1=3=1

So many of the things we believe are either difficult or impossible to explain. A good number can’t even be satisfactorily understood for one’s self. Perhaps chief among the things we call “mysteries” — or at least on the short list of greatest mysteries of the faith — is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the triune Godhead.

While truly understanding the nature of the one God in three Persons is impossible for us, striving to come to grips with the nature of God and his, if not identity, personality is highly edifying, even useful along the journey of faith. There is no shortage of writing to eclipse my own in both reason and beauty on the topic of the Blessed Trinity, its mystery, and efforts in communicating its truth.

Over the course of my study and discipleship, I have settled on some more concise, if less precise, working understandings of a number of these mysteries based on some of the more definitive works by Saints greater than I am capable of becoming. With the understanding that describing God is entirely dependent on allegory, I offer my more folksy allegory of the allegories most employed in unpacking the mystery of the Trinity.

Please understand it took me a long time to come to this, very much imperfect, though it may be. Feel free to reread, bits, pieces, all, or refer to St. Thomas Aquinas (if you dare).

First, the Father — and the Father is always first.

God is usually defined by his own terms, namely those given to Moses in Exodus. Most often rendered, “I AM”, or “I AM who am”, or “I AM who I am”. In philosophy this is puzzled out as, “The sheer act of ‘to be’ itself,” according to Bishop Robert Barron in a number of places. Far from some magical being existing as surpassing all other beings, God is defined by existence, period. The person of God the Father is principally, by his nature, BEING itself. Therefore all we recognize as true, existent, or occurrent is predicated on God, on BE-ing.

Divinity is also intelligent — that is, basically, capable of thought, of reason, and of understanding. In fact, no thought, reason or understanding could BE apart from God. In other words, all knowledge is known to God because, in a metaphysical sense, knowledge exists.

Here we must discount some terminology, because other mysteries will intersect and get us off course: Any reference to sequence or order of operations is based on time, which is wholly a human institution. So, as I proceed, pardon those terms, as they are not completely accurate, but without trying to describe eternity, we could say no more.

The first thought, the first “WORD” (now I’ve given away where I’m going) of existence would necessarily be perfect and total. That perfect and total thought is God the Son, Jesus. The Son, the WORD, Jesus is the perfect (including divinity) self-knowledge of He Who IS, who in time takes on flesh through the Blessed Virgin Mary, therefore is both perfect God and perfect man.

Moving quickly on, He Who IS recognizes in that First Thought (WORD) the complete, comprehensive, total and perfect goodness of his own BE-ing, as in a mirror, perhaps. Now, where the human reaction would likely be jealousy or rivalry, the divine response to perfect being is love (maybe “appreciation” or “recognition” at their most profound). And that love itself is so comprehensive, so full and so “intense” (as we might better understand it), that it is itself the expression of divinity, of Godliness or of BEING. This LOVE is the Holy Spirit, the third person, the triune Godhead. In this way, when we say, “God is love,” we acknowledge the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

BEING, WORD and LOVE are sufficient amongst themselves, a complete, divine love triangle, if you will. The lover IS, has its BELOVED, and their LOVE satisfies any sense of need. “Love is all you need,” if you will, but in divine terms.

Now, I don’t claim that this sequence fully explains or settles the mystery of the one God who is three persons, yet one God (1 = 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 = 1). But it is the understanding that got me to a place where I can converse with God, in his triunity, referring to Father, Son or Holy Spirit personally, and knowing to “whom” I am praying. This step alone brought my own discipleship to a much more “real” and “alive” place in my life.

Hopefully, some of this is helpful for you, and can bring some level of understanding to your relationship with God.

David Dunst

Music Director

 

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