Trinity Sunday

by Very Rev. Chrysostom Baer, O.Praem.


The mystery of the most holy Trinity is the most sublime dogma of our faith.  We affirm without hesitation that there is one and only one God.  And without the slightest shadow of contradiction, we likewise affirm that there are three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Each of these Persons is entirely God.  There is no divine attribute—goodness, wisdom, power, eternity, providence, and the like—nothing they do not each possess totally and equally.  None of the Persons is more or less than another, none subordinate or superior.  The only distinction between them is their relations to each other.  The Father is the origin without origin.  From Him the Son is begotten.  From them both the Holy Spirit proceeds.  Yet this distinction implies nothing about cause and effect.  The Father does not cause the Son or Holy Spirit, nor are They His effects.  They simply come from Him without ever being separated from Him.  These processions are eternal and ineffable.

Do not be confused into thinking I have just explained the mystery.  We put into words what we know to be true, but that does not mean we now comprehend it.  So why do we believe it?  Because God Himself, Who surely knows what He is talking about, revealed it to us.  There are many mysteries He has revealed, both natural and supernatural.  The natural we might possibly have figured out but more likely not, so He took pity on our stupidity and enlightened us.  Such would be the moral lessons given us in the books of Solomon in Sacred Scripture.  Supernatural mysteries include the various events in the life of our blessed Lord.  Aspects of these events were evident to the senses, and other aspects were completely hidden, for Christ is true God and true man.  What He does as man we see; what He does as God we have to believe.  And at the apex of it all is, as we have said, the Blessed Trinity.  Here everything is entirely opaque and veiled from our minds, did He not condescend to tell us.  The inner life of God is absolutely impenetrable.  Human reason might touch upon how fitting it would be if God were three Persons, but it could never, in all its wildest imagination, prove logically that it is so.

Here we are confronted with the excellence and challenge of our Catholic faith.  There are creedal systems that claim revelation only of the most accessible, natural, even base, doctrines, thereby showing their god is really no better than man, and often enough man not at his best.  Such teachings they claim to believe, but only because their minds can ascertain and see the truth of the matter, or more likely, because their passions want them to be true, or because they have been tricked by demons.  Such are those religions whose foundations are, for example, polygamy and military conquest, or polytheism and human sacrifice, or indifferentism both moral and doctrinal.  The real measure of faith becomes man himself: his desires, his preconceived notions, his fears, his pride.

The supernatural mysteries of Christ and His Mother, on the other hand, humble the proud human mind and inspire in it awe and reverence.  Their very nobility proves their divine origin.  The best the human mind can do is argue that these mysteries are not impossible, and that’s it.  And standing above them all, from the lofty heights of heaven unseen, again is the mystery of the Trinity.  If we claim to believe this and all the Christian mysteries, it simply cannot be because we grasp it.  We believe for this reason alone: God has revealed it.  Faith then becomes a statement of accepting God’s authority.

And if revelation by Him Who can neither deceive nor be deceived is the basis of our faith, we must logically accept our Catholic faith whole and entire or not at all.  The moment we reserve credence about one point because we don’t agree or don’t understand, at that very moment we make ourselves the more sure source of truth than God.  We make ourselves God.  If we reject His authority in revealing, everything revealed becomes suspect.

And so the lofty doctrine we celebrate today is the warm invitation for us to trust in a God Who at every step along the way has more than earned our trust.  If God became man to save us from our sins; if He created the universe out of nothing and constantly sustains it in being; if He removes the substance of bread and wine and in their place makes present the Body and Blood of His Son—why should we not believe His inner personal life is more amazing than we could ever comprehend, even when we see it face to face?  And so when He says that He wants our joy to be complete, that He will come for us and take us to Himself, that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, that those who persevere to the end will be saved, and that all things work unto good for those who love Him, may we remember this dogma of the Holy Trinity and our faith therein.  For if we grant that He knows what He’s talking about on this score, then we must also believe that His loving providence will indeed guide us through this valley of tears to the happiness of everlasting life.

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