The Divine Trinity in Our Daily Life

trinity_glory_titian.jpg (571406 bytes)
The Trinity in Glory - by Titian - from Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

 

Supernatural Order
( If you are in the State of Sanctifying Grace,
the Holy Trinity dwells 'in-you'
in a very Special and Personal way.
)

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Natural
Order

Supernatural
Order

Natural
Body
(Subordinate-Partner)

Natural
Soul
(Dominant Partner)

Supernatural Grace/Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Trinity

The Supernatural Order is the Ensemble of Effects exceeding the Powers of the Created Universe, and Gratuitously produced directly by God for the purpose of Raising the Rational Creature above its Natural Sphere to a God-like Life and Destiny.

 

 

The Divine Trinity in Our Daily Life

by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)

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 points out:

"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

God the Father possesses Two (2) Internal Divine Processions

God the Father

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes) Generates
(Begotten, not Made, not Created)

The Son of God,
Second Person of the Holy Trinity

God the Father
& God the Son
(As One Principle)

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes) Spirate
(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.

god_father_guercino.jpg (140080 bytes) 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

God the Father possesses Two (2) Internal Divine Activities or Processions

1. Knowing Act of Intellect

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes) Generates
(not made, not created)

The Son of God,
Second Person of the Holy Trinity

2. Willing Act of Will
Act of Love

arrow002.gif (3348 bytes) Spirates
(not made, not created,
not
generated)

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 Holy Spirit.

 

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.

In God there are Three (3) distinct Persons:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Father
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Son
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Holy Spirit

Each Person has the One (1) same Divine:

yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Substance
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Nature *
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Essence
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Being
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Power *
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Intellect
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Knowledge
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Love *
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Will
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Mind
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Godhead
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Divinity
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Consciousness
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Wisdom *
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Holiness
yellowdot.gif (100 bytes) Majesty
  *

 

trinity_ani.gif (6574 bytes) 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 Father’s Commandments, and Abide in His Love" (John 15:10). "Not My Will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

god_is_luv_ani.gif (9754 bytes) 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 Holy Spirit.

 

God's Inner Life - Mirrored in Us

trinity2_ani.gif (24130 bytes) 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 . . . " (n.3).

 

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" (III, 23,3).

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.

 

 

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Return of Prodigal Son -
by REMBRANDT -
from The Hermitage,
Saint Petersburg
 

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.

 

trinity_ani.gif (6574 bytes) "Give Glory to the Trinity from Whom everything in the World and in History comes and to Whom everything Returns" ( Tertio Millennio Adveniente, n.55).

 

Prayers to the Divine Trinity

 

vela-c2.gif (2466 bytes) 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.

Amen

 

vela-c2.gif (2466 bytes) 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.

Amen

 

vela-c2.gif (2466 bytes) 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.

Amen