The Holy Trinity – Like Touching The Edge Of The Universe

October 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

The last seven weeks represent the totality of my blogging life. Notwithstanding the work involved, I’ve loved every post. The feedback, as well, has been both gratifying and humbling. Why I didn’t start blogging sooner is beyond me. Maybe family lore is true.

I’ve heard tell that I was dropped on my head as a child during a quilting party. But then again, maybe Mom was just being a mom and kindly s’plaining away my limitations with her fantastical baby-drop story.

cosmic distance ladder

Bless my mother’s heart. I miss her terribly. She would have loved my stories on subjects so close to my heart. And to the extent that any of my posts have reflected my thoughts on faith, my intention from day one has been to accurately reflect Magisterial teaching. Therein the problem. I’m an educated man, wise to my unknowingness but have zero units toward a Master of Divinity. Consequently, I’ve been reluctant to do any heavy lifting in regards to Catholic dogma, doctrines or disciplines.

However, we all have a role to play in spreading the Good News. So I decided to go on a bike ride, burn some Corona calories and reason through this intimidation factor.

Somewhere in the rolling hills of vineyards and horse ranches, my breathing a gentle metronome, I realized that my intellect, a gift from God, is to be exercised in expanding and deepening my faith. Clearly, my level of religious knowledge––training wheels come to mind––is light years removed from the scholars, thinkers, writers, apologists and theologians who inspired me in my recent conversion. I must learn more.

But that’s okay. If faith were only to be expounded on by the erudite or academic, the Body of Christ would be resplendent solely with introverts and pocket protectors.

You see, I am what I am. I’m distinct in my abilities and gifts––as we all are. Regarding my brainpower, I have no more or less smarts than what God willed. Knowing that, finding solace in this revelation, should buttress my resolve to appreciate my reality and find my purpose. My intelligence will navigate the compass of possibilities and hopefully, divine guidance will lay bare the destination.

Thus, in my own way doing the best that I can, I’m going to talk about the impetus for my love affair with Jesus.

I’m going to attribute this new outreach of love to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seems to get third billing in the minds of many as contrasted to God and Jesus, Father and Son. To those who might relegate the Holy Spirit to a supporting role, I would pray that the Spirit elucidate their thinking. As the Catholic Catechism states, in their joint mission of salvation, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. It is Christ who is seen, but it is the Spirit, the Advocate, who reveals Him.

Besides the Holy Spirit, we know that there are two other Persons of the Godhead as revealed by Christ. Yet the mystery of this Holy Trinity, the one infinite divine nature triply hypostatized as Existence in the Person of the Father, Knowledge in the Person of the Son, and Lovingness in the person of the Holy Spirit, is so genius in its complexity, that no mere mortal could have possibly come up with it.

A common argument of atheists, agnostics and humanists is that Scripture is man-made, of questionable accuracy and subject to the pitfalls of oral tradition. “Inspired” revelation is fanciful in that the canonical books are the creation of various writers with particular agendas. However, if I look at passages revealing the Holy Trinity, I cannot imagine the human intellect creating the notion of a God who is three persons in one divine nature.

As the great Catholic apologist Frank Sheed once said, “We could not know it at all if God had not drawn aside the veil that we might see. Even when He has told us, we might feel tempted to feel that it was altogether beyond us. But it can’t be wholly dark. God would not mock us by revealing something of which we could make nothing at all. Since He wants to be known by us, we must respond by making the effort to know Him.”

The Holy Trinity is the supreme mystery of Christianity, only partly illumed by rational thought. We can know something about it but not everything. What’s more, for those of us that are, at times, mentally challenged, contemplating and meditating on this bedrock doctrine requires an air conditioner for the brain. I, for one, start overheating. However, very wise people have suggested that although difficult to grasp, knowledge of the Holy Trinity will enrich one’s faith.

I agree.

I’d like to finish with the four general statements of the doctrine as outlined in Sheed’s Theology and Sanity.

  • In the one divine Nature, there are three Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the Father: no one of the Persons is either of the others.
  • The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God.
  • There are not three Gods but one God.

The sublime logic of the above does not leap off the page. I spent the morning reading about the Holy Trinity and was overwhelmed by the nuance and complexity as well as our human limitations in grasping it. I can also humbly state that if I were asked to explain it to a non-Christian, I would not be able to do the doctrine justice. It’s going to take time for me to digest and internalize this most beautiful of subjects.

Let me finish with an analogy from left field. According to our best cosmological guesstimate, the age of the universe is 13.75 billion years. Space-time erupted from a singularity of infinite density, the Big Bang, and continues to expand today at an ever-increasing rate––“a rate of 74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers (46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years).” I know fast but that’s really fast.

Physicists may want to big bang me over the head for my next statement but when I think of both the universe expanding and the non-universe that it’s expanding into, I imagine an “edge” separating those two realities. If I were to climb a very long stepladder and slow down time as well, wouldn’t I be able to get to the edge and touch it? Or at least point to it?

Truthfully, I can’t really grasp or visualize this edge––to cosmologists it must be an enigma as well. But assuredly, it can be described somewhat by reasoned thought.

So it goes with the Holy Trinity. It can be articulated but it’s shrouded by mystery––like touching the edge of the universe.