PS: Trinity Sunday

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Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.

Bl. Pope John Paul II

So, in beholding the glory of the Trinity in creation, man must contemplate, sing and rediscover wonder. In contemporary society people become indifferent “not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder” (G. K. Chesterton). For the believer, to contemplate creation is also to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice, as the “Psalm of the sun” suggests: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, OP, Commentary on the Gospel of John

Now we see the reason why the Holy Spirit will glorify Christ: it is because the Son is the principle of the Holy Spirit. For everything which is from another manifests that from which it is. Thus the Son manifests the Father because he is from the Father. And so because the Holy Spirit is from the Son, it is appropriate that the Spirit glorify the Son. He says, he will glorify me, for he will receive from me. However, the Holy Spirit does not receive in the same way creatures do.

When creatures receive, three things are found, and two of these are not found in the divinity. In creatures, that which receives is one thing, and what is received is something else. This is not so in the divinity, since the divine persons are simple, and not composed of several elements. Indeed, the Holy Spirit receives his entire substance from whomever this Spirit receives, and so does the Son. Another difference is that among creatures the one who receives did not have at one time what he receives, as when matter receives a form, or a subject receives an accident: for at some time the matter was without such a form, and the subject without that accident. This is not so in the divinity, because what the Son receives from the Father the Son has from eternity, and what the Holy Spirit receives from the Father and the Son, the Spirit has from eternity. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit receives from the Son like the Son receives from the Father: “What my Father has given to me is greater than all”. Thus, when the expression “to receive” is used of the divinity, it indicates an order in origin.

St. Augustine, On the Trinity

All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized; nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when “there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,” the same Trinity “sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire,” but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, “Thou art my Son,” whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount, or when the voice sounded, saying, “I have both glorified it,and will glorify it again;” but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly. This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith.

St. Hillary, On the Trinity

O LOrd Almight God . . . [w]e look to You to give us the fellowship of that Spirit Who guided the Prophets and the Apostles, that we may take their words in the sense in which they spoke and assign its right shade of meaning to every utterance. For we shall speak of things which they preached in a mystery; of You, O God Eternal, Father of the Eternal and Only-begotten God, Who alone art without birth, and of the One Lord Jesus Christ, born of You from everlasting. We may not sever Him from You, or make Him one of a plurality of Gods, on any plea of difference of nature. We may not say that He is not begotten of You, because You are One. We must not fail to confess Him as true God, seeing that He is born of You, true God, His Father. Grant us, therefore, precision of language, soundness of argument, grace of style, loyalty to truth. Enable us to utter the things that we believe, that so we may confess, as Prophets and Apostles have taught us, You, One God our Father, and One Lord Jesus Christ, and put to silence the gainsaying of heretics, proclaiming You as God, yet not solitary, and Him as God, in no unreal sense.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

243. Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of “another Paraclete” (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously “spoken through the prophets”, the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them “into all the truth”. The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.

253 The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”. The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God.” In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature.”

254 The divine persons are really distinct from one another. “God is one but not solitary.” “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: “He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son.” They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.” The divine Unity is Triune.

255 The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance.” Indeed “everything (in them) is one where there is no opposition of relationship.” “Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.”

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P.