The Holy Trinity (detail) from Disputa dei Sacramento - The Triumph of the Christian Faith Raphael (ca 1508) Stanza della Segnatura, Apostolic Palace, Vatican
The Trinity is the mystery of one God in three Persons:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at 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. - Catechism of the Catholic Church
Prayer & Readings - Creeds - Litany - Family Activities - Hymns to the Trinity
The Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity
"The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
"The Incarnation of God's Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father, the Son is one and the same God.
"The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (John 14:26) and by the Son: from the Father (John 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. "With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified" (Nicene Creed).
"Inseparable in what they are, the Divine Persons are also inseparable in what they do. But within the single divine operation each shows forth what is proper to Him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions of the Son's Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit."
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church §§ 261, 262, 263, 267
Benedictus sit Deus Pater, unigenitusque Dei Filius,
Sanctus quoque Spiritus, quia fecit nobiscum misericordiam suam.
Blessed be God the Father and His only begotten Son
and the Holy Spirit, who has shown us His merciful love.
God our Father, who by sending into the world
the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification
made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,
grant us, we pray, that in professing the faith,
we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9
With the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness". And Moses made haste to bow his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, "If now I have found favor in Thy sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in the midst of us, although it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thy inheritance."
Second Reading: II Corinthians 13:11-13
Finally, brethen, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Gospel Reading: John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40
Second Reading: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel Reading: Matthew 28:16-20
First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31
The Lord created me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth; before He had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.
When He established the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when He established the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him, like a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men.
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
Gospel Reading: John 16:12-15
"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The word Creed comes from the Latin word Credo -- I believe -- and the Creeds are summaries of the Christian faith. There are three Creeds, or professions of faith, that are symbols of the faith, affirming the essential Trinitarian dogma: the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, also called the Quicumque, an important Trinitarian formula dating from the 4th Century, intended to address the Arian heresy which denied the two natures of Christ. The Creeds are called "symbols of faith", from the Greek word symbolon, meaning identifiers or summaries.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds thus:
"The Apostles Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles' faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: It is 'the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter, the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith.'"
"The Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Nicene Creed draws its great authority from the fact that it stems from the first two ecumenical Councils (in 35 and 381). It remains common to all the great Churches of both East and West to this day."
[CCC §§194, 195].
The plan of presentation of Catholic doctrine and dogmas in the Catechism of the Catholic Church follows the Apostles Creed, "the oldest Roman catechism".
(For more on the Creeds, see the Catechism §§184-197. Note: The entire Catechism is availale online from the Holy See. See Links page for web access.)
Litany to the Holy TrinityV. Blessed be the holy Trinity and undivided Unity;
R. We will give glory to Him, because He hath shown His mercy to us.
V. O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Thy Name in all the earth!
R. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy
Blessed Trinity, hear us.
Adorable Unity, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Response: have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, One God,
Father from Whom are all things,
Son through Whom are all things,
Holy Ghost in Whom are all things,
Holy and undivided Trinity,
Only-begotten Son of the Father,
Spirit Who preceedeth from the Father and the Son,
Co-eternal Majesty of Three Divine Persons,
Father, the Creator,
Son, the Redeemer,
Holy Ghost, the Comforter,
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,
Who art, Who wast, and Who art to come,
God Most High, Who inhabitest eternity,
To Whom alone are due all honor and glory,
Who alone doest great wonders,
Spare us, O Holy Trinity.
Graciously hear us, O Holy Trinity.
From all evil, Response: Deliver us, O Holy Trinity.
From all sin,
From all pride,
From all love of riches,
From all uncleanness,
From all sloth,
From all inordinate affection,
From all envy and malice,
From all anger and impatience,
From every thought, word, and deed contrary to Thy holy law,
From Thine everlasting malediciton,
Through Thy plenteous loving kindness,
Through the exceeding treasure of Thy goodness and love,
Through the depths of Thy wisdom and knowledge,
Through all Thy unspeakable perfections,
Beseech Thee to hear us.
That we may ever serve Thee alone, Response: We beseech Thee to hear us.
That we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth,
That we may love Thee with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength,
That, for Thy sake, we may love our neighbor as ourselves,
That we may faithfully keep Thy holy commandments,
That we may never defile our bodies and souls with sin,
That we may go from grace to grace, and from virtue to virtue,
That we may finally enjoy the sight of Thee in glory,
That Thou wouldst vouchsafe to hear us,
O Blessed Trinity,
We beseech Thee, deliver us.
O Blessed Trinity,
We beseech Thee, save us.
O Blessed Trinity,
Have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy,
Christ, have mercy,
Lord, have mercy.
Our Father (silently). Hail Mary (silently).
V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, in the firmament of Heaven,
R. And worthy to be praised, and glorious, and highly exalted forever.
Let Us Pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast granted Thy servants in the confession of the True Faith, to acknowledge the glory of an Eternal Trinity, and in the power of Thy majesty to adore Thy Unity: we beseech Thee that by the strength of this faith we may be defended from all adversity. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.+
Family Activities to honor the Holy Trinity
Doxology and Sign of the Cross: The most fundamental -- and simplest -- affirmation of the Holy Trinity is the invocation known as the doxology, a prayer of praise: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, accompanied by the sign of the cross. Even very small children can learn to make the sign of the cross. (See Sign of the Cross page.) The Trinity is always invoked at baptism: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
The truth of the Trinity should be taught to children, even if no one can penetrate this mystery given to us by the Lord. Two saints of the distant past left accounts.
Saint Augustine recounted that when he was walking on the beach one day, trying to understand the Trinity, he saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand near the water. Augustine noticed that the hole was filled with water, and asked the child how deep the hole was. The boy replied that its depth is fathomless, immeasurable -- like the mystery of the Trinity Augustine vainly sought to comprehend.
Saint Patrick attempted to illustrate the "Three-in-One and One-in-Three" by using a three-leaf shamrock. At this time of year, many people have a stand of new green clover in their lawns. You might illustrate the Saint Patrick story by taking children outside to find clover so that they can see that the structure of the one leaf consists of three parts. One part cannot be removed without destroying the wholeness of the leaf.
On a walk around the neighborhood -- or even around the house, look for any objects that could symbolize the concept of the Trinity. (Hint: find triangles!)
Family Dinner suggestions:
Cloverleaf rolls: Have the children help make these rolls, by placing three walnut-sized balls of dough in each cup of a muffin pan. If you haven't time or inclination to make real cloverleaf rolls, a simple way is to make the dough from baking mix or -- even easier -- to from tubes of canned biscuit dough. Use this dough to make the balls. Folllow the baking directions on the box or tube. Brush the cloverleaf rolls with milk just before baking.
Three-in-one salad: Use three fruits in a fruit salad (e.g. apples, bananas, and grapes/pineapple, oranges, bananas); or add three different kinds of fruit to jello.
"Trinity" candle: An effective table decoration is a pillar candle with three wicks. You can usually find these in candle shops.
You could make a somewhat less clearly symbolic but still-pretty substitute by binding three candles together with narrow ribbon, and affixing them to a small plate with florist's wax. (Be sure to tie the ribbon low enough that it will not be ignited!)
Centerpiece of flowers could appropriately combine clover, or oxalis (which also has tripartite leaves) with iris, which has three upright petals (standards) supported by three "falls". (The wild flower, trillium, also has three triangular petals, but although it usually blooms at this time of year, it is hard to find.)
Doxology: Say the doxology in praise of the Holy Trinity before Grace, either in English or in Latin.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper in secula seculorum. Amen.
Links on the Vatican Website:
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, POPE BENEDICT XVI, ANGELUS, Sunday, 30 May 2010
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, POPE BENEDICT XVI, ANGELUS, Sunday, 7 June 2009
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