Each year on the Sunday following Pentecost, the Church celebrates the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, our belief that God is One and yet Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, equal in majesty and glory, One in Three and Three in One. This is something so wonderful and sublime that the human mind cannot pretend to comprehend the full meaning of the mystery, which nonetheless is the cause of our joy and our hope as followers of Jesus Christ.
Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest minds that ever existed in the Church, who died in 430 AD, was trying to comprehend the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in which he firmly believed and placed his trust, yet realized it was no easy thing to full grasp. In his contemplation Augustine decided to take a walk along the seashore. There he saw a child playing in the sand near the shoreline. Having dug a hole in the sand, the child was bringing over handfuls of water from the nearby ocean to fill the hole.
At one point Augustine asked what the child was trying to do. The youngster replied that he wanted to empty the entire ocean into the hole he had dug in the sand. “But that is impossible,” Augustine observed, “Can’t you see the ocean is infinitely greater than the hole you have dug in the sand?” At that moment Augustine realized a profound truth: it is equally impossible to fill the human mind with the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
As Saint Augustine realized, the human mind is too limited to take in all the greatness of the Trinity, he also admitted that only God can fill and satisfy the human heart. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord,” Augustine so wisely expressed it. In other words, there are many things about God that we cannot fully understand with the mind, but that we can with the heart.
God is so much and is in fact everything: Creator, Father, Sustainer, Son, Redeemer, Infinite Wisdom, Holy Spirit, Sanctifier, Comforter, Love, Advocate, who cannot but act for the welfare of the human family, drawing all things and persons toward the knowledge and love of God.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly expresses it: “The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (number 234).
The Holy Trinity is above all a mystery of love and the complete expression of the love of God, which in turn transforms those who come to God, who live and die in God.
Furthermore, the Holy Trinity is a mystery of unity, being indivisible, meaning the Trinity cannot be divided, yet at the same time composed of three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we said at the beginning. In other words, “We do not confess three gods, but one God in three persons” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 253).
This unity in diversity of the Holy and Blessed Trinity is all-inclusive, meaning each and every human being is welcome to partake of the life of the Trinity. The Holy Trinity in turn gives true and lasting life to others whose lives are touched by God. That is the heart of our life in the Holy Trinity. Furthermore, the life we live becomes a source of encouragement and redemption for others hungering for rest in the One God who is our origin and goal.
We are each being invited to engage more than the mind as we ponder the mystery of our living under the watchful care of the Holy Trinity. We are invited to open “the ears of our heart,” as Saint Benedict so beautifully expressed it, in order to comprehend, to the degree that we can, the greatness of our God.
While living this life, we will never understand fully the God who saves us, but that is no reason to give up in our search for God, and our ardent pursuit of God’s will for our life, as well as our proclamation of the Gospel by the lives we live.
God is Love, Scripture tells us, and whoever lives in love lives in God and God in the one who loves. Let us put God in the center of our existence and go to God frequently in prayer, in praise, as well as adoration, petition, and thanksgiving. It is always a righteous thing to do and in fact gives nourishment and encouragement for our daily existence. We form a family with God. As the Trinity dwells in unity, we are called to do likewise. May God be found in the heart of our communities, our families and our relationships.
The Holy Eucharist (Mass) we celebrate is the supreme act of God’s bestowing life upon human beings. We are offered the possibility of partaking in divine life when we receive the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord. It is mystery to see before us bread and wine and yet believe that contained therein is the very Body and Blood of the Redeemer of all people, our God who loves us without measure.
May we never cease to thank our God for the gifts we have received and may we remain today and always united to the Holy Trinity, our One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB