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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Trinity Sunday

“To Know the Mystery of Your Life....”

Questions to Ask Yourself

How central to your spirituality is the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity? How much are your actions and choices influenced by what God actually is: three Persons in one God? How does this trinity of Persons enter into your prayer?

Ideas to Consider

We were baptized — that is, received the gift of Life as Christians — “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is logical to expect we would live in awareness of and interaction with those three Persons from then on.

This awareness is cultivated by the one greatest sustaining force of our Christian life that Jesus established in the Church: the Mass. We should notice how.

We begin the Mass “in the name...” of the Three Persons, making the “Sign of the Cross.” We end invoking the Three Persons again in the final blessing.

The Greeting quite commonly used is: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”[1]

The Kyrie is not Trinitarian, since “Lord... Christ... Lord have mercy” are all addressed to Jesus. But the Gloria is, acclaiming “God the Father almighty... Lord Jesus Christ, only Son... with the Holy Spirit.” Likewise the Profession of Faith states in turn what we believe about the “one God, the Father,” the “one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son,” and “the Holy Spirit, the Lord....”

The Opening Prayer (Collect) “is usually addressed to God the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit and concludes with a Trinitarian ending “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit.....” The Prayer over the Gifts and After Communion “end with the shorter conclusion,” usually just “Through Christ our Lord.”

In Eucharistic Prayers II, III and IV the Holy Trinity is mentioned four times, carefully positioned in the same four places in each one: at the beginning, the middle and the end. The two “middle” namings (the first and second Epiclesis) bracket the Consecration (Institution Narrative), around which “the Church has arranged the entire celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.”[2]

Eucharistic Prayer II begins: “Father, it is our duty... through your beloved Son... by the power of the Holy Spirit.” And we name both Father and Son when we “call down” the Spirit: first on the bread and wine, then on the Church:

First Epiclesis: “Lord [Father], you are holy... let your Spirit come upon these gifts... so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus.”

Second Epiclesis: “We offer you, Father, this life-giving bread... may all of us who share in the body and blood of Christ be... in unity by the Holy Spirit

The same pattern appears in Eucharistic Prayers III and IV.

Finally, every Eucharistic Prayer climaxes in the Doxology: “Through him [Jesus], with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.”

The Rite of Communion begins with the Our Father, then goes on to address the “Lord Jesus Christ,” asking for “peace and unity” which are the work, the sign and the fruit of the Spirit. Although the Spirit is not mentioned by name, the Holy Spirit’s presence pervades the “communion in the Spirit” that characterizes the Rite of Peace and the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.”

Concluding Rites: The Mass which began with the Sign of the Cross “in the name...” of the Three Persons, ends with a cruciform blessing in the name of the same Three in One: “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Why this insistence on naming the Three Persons? Today’s Opening Prayer tells us: “Father, you sent your Word to bring us truth and your Spirit to make us holy. Through them we come to know the mystery of your Life.”

Knowing God is what our Christian life is all about, because the more we know him, the more we will be like him. To grasp the mystery of the Trinity is to realize that God cannot even be conceived of except as love. And human life cannot be lived authentically except in relationship with others. We will explain this.[3]

Trinity Sunday / Year C June 16, 2019

The Trinity and us

John 16:12-15; Proverbs 8:22-31; Ps. 8:3-8; Romans 5:1-5.

Since we are created in the image of God, it is obvious that we cannot really understand ourselves unless we understand God. And since Jesus has revealed that God is Trinity, we have to understand ourselves in relationship to the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

To do this we have to start by identifying with Jesus. We are his Body. It is through and in him that we share in the divine life of God. And he is the Word (the truth, the intelligibility) of God made flesh. In him we see the divine reality of God made visible in human terms and his human reality appearing in a way that is inexplicable except in the light of the mystery of his divine life — which is the mystery of our life as well: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (see Colossians 1:9-20) “through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.” Because we are “in him” we can “boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” So how does Jesus speak of his relationship to the Father and Spirit? This will give us the key to ours.

Jesus said, “All the Father has is mine.” What does this mean, and in what sense can we also say it? What the Father has is all truth, all goodness, all power; in short, all that is. He is the creator, the source of all and fullness of all. As “only Son of the Father” Jesus possesses all this by right. But “in Christ,” we are filii in Filio, true children of God; “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). So each of us can say, “All that the Father has is mine” in the sense that by letting us share in his divine life God has also shared with us all that he is and has.

All Truth is ours. We cannot access it all and get it into consciousness, any more than Jesus could during his earthly life, but it is already ours, like a fortune held in trust for a minor not yet able to manage it. This gives us a different attitude toward the knowledge and wisdom of this world. It is all our Father’s truth. And it is ours, although we have not yet entered into full possession of it.

When Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you,” he reminded us that the role of Jesus, and therefore ours, is to reveal on earth the truth of God: “For this I was born,” he told Pilate, “and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). And to his disciples he said, “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15). Our role, then, is to make known to others everything we have heard from Jesus. This is what it is to be loyal children to the Father, following the example of Jesus.

But we cannot reveal God’s truth to others just by saying it. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you,” but he held back because “you cannot bear them now.” Just hearing truth isn’t enough; we have to accept it personally, for ourselves; interiorize it, take it to heart, make it our own. But we cannot do this with divine truth unless the Holy Spirit empowers us from within: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth... he will take what is mine and declare it to you” — that is, declare it from within your minds and hearts, so that it will no longer be just “my” truth, exterior to you, but your truth. It will be the truth you identify as your personality, your character, your being, your soul, your own.

The Christian “thing” cannot exist, cannot happen, without the action of all Three Persons of the Trinity. We need the Father to bestow his truth on us, the Son to reveal it in human words and actions, the Spirit to come and be one with us, speaking God’s truth and love divinely from within our hearts, making it our own. And we have to go out and proclaim the Good News to others in the name of Father, Son and Spirit, giving what is God’s, as Jesus gave it, depending on the Holy Spirit to make it real.


Appreciating the Three Persons: Christians are united with the Jews and the Muslims in believing that God is One — and unique. We differ from them both in believing that God is three Persons in one divine Nature. All three Persons “reveal” themselves “in the depths of our being.” Through them we “come to know the mystery” of God’s own divine Life and Being.


  • Be conscious of how God shows his love for you in different ways in each Person of the Trinity. Vibrate when the presider at Mass proclaims in the Introductory Rites: “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and communion in the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

  • Ask yourself in prayer and others in discussion: How could the statements below make Mass mean more if we stay aware of them during Mass?

  • John calls Jesus the “Logos” — which means the “intelligibility” — of God. Because we have made our faith in God depend too much on rational proofs, we need a “new recognition of the intellectual significance of religious experience.” Nevertheless, without the Logos of God and a basic metaphysics there really is no ultimate intelligibility in the universe.

  • Intelligibility depends on the recognition of intentional design. We call a spade a spade only if we judge someone designed and formed it to be one. But people call a tree a tree while refusing to allow any explanation of its structure but pure chance. This is a denial of reason.

  • We accept logic (logos) in technology, but are blind to it in ontology. We know so much about how things work that it distracts us from our gaping ignorance about what things are. We know enough physics to prevent conception or produce it in a test tube; but not enough metaphysics to recognize when or even whether what is conceived can be called a “human being.” That depends on logos.

  • What the Logos is to knowledge of God by reason, the Spirit is to knowledge of God by faith, which is the gift of sharing in God’s own act of knowing. No one can say “Abba, Father!” or “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

  • The Father, perceiving the truth of his own Being, has been exclaiming “God!” from all eternity. This “Word” of knowledge is the Son. And the two affirm God’s goodness in a mutual act of love which is the Holy Spirit.

  • We experience that we must be like God because we are able to understand his design in things he has made, recognize his purpose, and “reproduce” his creative act by “breathing out” a being’s name in a “word of knowledge” that echoes of the creative “word” by which God “breathes into being” every creature.

  • God is three and so are we. By memory we are like the Father. We say, “Let it be” and it is. By intellect we are like the Logos: we perceive intelligibility. And by will we are like the Spirit: we love.


  • When you make the “Sign of the Cross,” consciously address each Person.

[1] 2Corinthians 13:13. In the Mass, the French, German and Spanish change it to “the love of God the Father.”

[2] U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 2003, nos. 54, 72, 77, 89.

[3] John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” 1John 3:2: “Beloved, we are God’s children now... when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” 1John 4:8, 16: “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.... God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

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