I am trying to explain the trinity to a friend, but am unsure how to explain how the holy spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This is mainly because the definition of proceeding confuses me. Can someone help me out
In English we can say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.
In Genesis, the Father is the Speaker, the Son is the Spoken (the “word”), and the Spirit is the breath. “And through the Word all things were made…” God said light before it was made. The word existed before the thing. Just as my breath comes from me, the Speaker, but also through what I have said (a buff of air comes from the Speaker speaking the Spoken), so the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Another analogy is the relationship between parts of a soul: the being, mind, and will of a person. The Father is like the being of God, the Son like the Mind of God, and the Spirit like the Will of God. We cannot choose what we don’t know. So, just as choice proceeds from existence/being and the intellect, so the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
St. John Damascus uses other analogies too: just as heat proceeds from sun through light, or the sea proceeds from a spring and through a river, so the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
So basically a good way to explain this would be that the Holy Spirit comes from both the Father and the Son, and they, though playing different roles, are one being like the example of the soul?
I just don’t want to confuse this person by accidentally misspeaking if you know what I mean.
In the economy of the Trinity, God has eternally existed in a communion of love. This is hard for us to understand, because love necessitates a subject-object interplay. If God is One and self-sustaining, what is there to love beside Himself in the absence of created beings, like ourselves? Church Fathers used a word, perichoreo, to describe not only the relationship between Christ’s two natures but also the “interpenetration” of the three Persons of the Trinity. The Will/Word of God eternally coexists with His very nature (John 1:1). The thing that is uttered is the Son, ο λόγος, while the love that binds them is a Person in and of itself because the Love of God is indistinguishable from His essence, same as His Word is. The key here is that this is not temporal procession, but eternal procession. God has always existed in this way. His Word takes on different forms in different times, and finds its consummation in Christ, the Word made flesh.
But you asked about the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. I don’t know if your friend is concerned about the filioque clause, or if the term “procession” is just confusing. The original Greek term is εκπορεύομαι. It has the denotation of going, or being poured forth from, or proceeding. It’s a term that helps us to see how the Holy Spirit is the natural outcome of that Father/Son relationship. Orthodox Christians don’t like saying “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” because the Father is the ultimate source of everything. But Catholics are okay with adding “and the Son” because everything the Father has He gives to the Son.
I’m not a theologian, but this is how I’ve understood it in my mind for a long time and I hope I help even in the slightest.
God is not a being. He is “To be itself” (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Not exactly. Your biggest issue is that you are trying to explain something to someone who doesn’t understand analogy. We can understand the concept of the Trinity to an extent, but we can’t really put it in words well, and words, as a human artifact, can make it easier or harder to see the concept behind the word. Look not at my words, but at what my words mean!
I agree my response doesn’t make this mistake, though, or at least how I understand it.
I was actually under the impression that Catholics and Orthodox on this topic, the orthodox just don’t like to say he proceeds from the son, because that makes it sound as though it is possible that the Spirit is less than the Father or the Son.
That’s just my understanding of the topic at least. I may be wrong.
Don’t open Pandora’s Box!!! Ahahahaha!
Ok so I found this on this website and it seems to make sense, but what does it mean by internally proceeds?
Just as the Father externally sent the Son into the world in time, the Son internally proceeds from the Father in the Trinity. Just as the Spirit is externally sent into the world by the Son as well as the Father (John 15:26, Acts 2:33), he internally proceeds from both Father and Son in the Trinity. This is why the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of the Son (Gal. 4:6) and not just the Spirit of the Father (Matt. 10:20).
From Father John Hardon S.J.'s Modern Catholic Dictionary
The origin of one from another. A procession is said to be external when the terminus of the procession goes outside the principle or source from which it proceeds. Thus creatures proceed by external procession from the triune God, their Primary Origin. An internal procession is immanent; the one proceeding remains united with the one from whom he or she proceeds. Thus the processions of the Son and the Holy Spirit are an immanent act of the Holy Trinity. An internal, divine procession signifies the origin of a divine person from another divine person (Son from the Father), or from other divine persons (the Holy Spirit from Father and Son) through the communication of numerically one and the same divine essence.
Presence or operation within someone or something. Total “within-ness.” As an operation, an immanent act begins within and remains within the person whom it perfects in the process. Thus acts of reflection and love are immanent acts of a human being. They may, of course, have effects outside the mind and will, but essentially they arise within and stay within the faculties by which they are produced. (Etym. Latin immanere, to remain in, hold to.)
Just for clarification. The part in this definition states "origin of a divine person from another divine person (Son from the Father).
But we profess that the Son was begotten not made, one in being with the Father.
Maybe I am just overthinking this and should just base my explanation on faith?
This is explained very well in Theology for Beginners by F. J. Sheed.
BANG! THERE WE GO! I found a few excerpts online. I think this should do the trick!
Thanks for the help everyone! God Bless