
an Image of Himself (the Word) so
Perfect that the Image-Begotten is, equal in every respect to the Intelligence
Begetting it, Constituting a Separate Divine Person having One
(1) and the Same Divine Nature. "I and the Father are
One" (John 10:30). Because the Inner-Life of God involves a
Divine Person Begetting, and a Divine Person Begotten,
Divine Revelation has Attributed to Them the Names of
Father and Son. "Our Father Who art in Heaven"
(Matthew 6:9). "Your Heavenly Father knows you need these things" (Matthew 6:32).
"You are My Son, this day I have Begotten You" (Psalm 2:7). "You are My
Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22).
Origin of the Son and the Holy Spirit
Father possesses Two (2)
Internal Divine Activities or
||Act of Intellect
(not made, not created)
The Son of God,
Second Person of the Holy Trinity
||Act of Will
Act of Love
(not made, not created,
The Holy Spirit,
Third Person of the Holy Trinity
|"Generation" is the
Production of One Living-Being from Another, both having the Same Nature.
"Spiration" is a Type of Procession, from the noun
"Spirit" which means "Breath";
"Proceeds from the Divine Will, Inflamed, as it were, with Love" CCC.
An "Internal Divine Procession," refers to the
origin of One (1) Divine Person
from Another through the communication of the One (1)
Divine Essence. There are Two (2)
Internal Divine Processions: the Generation of the
Son and the Spiration of the
Even though the Father Willed that His Only-Begotten Son
become Man to Redeem Mankind and to make the Father known,
this Only-Begotten Son does not leave the Father. This
Divine Word ever dwells "in the Bosom of the Father"
(John 1:18) in the Infinite (∞)
Intelligence that Conceives Him. By His very
Nature, then, the Son is Inseparable from the Father
'Eternally-begetting' Him; and from the Mutual Love of the
Father and the Son there Proceeds, as from a
Single Principle, the Holy Spirit, Who
is the Substantial Love of the Father and the
Son and the Bond-of-Union between Them.
And thus Theology explains the Inner-Life of the Divine Trinity, all
Three (3) Persons having the same
Infinite (∞) Perfections, the same
Wisdom, the same Power, the same
Love, the same Holiness, the same
Majesty, because the Divine Nature is One-and-the-Same for all
Three (3) Persons. And that
Infinite (∞) Communication of Divine Life
between the Three (3) Divine Persons had no
Beginning. Consequently, the Father did not exist before the
Son, nor did the Father and Son exist
prior to the Holy Spirit, for the Divine Nature of
the Three (3) Divine Persons is
One (1) and Indivisible, Infinite
(∞) and Eternal.
This Boggles the Mind if we try to think of it in terms of Human Generation. We must keep in Mind that we are dealing with a
Profound Mystery that even in the Next Life we will not Fully Comprehend.
Theology makes a distinction to explain what we are saying. The Eternal Father
Precedes His only-begotten Son, not by a Priority-of-Time, but by a
Priority-of-Nature, that is, by the very Nature of God's Knowledge of
Himself, the Son being the Perfect Image
of the Father, Begotten by the Father's
Infinite (∞) and Eternal Act of
Contemplating His Own Divine Essence. So this Procession of the
Son from the Father, and of the
Holy Spirit from the Father and the
Son is not something that happened before the Beginning-of-Time, but is an on-going and Eternal Act of
God's Divine Life, something that still-continues in the Depth of every Soul
in the State of Grace (John 14:23).
The Father - The Source of All
Everything the Son has or is, therefore, He received
from the Father Whose Image He is. For example: Whenever
the Son Speaks - He says what the
Father Reveals to Him. "The Words that I speak
are not spoken of Myself, it is the Father Who lives in Me accomplishing His Works" (John 14:10).
"The word you hear is not Mine, it comes from the Father Who sent Me" (John 14:24).
Whatever the Son does - He does in
Obedience to the Father. "Behold, I come to do
Your Will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7). "I have kept My Fathers Commandments, and Abide in
His Love" (John 15:10). "Not My Will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
When Jesus says "I am the Life" (John 14:6),
it is the Fullness of Life Received from the Father. When
He says "I am the Truth", it is the
Fullness of Truth Received from the Father. When
He says "all Power in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me" (Matthew 28:18),
it is the Fullness of Power Received from the Father. When
St John says "God is Love" (1John 4:16), he speaks of the
Divine Trinity; but the Fullness of that Love in the
Son was Received from the Father. That is why our
Savior says "I am the Way" (to the Father), for to Know and
Love Jesus is to Know and
Love the Father (John 14:9). "No one can come to
the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
We have considered this Topic a bit in-detail to bring into Focus the Hidden Life of the
Father in Relation to the Son and the
Holy Spirit; and to Stress that "every Good Gift and Perfect Gift is
from above, coming down from the Father of Lights" (James 1:17), coming to us through the
Son in the Holy Spirit. Every Good Act
we perform Motivated by Charity, we do so because the
Son - Fulfilling the Father's Will - is Acting in us, Living
His Divine Life in us (Galatians 2:20), and Reaching-out to others through us.
So when we Perform Good Works, or Speak or Defend the Truth,
it is the Love and Truth of the
Father coming to us through the Son by the Action of the
God's Inner Life - Mirrored in Us
When the Three (3) Divine Persons of the
Trinity bestow on Angels and Men a Participation of
Their Own Divine Nature (through Grace),
They Reproduce in them in a Limited-way a Continuation of
Their own Personal Relationships. This Supernatural
Life is Imparted to Souls through the
Mystical Body of Christ, the Divinely Established Medium for the Communication of
Divine Life to Souls. When the
Only-Begotten Son of God became Man, as we saw, He did not cease to remain
in the Bosom of the Father in the Eternal and Indivisible Relationship
with Him and the Holy Spirit. Consequently,
when the Divine Word was conceived in the Womb of Mary
taking from her His Human Nature, that
Infinite (∞) and Ineffable
Mystery of the Father Begetting the Son
and the Holy Spirit Issuing-from the Mutual Love of
Both of Them continues in the Divine Nature
of the God-Man, the Head of the Mystical Body.
So we see, just as the First Communication of Divine Life
within the Trinity is from the Father to the
Son, so the First Communication of
Divine Life in the Mystical Body is from the
Father to the Son, and through the Action of the
Holy Spirit to the Members of that Body. This Wonderful Extension of the Life of the
Trinity to Mankind was accomplished in the Mystery of
the Incarnation, the 2000th anniversary of which we
are preparing to celebrate.
Children of the Father
An Important Effect of our Membership in the Mystical Body of Christ is that we become
Adopted Children of the Father. As Adopted Children we are, so to speak, drawn-up with the
Son to the Bosom of the Father, for we too
have been Begotten by the Father, not by the Necessity of
Divine Nature as was the Son, but by
Grace. The Father Embraces the Whole
Christ, i.e. His Only-Begotten Son and the Members of
His Body Redeemed by His Blood
and sharing His Own Divine Life. As St Thomas Aquinas points out,
"as a Certain Likeness to Divine Goodness is Conferred by the Act of Creation, so a Likeness to Natural Sonship
is conferred by the Act of Adoption" (III, 23, 1, ad 2).
And he states further that it is more than a mere Likeness, it is a Participation. "Adoptive Sonship is a certain
Participated Likeness of Natural Sonship" (III, 3, 5, ad 2).
As the Holy Spirit is the Bond of Love between
the Father and the Son,
He is also the Bond of Love between the
Divine Trinity and the Members of the Mystical Body of Christ. The Communication
to Souls of Divine Life Coming-from the
Father and the Son is brought about by the
Holy Spirit, Who is Their
Love in Person, Their Life-Giving,
Sanctifying Spirit. We see how, then, through our Incorporation into the Mystical Body of
Christ, the Three (3) Divine Persons
are Present and Active in the Whole Fabric of our Daily Lives.
While Focusing on the Eternal Father in these Reflections, it might be well to bring up
a question that is often asked. Since there are many Feast Days honoring Christ the
Son of God, and a Special Feast honoring the Holy
Spirit, one might wonder why there is no Special Feast Honoring the Father.
Pope Leo XIII answered that question in his
Encyclical on the Holy Spirit.
"Our Predecessor Innocent XII, absolutely refused the Petition of those who desired a Special Feast in
Honor of God the Father. For, although the Separate Mysteries connected with the Incarnate Word are celebrated on Certain Fixed Days, yet
there is no Special Feast on which the Word is honored according to His Divine Nature alone. And even the Feast of Pentecost was
instituted in the earliest times, not simply to Honor the Holy Spirit in Himself, but to Commemorate His Coming, or His External Mission.
And all this has been Wisely Ordained, lest from distinguishing the Persons, men should be led to distinguish the Divine Essence . . .
Appropriation of Divine Attributes
Theology is Clear in Affirming that all Exterior Acts of God, that is, all Acts of
God that affect Creatures, are Common to all Three (3)
Divine Persons Acting as a Single Principle.
As St Thomas explains, "to Produce any Effect in Creatures is Common to the Whole Trinity, by
Reason of the Oneness of their Nature; since where there is one Nature there must be one Power and one Operation"
Since this is so, how do we explain the fact that the Scriptures, and
Catholic Spirituality in general, speaks of the Father as
Creator, the Son as
Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier,
etc. as if certain Attributes of God are Proper-to One-or-Other of the
Divine Persons. This Manner of Speaking is known as Appropriation, and it is
Justifiable, for it helps us to Understand Better the Intimate Relations of the
Divine Persons within the Trinity. For example: the
FATHER is the Source-of-all, and Proceeds from no-one. For that Reason, Works of
Origin and Omnipotence (e.g. Creation) are Attributed to
Him. Attributed to Him also is the Wonderful
Providence with which God Cares-for all He
has Created. Even Our Blessed Lord spoke in this way: "Your Father knows
you need all these things" (Matthew 6:33). And since the SON
Proceeds from the Father by way of
Knowledge, Works of Wisdom are Attributed to
Him; while to the HOLY SPIRIT Who Proceeds
from the Father and Son by Way of
Love, are Attributed Works of Love and the Effects they bring. Yet all
Acts of God's Omnipotence, Wisdom and
Love - are Actions of the Trinity as a
Whole, and not of this or that individual Person.
Return of Prodigal Son -
by REMBRANDT -
from The Hermitage,
Journey to the Father
Our Holy Father said in his Letter preparing for the Millennium that "the
whole of the Christian Life is a Great Pilgrimage to the House of the Father" Whose Merciful Love
for every Human Creature is so beautifully-portrayed in the Parable of the "Prodigal Son". This Pilgrimage, he says,
takes place in the Heart of every individual Person. And that we might not Lose our Way on the
"Journey to the Father", we must not forget there can be only One Way to that Destination, for
Christ has said "I am the Way" (John 14:9).
"No one can come to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
This Journey to the Father, then, will require that we Strive to become more like
Christ Whose Life Reveals the Perfections of
the Father, Whose Teaching Reveals the
Wisdom and Plan of the
Father, and Whose Redeeming
Sacrifice Reveals the Merciful Love of the
Father. The more one advances in the Footsteps of Christ, the more his
Life Renders-to the Father the Glory that
is due Him.
But this Journey, the Holy Father explains, must involve a Conversion of Life, a
Liberation from Habits of Sin with the Cleansing
Help of the Sacrament of Penance, and the
Strengthening Help of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Since
God is TRUTH, that Journey necessitates an
Openness of Mind and Heart to the Teachings
of Christ handed-down by the Church; and
since God is LOVE, a special emphasis will
be placed on Returning God's Love through Works of Mercy.
"Give Glory to the Trinity from Whom everything in the World and in History comes and to Whom everything
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, n.55).
Prayers to the Divine Trinity
Thanks be Rendered to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all the
Graces with which I have been laden in the past.
Thanks be rendered to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for
the Graces with which I am laden now.
Thanks be Rendered to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
for the Graces with which the Supreme Goodness will Crown me in the future.
Omnipotence of the Father, help my Weakness and Save me from the
Depths of Misery.
Wisdom of the Son, direct all my Thoughts, Words, and Deeds.
Love of the Holy Spirit, be the Source of all the Activity of my Mind,
that it may be Conformed to the Divine Will.
Father, You sent Your Word to bring us Truth and Your Spirit to make us Holy.
Through them we come to know the Mystery of Your Life. Help us to Worship You, one God in Three Persons, by
Proclaiming and Living our Faith in You.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who
Lives and Reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.