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  #1  
Old Aug 11, '10, 12:25 pm
truoc truoc is offline
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Default Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

My young daughter asked me "what is the Holy Spirit?" So I tried to explain the Holy Trinity and I really couldn't find the words to answer her in a way she could understand. Honestly, sometimes I don't "understand" and just accept it at face value. I ended up using my mother as a parable of sorts (explaining how she was a teacher, mother, and grandmother and how she had different names in each role, but she was still the same person). I wonder if this was the correct way to explain things though.

How do you explain the Holy Trinity to a child? Any suggestions?
  #2  
Old Aug 11, '10, 12:59 pm
Della Della is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

I've heard of a few ways to describe the Trinity so a child can grasp the basic idea that God is three persons with one nature.

1. Water, ice, steam. All three are the same substance, but function differently from each other. Water is fluid while ice is hard and steam is a vapor, but they're all the same thing.

2. An egg: It has a shell, a yolk, and the white, but all three produce the same thing--a chicken. The shell protects the growing embryo, the yolk feeds the developing bird, and the white is what the chick is formed from.

3. The 3 leaf clover that St. Patrick used works, too. All 3 leafs come from the same stem are are the same plant, etc.

The grandmother, mother, daughter description is good, too. You can describe what each Person of the Trinity does and how each Person of the Trinity must be united to the other in order to be those things for us. I like to say that God is Love personified so that the Father loved his Son and the Love of the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, but these last two explanations might be better for an older child or teen.
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  #3  
Old Aug 11, '10, 1:50 pm
Eric Hyom Eric Hyom is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Hello truoc;

I think this might be understandable to children

I believe relationships are at the heart of the Trinity, and I wonder if the spirit, and the ĎTrinityí can be summed up through the greatest commandments.

Jesus loves God the Father with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Jesus loves each and every one of us as he loves himself.

God the Father loves God the Son with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
The Father loves each and every one of us as he loves himself.

Could the spirit be the power of Godís love; working through the perfection of the greatest commandments?

When Jesus spent his time on Earth, he would have lived by the greatest commandments, could these same commandments possibly describe Godís love for us?

Is it possible that Godís purpose for each and every one of us is, to have this Trinitarian relationship with each other?

And just a short passage that links the Spirit and the second greatest commandment.
1 Samuel 18

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. 3And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
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  #4  
Old Aug 11, '10, 2:32 pm
CoffeeHound CoffeeHound is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Hyom View Post
Hello truoc;...
That just confused me. It's hard to keep track of who loves who and children will probably have difficulty with the personification of an intangible object such as love.

I like Della's first description. For very young children, you can even "experiment" with water, ice, and steam and how each are basically the same thing but do different things.
  #5  
Old Aug 11, '10, 3:01 pm
azerty azerty is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

An (equilateral) triangle with all three sides of equal length ; all three are dependant from each other and all three form the Triangle.

Or a circle : the center , the radius, the circumference , all three form a circle. The Holy Spirit (circumference) introduces you into the divine life , the Trinity ; and the Son (the radius) leads you to the Father (the center). This analogy is from Nicolas of Cusa.
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Old Aug 11, '10, 3:11 pm
LucyLou LucyLou is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

In the movie the Reluctant Saint, St. Guiseppe of Cupertino explained the Trinity to the Bishop as a blanket with 2 folds and 3 parts (fold a blanket into thirds).
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Old Aug 11, '10, 9:55 pm
Eric Hyom Eric Hyom is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Hello CoffeeHound;

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoffeeHound View Post
That just confused me. It's hard to keep track of who loves who and children will probably have difficulty with the personification of an intangible object such as love.

I like Della's first description. For very young children, you can even "experiment" with water, ice, and steam and how each are basically the same thing but do different things.

I confuse myself with the Trinity, but somehow I believe all the law, the prophets and the Trinity, hang and depend on the greatest commandments.

The daughter, and mother analogy might help to explain; that Jesus can be both man and God.

When Jesus spent his time on Earth as a man, he would have obeyed the greatest commandments

Jesus loves God the Father, with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
Jesus loves each and everyone of his neighbours, as he loves himself.

If Jesus obeyed these commandments perfectly, then we should all strive to do the same. When Jesus ascended to heaven, and becomes God the Son, does he still love each and everyone of us as he loves himself?

The daughter, mother and grandmother analogy might be a starting point, but the three are the same person. It then becomes slightly confusing talking about the relationships, these same three people have with each other. I feel it is more important for children to understand the greatest commandments; and the relations that we should strive for.

Every blessing

Eric
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  #8  
Old Aug 12, '10, 5:56 pm
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baltobetsy baltobetsy is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Remember that children have not lost the use of their imagaination as many adults have. Some of these concepts will be easier for them to accept because of this. Even Jesus reminded us to become as little children.

So you could say that the Father is always being the Father of Jesus the Son and loving Jesus with all His might. Jesus the Son is always being the Son of the Father and loving the Father with all His might. Since God is so perfect and powerful, the love that happens when the Father and the Son love each other with all their might is so strong that it is a Person in itself - the Holy Spirit.

For your own clarity, google up the Athanasian Creed and look over the part about the Trinity. "The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. The Father is not the Son... etc."

Betsy
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Old Aug 12, '10, 10:38 pm
Eric Hyom Eric Hyom is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Hello Betsy,

I think you have summed up the greatest commandments and the 'Trinity' very well.

Every blessing

Eric
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  #10  
Old Aug 14, '10, 10:44 am
EasterJoy EasterJoy is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

I think one thing to point out to the child is not to restrict the nature of God to fit the nature of other things we know of, particularly not to imagine that God's nature in being persons is like our fallen human nature as persons. We have to start by realizing that sin makes us blind to what is possible in the realm of love.

To be three distinct Persons and yet to be so totally united as one so as to make one being that cannot be divided is beyond our comprehension. This is partly because we carry the stain of original sin. Even as babies, we think in terms of "me first" and "I want to control things" and "the world is about me" and then as we grow, "you out there may or may not be connected to me". This blinds us to how it is possible to be totally united and yet totally distinct....because we don't think that way. Our outlook has that warp to it. We can't love like that, at least not yet. It is God's intention to teach us to, though.

God made us to be a reflection of the unity and individuality that is in the Trinity....that is, each person his own person, yet everyone totally united in love for each other. Part of the point of the Redemption is to make it possible for us to return to that kind of love and unity. We are a long ways from it, though, so even imagining what God is like is hard for us. The more we learn to love, though, the more we will understand what God is like. That is really the only way to understand God, is to learn to love.

Point out to the child that we say, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"...and NOT "In the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." That is because God only has one name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We refer to the Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--as "He", not as "They", because the three Persons are so perfectly united. It is a mystery to us, one that we can only understand by learning what love is all about. Until then, we accept it in our head, like the map of a country we have not been in. We don't really know it until we walk it. Only then will it begin to "make sense".

That kind of love is not just what God chooses, though. That kind of love is what God is. It shows in everything God does. But again, to have the unlimited ability to choose that God has and also to be the love that God is, this is beyond us to understand. Wonderful, but too much for us, like really understanding how far away a star is. It is a big wonderful universe, and God is bigger than all of it, and God is love. Sometimes, the only thing our brains can do with that is to say: Wow. Praise be to God! Alleluia!

Most of what surrounds a child is too big for her to understand. She hasn't gotten this idea that she ought to be able to comprehend everything. That might make this far easier for her than for you. Resist the temptation to imply that her way of looking at things isn't more reasonable than ours is! You may even warn her that part of her spiritual journey is going to be to remember what is obvious to her now, because growing up and learning to understand so many things can make it murky!

I hope that helps.
  #11  
Old Aug 14, '10, 3:22 pm
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monicatholic monicatholic is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

here's how i teach it to 6 year olds, 16 year olds and adults:

the blessed trinity is the central mystery of our faith.
central means it is the heart of everything we belive.

mystery meands there is MUCH we can know about this but not everything. and there is MUCH we can undeerstand about this but not all-- and not ever. it is only completely knowable and understandable to the mind of God.

but because God HAS revealed this, we believe it.
here's how it goes. there is ONE God in three divine persons-- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. they each completely share the essense ogf God, but they are three persons of one essence. three PERSONS, means they each have a relationship with each other-- a perfect relationship of eternal love. and one essence-- which is God. if it coyld be divided or reduced, it would not be God. but the essence is complete in each person, shared completely by each divine person.

when you were baptized, you were baptized into the mystertious life of the Blessed Trinity== the mysterious life of God.

the illustration below is o so cool. that's how i teach it.

*****************************

here's why the egg, grandmother and steam analogies dont work. st patricks is lacking too-- and it MUST be lacking if it is truly mystery-- no one can explain it filly.

but the egg analogy fails in this: the shell, youlk and white are all parts of the egg. each is not complete egg. but Father, son and spirit are each completely God.

the steam doesnt work, because the Father doesnt morph intot he Son or the Spirit. they are separate persons.

the mother-daughter - grandmother analogy probably fails most of all-- because as moither, wife and daughter, i am three ROLES, but one person. if mother me spoke to wife me and loved daughter me as a seperate entity, it would be a sign of mental illness.

one of the most astonishing clues about the TRI-UNITY of the trinity is found in gospel matthew 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"

Jesus told them to baptize in ther NAME of, though he named THREE.

until the Holy Spirit descended on pentecost, the apostles didnt know how that single NAME could be the NAME of three.

best treatment: Frank Sheed's Beginning Theology. excellent read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  #12  
Old Aug 14, '10, 3:32 pm
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monicatholic monicatholic is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

also, for adults, we have the discussion: is this OPPOSED to reason?

no. it is beyond human reason, requiring an act of faith.

folks are insulted and very challenged by anything beyond our reason. we rational folk think all things should somehow become knowable to us.
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Old Aug 14, '10, 3:45 pm
nahbios nahbios is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Perhaps I'm a bit biased - I am Irish, after all - but I second Della with regard to the shamrock as an aid! Three leaves, yet one plant; three Persons, yet one God. I find this a simple yet powerful help. If I ever doubt the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, I think of the shamrock and the doubts are dispelled. Of course, more powerful still is the Word of Christ. I really like that point about the Name, and not the Names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Also, kudos to monicatholic for that diagram - I was thinking of that as well!

God bless and very best wishes with passing on the faith to your daughter!
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Old Aug 16, '10, 8:52 am
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joandarc2008 joandarc2008 is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

I just tell children it is that little voice that says don't take the cookie out of the cookie jar when there is no one else in the room. I figure as a child that is what they can understand. As they get older they will be able to understandmore.
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Old Aug 16, '10, 12:58 pm
Seminarian Matt Seminarian Matt is offline
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Default Re: Explaining the Holy Trinity to a Child

Quote:
Originally Posted by truoc View Post
My young daughter asked me "what is the Holy Spirit?" So I tried to explain the Holy Trinity and I really couldn't find the words to answer her in a way she could understand. Honestly, sometimes I don't "understand" and just accept it at face value. I ended up using my mother as a parable of sorts (explaining how she was a teacher, mother, and grandmother and how she had different names in each role, but she was still the same person). I wonder if this was the correct way to explain things though.

How do you explain the Holy Trinity to a child? Any suggestions?
Have you tried the St. Patrick approach to comparing the Trinity to a three-leaf clover? Just throwing the suggestion out there, but some material on this site might help you: http://catechismclass.com/search/les...search+lessons

Peace!
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