Daily Archives: June 11, 2006

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

We have special guest star Mother Dillon coming to Mass with us today. Always a treat. Mother Dillon is not in fact Catholic, so it’s a treat as well that today is Trinity Sunday, which is an especially Catholic day, although Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists celebrate it too.

It’s a big thing to try to wrap my mind around, the Trinity. Father Caulfield in his homily tries to explain a bit, noting first that we call it a mystery. Not so much, he says, mystery in the sense that it is not understood or even understandable, but rather more coming from the Latin mysterium, which means secret, as in something being revealed to us.

Although I’m generally okay with not understanding anyway. Part of becoming Catholic boy these last few years has been my acceptance of not having the answers myself, of knowing that there’s just a lot of stuff that I’m never going to figure out. I’m asking around to see if someone else has figured some of these things out. I’m listening and learning more now.

Father Caulfield tells us that there is a school of thought that explains the concept of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” with a more vague “the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier.” He warns us that this emphasis of attributes to individual persons in the Trinity comes at something of the expense of the union. If God is Father and Son, then both Father and Son have always existed, and both are creator and both are redeemer. And the Holy Spirit is also creator and redeemer, and the Son is sanctifier, etc. etc.

It’s not an especially unique concept, not unique to Catholicism, the Trinity, actually. There’s also the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Transformer). Or perhaps even the entire Hindu pantheon can all be seen as simply different aspects of the Brahman.

The Gospel reading is from the ending of St. Matthew, where the Resurrection is recounted lickety-split, the risen Christ saying all of five sentences, most of them imperatives, the most important of them establishing the Trinity:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

St. John has it more explicit, where Christ specifically talks about the Holy Spirit as something separate and distinct: “For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” But here in St. Matthew he puts it all together, all three of ’em.