In nomine Jesu I offer you peace,
The mysteries of Faith are revealed as truths, but the purpose of their revelation is life. They are received by the intelligence, but they perfect their work in the will. They enlighten the mind, but they inflame the heart. Nothing has been told us by god as a mere matter for remembrance, but it is committed to us to become a means to achieve the higher life. Even the doctrine of the Trinity comes as an aid in the struggle of my soul to its perfect development, not as a mere puzzle that I have with difficulty to remember in some examination by God or man.
Let me, then, consider the meaning of this mystery as far as the halting and inadequate language of human thought allows me to do so. All the while I must be conscious that I am using human expressions and therefore merely endeavoring to state infinite things in finite categories, to pack divinity into human pigeon-holes. But there can be no harm in my making use of such a method (namely, the attempt to grasp the meaning of mysteries), so long as I realize that any such attempt must be frankly inadequate. The use of this must be fairly admitted, since it is something (for which I should be eternally grateful) to have even an incomplete view of God, so long as it is the best view that at the moment is possible to me. The Church has never suggested that, with the advance of time, she does not obtain a clearer comprehension of the truths of Faith; indeed, she has frequently proclaimed by repeated decisions and definitions the gradual unfolding of her sacred deposit.
The Blessed Trinity is, then, the name we give to that mystery of the divine Persons, who are there yet one, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, constituting in Themselves one single God. Of these, the Father represents power, for I begin my Creed by professing belief in “God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.” To God in the person of the Father, therefore, I attribute omnipotence.
Of the Son, I learn that He is the Word (the Logos as the Greek of the Gospel terms it, making use of the very phrase current among the philosophers of the time) or the Father, that He is the figure of the Father’s substance, the brightness of the Father’s glory. By all of this, I see that the Son is represented as the reflected image of the Father, the idea that the Father has of Himself, the knowledge of Himself in the mind of the Father, the exact reproduction of Himself begotten of His own intelligence. To the Son, therefore, I attribute wisdom.
Now, God knowing Himself must love Himself. His perfections are so lovable that once (if these expressions of time may be used of that which is outside all time) God is known even to Himself, He must be loved. Hence, the love of the saints toward Him is not free, but follows necessarily from the sight of Him. Hence, also, God’s knowledge of Himself must be followed by a second or final act, His love. That love, then, which proceeds from the Father and the Son (for in love, there are always two) is the Holy Spirit. It must not be forgotten that we are trying to put into human language what is above language, but we can in this way obtain some glimpse of the truth.
By my belief in the Holy Trinity, then, I acknowledge, in one single God, Power, Wisdom, and Love, and I repeat that these three are one. Therefore are these three inseparable. I cannot suppose that one can operate without the other two, since it is part of my belief that they constitute a Trinity.
Now surely I do see what an immense effect such a doctrine must have upon life. It is no mere question for theologians, but one that concerns every living soul. Whatever is allowed by God’s power must be guided by His wisdom and urged on by His love.
All that happens to me in life, that little worries and the great anxieties, the crises and the daily annoyances, the sorrows and the joys, the harms that reach me through the sins of others, the great crimes of history, the huge and devastating wars, the partings and loves and the whole cycle of human experience are permitted by Power, which is itself wise and loving. These three Persons determine my life, and, since I walk by faith, I must surely grow very patient in my attitude toward life. For how can I complain or criticize God’s Providence, since it all comes under that triple influence of Power, Wisdom, and Love?
Under the guidance, then, of this mystery, I can walk through the valley of death or the more perilous borders of sin without loss of courage or hopefulness. Nothing can make me afraid. How these are separate, yet one, I do not know, nor can I reconcile in my concrete experience the claims of each. It is always a mystery, but a mystery in which I believe. Whatever Power allows on earth is designed in Wisdom and attuned by Love.