Deputy Principal - Mission and Faith

Trinity Sunday – May 31

Sunday May 31 was Trinity Sunday.  Pope Gregory IX instituted Trinity Sunday in 828 CE.  The Trinity is one of the most fascinating - and controversial - Christian dogmas.  Essentially the Trinity is the belief that God is one in essence, but distinct in person. This idea of “person” comes from the Greek which means "that which stands on its own," or "individual reality," and does not mean the persons of the Trinity are three human persons. Therefore we believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are somehow distinct from one another (not divided though), yet completely united in will and essence.

The Son is said to be eternally begotten of the Father, while the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the Father through the Son. Each member of the Trinity interpenetrates one another, and each has distinct roles in creation and redemption, which is called the Divine economy. For instance, God the Father created the world through the Son and the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters at creation.

Trinitarianism is about a dynamic God, whose ultimate nature is beyond human conception, yet who voluntarily operates within the created world. Trinitarianism also shows a loving God that is willing to become as we are so that we may become like Him. The early church was plagued by controversy concerning the nature of God with Bishop Arius in the fourth century stating that Christ was a created being thus denying the divinity of Christ and denying that there are three persons in one God.  The implications of believing in Arius' God, a God unwilling to involve himself in our redemption, but who instead sent an angel of the highest order, did not escape the earliest Christians. As St. Athanasius was fond of saying "that which has not been assumed has not been redeemed," meaning that unless God truly became completely human, we could not be fully redeemed, because only God Himself is capable of truly redeeming humanity; an angel does not have this ability. Thus, the Trinity is not about Greek philosophy or pointless metaphysical speculation, but about the heart of our salvation. The issue was resolved at the Council of Nicaea in 325 with the proclamation of the Nicean Creed which we still say today at Mass every Sunday.


Michael Grace