Quick Lessons from the Catechism: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’

Today, in the Latin Church, we celebrate another great Solemnity, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. For us as Catholics, the names of the Most Holy Trinity began and end each of our prayers when we say – ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Is through this formula, known as the Trinitarian formula, that we are also Baptized with water.

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the primary and central mystery of the Christian faith and life. Some people will claim since it’s a “mystery”; and it’s impossible to understand. I was once told that an RCIA coordinator on the night he “explained” the Holy Trinity said the following to the RCIA class – the Most Holy Trinity is a mystery. We can’t understand it. Good night. This is a shameful way to explain something that can be explained since the councils and Doctors of the Church have given us the theology to understand such a mystery.

The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery because only through God’s revelation that we fully understand it. The Holy Trinity sheds light on all other teachings of the faith as well as illumines our mind to the beautiful works of God the Father, who was revealed to us by the Son. The Father and the Son then reveal to us the Holy Spirit. For an understanding of the God the Holy Spirit, I would encourage you to read last week’s QLC – Pentecost and ‘I Believe in the Holy Spirit’.

So what does the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach on the Holy Trinity?

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. [#261]

The Incarnation of God’s Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God. [#262]

The Holy Trinity

The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (Jn 14:26) and by the Son “from the Father” (Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. “With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified” (Nicene Creed). [#263]

“The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son” (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47: PL 42, 1095). [#264]

By the grace of Baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light (cf. Paul VI, CPG § 9). [#265]

“Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal” (Athanasian Creed: DS 75; ND 16). [#266]

Inseparable in what they are, the divine persons are also inseparable in what they do. But within the single divine operation each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. [#267]

For a deeper and more complete understanding of this teaching of the Church, I would suggest you read paragraphs 232-260. If you are seeking an understanding of the filioque, which has been a point of contention with the Orthodox Churches for centuries, read paragraphs 243-248. Although this was a point of contention for many centuries, it is my understanding that this disagreement has been alleviated through the ecumenical work of our two most recent Popes – St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Most Blessed Holy Trinity…Pray for Us.

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