By Fr. Mike, O.P.
I don’t know about you, but I really like mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, TV shows like CSI, or detective who-done-its. There seems to be something very satisfying about figuring out a confusing situation by piecing together clues and being able to solve a crime. But once the mystery is solved, we have no reason to spend any more time or effort on it. Coming up with the solution is satisfying, but I think there is a bit of let down when the story ends.
Thankfully God has given us Mysteries like one we celebrate today: the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. God knows us well. And He also wants us to never lose interest in Him. So I think it is great that this Mystery cannot be solved in one sitting. It takes a lifetime of prayer and contemplation to even begin to grasp what the Mystery entails.
God’s existence as an undivided unity of Three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in One Godhead is actually beyond our ability to understand or describe accurately. Many of our great saints and predecessors in the Faith have tried, but there are problems with all examples. That said, I’d like to offer some of the fruits of my contemplation of this Mystery, inadequate as they may be.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ notion of God’s (uncreated) existence as pure love through the process of Exitus and Reditus helps. All things are created by God and sent into creation as a expression of His love (exitus) which are only meant to return to Him in the end of our time through that same love (reditus). God exists in the eternal NOW where past, present, and future exist all at once. God the Father knows himself so utterly that His Self Image is so accurate and so complete that it exists as a complete person: the only begotten Son, Jesus. Knowing Themselves so completely, being of pure love, that knowledge itself is a pure Manifestation, a pure Person, that exists between Them. That Person spirates, is breathed, between Them and out into Their creation — that Person is the Holy Spirit.
My favorite image of the trinity is rather scientific, for a theologian that is. (I know all of the real scientists out there are starting to roll their eyes, but stick with me.) That breath, that exit of God’s love is creation itself and powerful it was. Think of it as the BIG BANG! A simple image of the Trinity can be our sun if you like. There are three, among many, things we can experience with our sun. These things are gravity, light, and heat.
God the Father is like gravity, if you will. Like God the Father, gravity itself is something we know exists because we experience its effects, but we do not understand it completely. Gravity pulls all things together so strongly in our sun, with so much love if you will, that it cannot be contained as with the core of our sun. Light and heat escape into the universe. Light, The SON, escapes and brings life and allows us to see things clearly. It lets us know of gravity’s existence, too. Heat, the Holy Spirit, warms our cold universe and at times our cold lives. It also makes life possible and is something we can feel and be comforted by.
The Holy Trinity shows God’s genius as the best Mystery writer ever. He gives us things we can explore and think and pray about without end. Plus, they help us get to know God better. So, thank God for unsolvable Mysteries! God will explain them when we return to Him. For now though, let the Mystery continue!