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Header-The Holy Trinity

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which states that God is One in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – is central to our Catholic faith. This awesome teaching is so far beyond human understanding that it could only be known through revelation.

Yet as lofty and mysterious as it is, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity does not contradict our reason, nor totally elude our grasp. The great St. Patrick, when evangelizing Ireland, made the mystery “palpable” by using the humble shamrock, with its three leaves on the one stem, as an example.

Thus God is a pure, eternal, omnipotent and omnipresent spirit with one nature and one substance, but three distinct persons, the second of which, the Son, became man to redeem mankind from the original stain of Adam and Eve.

 

Pray: Novena to the Holy Trinity

 

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Scriptural Examples

Image 1 - The Holy TrinityWhilst the triune nature of God was known in the Old Testament, the clarity with which the mystery of the Holy Trinity is revealed in the New Testament is truly remarkable.

In St. Luke’s Gospel (1:35), the Archangel Gabriel says to the Virgin Mary: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, it is the Father Himself Who gives witness to the Son: “And lo, the heavens were opened…And behold a voice from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:16.

And while Jesus often speaks of His Father to His Apostles, He also distinctly mentions the Spirit to them in such passages as John 15: 26: “But when the Paraclete comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.”

Later, as Our Lord commands His disciples to spread the Gospel throughout the world, the triune nature of God shines forth in full splendor in the baptismal formula He entrusts to them: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Matt. 28:19. Notice one name but three persons.

Even Satan, while tempting Him in the desert, endeavored to pry from Jesus His true identity: Was He the Son of God? Matt.4:3, 6.

 

The Trinity Attacked, and Defined, through the Centuries

Image 2 - The Holy TrinityThroughout the history of the Church, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity has been challenged by multiple heresies. Thus, as early as 259 AD, Pope Saint Dionysius was already defending the Trinitarian doctrine against the heretical errors of Sabellius who held that God had three “faces” or “masks” rather than being three distinct persons within the Godhead.

One of the most extensive declarations of the Church on the Blessed Trinity dates from 675 AD and was issued in Toledo, Spain, at that time in the throes of an Islamic invasion, whose Koranic claim branded Christians as idolaters because they adored Jesus Christ as God.

In 1213, in face of the Albigensian heresy which believed in a good and an evil source to creation, the Fourth Lateran Council defined: “We firmly believe and profess without qualification that there is only one true God, eternal, immense, unchangeable, incomprehensible, omnipotent, and indescribable, the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit: three persons but one essence, and a substance or nature that is wholly simple.”

Thus has the Church defended, and defined, the Trinitarian Dogma down through the centuries and into modern times.

 

Our God, not Distant, but a Friend

And so, through divine revelation and the definitions of the Church’s Magisterium based upon this same Revelation, we can know who our God is: one in substance, three in personhood, eternal, creator of all things visible and invisible, all powerful, everywhere present.

But such an awesome Creator is not distant from His creation. Our God is Love, and Love, by its very nature, is communicative. A marvelous aspect of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which has inspired and drawn the saints through the ages, is what is called the “indwelling of the Trinity”.

Image 3 - The Holy TrinityThis doctrine teaches that not only is God present everywhere in a general way, but with those who keep His commandments, and live in His grace, He establishes an intimate relationship.

Our Lord Jesus pointed to this “indwelling” at the Last Supper when He said: “I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth whom the world can never receive because it neither sees him nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.”

And just so we don’t think the Spirit alone dwells in us, Jesus clarified: “If any one loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” John 14: 16, 23. So, not only the Holy Spirit, but the Father and the Son dwell in a soul keeping “His word”.

The indwelling of the Holy Trinity begins at Baptism and continues so long as that soul remains in God’s friendship and grace. Serious sin “expels” this presence, but can be regained with repentance, and a sincere sacramental confession.

Just as with any other relationship, we can grow in friendship with our three divine guests by prayer and the practice of the Christian virtues. The saints took this friendship all the way to deep union, a state that gave them uncommon love, joy, trust and fearlessness in all they did, even the gift of miracles. This divine friendship is offered to each and every one of us.

Indeed, the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity is central to our faith, and our awesome patrimony.

 


 By A.F. Phillips

 

 Pray: Novena to the Holy Trinity

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 24, 2021

It is easy to infuse a most fervent devotion into others, ev...

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July 24

 

It is easy to infuse
a most fervent devotion into others, even in a short time;
but the great matter is
– to persevere.

St. Philip Neri


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Charbel Makhlouf

Multiple times, he successfully lit an oil lamp which was fi...

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St. Charbel Makhlouf

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in the village of Bekka Kafra in Lebanon on May 8, 1828 and was one of five children born to Antoun Zarrour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac. His father was a mule driver who died when Youssef was only three years old, leaving his widow to bring up their children alone.

Although Brigitta was left nearly destitute, she reserved a profoundly religious atmosphere in their home and instilled in her children a deep spirit of piety. Because of this fidelity, Youssef became unusually devoted and inclined to prayer and solitude at a very young age. He was greatly attracted to the life and spirituality of hermits; and as a young boy tending his family’s small flock, he would often go to a nearby grotto where he had erected a little shrine to the Holy Mother of God and would spend his whole day there in prayer.

When he was twenty-three years old, Youssef, feeling the call to the religious life, left his home and family to join the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Marfouq. Here he began his formation as a monk before later being transferred to the Monastery of St. Maron near Beirut. There he received the religious habit of the Maronite monk and took the name Charbel. He made his final profession as a religious brother on November 1, 1853 – he was twenty-five years old.

Brother Charbel immediately began his studies for the priesthood under the instruction of Father Nimattullah Kassab, who was also later declared a saint by the Church. Charbel was ordained on July 23, 1859, following which he returned to the Monastery of St. Maron where he lived a life of great austerity. In 1875, he was granted permission by his superiors to live a solitary life in the Hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul, which was under the jurisdiction of the monastery; and there he resided for the remaining twenty-three years of his life until his death on Christmas Eve, 1898.

St. Charbel is renowned for his many miracles both during his life and after his death. His most famous miracle – which was also his first – occurred when, multiple times, he successfully lit an oil lamp which was filled with water. He is also credited with many healing miracles.

After his death, he was interned at the Monastery of St. Maron, now a famous pilgrimage site. His tomb was often witnessed surrounded by a dazzling light, and to this day his remains are incorrupt and an unexplainable blood-like fluid flows from his body. He was canonized on December 9, 1977, by Pope Paul VI, who held him up as an example to help us understand “in a world, largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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