Sunday, May 26, 2013

Holy Trinity: Central Mystery of Faith

Holy Trinity, Hendrick van Balen
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. It seems fitting that this celebration should follow immediately after the Church's celebration of Pentecost.

Central Mystery
Belief in the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of our Catholic faith (CCC, 261). This is reflected in the sacramental form of Baptism: "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (CCC, 232) One should note that the formula uses the singular of "name" to accentuate the belief that the Trinity is one God (CCC, 233). This is revealed as early as the creation story in Genesis (1:26): Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” [Emphasis added.]

The Baptism of Jesus
The Blessed Trinity is most explicitly revealed in scripture during the Baptism of Jesus:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:13-17).
St. Augustine & the Trinity
There is a pious legend that holds that St. Augustine was walking on the beach near Hippo, where he was bishop, contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. As he walked, he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water in a bucket to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” St. Augustine replied, “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made.” The boy answered back, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” Reflecting on this story, Archbishop Chaput concluded the following:
Augustine didn't stop thinking about the Trinity. In fact, he gave the Church her single most important Christian reflection on the Trinity, called De Trinitate, which is as profound and powerful today as it was 1,600 years ago.  But Augustine did learn to be humble. He learned that no matter how hard he thought about mysteries like the Trinity, he would never fully understand them. The same is true for us. We'll always need faith to guide us in our lives. In all our searching for God, we need to remember what Pope John Paul the Great taught us: Our minds need to fly on two wings — faith and reason. We need both. They're meant to go together.  
Creedal Claim
If we reflect closely as we pray the Nicene Creed during Mass or the Apostle's Creed when we pray the Rosary, we will more fully discover their Trinitarian character. When he proclaimed this a Year of Faith, Pope Benedict recommended we PRAY the Creed daily.

Marian Dimension
Our Blessed Mother Mary has the distinction of having a unique relationship with the Holy Trinity. She is the the Mother of God, the Son. She is the favored daughter of the Father who is full of His grace (Luke 1:28). Finally, she is the "temple of the Holy Spirit" (Lumen Gentium, 53).

Signs and Prayers
When we make the Sign of the Cross we are invoking the Holy Trinity. When we pray the Glory Be we are professing our faith and praising the Holy Trinity.