What You Should Know about the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity

We are able to know certain eternal truths without the light of faith. According the Church for example, the greatest truth of all—God exists—is knowable from the light of human reason and the works of creation alone.

But there exist truths that we cannot discover until God reveals them to us. The doctrine of the Trinity is an example of such a Divinely Revealed truth.

This is one of the most fundamental beliefs of Catholics, yet we are not able to fully understand its meaning. Frank Sheed, one of the great Catholic apologists of the twentieth century, often spoke of the mysteries of our faith. He taught that the word mystery does not refer to a truth about which we cannot know anything; it refers to a truth about which we cannot know everything.

Let’s Not Be Afraid to Engage This Mystery

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is celebrated each year on the Sunday following Pentecost Sunday. It is “the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (CCC 234). We can never fully understand it, but let’s not be afraid to engage this mystery.

Believe me, it is worth knowing. Why else would God reveal it to us? So, let’s get to it and discover what it teaches us about God and what it means to our daily lives.

First, this mystery is important because God has called each of us into relationship with Him. He wants us to attain more than only knowledge about Him; He wants us to actually know Him, personally. A central element of knowing Him is to know who He is. The doctrine of the Trinity helps us know who God is.

So, those who wish to know God as He is and enter into an ever-deepening relationship with Him must spend time in prayer and also study what the Church teaches in order to embrace and receive this knowledge of His Triune nature.

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity Defined

Three great world religions profess belief that God is One: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Because of this, we refer to these religions as monotheistic.

In this sense, each of these three religions knows something supremely important about God – He is One. We must never lose sight of this truth. But…

Here is the first great truth of this mystery. Christians know and profess a deeper knowledge of God’s nature—what God is—that extends to His identity—who God is. This is the mystery of God’s inner life. This is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, who, according to Pope Benedict XVI “is not infinite solitude, but communion of light and love” (Angelus, June 11, 2006). Here, then, is what we can say about the Blessed Trinity:

  • God is one nature… that is, there is one God.
  • In God there are three distinct persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit; each is the one God, they are not three gods.
  • The three persons of God each possess the one nature of God in totality (God’s nature is indivisible).
  • The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
  • The Father is not the Son, nor the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father, nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father, nor the Son.

Our natural reason might cause us to stumble here. Our reason my mislead us.

  • One misleading example—if I look at myself, my mother and my father, I might see three members of the human species, that is, three humans. So when I consider the three persons of God, I might be misled by my reason to see three members of some divine species, that is, three gods.  But God is not a species. And He is not three gods.
  • Another misleading example—I am a father, I am a son and I am a husband, but this differs from the Trinity. The Trinity is three distinct persons, not three modes of seeing the one person.

The Trinity, as Pope Benedict taught in his Angelus address, is a communion of persons.

  • God, the Father, in His infinite knowledge, knows Himself perfectly. He is capable of thinking of Himself. And that divine knowledge is so life-giving that the Father’s thought generates the Person of the Son by that knowledge. Theologians call that person—that thought—the Word.
  • The infinite love of God is so life-giving that from the perfect, mutual love of the Father and the Son proceeds the Holy Spirit.

So, we begin to glimpse a truth that God is a communion of persons—a divine family. God’s knowledge and love has no beginning and no end, thus the three persons of God are co-eternal—each without beginning and without end.

The Image and Likeness of God

So now we come to a second important truth of this doctrine and it relates to us.

Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God.  Although in one sense we may lose the likeness of God by sin, in another sense we never forfeit the image. Thus, in learning about God and coming to better know who He is through the doctrine of the Trinity, we learn something about ourselves.

We were not made to be solitary beings; we were made to be in community. We were created to live and love as God does.

We all know that God is love. We’ve seen that God’s knowledge and expression of that love is the very inner life of the Holy Trinity. And that teaches us something very important about us—if we are to be true to whom we were made to be, we will live and love as God does and in doing so we will find joy and peace—indeed it is the only way.

God’s love is life-giving and boundless. We see that in today’s gospel, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This is the good news of Jesus Christ and the secret of life!  God not only thinks of Himself, He thinks of you. And that thought created you. You exist because God first thought of and formed an image of you. God loves you perfectly and that love sustains your being and now redeems you.

Through the Redemption, He invites each of us to share in His inner life and become members of His family. Can you imagine that! Take a moment and let the love of God soak down into your very soul.

The Family as an Image of the Trinity

Created in His image, God calls us to share in His life and work. The family—father, mother and children—is to be an image of the love shared in the Holy Trinity. In this way, the covenant of marriage is an image of New Covenant mediated by Jesus Christ, the Word, from the Cross. Through unconditional love and sacrifice, man and woman, in marriage, share in God’s work of creation and redemption.

A man loves his wife without condition and expectation. He gives everything to her, holding nothing back, willing to sacrifice even his life for her. A woman loves her husband without condition and expectation, holding nothing back, giving herself fully to her husband, willing even to die for him. This mutual love, sanctified by God, is so life-giving, that from that love pour forth children whose image was first formed in the mind of God… children made for heaven!

Into the Deep…

Editor’s Note: Mass readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (B) — Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalms 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, ; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20


Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.

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About the Author

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff Editor-In-Chief, ICL

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two married children and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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2 Comments

  1. My analogy on the Holy Trinity and Creation

    There is only One God and in this God there are Three Persons God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons make up the One God so we cannot say God exist with out one of these Persons.
    Look at the world it is made up of longitude, latitude, and altitude all three must be present for the world to exist.
    For time to exist, in order for us to measure time or to talk about time there has to be a past, present and a future.
    Look at matter it is made up of height, width and depth, all three must be present for matter to exist.
    Take the atom it is made up of neutron, proton and electron and all three must be present for the atom to exist.
    Also look at the elements, they can be in the form of gas, solid or liquid, such as water, it can be liquid, or steam, or ice. Take a piece of ice put in a pan and heat it. Now from that piece of same ice you will have a solid, liquid and gas, (steam).
    Next think about the sun it is a Ball of fire and from it comes light and heat, Imagine the sun being God, the Ball is God, the fire God the Father, the Light, God the Son and the heat God the Holy Spirit. A flame does the same thing; it is a flame of fire, which puts out light, and heat. Here again we can compare it with the Trinity, the Flame being God, the Fire being God the Father, the Light God the Son and the Heat God the Holy Spirit.
    One other important out look. The human family, in order for a complete family to exist there must be father, mother, and a child. A child cannot be made with out a father or mother and a father or mother cannot make a child by their self. Also for a woman to conceive, there has to be the woman, the man and God. For in the Old Testament God said I knew you before you were in your mother’s womb.

    God = Father, Son & Holy Spirit
    World = Longitude, Latitude & Altitude
    Time = Past, Present & Future
    Matter = Height, Width & Depth (Length)
    Atom = Neutron, Proton & Electron
    Element = Gas, Solid & Liquid
    Sun = Ball of fire, Light & Heat
    Person = Mind, Body & Soul
    Family = Father, Mother & Child
    Conception = Man, Women, & God

    Note this the only thing that you can help create, that will last forever is a soul. Although all things are possible with God, He use a man and a women in His creation of a soul.

    Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    Isaiah 49:1 Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.

    Isaiah 49:2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.

    Isaiah 49:3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

    Isaiah 49:4 But I said, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

    Isaiah 49:5 And now the LORD says– he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength—

    Isaiah 49:6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

    Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

    Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

    Luke 1:36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.

    Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

    Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

    Luke 1:39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,

    Luke 1:40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

    Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Luke 1:42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!

    Luke 1:43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

    Luke 1:44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
    Then what about each person, we are made up of mind, (intelligence), body, and soul. Here a gain there are three separate functions but one in the same. What effects one effects the other.
    And one last thing the church, the church is made up of the church militant, the church suffering, and the church triumphant. Here are three separate functions, but one and the same church. The church militant are us on earth fighting against evil, the church suffering are those souls in purgatory, and the church triumphant are those in Heaven.

    So it is with God from God comes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit..

    Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

    Note the us has to be the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, because only God can create.
    Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

    John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

    John 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

    John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

    John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

    Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”

    Note Jesus is called Immanuel (God with us) so since He is God with us, And there is only One God. He has to be one in the same God as the Father and the Holy Sprit.

    John 20:28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    Note Here a gain Jesus is called Lord and God, since there is only one God, There has to be a trinity and Jesus is the Son

    P.S.
    Also I would like to point out here the reason why the Roman Catholic church teaches against birth control and abortion. As it is seen from the scripture readings above, it is God who creates us and forms us in our mothers womb. So when we use birth control, etc. we are going against nature and God’s Will. We are preventing God from forming us in the womb. For if we let God’s Will be done, as asked in the Our Father prayer, would He not from a baby in the womb for the benefit of all creation, even if the woman is thought to be barren. If we really believe in God, that He created us. Why do we worry about world population, do we not trust that He will take care of us. Must we be in control or should we let God be in control. God does not go against our will. Don’t we trust God, were is our faith ! In Geneis 38:9-10 we see that God was so displeased with Onan for spilling his semen on the ground, that Onan was put to death. Here again the bible tells us not to use birth control.

    Genesis 38:9 But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother.

    Genesis 38:10 What he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also.

    Luke 12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples:”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.

    Luke 12:23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

    Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

    Luke 12:25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?

    Luke 12:26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

    Luke 12:27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

    Luke 12:28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

    Luke 12:29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.

    Luke 12:30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

    Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

    Matthew 10:30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

    Matthew 10:31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    These scriptures tells us that God will take care of us, if we only let Him!

    Remember: Thy Will be done!

    You may say who are you to tell me about scriptures, and I say I am nobody, I am less than nobody. I am a creature, created by God, who has not done the Lord’s Will in the past and who is now struggling to do His Will. The Lord has had and still has patient with me, as He has with everybody. I am one who likes to have control of myself and those around me. But I must let go, as we all must let go, to do God’s Will. And in this century of materialism it is hard to let go. We must be perfect, as the Father is perfect, for we are His creatures. He created us, we did not create ourselves. Please Pray for me.

    Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

    2 Corinthians 13:9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.

    Sirach 44:17 Noah was found perfect and righteous; in the time of wrath he kept the race alive; therefore a remnant was left on the earth when the flood came.

    Wisdom 9:6 for even one who is perfect among human beings will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you.

    One comforting thought before I close, God will devise plans for your good.

    II Samuel 14:14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence.

    P.S. 01-05-12 From a book I read “Proof of After Life The Conversation Continues”

    Page 117
    In the book of Genesis, God referred to himself as a plurality when he proclaimed, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image and likeness… (Genesis 1 :26) If he was only one person he would have said, “let me make man in my own image and likeness.” But he did not. He said, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness.
    We who are similar to God in our composition, are also made up of three parts; body, soul and spirit. There are three yous! That is why we have heard stories of certain saints who have experienced bilocation – being in two places at one time. Namely, in recent years, Padre Pio (+1968) had this gift.
    Look at it this way. When you get into a car and drive down a highway, your body is physically in the automobile and it’s operating the car skillfully – that is one part of you, your body at work. However, did you ever notice that while you are driving you can simultaneously speak with a passenger or take a phone can, safely we hope? That is your spirit at work, talking and recalling various memories and thoughts. Now, while you are having a conversation and driving. You also have the ability to experience emotions, regrets, joys and frustrations. That is your soul at work. The body and spirit sit inside of definition (words), while the soul sits outside of definition.

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