The Trinity


Let me tell you about an interesting drive I had into work today. I have been thinking of ways to explain the trinity to my children and yet also let them know that the trinity is a mystery. St. Patrick used the shamrock, some people have used Rings, and I wondered if one could also use light and the rainbow to explain the trinity.

First of all, we know that light is made of many colors. Some say 7, some say 6. I came to know the colors Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Some doubt as to whether “indigo” is one of the colors between, so let’s just say for the sake of argument there are 6 colors. Let’s then also take out the colors of the rainbow that are secondary. That leads us with Red, Yellow, and Blue. Interesting, I thought - “God is Light” and there happen to be three primary colors.

Then I tried to determine which color is which person in the trinity. I then paused and knew that I was treading on dangerous ground because all the colors were not equal. But are they? I then remembered what I learned in my high school physics class. Light is not an elementary particle. A photon is an elementary particle of light. So whether the color is red, blue, or yellow, the substance (the photon) is still the same - it just appears to us as red, blue, and yellow.

Then I really started to wonder. I then tried to assign a color to each person of the trinity. Which color should be what. I then thought of the symbols we use for each. I thought immediately that red should be the holy spirit. Then I thought of blood. Is blood red? Yes, blood is red. So Jesus, because he bled, could also be red. But, when blood is in the body, it’s blue. So, Jesus could be blue. But, the Holy Spirit is fire and a blue flame is the hottest. Why did I care what color to assign? Because in a rainbow there is a middle color, yellow and then it hit me. There is no middle color in the rainbow. The rainbow does not start with red and end in blue, the “last” color of the rainbow is purple, a combination of red and blue. Hence the pattern of the rainbow is infinite and it doesn’t really matter what color I assign to the person. Not only is the pattern infinite, the true shape of a rainbow is not an arc, but a circle. A shape with no beginning and no end.

Look at the pattern and then assign a person to a primary color.

R O Y G B P R O Y G B P…

And then think about the relationship amongst the three as the Catholic Answers tract so beautifully put it"

The quotations below show that the early Church Fathers, both Latin and Greek, recognized the same thing, saying that the Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son” or “from the Father through the Son.”

These expressions mean the same thing because everything the Son has is from the Father. The proceeding of the Spirit from the Son is something the Son himself received from the Father. The procession of the Spirit is therefore ultimately rooted in the Father but goes through the Son.

So now I am thinking what a sacrament is: a visible sign of God’s grace. Now I am coming to the realization of what light is: a visible sign of God. No wonder John said: God is Light.


P.S. I pray that this was something I dug out of my subconsious mind, because this freaky…I mean freaky.


You’re going to try to explain that to your kids? I’d start with the shamrock;)


Let me guess, you’re Irish. If you knew my kids they’d probably say “Dad, God is light, not a plant.”


Cute idea! If I was a kid I would be completely lost however!

I teach CCD classes and over the years I have used the examples of the family and water.

First for the family, explain how each person has their role. God the Father= his/her father The Holy Spirit= the mother and the Son= him/her. Each of the members of the family are separate people with separate names, yet you are all one family with the same last name. The love that a mother and father have for each other create a new life, the child. That is the fundamental example of Trinitarian love.

God the Father (Dad)-------------Holy Spirit (Mom)

Jesus (Child)

The second example is water. Water can turn into three forms. A liquid, ice or steam. It never changes from water, yet we can identify that it changes form to fit our needs.

Hope this helps,


My favorite analogy of “three yet one” is the sun

  1. The physical mass aflame in the sky (analagous to “Father”)
  2. From it always is light. (analagous to “Son”)
  3. From it always is heat. (analagous to ‘Holy Spirit’)

It’s impossible for the flaming mass to ever be without the other two. That is the oneness that constitutes the sun.

Yet the three are separate. We can see the light (through a window) in such a way that we do not see the flaming mass itself, or experience its heat. We can experience the heat without seeing the light or the flaming mass.



I need to teach CCD. Maybe I won’t use the trinity light/rainbow thing unless I teach 8th graders. Maybe I’ll even use it on an atheistic scientist who thinks there’s no proof that God exists.

There is, you just have to look.:eek:


The analogy of light is in the Nicene Creed: “Light from Light.” It is used to explain that the Son is begotten of the Father from eternity and not in time.

So whether the color is red, blue, or yellow, the substance (the photon) is still the same - it just appears to us as red, blue, and yellow.

This is the weak point of the analogy (not a criticism since all analogies of the Trinity will have a similar weak point), so I would make extra-sure that the kids understand that the Persons are not just one God who acts in different ways or relates to humanity in different ways or is described in different ways, etc.


I thought about that and I do need to change it. And here is why:

The color of light itself is what it is. If it is red, it is red. If it is blue it is blue, etc. I was confusing the color of light with the color of an object.

Objects in essence do not have a color. They reflect the color(s) of the light.

Do I sense another God/Light analogy here?:smiley:


I do need to clear this up to make it more understandable. But what amazes me is how God drops clues as to his nature and he does it through nature!



i thought of a similar example that my priest used.

a flame, like on a candle.

God is the flame
Jesus is the light from the flame
The Holy Spirit is the heat from the flame


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