Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Catechetical Talk #7 (Holy Trinity)

Here is my 7th Catechetical Talk for my 3 prayer groups. The outline here from Volume I of Exposition of Christian Doctrine, contains some details not mentioned in my talk. And my talk also contains some reflections not on the outline.


Mystery of the Holy Trinity


Mystery in General

A mystery is a revealed truth which we cannot naturally comprehend and demonstrate. The existence of mysteries is incontestable; owing to the imperfection of all created intelligence, there must be many truths beyond the power of man to grasp.


Definition of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity

The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of one God in three distinct persons.


  • Insinuated in the Old Testament (Gen. iii. 22; Ps. cix. 1,3; Isa. vi. 3)
  • Revealed clearly in the New Testament (Matt. xxviii. 19; 1 John v. 7; John xiv. 16; 1 Pet. i. 1,2)
  • General belief of the Church (creeds, liturgy, and the decrees of councils)


Unity of nature and Trinity of persons

In this mystery we are to adore one only God in three persons, and three persons in one only God, without confounding the persons or dividing the substance. Distinction in the mystery of the Holy Trinity applies to persons, processions, relations, names, and missions.

Divine Persons

A person is a rational nature subsisting as a complete principle of operation. When viewed from the act of self-consciousness, it is called the ego.

  • Their trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
  • Their distinction
  • Their equality

Divine Processions

A divine procession is the production of one divine person from another.

  • Their number: 2 (know & love)
  1. That of the Son, by generation
  2. That of the Holy Ghost, by way of love.

  • Their properties

  1. Immanent
  2. Eternal
  3. Substantial
  4. Necessary

Divine Relations

Divine relations are orders of origin existing among the divine persons.

  • Paternity (which constitutes the person of the Father)
  • Filiation (that of the Son)
  • Active Spiration (that of the Holy Ghost)
  • Passive Spiration (which establishes the principle of the Holy Ghost, but is not a person)

Their function is to constitute the three divine persons, and to distinguish them from one another without destroying the unity of the divine nature.

Proper Names and Appropriated Names

The proper names are those that belong to one divine person in such a way that they cannot at all belong to another. An  appropriated name is one that, although common to the three divine persons, is given to one person on account of the analogy expressed by the name.

There are two kinds of operation of God: internal operations, or operations ad intra, which are wholly contained in the Blessed Trinity; and external operations, or operations ad extra, whose term is outside the Holy Trinity. The external operations are common to the three divine persons, who act externally by one and the same action.

Divine Missions

A divine mission consist in this, that a person proceeding from another has a new manner of existing in creatures.

  • Vision: has a sensible form
  • Invisible: takes place interiorly, without having any sensible form


  • Dogma not contrary to reason (it is incomprehensible, but not unintelligible)
  • Images and traces in creation (the human soul is one of the most striking images of the Holy Trinity)


  • Of Sabellius (who denied the trinity of persons)
  • Of Arius (who maintained that the Son of God is a creature made out of nothing, though superior to other creatures, and made use by God in creating the world)
  • Of Macedonius (who taught that the Holy Ghost is not a divine person, but a creature more perfect than other creatures)
  • Of Photius (who held that the Holy Ghost proceeds only from the Father)

 My Talk in English:


My Talk in Chinese:


Web Site for my other Catechetical Talks

A reminder for my prayer group members: next meeting for all 3 groups will either on May 10th or May 11th.