Teaching the Trinity

Hello fellow CAF friends. I have to teach two part class to 8th graders on the trinity and am having trouble with it. I have already compiled a portion talking about the “three in one” and already examined the fact that they are three persons, but I am having trouble in explaining how they are three persons in one. Anyone want to give me some help?

These sources may help:
The Trinity
The One True God
God in Three Persons
God Has No Body
The Eternal Sonship of Christ
The Divinity of Christ

*]How can one God be a Trinity of persons?
*]Can you explain the concept of the Trinity?
*]How do we explain the Trinity?
*]Did Jesus have a beginning?
*]Does three Persons mean three separate Gods?

You’re a person, and what makes you a person is your body and soul. Your soul is 100% you and so is your body, but your body is not your soul and your soul is not your body.

God speaks, and His Word proceeds from Him, therefore His Word is eternal. But only God is eternal, therefore the Word comes from God and is God. That Word became flesh but remained God’s eternal Word.

Edit. Nevermind.


Have you included a lesson on St. Patrick? He used the three leaf clover to explain the Trinity, and it worked well for me when I taught children about the Trinity.

Now I will share something I added to that lesson (long story how it came about), but it did work for my kids and was fun.

I included a lesson in making different colors from the primary colors of blue, yellow and red. When it came time to make the three leaf clovers I “had no green paint.” I only had the primary colors available. (Some mysterious color thief took all the other colors…for shame;) Then put on a show about how we were ever going to get all our colors back and started with the color green.

I showed the children how to “make green” by mixing blue and yellow.

This is how they could make their three leave clovers, after mixing the paints to get green.

The extended lesson about the trinity included making orange (red and yellow) and purple (red and blue)

Brown was made of red, yellow and blue. The only way to have brown is to have all three colors mixed together. (Thus the Trinity.)

Does that give you any ideas for your kids? Hope so.

Hi! I teach 5th grade CCD with my Mom, and when the Holy Trinity came up, I did some research to find good ways to explain the three-in-one concept.

One of the best examples I came up with was an apple. All one apple, but made up of three parts, the skin, the flesh, and the seeds. All three are no more important than any other part, and they are all essential to an apple being an apple.

You can explain to them that the seeds are like God the Holy Spirit because He implants in us the seed of love of God at Baptism. He nurtures us and helps us grow from the very beginning. The fleshy part of the apple is like God the Son Jesus. He became man (flesh), and dwelt among us to bring us new life. The skin is like God the Father. He protects us from all the evils of the world, and keeps us from getting hurt. Then, you can cut the apple down the middle, and turn it sideways for them to see that the three elements make up the one apple. :slight_smile:

Obviously, you can twist the reasons a bit to work with your class. I know this approach might seem relatively elementary, but if you such something like an apple to teach, they’ll be more prone to remember the lesson! I hope it works out for you! :thumbsup:

This is the kind of explanation I’ve never really liked though; because it’s not true as it relates to the Trinity.

If the parts of the apple relate to the Trinity, then one must say that the seeds are 100% of the apple. The skin is 100% of the apple and likewise the core. The issue here is that each can make up approx 33% of the Apple. But we know that Jesus isn’t 33% God.

That’s why I don’t like this example, or similar ones like the three leaf clover.

I see what you mean. All parts of God are fully God, but seeds are not fully apple. I suppose this example is better used for younger children, and helping them understand that God is made up of three Divine Persons. To the OP, I hope you are able to find a good example! :slight_smile:

St. Patrick shamrock style. If it worked to convert and teach a whole nation, then I’m
sure it’ll work for a class of 8th graders.

Also, I heard a comparison of the trinity to water.
It was something along the lines of water can be a liquid(water), a solid(ice), or a vapor(steam) but is still all h20 no matter which form.
Although it can’t be all 3 at the same time which is a kind of a hole.
It’s still a helpful way to explain it better

Good luck :slight_smile:

Yeah, it may be okay for kindergartens but when I think of twelve year olds I imagine that they can grasp that anything that is of God is eternal with Him.

God’s Word is eternal therefore it is fully God. If He sends His Word to Earth, it’s still co-existant with God. If God sends His Spirit, it is also fully God because it came from God.

That’s how I explain it.

Very interesting that the line in 1 John 5:7-8 that explicitly states this trinity—“there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. And these three are one.”–
…is not found in the early Greek manuscripts—the “Johannine Comma", right?
Many, like Augustine, were “silent” about it…just one of many reasons why scholars believe it was added later by scribes many centuries later.

Are you going to teach about it’s evolution in the canon?


This makes sense to me: An analogy for the Holy Trinity

You could start by telling them we can never fully understand the Trinity. I believe it was St. Augustine who said “if you understand it, then it isn’t God.” That sense of mystery is important. Then you might use an analogy (like the apple or shamrock mentioned above) but I’d point out where the analogy breaks down. A poster above made a great comment regarding the apple analogy. God doesn’t have any parts, so comparing God to something with parts doesn’t really work. You could supplement that analogy with another one. A man is a father to his kid, a husband to his wife, and an employee to his boss, but he is one man. Of course, this kind of analogy also breaks down (it reeks of modalism). Maybe the best route is to abandon the analogies all together and just teach the doctrine with the caveat that they won’t really, fully understand it.

If it makes you feel any better, you are trying to teach the hardest theological concept in Catholicism. Good luck :thumbsup:

Thanks everyone. I like the examples and I am actually going to use each to show the trinity, but I am also going to point out how each does not fully teach the trinity. From there I think I will refer to St. Jerome who said, “The true profession of the mystery of the trinity is to own that we do not comprehend it.”

I also wanted to mention another one I heard. You draw a cube. The lines represent the parts of the holy trinity but each one makes up an entire cube.

This is exactly what I don’t like about all of the examples I have heard so far, although I do appreciate the efforts in helping me to try to explain such a difficult concept to 13 year olds.

I have usually found that the three leaf clover example works well, especially if the students also learn about St. Patrick and how that example came to be. I think it is a straight forward example.

Honestly I also like the example using water. From a scientific point of view water is good old H2O in all of it’s stages. Solid, fluid or vapor. So, it is always the same “thing” regardless of what stage it is in.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant, as this is not my intention at all. But I have never felt confused or mystified by the concept of the Trinity. I am actually more mystified by folks having trouble believing in the Trinity or not understanding it. I can only attribute this to my near death experience as a child, since through that experience I came to understand so many things without being taught by others.

Now that is really mysterious too me, because at one moment in my life I had no understanding or belief in God, or life in general. Then once I “came back” I knew there was a God, that God created everything, that I needed to pray and seek forgiveness, that I could offer my prayers to God etc. It is like some sort of knowledge and awareness were infused into my being without my having to do anything to attain it.

Hello, I apologize for my tardiness, but here is a method to consider:

Did you know that if you were God, the person who created everything, you would have to be 3 distinct persons? Here is why:
As the person who created everything, your greatest creation possible is an unlimited number of True Friends.
To fulfill this creation, you must be:

  1. The all-knowing lawgiver and judge, in order to ensure only everlasting true friends can live in the friendly society.
  2. The only begotten of the judge, in order to participate as a friend in the society.
  3. The giver of life, in order to compassionately demonstrate the growth process from ignorance to perfect friendliness.

Thanks for sharing the interesting food for thought, and I look forward to further discussion!

I think it would be better to complete the phrase or else it can sound like a mathematical contradiction, i.e. 3 =1. We should say “three persons in one **nature.”

Even though analogies will be inherintly insuffiecient they are still helpful, I believe. Frank Sheed says we should give some information as to what person and nature mean. My person is the answer to WHO I am, my nature is What i am.


  •   	**Theology and Sanity**
      	**By Francis J. Sheed  
      	Section on [Nature and Person]("http://www.defendingthebride.com/je/fff_0031plus.jpg")**  			
      	Complete text 			[ 			Free Download]("http://archive.org/details/TheologyAndSanity")  *


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