III - THE TRINITY

Posted by Padre Eugenio Cavallari on 20 January 2016

 Translated by: Marco Biondi

The Life of the three divine Persons

1 - He was, He was, He was in the beginning (s. 135, 3, 4)

2 - The Trinity is Trinity in such a way that He is one God; God is one in such a way that He is Trinity (Gn. litt. imp. 16, 61)

3 - The divine persons, although they are three and each of them singularly is God, are not three gods. The entire Trinity is only one God (c. s. arian. 15, 9)

4 - ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. In the name, not in the names, because the three are only one thing, one God (c. Max. 2, 22, 3)

5 - We are dealing with something ineffable, which cannot be expressed by words. The number is there and is not there. Yes, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three, but what are these three? God does not escape the number, but is not bound by the number either… If you want to know what the three are, there is no longer use in the number. When you start to think you start to count; once you have counted you cannot draw conclusions. The number only suggests what They are to each other, not what They are by Themselves (Io. ev. tr. 39, 4)

6 - The Son comes from the Father by generation: the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son by procession... The author of the procession is the Father inasmuch as, by generating the Son, granted Him that also from Him the Holy Spirit might proceed (c. Max. 2, 14, 1)

7 - No one is able to explain the difference between being generated and proceeding in talking of that very excellent divine nature. Not everything that proceeds is generated, although everything that is generated proceeds; personally, I am not able to distinguish between this generation and this procession (c. Max. 2, 14, 1)

8 - The works of the Trinity are inseparable. Only about the Father we don’t read that He was sent, since He has no author from which He might have been generated or from which He might proceed. And this is asserted not because of any difference in nature, which does not exist in the Trinity, but it is just because it was authoritatively said that we know that the Father was not sent. It is not the splendour or the heat which sends the fire, but the other way around: the fire sends both the splendour and the heat (c. s. arian. 4, 4)

9 - The Father operates through the reasons of the Word and the incubation, so to say, of the Holy Spirit (Gn. litt. 1, 18, 36)

10 - The Trinity is the only God, by whom we have been created, by whose likeness we are formed into unity and by whose peace we adhere to unity. He is the principle to which we return, the form we follow and the grace through which we are reconciled (vera rel. 55, 113)

11 - From Him, through Him and in Him are all things. From Him as from the one who owes nobody what He is; through Him as through a mediator; in Him as in the one who contains, that is, who unites (f. et symb. 9, 19)

12 - In the Father there is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality. And these three things are one because of the Father, are equal because of the Son, are communicating among themselves because of the Holy Spirit (doctr. chr. 1, 5, 5)

13 - In the Trinity the essence or nature is considered simple because in it being/existing/having identify, except that the three persons are said relatively one of the other. The Father has in fact the Son, but He is not the Son, and vice versa. In God, therefore, being and having are identified only on the basis of the attributes given in an absolute and not in a relative sense. In an absolute sense, for example, God is said to be living by having, of course, life, but He is Himself life (civ. 11, 10, 1)

14 - Whatever is said of that most eminent and divine sublimity in respect to itself, is said in respect to the substance, but what is said in relation to anything, is not said in respect to the substance, but relatively; and the effect of the same substance in Father, Son and Holy Spirit is such that whatever is said of each in respect to Themselves is to be taken of them, not in the plural, but in the singular. The Father is God and the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God; there are, nevertheless, not three gods, but one God. The Father is great, the Son is great and the Holy Spirit is great; yet there are not three greats, but one great (trin. 5, 8, 9)

15 - And so there is a kind of image of the Trinity (in man’s spirit), the mind itself and the knowledge of it, which is its offspring and its word concerning itself, and love (proceeding from the will) as a third, and these three are one reality and one substance. Neither is the offspring less, since the mind knows itself according to the measure of its own being; nor is the love less, since it loves itself according to the measure both of its own knowledge and of its own being (trin. 9, 12, 18)

16 - You see the Trinity if you see charity. When we love charity we love charity who loves something, since that is not love which loves nothing. But if it loves itself it must love something, so that it may love itself with charity. What, therefore, does charity love except what we love with charity? And this is brotherly love: ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love’ [1 John 4:7-8]. The reason why one does not see God is that he does not love his brother or sister. But if he loved with spiritual charity the person whom he sees with human sight, he would see God by means of an inner sight (trin. 8, 8, 12)

17 - We must love God as a certain trine unity: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are nothing else than the being itself. God, in fact, is in a true and supreme way (mor. 1, 14, 24)

18 - The three divine persons come to us when we go to Them: They come to us by helping us, we go to Them by obeying; They come to us by enlightening us, we go to Them by contemplating; They come by filling us with Their presence, we go to Them by welcoming Them (Io. ev. tr. 76, 4)

19 - God’s essence has nothing changeable in eternity, in truth and in will. In God truth and love are eternal; love and eternity are true; eternity and truth are lovable (trin. 4, 1, 1)

20 - When I love, there are three things: I, what I love and love itself. For I do not love love, except when I love a lover; since there is no love where nothing is loved. In fact, he who loves and what is loved are the same when anyone loves himself. But it is one thing to love one's self, another to love one's own love. Love, as a matter of fact, is not loved, unless as already loving something, inasmuch as where nothing is loved there is no love (trin. 9, 2, 2)

21 - The mind, the love of it and the knowledge of it are three things, and these three are one; when they are perfect they are equal (trin. 9, 4, 4)

22 - Memory, intelligence and will, are not three lives, but one life. Each one of them, in respect to itself, is life, mind and substance; but they are called memory, intelligence and will relatively to something. And these three are one (trin. 10, 11, 18)

23 - Embrace God-love and embrace God with love (trin. 8, 8, 12)

The Father, giver of Life

1 - The beginning has relation to fatherhood... By this you know the fathers: they become fathers by acknowledging the One who is from the beginning (Io. ep. tr. 2, 5)

2 - Supremely one is the Father of Truth, Father of His own Wisdom, which, insofar as It is completely similar to Him, is said to be His likeness and image, since It is from Him (vera rel. 43, 81)

3 - God is our Father, the Church our Mother: we are therefore brethren (s. 56, 10, 14)

4 - Each one of us has his or her own father on earth, but all together we have only one Father in heaven: ‘Our Father who are in heaven’. It is really Him you call upon as Father. And this only Father wanted to have for Himself only one bride. If we, therefore, worship only one Father, why don’t we acknowledge only one mother? If you assert that another mother bore you, it means that another womb generated you (s. Caes. eccl. 5)

5 - How have You loved us, O good Father, who did not spare Your only Son, but delivered Him up for us wicked ones! How have You loved us, for whom He, who thought it no robbery to be equal with You, but became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross... both priest and sacrifice, and priest as being the sacrifice (conf. 10, 43, 69)

6 - Let us consider, my dear ones, whose we started to be children; let us live in a way suitable to those who have such a Father. You see that our Creator deemed it worthy to be our Father (s. 57, 2, 2)

7 - ‘Our Father’, in this way both the general and the beggar pray Him, both the servant and his master. They say together: ‘Our Father’. They, therefore, understand that they are brothers, since they have one Father. Let the master not disdain to have his servant as brother, since Christ the Lord wanted to have him as brother (s. 58, 2, 2)

8 - The requests of the Lord’s prayer are seven. Three of them have to do with eternal life: hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven; four of them have to do with present life: give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil. This prayer not only encourages you to pray, but also to learn what you must desire (s. 59, 5, 8)

9 - Think who is the one to whom we say: ‘Our Father who are in heaven’. He is not a friend or a neighbour. He is one who commands us to be of one mind. We have together one voice toward the Father, why don’t we have at the same time one peace? (s. 357, 4)

The Son, Word of the Father and light of Truth

1 - The Word, Son of God, is, yes, distinct from the Father, but He is not another thing: He is another person, not a different nature. He is absolutely all the Father is, except that He is the Son and not the Father (an. et eius or. 2, 5, 9)

2 - We know that the Son of God, as Son, is not from Himself, but was begotten by the Father. We know that the Father has not been begotten: He is from no one, He has received life from no one. The Son has received life from the Father, but not as if He, for some time, had no life, and received it later. Indeed the Father gave Him life by begetting life: while begetting Him as life gave Him life. The Father has life in Himself, the Son has an equal life as the Father has; the Son, nevertheless, has not received life from Himself, because He has not been born from Himself, but from the Father… He received life from the Father because He was born as life from the Father (coll. Max. 13)

3 - Between the Father and the Son there is only this difference: the Father has life in Himself without having received it from anyone, while the Son has in Himself the life the Father has given Him (Io. ev. tr. 19, 11)

4 - The Father is principle that does not come from any principle; the Son is principle that comes from a principle. Both together They are not two principles, but only one principle, as the Father is God and the Son is God, but together They are not two gods, but one God (c. Max. 2, 17, 4)

5 - The Father, who is source, begot the Son, who is source. Yes, the source begot the source; but the source that begets and the source that is begotten are just one source, as God who begets and God who is begotten are just one God, that is, the Son begotten by the Father. The Father and the Son are one thing because one is the substance and God is one because divinity is indivisible (s. 217, 1)

6 - Whatever the Son says is said by the Father too inasmuch as, when He speaks, the Father utters His Word, which is His Son. By speaking, so to say, in His eternal way of being, God the Father utters the Word coeternal to Him (Gn. litt. 1, 5, 11)

7 - Since the Son is the great Word of the Father, are lesser words uttered between the Father and the Son? Remove everything is corporeal and see simplicity, if you are simple (Io. ev. tr. 23, 8)

8 - Inasmuch as the Son is image of the Father, He is His power and His wisdom. He is, indeed, His full and perfect image, that is, not created from nothing, but begotten by Him, having nothing less than the one of whom He is the image. The Only Begotten Son is the supreme image of the Father, an image so similar that, in it, nothing is different (c. s. arian. 26, 22)

9 - The Son knows everything the Father knows; but to Him to know, as to be, is from the Father, since to know and to be are one. Accordingly, it is as though uttering Himself that the Father begot the Word equal to Himself in all things. And here is recognized in the highest sense that ‘Yea, yea; nay, nay’. The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. Through power He cannot do this; nor is it infirmity, but strength, by which truth cannot be false. Therefore God the Father knows all things in Himself, knows all things in the Son; in Himself as Himself, in the Son as His own Word, which is from all those things that are in Himself (trin. 15, 14, 23)

10 - ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’. My Father inasmuch as I am His Only Begotten Son, your Father inasmuch as you have been adopted; my God inasmuch as I was made man, your God inasmuch as you are always men. And again: ‘From my mother’s womb You are my God’. Before my mother’s womb You are my Father, from my mother’s womb You are my God (s. 229/L, 2)

11 - It would not have been suitable if the begetter had been sent by the begotten; it was rather suitable that the begotten was sent by the begetter. This is not inequality of substance, but of order; not that one was before the other, but that one comes from the other (c. Max. 2, 14, 8)

12 - The sacred texts talk of a Son who is at the same time only-begotten and first-born: only-begotten because He has no brethren, first-born because He has brethren. The Catholic faith, which distinguishes between Creator and creature, does not have any difficulty in understanding these two terms: He is only-begotten according to His divinity, He is first-born in virtue of His fraternal fellowship with men, whom the Father generated not by the equality of substance with Him, but by the adoption of grace (c. Sec. 5)

13 - In fact, and Moses bore witness to Christ, and John bore witness to Christ, and all the other prophets and apostles bore witness to Christ. But yet, in another way, God bears testimony to His Son: God reveals His Son through the Son Himself, He reveals Himself through the Son. If man shall have been able to reach Him, he shall not need any lamps and, by truly digging deep, he will build his building on the rock (Io. ev. tr. 23, 4)

14 - The Son knows the Father by Himself; we know Him by the Son (Io. ev. tr. 47, 3)

The Holy Spirit, fire of Love

1 - In this Trinity the Son and none other is called the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit and none other the Gift of God, and God the Father alone is He from whom the Word is born, and from whom the Holy Spirit principally proceeds. Principally, because we find that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well, but the Father gave Him this too by begetting Him. In this way, the Holy Spirit is their common gift, the Spirit of both (trin. 15, 17, 29)

2 - The Holy Spirit is the Gift of God insofar as He is given to those who, through Him, love God (trin. 15, 19, 35)

3 - When we say that the Father and Jesus Christ are the true God, we say it in such a manner that the Holy Spirit may not be excluded in any way from the reality of divinity (c. Max. 2, 15, 4)

4 - The Holy Spirit is the mutual love of the Father and of the Son: God is love. Who can, therefore, name the Father and the Son without consideration of the love of the Father and of the Son? (Io. ev. tr. 9, 8)

5 - The Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father, not as born, but as given; and so He is not called son, because He was neither born, as the Only-begotten, nor made as we are. For what is born of the Father, is referred to the Father only when called Son, and so the Son is the Son of the Father, and not also ours; but what is given is referred both to Him who gave and to those to whom He gave, and therefore also to us (trin. 5, 14, 15)

6 - The Holy Spirit is love: He is specially called that, which the Father and the Son are in common (trin. 15, 19, 37)

7 - The Holy Spirit is the consubstantial and coeternal communion itself of the love of the Father and of the Son… For if love is less great in God than wisdom, then wisdom is loved in a lesser degree than according to what it is; but wisdom is equal with the Father, therefore also the Holy Spirit is equal; and if equal, equal in all things, on account of the absolute simplicity which is in that substance (trin. 6, 5, 7)

8 - The Holy Spirit does not dwell in anyone without the Father and the Son, just as the Son without the Father and the Holy Spirit. The dwelling of the three Persons is inseparable, as it is the operating; They nevertheless mostly manifest Themselves separately, not in each one’s own nature, but by means of creatures that represent Them (s. 71, 20, 33)

9 - What a great God is the one who gives God! (trin. 15, 26, 46)

10 - What a great good is that, without which goods so great bring no one to eternal life! (trin. 15, 18, 32)

11 - The Holy Spirit is a gift eternally, but has been given in time (trin. 5, 16, 17)

12 - Love beggarly and needy (Gn. litt. 1, 7, 13)

13 - The Holy Spirit: a restorer of freedom and a guide to freedom (Gal. exp. 54)

14 - Receive the Holy Spirit on earth so that you may love your brothers and sisters, receive the Holy Spirit from heaven so that you may love God (s. 265, 8, 9)

15 - The Lord has given us the Spirit as a pledge, so that in Him we may feel His sweetness and desire the source itself of life, where, with sober ebriety, we are inundated and watered. Such an ebriety does not upset the mind, but drags it upwards, and grants the forgetfulness of all earthly things (agon. 9, 10)

16 - The Holy Spirit is God’s love poured out into our hearts, not the love by which God loves us, but the love by which He makes us able to love Him (spir. et litt. 32, 56)

17 - May the Lord be present to your mind, and by His Spirit pour into your spirit such readiness of humility, such light of truth, such sweetness of charity and such peace of piety, that you may prefer being a conqueror of your spirit in truth than of anyone who contradicts in falsehood (an. et eius or. 3, 15, 23)

18 - We must have the Holy Spirit in our hearts every day… Christ espoused His Church and sent to her the Holy Spirit, who is like the wedding ring; and the one who has given her the ring will give her also immortality and rest. Let us love Him, hope in Him, believe in Him (s. suppl. 31, 9)

19 - What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the body of Christ, which is the Church. He operates in the whole Church what the soul operates in all the members of one body (s. 267, 4)

20 - Whoever loves has the Holy Spirit and, by having Him, he deserves to have Him more abundantly and, in this way, he will be able to love more. This gift of the Holy Spirit brings a deeper knowledge of the gift itself, which makes it greater (Io. ev. tr. 74, 2)

21 - May the Holy Spirit come to your help: He will not think it unseemly to be the doorkeeper. About the Spirit the Lord says: ‘He will guide you into all the truth’ [John 16:13]. What is the door? Christ. What is Christ? The truth. Who opens the door, unless the one who guides into all truth? (Io. ev. tr. 46, 4)

22 - The Holy Spirit does not speak by Himself, but listens to the one from whom He proceeds. To Him listening is knowing and knowing is being. He, therefore, owes His knowledge to the one from whom He receives His essence; His listening is nothing else than His knowing (Io. ev. tr. 99, 4)

23 - If you want to live by the Holy Spirit, keep charity, love truth, desire unity and you shall reach eternity. Amen (s. 267, 4)

24 - Without the Spirit, the letter of the law kills, since it does not set the sinner free, but rather makes him liable. When you are commanded to do something according to the law, ask the Spirit that He may help you (s. 229/M, 2)

25 - Those who despair or ridicule and despise the preaching of grace, by which sins are forgiven, or of peace, by which we are reconciled with God, and refuse, until the end, to repent of their own sins, they are those who sin against the Holy Spirit (Rom. inch. exp. 14)

26 - The Holy Spirit, who shows Himself reconciled and gracious to the meek and humble in heart, and gives them rest, shows Himself an inexorable adversary to the violent and haughty, and vexes them with disquiet (ep. 55, 16, 29)

27 - Since the Holy Spirit is God, let us love God through God (s. 34, 3)

28 - We cannot say that someone who mingles with the sheep of Christ just physically and not by heart is in the Church and belongs to this society of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit of discipline, in fact, flees hypocrisy (s. 71, 19, 32)

29 - The Holy Spirit sanctifies the people in whom He dwells, while they make progress by being renewed day by day; He grants their prayers and purifies them in the confession of faith, so that they may become an immaculate temple for eternity… Even if, on the last day of their life, they have not reached the stage of spiritual intelligence, their divine indweller will fill all the gaps of their understanding, since they have never separated themselves from the unity of the body of Christ and from the communion of the temple of God… In a certain way they sweat in the effort of walking, that is, of progressing on the way of perfection, while obtaining from God, through the piety of faith, the perspicuity of intelligence (ep. 187, 8, 29)