Lesson - Holy Trinity: One God in Three Persons
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Holy Trinity: One God in Three Persons - Lesson and Discussion
“everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”
 
This weekend is set aside to show honor and worship of the one triune God. The mystery of the Holy Trinity is one of the most profound and difficult mysteries to understand. In fact, we are humanly unable to fully comprehend the reality and truth of the Trinity. Theologians for centuries have tried to help us understand a little better exactly the meaning of the Holy Trinity.
 
VIDEO – Catholicism: TRINITY – POP CULTURE CONNECTION – 8:17
This is a great short video to get an overview of the Holy Trinity. This could be a great thing to watch before going into this lesson or even this packet.
 
What is the Trinity? “The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is the very root of the Church’s living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the eternal Father.”[i]

Why do we believe in the Trinity? We believe because Jesus revealed this mystery to us. The Jewish people believe in one God as do the Muslims. It was Jesus who revealed this to the Apostles. This was past down by our Church Fathers and to this day the faithful believe in Him and thus the Church has not perished but is the source of eternal life.
 
When did Jesus reveal the mystery of the Trinity? Jesus, right before He ascends to the Father says, “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.”[ii] Jesus instructed the apostles at the Last Supper, “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.”[iii] The Blessed Trinity was also manifested at the Annunciation, where the Father was present through His messenger, Angel Gabriel.[iv] The Son, was present in the womb of Mary and the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. The Blessed Trinity was also manifested at the Baptism in the Jordan, when the Father’s voice was heard, the Son was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.[v]
 
How is the divine life given to us? “For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit.”[vi] The Father is the Source. The Son is the channel. The Spirit is the flow or movement of energy from the source through the channel.
 
What are some analogies of the Trinity, which can help both our reason and our faith? An analogy is only a comparison between two things. Since nothing can compare to God, any analogy trying to compare a thing to God will be incomplete. We can still attempt many analogies because God is the creator of all and in His creation He can be seen.
 
Can analogies do harm? Yes, if we do not understand the basics. We have to remember that the Trinity is one God in three persons, not one God just showing or manifesting Himself in three ways. For example if we use the analogy of one person who plays three roles. Jane Smith is a mother, a scientist and an artist. This analogy shows one person who has three roles or modes. This is not what the Holy Trinity is. The greatest danger is a heresy called Modalism. “Modalism teaches that Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not distinct personalities, but different modes of God’s self-revelation. The idea is that there is only one God, but that this one God reveals himself in different ways and different forms – sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, sometimes as Holy Spirit.”[vii] When one person of the Trinity is present all three persons are present because they are a unity, one. Saint Patrick’s clover analogy works well because it is one plant, with four leaves. If you are looking or touching only one of the three leaves, the other leaves are still present.

The River - We can use the analogy of a river. The Mississippi river, which was discovered first by DeSoto in the 1500's was originally named after the Holy Spirit. Maybe it is ironic or providential that the mighty 4000 mile river, originally named, “River of the Holy Spirit”, teaches us a lesson not only about the Holy Spirit, but about the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The source of the Mississippi in the north is at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. The Mississippi flows from Minnesota, beside the great city of St. Louis, Missouri and finally empties into the bayous of New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico. There is a source a spring for a river, this is the Father. There is a channel, ditch or path, which the river takes, this is the Son. There is a current, a flow that pushes the water from the source, thus giving life to all that it touches, this is the Spirit. Ezekiel 47 speaks of a stream flowing from the temple and “wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live…” Jesus speaks of Himself as the temple when He says, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”[viii] Jesus gives us the living waters of Grace. These graces “…are channels or streams flowing from the open side of Christ through Mary’s hands to us.”[ix] All of the Sacraments are administered in the name of the Blessed Trinity.[x]
 
The Sun - The Church Father’s used the analogy of the sun. The sun is the source of life, the Father. The rays are the channel, the Son. The heat and energy which sustains life is the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life.
 
The Word - In the Gospel of John we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”[xi] In this analogy God the Father is the Speaker. The sound or the word coming from the mouth of the speaker is Jesus the Son and the breath that can be felt, and in cold weather, seen, is the Holy Spirit.
 
A Family – One of the best analogies is that of a family, because the Holy Trinity is a family. We say that there is one family, but many persons in the family. The rock of a family is the marriage, in which the husband and wife give to each other, in love. The love is so powerful between the two persons it brings forth life to another person. The love between the Father and the Son is so great that it is a person, the Holy Spirit. The difference between a family and the Holy Trinity is that a family has an origin a beginning. In the beginning there are two persons that do not know each other, the two persons get married and become one, the love between the two persons creates a third person. The Holy Trinity was never created, but rather always was and the persons of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit were never divided, but forever united in a constant exchange of love. The family also imitates the Trinity. Families are creative and open to life as the Father is creative. Families have to make sacrifices for each other as Jesus sacrificed Himself. Families are called to evangelize to be a witness and examples to their family, friends and all who see them, just as the Holy Spirit reaches out bringing people into communion.
 
VIDEO - How engine works- POP CULTURE CONNECTION – 1:40
The Combustible Engine – There are three things necessary for an engine to work, there must be oxygen, fuel and a spark, fire. The spark is the Holy Spirit which is given the symbol of fire. Oxygen is God, because God gives the breath of life and Oxygen is thought to come from above. Fuel is from earth, just as God become man in the person of Jesus Christ. Also fuel sacrifices itself; it is willing to extinguish itself in order to give. In an engine the combination of oxygen, fuel and a spark is what cause the power. The oxygen, fuel and spark happen within a small chamber but generate great power. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit combine within the chamber of our hearts and create great power through our life.
 
H2O (Ice, Water, Gas) - Going back to the Mississippi River, we can see it is one river and the elements of the river are H2O. These elements, although they are one can appear and function as ice (solid), flowing water (liquid) and steam (vapor). On any given day, the river could be in solid form in Minnesota, liquid form in St. Louis and vapor form in the bayous of New Orleans. The elements, the nature are the same, all at the same time, but the appearance and function is different. The Mississippi is an example of how God is still one God even when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all manifesting themselves at the same time. In the agony of the garden, the Son, prays to the Father and is strengthened by the Spirit. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct but yet united, just as ice, flowing water and steam are distinct but yet united, connect by one river.
 
Activity – In 3’s
There are many things in nature that are found in threes. God is the author of creation and so stamps His image, His likeness on that which He creates. Make a list of all the things in nature that are found in threes. Saint Patrick is famous for using the Shamrock, three leaves, yet one plant to explain the Trinity. Other things in nature, like the banana, which can be split into 3’s easily, reminding us of the Trinity. There are also universal norms or laws that are organized in threes. Physical dimensions of space (x, y, z);
Verb Conjugation (1st, 2nd, and 3rd person); Time (past, present, future); Charges (positive, negative, neutral); States of Matter (solid, liquid, gas); Primary Colors (red, blue, yellow); Music (a chord must have three or more notes. You also see in secular music the pattern of a Verse, Chorus, and a Bridge).

Jesus says that unless we believe we will not have eternal life, yet we cannot believe unless we are open to the Grace, to a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. "Faith is not a contract. Faith is surrender. If no other relationship in our experience is one of self-surrender, if it’s all contractual, people won’t know how to believe."[xii] It is through our self-surrender, that our relationship with God bears fruit. “He must increase; I must decrease.”[xiii]
 
How can we answer the question, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” We can say that we believe in one God in three persons. The love of God is so great; it is not contained within one person but given in three persons. So we definitely have a personal relationship with God, so personal that it is in three persons. We have a personal relationship with the Father, with the Son and with the Holy Spirit and are reminded of that personal relationship each time we pray and make the Sign of the Cross.
 
What does each person do for us? The Father is our creator, whom we owe our life and existence to.[xiv] “To God the Son we owe our redemption from sin and eternal death; by His death He gave us life.”[xv][xvi] The Holy Spirit is our sanctification.[xvii]
 
MUSIC - Eternal Father Strong to Save - POP CULTURE CONNECTION – 3:31
This is the official hymn of the U.S. Navy. How does each stanza express our need for each person of the Holy Trinity and what they do for us.

Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep, Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard, And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep, And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood, Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease, And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power! Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe, Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee, Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.



[i] Catechism of the Catholic Church; Glossary
[ii] Matthew 28:19
[iii] John 15:26
[iv] Luke 1:35
[v] John 1:32-33
[vi] Spiritual Reading in this Link to Liturgy Packet
[vii] Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best, pg. 88
[viii] John 2:19
[ix] The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, No.2; Lesson 23
[x] Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow; My Catholic Faith; Lesson 12
[xi] John 1:1
[xii] Archbishop Francis George – Source: quotecatholic.com
[xiii] John 3:30
[xiv] See Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:15; Matthew 5:48
[xv] Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow; My Catholic Faith; Lesson 11
[xvi] See Philemon 2:8; John 6:57
[xvii] See 1 Corinthians 6:19

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