A Trinity Sunday question

Here is a little Trinity Sunday question for you.

In your Sunday sermons today, did you hear the preacher make an analogy for the Trinity?

Did he says something like…

The Trinity is like water, which can be steam, ice or water.   (Modalism)

The Trinity is like an egg, which can be shell, yolk and white.  (Tritheism)

The three Persons are like three wine bottles of the same wine.

The Father is like the Sun, the Son like Light, the Spirit like warmth.

What analogies did you hear today?

Are they good?  Not so good?

We can understand that people resort to analogies when speaking of the Trinity.


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  1. Stephen says:

    Haven’t been to Holy Mass yet today but once I heard, “The Trinity is like a cake.” explaining that the flour, egg and yeast make up the cake. I guess the argument would be that egg, flour and yeast become consubstantial when they are parts of a cake. It seems like a bad analogy but can be useful, for the imaginative.

  2. My priest used: “The Father is like the Sun, the Son like Light, the Spirit like warmth.”

    I had never heard this analogy and thought it was very good. Thought the warmth preceded from the Light and the Sun very well… :)

  3. Asperity Ipswich says:

    How about, in reference to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, the use of the image “the root the shoot, and the fruit?” Or, again in reference to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “the sun, the sunlight, and the warmth one feels?”

  4. Natalie says:

    There was no analogy but the priest finished the homily by reading the lyrics from a song from Pocahontas, ‘Colors of the Wind’.
    I am not kidding.

  5. Thomas says:

    I went to vigil Mass and the homily was rambling, incoherent, and made no reference to the Trinity.

    Being from the Archdiocese of Boston, our patron saint is St. Patrick. Why get too complicated when you can just use his own analogy?

  6. Carina says:

    For the first time, I attended mass in the Extraordinary Form. I was a bit lost at some points, especially when the priest goes into the long sequence of silent prayers and you’re a bit unsure of which part he is saying at the moment. But there was a booklet provided and it was very helpful. And even though I couldn’t see everything that was going on, it was alright. I’d learned the day before what active participation really requires from us. :) The mass was very beautiful and it seemed like everyone had all the time in the world to just praise God.

    The priest didn’t use an analogy. He basically expounded on the fact that the life of every Christian starts and ends with the Blessed Trinity.

    A few years ago though, I heard a priest (wasn’t attending mass but just happened to pass by the church) make the analogy of the Holy Trinity being like coffee…3-in-1.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    Thomas: I went to vigil Mass and the homily was rambling, incoherent, and made no reference to the Trinity.

    It seems a safe bet that your homilist has not said the Athanasian Creed today, as used to be required of priests on Trinity Sunday.

    Athanasian Creed

    [Good point! And as priests pray, so they believe. The “Athanasian Creed” is excellent.]

  8. @markomalley says:

    Surprisingly, not a homily on the Trinity at all; rather, a homily on “Triune Marriage”…not a bad homily, at all…and a very timely topic, but I was a little surprised that the homilist in question would stray so far from the topic within the N.O. Lectionary for today.

  9. Dr. Eric says:

    Father used the shamrock, the sun/light/warmth, and one other analogy. But he drove home the point that the Trinity you can completely understand is not the Trinity. I spoke with him for over an hour after Mass (he is the director for the Diaconate in our Diocese) and I was pleasantly surprised to find a very orthodox priest. Please pray for Fr. Gene. :-)

  10. Father Nicholas Schumm says:

    Unfortunately, it seems that most Catholics give little thought to the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. It is one of the central Dogmas of our Faith and we treat it in a negligent way. However, this Dogma reveals something very important about Reality itself! The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is the Family of God, called to be a community of Love, in imitation of our Triune God. We need to pray about this Mystery more and live it!

  11. Thomas says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Don’t get me wrong. The priest is a good man and orthodox in belief as far as I know. He’s just a bit of a scatter-brain. Sometimes the homilies come together nicely, but sometimes they’re all over the place.

  12. Conservative Roman Catholic Pro-Life Dude says:

    I have a question for you guys. Did any of you have Latin n the Mass you went to? The Church where I go has no Latin at all though it does have incense.:[ Do you guys have any suggestions?

  13. Today, the only examples mentioned in the homily were given as examples of “poor” or wholly inadequate analogs. Of course, we had the ubiquitous shamrock, and Neapolitan ice cream. The homily went on to discuss the ways that we as created beings relate to each other and the created world, and how we draw this ability to relate from the nature of God as a relationship of persons.

  14. Matt says:

    A lit candle….. candle, light and heat…. not bad

    Also the Spirit as the personalized love between the Father and the Son

  15. RJSciurus says:

    Visited a different parish last night and after opening Mass with a reference to the Trinity and 2,000 years of discussion, he added, “I dunno, YOU figure it out” his homily spoke of the need for people to be together with others and that it is burned in our being to not desire to be alone.

  16. Thomas Gillespie says:

    The priest did not use an analogy for the Trinity, but re-told Augustine’s story about the little boy on the beach trying to fill the hole he’d made with all the ocean’s water, his intent being, of course, to emphasize our incapacity to grasp fully the mystery of the Trinity.

    This is not bad, but sometimes seems to skirt irrationalism or obscurantism, for surely orthodox theologians have teased out some illuminating aspects of the Most Holy Trinity: the fundamental distinction between nature (the ‘what’) and person (the ‘who’) in grasping the one-in-threeness of God – God is one ‘what’ and three ‘who’s’ – relations of opposition and circumincession, and so forth. Would love to hear about these in a homily sometime.

  17. Conservative Roman Catholic Pro-Life Dude says:

    My homily was actually pretty good. The priest talked about how the Trinity of God was all one God and the evil of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, and disrespect of parents. So it was actually pretty good.

  18. Conservative Roman Catholic Pro-Life Dude says:

    Hey Thomas do you go to St Peter’s in Beaufort?

  19. Athelstane says:

    Analogies and the Trinity can be a tricky business.

    When in doubt, Augustine (De Trinitate) can be a valuable source. Why reinvent the wheel?

  20. RC says:

    Our pastor didn’t take on the internal life of the Trinity, except to say that It is a community of persons. He started from Aristotle’s description of human friendship and led to the question of whether man can be friends with God, and to how the gift of divine charity poured into our souls makes this friendship possible. All in all, it’s one of the few good homilies I’ve ever heard on this solemnity!

  21. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “God is Love” is the approach I take to describing the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. Apparently, I was beaten to the punch by Augustine, Lombard, and Aquinas.

  22. Fr. Charles says:

    One of the most beloved moments in life as a theological student was when of our professors made the sign of the Cross as “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” and another professor accused him of modalism.

  23. sekman says:

    Oh no I heard not asinine analogies rather a great emphasis on how the trinity is a mystery. Our transitional deacon who is hear for the summer is a great preacher, direct and to the point.

  24. Jayna says:

    Not a single analogy, actually. He talked about how difficult it is to properly explain the Trinity. He briefly touched on St. Augustine (same story that Thomas mentioned above about the boy filling the hole with water) as well as the Holy Father’s book Jesus of Nazareth. He ended with the Glory Be – about a third of the congregation didn’t even know the whole thing.

  25. Jeff Pinyan says:

    The “flame-light-warmth” analogy is interesting.

    I like St. Hilary’s De Trinitate, Book VI, 12, where he makes it clear that the Father and the Son are not two wicks drawing from the same oil, but that the Son is light from the Father who is light:

    Their next clause is: — “Nor, as Hieracas, a light from a light, or a lamp with two flames, nor as if He was previously in being, and afterwards born, or created afresh, to be a Son.” Hieracas ignores the birth of the Only-begotten, and, in complete unconsciousness of the meaning of the Gospel revelations, talks of two flames from one lamp. This symmetrical pair of flames, fed by the supply of oil contained in one bowl, is His illustration of the substance of Father and Son. It is as though that substance were something separate from Either Person, like the oil in the lamp, which is distinct from the two flames, though they depend upon it for their existence; or like the wick, of one material throughout and burning at both ends, which is distinct from the flames, yet provides them and connects them together. All this is a mere delusion of human folly, which has trusted to itself, and not to God, for knowledge. But the true faith asserts that God is born from God, as light from light, which pours itself forth without self-diminution, giving what it has yet having what it gave. It asserts that by His birth He was what He is, for as He is so was He born; that His birth was the gift of the existing Life, a gift which did not lessen the store from which it was taken; and that They Two are One, for He, from Whom He is born, is as Himself, and He that was born has neither another source nor another nature, for He is Light from Light. It is in order to draw men’s faith away from this, the true doctrine, that this lantern or lamp of Hieracas is cast in the teeth of those who confess Light from Light. Because the phrase has been used in an heretical sense, and condemned both now and in earlier days, they want to persuade us that there is no true sense in which it can be employed. Let heresy forthwith abandon these groundless fears, and refrain from claiming to be the protector of the Church’s faith on the score of a reputation for zeal earned so dishonestly. For we allow nothing bodily, nothing lifeless, to have a place among the attributes of God; whatever is God is perfect God. In Him is nothing but power, life, light, blessedness, Spirit. That nature contains no dull, material elements; being immutable, it has no incongruities within it. God, because He is God, is unchangeable; and the unchangeable God begat God. Their bond of union is not, like that of two flames, two wicks of one lamp, something outside Themselves. The birth of the Only-begotten Son from God is not a prolongation in space, but a begetting; not an extension [i.e. a line of lights], but Light from Light. For the unity of light with light is a unity of nature, not unbroken continuation.

  26. Flabellum says:

    Trinitarian mathematics: 1+1+1=3; 1x1x1=1.
    God doesn’t just add, he multiplies!

  27. Jim Lothian says:

    After a brief allusion to the shamrock as St Patrick’s symbol of the Trinity, our celebrant spoke about the central importance of the Trinity and of Trinity Sunday in the liturgical year. He then drew on St. Augustine’s explanation in De Trinitate, which he explained clearly and concisely.

  28. MB says:

    Fr. Martin O’Keefe, SJ, who today celebrated the last (for the time being) Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis, MO, read aloud the Athanasian Creed at the beginning of his homily. He then expounded upon that creed’s statements to teach us about the Three Divine Persons.


  29. I remember a priest saying, “That one cannot preach on the topic of the Blessed Trinity without speaking heresy.” He was only joking, but he showed the weakness of analogies in discussying the mystery of the Trinity. Our minds are so small.

  30. YIKES! I have taught the egg and water analogies to children and teens with the disclaimer that it isn’t completely accurate. But I had no idea I was teaching heresy! Is the flame-light-warmth more orthodox? I realize all analogies break down. Thank goodness I am going to confession on Thurs.

  31. Precentrix says:

    Our little deacon gave an excellent homily today. The gist was:

    We believe in the Trinity. One God. Three Persons. Yes, noone understands that, it’s a mystery, but we believe it because Holy Mother Church tells us so. And that’s a good thing.

    *No* analogies at all, just a decent explanation of the teaching (though without complicated language), with reference to the minor doxology and to the sign of the Cross, and that we enter and leave this life in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

  32. Precentrix says:

    I wonder what happened back in the UK… there is a long-standing tradition of pastoral letters on Trinity Sunday [rolls eyes]

  33. Sean Cleary says:

    The one that has always stuck with me was credited to St. Augustine… God is Love — The Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved, and the Spirit is the Love that flows between them. Something like that…

    It’s funny– as a child, I never had an issue with the Trinity. It sort of made sense. The older I got, the more I “learned” the more I lost that sense of getting it. I think the Trinity is one of those “revealed to the little ones” things… You start explaining it, you’re in over your head from the get go.

    I listened to a broadcast of Mass from Fordham University in the Bronx, and the priest explained just why some of the analogies are lacking. He talked a bit about mystery and the cradle to death aspect of the sign of the cross. Good homily.

  34. QC says:

    My priest (OF Mass) explained the three terms substance, person, and relationship and then gave us the Augustinian explanation (Holy Spirit as the the love of the Father and Son, etc.). He then read from the CCC on this topic, quoting the 4th Lateran Council. He then spoke of how we partake in the divine nature and how that relates to the relationship of the Trinity. He ended with a prayer of Elizabeth of the Trinity from the CCC.

  35. QC says:

    Reading Sean Cleary’s post reminded me that we got the cradle to grave aspect of the sign of the cross too.

  36. Robert says:

    Our priest didn’t make an analogy about the Trinity, but he did say that while we can’t know of the mystery of the Trinity without it having been revealed to us, he did point to hints of It in creation: the three dimensions of the universe; energy, wavelength and speed (I think) of light, and other threes found in creation. The analogy he did make was in reference to the Eucharist being the best way to give glory to the Trinity, and that we receive all three Persons in communion. He spoke of interpenetration of communion being like a sponge in water, the sponge is in the water and water is in the sponge. Of course, he said it much better than I have.

  37. Toby says:

    I heard a candle analogy similar to Matt’s which I thought was good:

    The flame is the Holy Spirit, the wick is Christ, and the main body – the wax – is God the Father. Each needs the other.

  38. Karin says:

    No analogies from the priest who said Mass. He stressed how that while there are 3 Divine Persons, where one is the other 2 will always be there as well. He incorporated the readings and Gospel as well and ended with Christ’s promise that “I am with you always…” reminding us that the Trinity is with us and we are never alone.
    That’s the basics of his homily. I was glad there were no corny analogies.

  39. Jerry says:

    The analogy was about how during our lives we are viewed differently by those with whom we have relationships. When we are young, we are a child, a son or daughter. Later in life we become a parent to our children , and then we become a grandparent to our grandchildren.

  40. AP says:

    Three candles whose tapers share the same

  41. Michele Q. says:

    Fr. Parrinello (FSSP) told us that if someone ever tells you they understand the Trinity –run away! :-) And he did have a wonderful homily but as my little ones were fidgety I was not able to hear all of it. Maybe someone else from the Lancaster or Harrisburg Latin Mass will chime in.

  42. Charivari Rob says:

    Not any analogies for their own sake. Father did cite a couple of analogies as examples of the perspectives that one might have, but you can’t see all of something from a single, limited perspective. Went on to emphasize the mystery of the Trinity (and what a wondrous mystery it is, at that!).

    From there he concentrated a little more on the theology and doctrine.

  43. Joe says:

    The priest used 2 analogies to try to explain. One was the modalist analogy mentioned in your OP, Father. The other was a reference to St. Ignatius’s analogy of the Trinity as a chord with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit each being a note.

  44. Patrick says:

    No analogies, just solid dogma and doctrine.

    We did get an introduction to the word “consubtantial” and its use from ancient times. Catechesis for the new translations, and sound teaching of the Faith.

    Saint Nicholas Owen, pray for us.

  45. What I heard was a homily by a new priest, at a Mass of Thanksgiving in his home parish, in which he talked about his own journey of faith leading to this day; he said a bit about the Trinity.

    What I offered in my homily is at my website, I think one can click on my name? In any case, I didn’t use any analogies per se, but I stressed the idea that God is a relationship within himself, and that this is reflected in our world and in ourselves several ways: all humanity is a family, hence social teaching, common good, concern for poor and unborn; need for parish to be a family and work together (I omitted this section the second time, as it seemed to bog down); I raised the question of just what sort of “relationship” we can expect to have with God (answer: none!) but we might hope to be his “pet” and many might prefer that. However, God speaks of more intimate relationships, above all, groom and bride, which is so demanding. Cross is the marriage bed; Eucharist is intimate, physical union with the Bridegroom; pointed out that we can understand what the Church teaches about sex–it’s the same as what we teach about the Eucharist. (I realize not quite, but for my purposes yes.) How can we achieve this demanding relationship with God? Jesus is the bridge from the Father, and he pours the Holy Spirit into us to raise us up to union with God.

  46. From my Sunday homily. A quick review of Catechesim 101:

    A. “How many persons are in Jesus: one, two, or three?”

    Most parishioners answered, “Three.”

    Wrong! The answer is, “One.” Jesus is one person, not three.” There are three persons in the Trinity, not in Jesus.

    B. “Is Jesus a human person, a Divine Person, or both a human and Divine person?”

    The overwhelming answer was, “Jesus is both a human and a Divine person.”

    Wrong! The answer is “Jesus is a Divine person.” He has two natures, the human nature and the Divine nature. They are united hypostatically to His personhood, which is Divine.

    C. “When Mass is offered, is it offered to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit, or to all Three?”

    Most everyone replied, “to all Three.”

    Wrong! The answer is “the Mass is offered to the Father.” The priest, in persona Christi, offers the Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus, to the Father for the remission of sin, i.e. a sin offering. Clearly this is evident in the prayers that follow the words, “Let us pray …”, the Offertory Prayer, the Preface of the Mass, and other prayers, i.e., the “I confess …,” the “Our Father”, etc.

    Naturally readers of this blog already knew the answers. So this was just a review of Catechism 101 …

  47. Megan says:

    Father began by refuting some heresies (hoorah!) such as modalism, polytheism, Arianism, etc. He then proceeded to explain that this was one of the greatest mysteries, and that we’re not meant to understand the Trinity (tying in the Epistle for Trinity Sunday in the TLM). Good homily.

  48. Bob says:

    No analogy from our priest; just a long, rambling homily on his usual themes: being in community and loving each other. He poked fun at theologians for their efforts at explaining doctrine like the Trinity, since (in his mind) doctrine is pointless; all that matters is being in community and loving each other.

    A few direct quotes from the homily, which I wrote down when he said them:

    “You can only know God as deeply as you know another person.” (He said this is from his “favorite theologian” but didn’t say who that is.)

    “God is not a judge.” (The priest went on to poke fun at people who try to apologize to someone and list what they did and how many times they did it; it struck me as a thinly veiled mockery of the sacrament of Confession, which he treats more like counseling.)

    “God doesn’t want our worship, he want us to love Him.” (From that statement, you can probably guess how this guy says Mass.)

    This is the type of stuff I must endure every week. The people of the parish absolutely love this priest. Lord, have mercy.

  49. Lee says:

    Well, first we had an informal poll regarding who was our favorite person of the Blessed Trinity!!!! It was actually a pretty good homily eventually. Most people raised their hand for Jesus Christ, next the Father, and finally the Holy Spirit. Father said this was very natural since we hear most about Jesus Christ in the gospels. Working from here, Father dwelt mostly on the Father and the Holy Spirit.

    By way of contrast, on the way home we listened to a podcast sermon on the love of God. The sermon was very dense, with many references to Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, to the Fathers and saints of the Church, to the doctrine of the Church. He kept referring to “The Holy Ghost” so presumably he is SSPX. The concepts of sanctifying grace and salvation came up, together with the the notion that without sanctifying grace we aren’t going to make it to heaven, ideas so old that they are very striking when re-presented in 2009.

    The ride home was far more edifying I am sorry to say.

  50. Father Bartoloma says:

    I have to admit, I have frequently used the water (liquid,ice,gas) analogy but I ALWAYS also qualify the analogy that the Divine Persons are distinct and that any analogy, even a helpful one, falls short. Analogies are just that. If St. Augustine and St. Patrick could make fruitful use of them then contemporary preachers can too, providing that they are not trivial and that present also are the necessary qualifications and deferences to the incomprehensiblity of the Sacred Mystery within the same sermon, homily, or catechesis.

  51. I attend the 11 a.m. Mass at Mater Ecclesiae Church in Berlin, NJ. (It is a personal parish, designated for the Traditional Latin Mass and sacraments.)

    Importantly, the pastor prefaced his remarks by stressing that the Holy Trinity is a mystery that the human intellect could not have discerned without revelation. He went on to explain that when God the Father thinks about Himself, that thought is perfect and exists: the Word, the Son of God. The Son is the Father’s perfect expression of Himself. The Holy Ghost is the love of Father and Son for each other.

    I realize that this is more theology than analogy, but I also think it is better to treat even such an explanation as this with circumspection. (See today’s epistle!)

    The pastor also discussed the Arian heresy, and how it derived from a neo-Platonist predisposition to view ultimate reality as a series of emanations. Residual Arianism in North Africa made the population vulnerable to Islam. I found that interesting.

    For some reason, I always become uncomfortable and dissatisfied when I read (for instance, in my favorite theologian, von Balthasar), that the Holy Ghost is the mutual love of Father and Son. Someday I will explore this further. I think I appreciate the approach of our Eastern Rite Catholic and Orthodox Christian brethren when it comes to theology about the Holy Trinity. Much of what they say comes down to this:


  52. marnie says:

    My priest talked about the lover, the beloved and the love between the two and for us. Thinking it had been over my son’s head I tried to explain what Father had said and he said to me: Mom, I don’t understand when you try to explain it, but don’t worry, tonight when I pray, I’m sure God will. I think he gets it.

  53. Lurker #59 says:

    Father used three analogies today. Shamrock, trinitarian musical cord, and the triangle. He mentioned that one couldn’t draw a triangle because in that depiction one always had to start somewhere. Granted the Holy Trinity is eternally one, but in our analogies we should seek to have a sound theology of the Father. This can be sort of is a denial of the Father being the source of the Godhead, as well as the begetting of the Son and the spiration of the Holy Spirit.

    It seems to me that if we are faced with a hard aspect of the faith, we tend to fall back upon calling it a mystery whereby what we mean is that it is not capable of being known. However mystery caries with it the understanding of incomprehensible (archaic def.) not unknowable. Knowledge of God is akin to Augustine’s filling the hole with water, as others have mentioned. It is not that we cannot fill the hole (God is unknowable) but rather that we can never reach the point where the hole is filled (God is incomprehensible). This is what makes the Christian life so joyous – we can always fall deeper in love with God as there is no upper limit to what we can know and experience of His person. We live in a post enlightenment world where the epistemology is all screwed up and we have been taught to think that we cannot know divine things. But this is the very purpose of the incarnation, that the Son has come to us so that we might know Him, touch Him, and be with Him, and love Him. The God has made the mystery of His very person known to us, through His creation, through His deeds, through His word, through the incarnation of the Son who revealed the Father, and now through the life of the Spirit which we enter into through the sacraments/mysteries of the Church. As such, our knowledge of God is most exquisitely shown in our worship of Him, which is done in trinitarian form; in the Holy Spirit, with the Son, towards the Father.

  54. Antiquarian says:

    “The three Persons are like three wine bottles of the same wine.”

    And, as we know from Graham Greene’s Monsignor Quixote, it is a heresy to use a half-bottle to represent the Holy Spirit.

    (Did anyone ever see the filmed version with Alec Guinness and Leo McKern? Sir Alec as Msgr Quixote used this analogy, but was then mortified to realize he’d used a half-bottle for the Spirit.)

  55. Kimberly says:

    Our priest talked about the love between the Trinity and how that love flows over to us and we should show that love to others. Other than that, the Trinity was a mystery. Sorry Natalie but I think it was better then “Colors of the Wind”.

  56. Tim says:

    Our celebrant today was African and had a very thick accent so he was difficult to understand. However, what I did get was pretty good.

    I don’t believe he used any analogies but tried to teach the Trinity as it is. He said the Trinity was a mystery and could not be fully understood. Then he stated the Trinity is love given and love received, the Holy Spirit being the love shared between the Father and the Son.

    Overall it was a decent homily.

  57. Paul Haley says:

    Our priest said there is no hierarchy per se in the three persons because they are co-equal and co-eternal and he describes the process of circumincession which, theologically, means where one is present all are present and no one is of greater stature than the other for all are bound together. When One acts, they all act and there is no separation among them. The Father begets the Son not in time but from all eternity; the Son is the only-begotten One and from the Love shared between the Father and the Son, infinite beyond measure, proceeds the Holy Spirit.

    All of this happens not in time but in all eternity which is difficult for our finite minds to master. He said the existence of God can be found by the use of human reason but the Trinity can only be grasped through Revelation and Faith. No analogies, Father, which admittedly have their place , especially when dealing with such subjects, but profound and sublime Truth in a Mystery which is common to all who believe in the true Faith. Need I say it? The Extraordinary Form, of course. In fact this is what separates us from all other religions – belief in the Triune God. Deo gratias!

  58. TNCath says:

    Our celebrant talked about Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s use of the chalkboard and the triangle with “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Ghost” written in his Palmer Method handwriting. One year we had a “Cheer” commercial jingle analogy of “Three temperatures, one detergent” / “Three Persons, One God.”

  59. No analogies (We go to a TLM community). The priest (O.S.B.)talked about the Trinity (quoting St. Thomas Aquinas) and how we must believe in the Triune God and the Incarnation in order to be saved. The priest then related how we become part of God when we receive Holy Communion and share in the everlasting and eternal life of the Trinity through the Eucharist (and how we will share in this after death for all eternity).

    Very good homily –intelectual enough for adults and simple enough for children at the same time– very rare to find preaching of this sort. We are truly blessed.

  60. Francesco B. says:

    At my parish, our priest graced us with two analogies. For the first, he cut a dollar bill in three pieces (probably illegal, I know) and said each person of the Holy Trinity was like a third of the dollar bill. The second analogy involved three heart shaped balloons: one purple, one gold, one green. It reminded me of Mardi Gras.

  61. WFW says:

    God is a Trinity in Unity and there are “signatures” of this three-ness all throughout the universe. 1. An atom–composed of three elements (proton, neutron, electron) 2. Three dimensions but one universe. etc.

  62. Snupnjake says:

    There were no Trinity analogies in the homily I heard today :). In fact, the Trinity wasn’t mentioned at all until about 1/3 of the way into the homily. Father talked about inheriting, in terms of the second reading. He then went on to explain how we have inherited the Trinity.

  63. Ken Mueller says:

    Mt Olive Lutheran Church in Billings MT said the Athanasian Creed today with the C word left in too.

  64. JaneB says:

    Oh he just said it was a “mystery” and turned to walk back to his chair to get a laugh and applause. Gotta entertain the congregation at Fr.’s comedy hour. Then we got the “incoherent rambling.”

  65. MargaretMN says:

    Father told a story about a child explaining it as one face, with nose, eyes, mouth. But it was a small aside in a homily chock full of other good stuff as usual.

  66. Ken Mueller said the Athanasian Creed today with the C word left in

    “C” word ? Credo = I believe vs. “We believe” as in Nouvus Ordo ?

    Please advise. [No. The Novus Ordo text, the real text, says Credo… “I believe”. The bad 1973 ICEL translation has “We believe”, but the translation is not the Novus Ordo text. The old bad ICEL translation also has “one in being with the Father”. Both of these errors will be changed with the new translation.]

  67. No analogies at all! At least, none directly addressing the triune nature of the Godhead.
    There were some reflections on why Jesus bothered to reveal the baffling Trinity in the first place; for instance, as an intimate self-revelation of a bridegroom (Christ) to his bride (the Church)!

    Some remarks from Aquinas on the Trinity in relation to salvation. Specifically, to be perfectly effective, the Priest offering our sacrifice had better be divine; and to be a proper sacrifice it had better be offered and received by DIFFERENT persons.

    A strong exhortation against the “creator/redeemer/sanctifier” division of the persons (has this error a name? could it be called officialism?)

    An affirmation that it is good to simply *adore* the *mystery*! (if I recall correctly, anyways. I could google after it, but people are smarter: is this a traditional expression?)

  68. PNP, OP says:

    I know better than to try and explain the Trinity by analogy…with apologies to my brother, Thomas Aquinas!

    I took a very different route: http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2009/06/suffering-for-mystery.html

    Fr. Philip, OP

  69. perhaps “C” word is “Catholic”?

  70. Lirioroja says:

    Unfortunately I’m running on 3 hours of sleep, so here’s what I can remember from this morning’s homily: no analogies, a discussion and refutation of the heresies that pop up when trying to understand the Trinity (particularly Arianism) and a quote from St. Athanasius. I have no idea what I’m going to hear at the Mass I sing at tonight (at a very different church than the one I attend in the morning.) I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some kind of analogy.

  71. wsxyz says:

    We heard that the Trinity can not be understood fully. That the three persons are truly distinct, and yet all are God. That they are distinguished by their origin: the Son being that person eternally generated by the Father; and the Spirit being that person eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son. We heard about generation procession and spiration.

  72. mom in baltimore says:

    Priest suggested the Trinity is like a 3 inch pipe and we are like a 2 inch wrench, we’ll never be able to wrap our 2 inch wrench minds around the 3 inch pipe of the Trinity.

  73. Mom in Baltimore,

    I think we are like a 2 inch wrench and the Holy Trinity is like the Chunnel

  74. Andy F. says:

    I can tell you what went on in the U.K. I was at Church of the Holy Name on Oxford Road in Manchester. In my opinion, there is not a finer Novus Ordo celebrated. I could barely tell the difference between it and the EF. (This would be a stumbling block for the misinformed arguments that so many “traditionalists” make about N.O.) The Rector homilized on the Athanasian Creed as the only orthodox way of explaining the Trinity. No analogies, no letters, just plain speak. Given that it was the Liturgy of the Word it didn’t need any more emphasis than that. Trinity was perfectly explained when we received the living God at the altar rail as the schola sang Ave Verum by Elgar and then Holy God, We Praise Thy Name. (which, by the way, was not a Communion meditation, the Church was that full as it is every Sunday.) I am here studying for a few more days but thoroughly anticipate returning next summer so I can get another glimpse of heaven. http://www.holyname.co.uk From what I understand, the Church’s Mass attendance has been growing. FYI, the Executive Secretary of the ICEL, Msgr. Bruce Harbert, is in residence when he’s not in the States at Holy Name. Knowing he is involved with the ICEL translation, I say we have no worries. Also, ineffable was confirmed to me to be in the translation.

  75. Martin says:

    We heard about the shamrock today.

  76. Jeff Pinyan says:

    The homily I heard was good, but not particularly doctrinal. He ended it by saying that God loves us so much that the Father sent His Son to die for us and remain with us (although he didn’t mention the Eucharist) and They sent the Spirit to abide in us.

    AP, 7 June 2009 @ 12:18 pm: “Three candles whose tapers share the same flame.”

    That’s inaccurate because the Father (one of the tapers in that analogy) is the source of the Godhead: He does not draw or derive from anything.

  77. CC says:

    Not one mention of the Trinity. We had a rambling homily about a Maryknoll missionary. I am glad I follow the calendar because, in my parish today,
    one would have never known it was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

  78. Will says:

    Very solid homily today from the bishop, as he celebrated the Mass for the 50th anniversary of our Holy Trinity parish.
    He started by pointing out that the human intellect was unable to completely understand the mystery of the Trinity. He then quoted St. John who taught that “God is love.” Love requires both the lover and the beloved, the Father perfectly and always loves the Son. The Son always and perfectly loves the Father. This dynamic flow of perfect love is the Spirit. He then taught that this is reflected in the love of the Family. The love of a husband for his wife, and the love of the wife for her husband results in children who are the manifestation of that love. He continued to say that the family is under grave threat today, and that we Catholics must preserve the family and live the love in imitation of the Trinity.

    I found it quite enlightening, much more so than the usual shamrock analogies that I’m used to hearing.

  79. Jef says:

    Father Said that saying “The Trinity is like water, which can be steam, ice or water.” is modalism

    Would it still be modalism if You Said H2O instead?
    i.e The Trinity is like H2O, which can be steam, ice or water but is always H2O
    I’ve used this analogy in the past and don’t want to use it again if its heretical

  80. Jordan says:

    At my NO parish, the priest (who has a very thick Indian accent) said that the Trinity is like the pastor- you don’t see it during the week and it’s difficult to understand.

    Later he did use St. Patrick’s analogy.

  81. Megan says:

    Jef, I think that the problem with that analogy is that H2O becomes *either* steam, ice, or water, never all three at once, whereas God IS the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, unchanging. Perhaps I misunderstand this example of modalism, but that’s how I read it.

    I forgot to mention that Father, after having established that the Trinity was a mystery revealed to us, and that we will never fully understand it, he did use a sort of analogy. He said that the Father knew Himself perfectly, and this infinite knowledge was the Word, was the Son, and that the Father and the Son, knowing each other, loved each other infinitely, and the Holy Ghost was this love. This sounds very similar to what Timothy Mulligan described above. FSSP’s think alike? :)

  82. B. says:

    It wasn’t this year, but a few years ago, the priest preached on Trinity sunday that the Trinity is a symbol for the fact that god can come to us in many forms, like the forms of Islam or Hinduism.

  83. Will says:

    B: Oy, vey.

  84. Allan says:

    “The Trinity is what separates us from Muslims and Jews, who like us believe in the one, true God.”

    OK, not an analogy per se, but an interesting lead in….

  85. Dominic says:

    I just saw Fr. Kevin Manion’s post about the Mass being offered to the Father, and I just had to chime in.

    Respectfully, I would like to remark that while Father’s comment can certainly be understood correctly from one particular point of view – in this case, from the sacramental point of view of the priest acting in persona Christi – this question can and should be looked at from several different points of view. As a fundamental act of sacrifice and worship, the Mass is directed to all three persons of the Trinity, as evidenced by the prayer just after the Lavabo, Suscipe Sancta Trinitas.

  86. London Calling says:

    We had a clear and very orthodox sermon from a Jesuit homilist on the mystery of the Trinity. Because the Mass was in Latin (Novus Ordo) we then had the Preface of the Holy Trinity, which is a little theological masterpiece in itself. The Latin text is almost identical in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms; sadly, the current translation loses some of its richness. The bracketed bit shows a difference between EF and OF, at least the edition I consulted:

    Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus: Qui cum Unigenito Filio tuo et Spiritu Sancto unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in unius singularitate personae, sed in unius Trinitate substantiae. Quod enim de tua gloria, revelante te, credimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu Sancto, sine discretione [EF: sine differentia discretionis] sentimus. Ut, in confessione verae sempiternaeque Deitatis, et in personis proprietas, et in essentia unitas, et in maiestate adoretur aequalitas. Quem [EF: Quam] laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim quoque ac Seraphim, qui non cessant clamare cotidie, una voce dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dóminus Deus Sábaoth…

    Somewhat more literal translation (maybe Fr Z has already done this somewhere on WDTPRS):

    Lord, Holy Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, it is truly fitting and proper, right and helpful to salvation that we should give you thanks always and everywhere. With your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit you are one God, one Lord, not in the oneness of a single person but in the Trinity of one substance. For we believe what you have revealed about your glory, and we believe the same of your Son, and of the Holy Spirit, without separation [EF: difference or separation]. Thus in confessing the true and eternal Godhead we shall adore distinction in persons, oneness in being and equality in majesty, which angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim also praise, never ceasing to cry out with one voice: Holy, Holy, Holy …

  87. ETMC says:

    At our parish, we had the first Mass of a newly ordained priest, which was totally awesome!!! His homily was really good; unfortunately, I don\’t remember enough about it to summarize it here. :(
    Last year, I heard an analogy using fire. There are three parts to fire: the flame itself, the light, and the heat. The three parts are distinct from each other, but at the same time, you can\’t separate them. If I recall correctly, Father compared the Father to the flame, the Son to the light, and the Holy Spirit to the heat.
    Here\’s a really good homily from Trinity Sunday last year (not the one I mentioned above). It was given by Fr. Val Rykowski, who passed away in March of this year, a priest who was very devoted to the Most Holy Trinity.
    (It opens in Windows Media Player.)

  88. Rebekah says:

    Our analogy today was three lit candles with the wicks touching so they were all attached to one flame.

  89. Willebrord says:

    I heard the priest refer to two analogies – the shamrock (the parish IS a St. Patrick’s, after all), and a reference to “elements.” I believe the idea was hydrogen + hydrogen + oxygen = water. The issue was that of course, there’s two hydrogen.

    The sermon was very long… and without any substance. I miss my weekly TLM.

  90. Sara says:

    We also had the analogy of the husband, wife, and child in womb, and based around the “God is love”. Didn’t quite work for me….I lean more toward the shamrock or the neapolition ice cream for a “better understanding to this feeble mind–individual parts yet if you are missing one part it is not complete. I see many husbands and wives without children, and husbands and wives who have lost their spouses (and sadly even children).

  91. jim says:

    Patricia Sanchez in Celebration offered a beautiful reflection on God for us, God with us, and God within us. Pat can always be depended upon for something worthwhile. Fr. Jim.

  92. LCB says:

    What I heard today is not worth commenting on.

    Instead I will read the better comments in this thread, close my eyes, and pretend I was at that Parish during the homily.

  93. Greg says:

    We were told a modern explanation comes from the weekly best sellers book “The Shack”. In The Shack, the Father is an African American woman called Papa, Jesus, is a man from the Middle East, and the Holy Spirit is Sarayu, an Asian woman.

    Although not Catholic, this is a Christian look at the book the Shack, and its alleged explanation of the trinity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK65Jfny70Y.

  94. alipius says:

    I once heard: “God is so great, it takes three persons to live him!”

  95. Vincent says:

    Thank heavens Father had enough respect for the congregation this morning not to use such silly nonsense for explaining God to us.

  96. LCB says:


    Firstly, I don’t know how else to look at the mass other than as a fundamental act of sacrifice and worship.

    Secondly, you may wish to review the prayers of the mass again. The mass is offered to God the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in and through Jesus Christ. When “Almighty God” or other phrases are used, they are directed towards God the Father.

    It is a representation of the sacrifice of Calvary. Representing Jesus’ sacrifice to Jesus makes no sense. That is why the priest acts in the person of Christ. Just as the power of the Holy Spirit made the original sacrifice possible, so too the power of the Holy Spirit makes the representation possible.

  97. I am not Spartacus says:

    EF High Mass in Sarasota, Fl. FFSP, Fr. Fryar ( I think) spoke about the Liturgical Year and how this Feast comes in the middle of the year as a way for H.M. Church to remind us that God must always be in the center (middle ) of our lives…(He made other points about The Liturgical Year)

    It was a very effective, and unique, sermon. I suspect I will remember his excellent observations because they were so unexpected.

    Is there such a being as a mediocre FSSP Priest? Everyone I have ever heard has been exceptional. What a blessing they are.

  98. no analogies with the Abbot’s homily today.

    When explaining the Trinity to my students, I used the example of St. Patrick and also the one from the movie “The Reluctant Saint.”

    St. Joseph of Cupertino is talking to the Bishop and he explains the Trinity to the Bishop as follows. St. Joseph takes some cloth, folds it together three times and says, “The Trinity!” (or something like that).

    No one denies the cloth is still cloth (‘one’) but folded (three).

  99. Simon says:

    Two Masses today: A Marist said the Trinity was beyond our comprehension to fully understand in this life. So he didn’t use an analogy, but said we should always ask questions, as Our Lady asked questions at her annunciation. Later, a secular priest used St Patrick’s shamrock analogy, and then spoke about eros for about fifteen minutes. Both were really good.

  100. Nicandro says:

    At the triple point of water it can co-exist as a gas, liquid or solid. It’ still always water. I don’t think it is modalism?

  101. jim says:

    The three-phase model is outdated, as they are now teaching the kids four phases, including the plasma stage . . . so might as well drop that one. Fr. Jim

  102. Dan says:

    No mention of the Trinity today…today is All Saints’ Day in the Greek Church.

  103. Nicandro says:

    Science to the rescue of the water analogy!

    see- THE THERMODYNAMICAL TRIPLE POINT. Implications for the Trinity
    Michael J. Bozack


    Thank God for the Internet.

    Maybe next year homilies will blind people with a theological science lesson instead of recycling dear old Pat\’s shamrocks?

  104. Nicandro says:

    Fr Jim,
    As plasma is ionised gas you could get away with it just.
    Perhaps we just don’t know enough about matter to develop a rigorous natural model for the Trinity which after all is a supernatural state?
    (I know… It’s a Kop out)

  105. Brian says:

    The priest in Issaquah, wa displayed a Rubilev trinity icon and used the analogy of married love as an imperfect mirroring of the trinitarian processions.

  106. jim says:

    Nicandro, that is fascinating. I think it would be a bit much for most parishioners. Those with a scientific bent might enjoy it, though.

    At my church we reflected on Trinity Sunday as a progression from Pentecost Sunday, keying on how the great commission relates to going forth and baptizing all nations, in effect sharing with others the gifts of the spirit, the giving of which was in a sense underscored during the liturgy last weekend.

    Or viewing Trinity Sunday as somewhat of a sequel to Pentecost Sunday. Fr. Jim

  107. Rick says:

    Our deacon compared the Trinity to an apple–the skin is God, the flesh the the Son and the seeds the Holy Spirit. The deacon must have been afraid to call the Father, Father because he kept saying the Trinty is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

  108. Nicandro says:

    Thanks Fr Jim. Science is fascinating but can be uninspiring. Our priest touched on a topic he often touches on which is the divinity of Jesus. He always mentions how we share God as a father with with Muslims and Jews but we are blessed through our faith in the Trinity to have Jesus who taught us our relationship to “Our Father” and lives also as Spirit with us always. That to me as a scientist was a lot more fascinating and practical than any material analogies.

  109. Nicandro says:

    Embarrased laughter in our Church when in the homily God the Father was called “Daddy” to get the point over.

    Reminded me of the old irreverent joke terms people said in my youth – “Big Daddy” “Spooky” and “The Kid”.

    Blasphemy? [And wrong. “Abba” is not “daddy”.]

  110. David Kastel says:

    LCB – one of the prayers from the traditional Mass: “Receive, O Holy Trinity, this oblation which we make to Thee…”

    This language is very clear. And you may wish to revisit your comment that the phrase “Almighty God” (or for that matter, “God” or “Lord”) refers to God the Father only. This term can refer any Divine Person as well as the Blessed Trinity.

  111. jim says:

    Nicandro, your presider may have been trying to capture the familial intimacy of the word “Abba,” which is laudable, but frankly our “Daddy” really does not convey the expression accurately. I’ve always seen “Pappa” as a much more accurate conveance of the original “Abba.” I think we need to be careful with our analogies that we do not trivialize things/people that are holy. Off to a mexican dinner!

  112. David Kastel says:

    Rick, it sounds as though your deacon is a heretic.

  113. Bonifacius says:

    My priest said that God is one and \”expresses Himself\” in three Persons.

  114. Mary Kay says:

    Nicandro, someone who visited the Mideast said something along the line of Abba being the familiar form, ie “Daddy” as opposed to “Father.” But you’d have to get someone who knows Aramaic to know for sure.

  115. Mary Kay says:

    Jim, how is familial intimacy “trivializing”?

  116. Lover, Beloved, and Love that flows between: a Communion of Love.

  117. Nicandro says:

    `Abba isn’t Daddy,’ in the Journal of Theological Studies 39 (1988), pp. 28-47

    Apparently the “Daddy” view came about in the late 1960s. Figures.

  118. Mary Kay says:

    Nicandro, since I’m not going to spend $28 to view that article – and what’s visible is only that headline, none of the article itself – my post came from someone who had visited the Mideast (I can’t recall the country) during which time she visited a local spot where families went to picnic and swim. One little boy apparently got into deeper waters and called out, “Abba, Abba!” and the boy’s father went out and got him.

    So while I’d like to know what’s in that article, I don’t think the Abba as the familiar form can be casually dismissed.

  119. Willebrord says:

    Wow, 118—119 comments already!

  120. Worm says:

    No analogy. We got an excerpt from the beginning of today’s second reading in the Office of Readings and a discussion of God being relational. We did have 3 newly ordained priests yesterday all celebrating their first Masses today. I wasn’t able to go to any of them, but I did pray for them. Baptism by fire and all.

  121. Michael says:

    The Father is the lover, the Son the beloved, the Holy Ghost is the love.

  122. Nicandro says:

    Mary, familial intimacy aside there are differences in respect even between Father and Daddy and I agree with Jim that to ignore this could be trivialising or vulgarising. Abba as informal hinges on the theory that Abba the word sounds like childish babble- hence the amusement in Church with the use of the familiar “Daddy”. It’s just not true though. Any Aramaic scholars out there?

  123. The Nyssan says:

    Sorry if this has been said above (I’m not reading through 120 to double-check):

    My parish priest related the eternal processions to Martin Buber’s Ich und Dich–how a spirit of love, somehow more than but also uniting the two lovers, is generated in a relationship of love between persons. He also talked about how we are drawn into this love, how the Trinity is important not simply as a theoretical underpinning of our faith but as a living reality that animates all we are and do.

    I like my parish.

  124. Nicandro says:

    Mary, I’d love to post the whole article. Here are James Barr’s conclusions on “ABBA isn’t “DADDY”. God speed. N.

    a) It is fair to say that ‘abba in Jesus’ time belonged to a familiar or colloquial register of language, as distinct from more formal andceremonious usage, though it would be unwise, in view of the usage of the Targum, to press this too far. But in any case it was not a childish expression comparable with ‘Daddy’: it was more a solemn, responsible, adult address to a Father.
    (b) While it ispossible that all cases in which Jesus addresses God as ‘father’ derive from an original ‘abba, it is impossible toprove that this is so, for there are alternative hypotheses which seem to fit the evidence equally well. The fact that ‘abba is cited only once in all the Gospels, while it could mean that it was a typical expression used many times, could also mean that it was a less usual expression, specially quoted because of its use at a critical moment in the Garden of Gethsemane. In particular, in so far as Greek expressions can be said to derive from precise Semitic originals, it is likely that these originals included expressions that specified ‘my’ or ‘our’ or ‘your’ father and in this respect differed from ‘abba. It is also possible that many cases of address to God as Father have arisen in their present form within the Greek tradition and thus cannot be directly tied to any one precise Semitic original.
    (c) The use of ‘abba could in principle be within either Hebrew or
    Aramaic speech. In either case ‘abba, though commonly used in
    address to one’s own father, did not specify ‘my’ father expressly.
    Within both languages it was probably possible to use a form that
    specified ‘my’ father as distinct from ‘father’; and on our present
    knowledge the existence and use of such a form is actually better
    evidenced in Aramaic.
    (d) Although the use of ‘abba in address to God may have been first
    originated by Jesus, it remains difficult to prove how constant and
    pervasive this element was in his expression of himself; and it is
    therefore difficult to prove that it is a quite central keystone in our total understanding of him.
    The writer is grateful to the Revd J. L. Houlden for stimulus and
    ideas, and to Canon John Fenton for helpful discussion.

  125. Erin in PA says:

    Heard Trinity is like three individual music notes that when played together make a chord.

  126. Erin in PA says:

    Our Deacon also offered a way to pray to the Holy Trinity. Take three minutes in the evening. First minute: Pray to the Father about something great that happened during the day.
    Second minute: Pray to the Son about something bad that happened during the day, or something you feel bad about, perhaps a venial sin, and ask for forgiveness, or the strength to forgive someone else.
    Third minute: Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you with something for the next day, or something that is ongoing.

  127. Place: Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC
    Form: Extraordinary

    Homily: Thomistic and Augustinian presentation of the Most Blessed Trinity. Moving from “God is love” to then understanding the inner logic of the Trinity whereby the Father loves/thinks of Himself, generating the “spitting image, ” as the priest said, of Himself in the Son. The breath or sigh of love between the two Persons spirates the Holy Spirit. Is it important to understand God as a Trinity of Persons, the priest asked. Most definitely, he replied, because the Trinity reveals to us how it is that God is love.

  128. David says:

    1. I’ve always found the Baltimore Catechism’s explanation useful: a mystery is a truth that we cannot understand. We can understand how God can be one, and we can understand how He is three persons. It’s how those two go together that we can’t understand. I find that a very clear description of the status of the question.

    2. At Oxford, I had the good fortune to take an Aquinas seminar with a Thomist philosophy professor. When asked how God could be both perfectly simple (as St. Thomas insists upon) and triune, he compared the Trinity to an electron that has twice traveled backwards through time. This analogy sounds ghastly but is actually interesting. The electron, like God, is perfectly simple. (It’s a fundamental particle with no subordinate parts.) When the electron travels back in time twice, a static observer will see three electrons. Yet the electron itself is still one, and still perfectly simple. Thus unity and trinity, with simplicity maintained. Not a very devotional analogy, but interesting, I thought.

    3. The best explanation I’ve ever heard is as follows. We have in our minds an image of ourselves–our self-knowledge. Because we are fallen, that image corresponds imperfectly to the reality of us, and because we are non-omnipotent, it remains only a thought. Nonetheless, there are still two things in play: ourselves, and our knowledge of ourselves. Now consider the Father. He too knows Himself. But because He is omnipotent, His self-knowledge does not remain a mere thought. Rather, it actually comes into independent existence. Moreover, God’s self-knowledge of Himself is perfect. Being perfect, it corresponds exactly to His Godhead. His self-knowledge, in fact, is itself God–the Son. (This explanation hits why the Son is consubstantial with the Father, why he is the Logos, and why there can be only one Son.) The Father and the Son, two perfect goods, know each other’s goodness perfectly, and so love one another perfectly. And of course, the love between them is the Holy Spirit. (Hence why He proceeds from the Father and the Son.)

  129. David says:

    How about…

    Attempting to explain the procession of the Son from the Father:

    “It’s like Bill Gates who had an idea about windows. It was his baby.”

    Yeah, cringe.

  130. Jim says:

    We celebrated the Feast of All Saints today in my Eastern Catholic parish.

    All Saints was moved to November in the West sometime during the early middle ages, to counteract the pagan festivals of Northern Europe. Nevertheless, our pastor talked about the Holy Trinity, as he almost always does, because belief in the Trinity is the foundation of our Faith.

  131. Maureen says:

    So Abba is more like “Dad” or “Pops”. :)

    I think Father mostly preached on love in families, leading off from the Holy Trinity, and love of neighbor. (Probably leading off from the Mass yesterday for a St. Vincent de Paul guy in our parish.)

    However, we did have the moment in the second reading where a toddler yelled, “Daddy, please!” and then the lector got to the part about the Spirit calling out, “Abba, Father”. I was very good and didn’t laugh at all. :)

  132. Mark says:

    I think various analogies were mentioned in passing as more or less sufficient.

    Trinity Sunday is one of those days when I know I’m going to cringe, I think that’s the point of this whole thread.

    Our priest made a perfectly orthodox presentation, but tried to dumb it all down, you know, and it was choppy and disorganized. Sort of hedging between “its just a mystery” and yet explaining what the Church has taught, throwing in some history of the development of doctrine, but the execution was poor.

    He kept introducing ideas only to say, “but I’m not going to get into that now”…so it was filled with a bunch of loose ends that probably would just confuse people. If he wasnt going to explain something, why even mention it!?

    Basically he used the “relational” God Is Love analogy, which I generally like.

    Though I would carefully qualify the idea that “the Holy Spirit is the Love between the Father and the Son” with a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia: “He is not the love of God in the sense of being Himself formally the love by which God loves; but in loving Himself God breathes forth this subsistent term.”

    The Holy Spirit is the hypostatic term proceeding from the Love that God, having known Himself, wills to Himself. But the Holy Spirit is not that love, He is the term OF that love. Just as the Son is not properly speaking God’s objective knowledge of Himself (which is of the Essence) but rather the subjective relational term OF that knowledge.

    The Son is God As God Knows Himself and the Holy Spirit God As God Loves Himself, they are not, formally, the knowledge or the love itself which is Essential and common to all three (the reason why the Son doesnt also begat a Son by which to know himself, or the Spirit a Spirit by which to love himself, etc)

  133. Linda says:

    We had a lovely homily from the Bishop of Helena, Mt on the occasion of confirmation. One of the best I’ve heard! :)

  134. BLC says:

    FSSP service, Australia

    No analogies, just a great homily on the Trinity as well as the importance of prayer.

  135. MS says:

    My pastor started by asking if any of us understood the Trinity then admitted that he didn’t understand it, but he believed. Then he told the story of Augustine on the seashore. Very good.

  136. Mary Kay says:

    Maureen, that showed great restraint on your part!

    Nicandro, thanks for the excerpt. It’s always fascinating to read the scholarly understanding.

    there are differences in respect even between Father and Daddy and I agree with Jim that to ignore this could be trivialising or vulgarising

    I see what you mean, but will stick with my undertanding. It’s not my experience that I have less respect towards someone whom I greet with the more familiar word.

    There’s a distinction between childish and child-like. I do agree with you that childish would be inappropriate, but child-like is to “be like little children.” Given that Abba is only used when Jesus is in the garden, then my friend’s story of the young boy calling for his father to help, to rescue, would indeed have similarity in familial intimacy. I just don’t see how a child-like call, especially when in deep pain, for father would be seen as trivialising or vulgarising.

    It’s an example when “agree to disagree” comes in very handy.

  137. sam says:

    Modalism: Example given was one Sacrament of Holy Order, in three “essences”: Bishop, Priest and Deacon. Imagine that!

  138. AngelineOH says:

    We visited a church today where the priest repeatedly referred to the Holy Spirit as “She”, then as “She, He, whatever”, and then stated that the Church does not have the fulness of faith. At the end of the homily we left. This was a church in middle Tennessee.

  139. Mary says:

    My pastor spoke about the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, and how the Trinity was the first track in the seminary for him. He was born, raised and educated in Ireland, and come out to the states once he was ordained. He spoke of how we start and end every prayer with the Trinity and how we did that at Mass. He used the classic St. Patrick’s analogy of the Blessed Trinity. He also spoke of how a religion teacher asked her students which person of the Holy Trinity they related to the most and gave an example for all 3. He constantly reminded us that it’s a mystery and that we’re not supposed to fully understand it. Over all a good homily and as he does each week, he ended his homily with a Sign of the Cross and told us to go and think of whom we can most relate to in the Trinity.

    Over all a good homily; I’m still warming up to my new pastor and getting used to his preaching style. Though now that I have mentioned his homily it makes me wonder what the vicar at the parish spoke about.

  140. Mary B says:

    No analogies here. We had a homily about the Trinity being a mystery and to accept it as a mystery instead of trying to figure out how/why. I know I’m not giving the homily justice, it was much better than what I’ve just written.

  141. ED2 says:

    Its not really an analogy, but our priest said that Mary is the daughter of the Father, the mother of the Son, and the bride of the Holy Spirit so if we have any questions about the Trinity we should ask her.

  142. RosieC says:

    We have several prominent fleur de lis around our parish church and Father used them for the analogy, thereby also explaining why we have them (for those who were unaware of that symbolism). I went in English/Ordinary Form on Saturday night, and my daughter who went this afternoon in Extraordinary Form heard the same analogy.

  143. Warren says:

    A couple of shoddy analogies presented in a dumbed down, haphazard homily (from a reverent but habitually unprepared priest) that required serious effort to mine it for something of substance (I found myself alternately praying for an intervention during the homily and asking for forgiveness for asking for an intervention). Thank goodness for a poor sound system and a persistent infant who wailed enough to cover some of the sloppy doctrine. Sorry, in a bit of a snit after another mediocre, misshaped liturgy.

    Surprisingly, from “Ms. Politically Correct at the piano”, a couple of good hymns only slightly deformed by gender neuterfication.

  144. Michelle Marie Romani says:

    My pastor based his homily on a book called “The Cabin”. He said that it was written by a former seminary professor of his. In the book, the Trinity is portrayed as a black voluptous woman (presumably, the Creator), an Arabic carpenter (Jesus) and a female who floats in and out (presumably the Holy Spirit). He told us that the Trinity is not two white guys and a dove. I had to do a lot of mental unpacking after Mass. Inasmuch as he said that God is love, I would not have used this book as the basis for anything. He is having to read this book as part of his curriculum for his Masters’ program.

    Unfortunately, my parochial vicar was out of town for the weekend. During the Mass, i tried to replay his homily on the Trinity so as to not get too upset at my pastor. Why could he have not simply quoted Ratzinger?

    Now, I was late to this particular Mass and went to another Mass a couple of hours later at a different parish. The homily was much better and it was more doctrinally correct.

  145. Jennie says:

    Our dear priest mentioned St. Patrick’s use of the three clover leaves to symbolize the three persons of the Trinity, and said it was a way to remember even if it was an insufficient explaination. The greater part of his homily spoke about the meaning of the word person i.e. the person of the Father, the person of the Son, the person of the Holy Ghost, the entymology of the word person, and how it relates to the Trinity. Of course he was very clear about the unity of the three in one (no separate parts nonsense.) He is an excellent speaker and teacher and I am thankful to have him at our parish.

  146. RBrown says:

    “God is Love” is the approach I take to describing the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. Apparently, I was beaten to the punch by Augustine, Lombard, and Aquinas.
    Comment by Jeff Pinyan

    The origin is of course the first letter of John.

    An intriguing theological question is whether the phrase “God is Love” can be predicated of the One God or whether it is strictly an expression of the Trinity. St Thomas agrees with the former (Ia, 20).

  147. Tara says:

    Our visiting priest did a most excellent job of Trinity Sunday–in fact I wrote a blog post about his homily. He said that the Trinity was like love–how do you describe the Trinity Father?

  148. cheyan says:

    No analogies in the homily – it was more “we couldn’t have guessed this on our own, but Jesus revealed it to us so we believe it even though we don’t understand it”.

    I woke up and didn’t feel well enough to go help teach CCD (which is at the same time as the earliest Mass at my parish) but I know that when we covered the Trinity earlier in the year, the teacher I’m assisting described it thus: “I’m only one person, but I’m a sister, a mother, and a daughter all at the same time. The Trinity works in just that way,” and when I complained I was told that this was how one was *supposed* to teach children, otherwise they would get confused.

  149. Rouxfus says:

    Trinitarian triptych:

    Father Loves Son.
    Son Loves Father.
    Love: Father, Son.

    Whomever, wherever, whenever, whatever, however One is, they all Are.

  150. Mike M says:

    My priest didn’t try to analogize the Trinity. Instead, he described how each of the Three Persons interacts with us in our lives.

  151. Chris says:

    I was visiting my hometown and went to Mass at the parish of my youth. The priest said the Trinity was like a dance- more specifically, a *square dance*. Something about all the movements in harmony…
    The analogy did not work at all for me.

  152. Brendan says:

    I was at my cottage so I went to the Mass there. The pastor had surgery and so he has a substitute right now. I had prepared for the worst when I saw the priest wearing an African style red and brown stole OVER his Chasuble. The deacon wore a rainbow stole over an alb.

    Surprisingly, the homily was actually pretty good. I didn’t really care for him pacing back and forth, but I was pleasantly surprised how he always focused on the MYSTERY of the Most Holy Trinity, while also explaining some basic doctrine on it, such as the Three Divine Persons always were, always are, and always will be, specifically touching on the beginning of John’s Gospel (In the beginning was the Word…)

    He also talked about the Trinatarian love of the Divine Persons and how we strive to love others and God as the Communion of the Trinity expresses it.

  153. Z [Not Fr. Z] says:

    obviously none of the homilists took a graduate level Doctrine of God course from an OP:

    1) Mystery must be approached in barefoot awe and humility.
    2) Whatever we say about Mystery is more who/what they are not than what/who they are.
    3) The only accurate image is the Carolingian cross, which shows the perpetual interconnectivity, uniqueness and unity of the Three.
    4) The shamrock is, if you insist on the term, heresy, since it shows no unity or perpetual progression.
    5) Abba, in Aramaic, is a female noun.
    6) An accurate Trinitarian analogy is flame (Abba), light (Word), heat (Spirit)
    7) An accurate verbage is Love, Lover or Beloved, and Lov’ing’ (Spirit is “ingness” of God)
    8) “The Shack,” which is a novel composed by Christian theologians, points out that one’s images of God are poor substitutes composed by human attempts to make the Triune God personal and an intimate member of our lives, as the Trinity should be. Also, that God will make God’s self known in a way that humanity is healed (the protagonist was wounded by his father, so the Father image prohibited his healing).
    9) Wherever God is, which by definition is everywhere, all three persons are evident, without exception, i.e. if love is present, so is the beloved or lover, and so is loving, and each is flowing from the other (see Carolingian cross). Therefore the Mass is Trinitarian, as was Jesus on the Cross.

    [You need some other handle than “Z” for this blog! o{]:¬) ]

  154. Z [Not Fr. Z] says:

    Also the triangle is a deficient image of the Trinity, because it shows hierarchy, which is NOT Trinitarian. The hierarchical Church is the clear sign that the Church too, as in Rahner’s but/and or is/not yet, is spiraling towards Chardin’s Omega point, just like the rest of the Body of Christ.

    As for the “purity” of the Catholic Church, Christ said, “so they like We, shall be One,” and that means ALL faith beliefs, m’dears, NOT just the Catholic ones (even if you don’t like them, the Vatican II documents are still official Church teaching)… And I agree, we are still mostly clueless on how to co-create Paul’s Kin-dom…

  155. Nicandro says:

    Jesus’ plea to “Abba Pater..” Mar14:36

    “There’s a distinction between childish and child-like.” Mary,

    We perhaps shouldn’t equate “Abba Pater” with a childish plea of “Daddy-please”. One is seemingly a voluntary act of submission from knowledge the other is an act of necessary dependency.

    How do we learn to cry “Daddy” without sounding childish? Tough one.

    Fr Z. I’m not familiar with Dominican scholars so don’t get how Abba can be Aramaic feminine. That changes things immensly if true. I have read that the “Ab” was the root – vocative afor father and the “a” on the end made it “The father” The vulgate makes no sens then…”Father the Father”. Trinity Sunday has indeed preserved the mystery that is the Trinity.

  156. Ann says:

    Nicandro, I do not think the person posting as “Z” is Fr. Z because he never leaves off “Fr.” when he posts–at least I have never seen it.

  157. Mark says:

    We had a guest priest who did the homily, and he started out with comparing the Trinity to a candle – wax, wick and flame – but then went on to say that’s really not a good analogy at all :)

  158. Bern says:

    In my experience, people can be too quick to accuse others of modalism, but I have to say my parish priest’s sermon seemed pretty open to a modalist interpretation. The distinction of the Persons was not explained; we were simply told that God sometimes reveals himself as Father, sometimes as Son, sometimes as Holy Spirit and we experience him in these three ways.

    – Bern, England.

  159. Faith says:

    I don’t remember any analogies, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any. What I do remember was that he explained that we are Trinitarians, not Unitarians. See Unitarians are big in New England. In fact, it seems that when we Catholics leave the church, that’s the church they go to. It impressed me. I’m a Trinitarian.

  160. Mike says:

    Interesting that this item has attracted so many comments. Could it be an indication of how hungry many are for decent preaching at mass?

    Where I live I can attend a wonderfully celebrated TLM with awful preaching or a reasonable Novus Ordo mass with excellent preaching. My solution is often to attend the TLM during the week, when there is usually no homily, and the Novus Ordo mass on Sunday.

    This Sunday I attended the TLM, a beautifully said and sung high mass. The Trinity was mentioned only in passing during a shorter than usual homily. Deo Gratias!

  161. Neil, London says:

    We were told that attempts to explain the Trinity usually end in heresy and that it should be understood through faith.

  162. ssoldie says:

    No anaolgy at the Gregorian Rite in Flensburg, Mn. the mystery of faith, ‘The Holy Trinity’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost, in each sacrament, in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost, blessed, absolved, recieved, begin each day with the sign and the words, begin every prayer with the sign and the words, at Mass 52 times the sign, when we genuflect, before we eat and after ,a mystery of faith and Oh! how I love a mystery.

  163. patrick finley says:

    I got the “its a mystery ” cop out. Yes I know its a mystery of the faith, but saint patrick used a shamrock for dumb heathens. I would like to think people in this day and age are smarter then that. He (the homilist), did touch on who one might direct certain types of prayer to, For instance when he made a decision, he prayed to God the Holy Spirit, when he wanted to be a good apostle, God the Son, and when he needed healing or what not, God the Father. I suppose thats a good way to explain, but I worry if it separated the three persons to greatly.

    Alas I digress, the populous I suppose could handle “mystery”, with no further explanation. Maybe their faith is that strong, who knows. We sang Holy God we praise thy name, but stopped just short of the trinity verse. So one could almost say we simply went through the motions

  164. Maureen says:

    Re: “stopped just short of the trinity verse”

    Once we were singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, and stopped after we’d just sung about how it seems like the Devil is going to win. (Father doesn’t like lots of singing and gave the stop sign, without realizing, and the organist stopped, also automatically.) After that, I think the organist put big scribbles on his book ordering himself never to stop at the end of that verse, ever again.

    Re: “Daddy – please!”

    Oh, come on. That was funny. Usually somebody sitting near me in the pews inadvertently groans instead, which is funny too. The willingness of Providence to make bad jokes, or prod me in the ribs right afterward with an example of how to apply the readings to myself, is easy to observe.

  165. Nicandro says:

    Maureen, I see the funny side of the “Daddy-please” outburst. If I had been there I would have snickered like an idiot probably. Is the joke on us? If we don’t try to get the Abba-Pater thing right we could be reduced to snickering idots sliding down the surface of all things holy to profanity.

  166. Pax tibi says:

    I don’t like the sun-light-warmth analogy. It strikes me as Arian-esque.

  167. Nicandro says:

    Z- sorry for any confusion if your not Fr.Z. Thank you for pointing that out Anne.

    Trinity is a mysterium fidei like transubstantiation and surely we have no problems here?

    Can we do a similar post on Corpus Christi and see if we can break the 200 posts barrier?

  168. With all do respect, I’d be reticent to call the water analogy modalist heresy. [If the water analogy is modalism, the wine bottle analogy should also be labeled “tritheism” since it is not the same exact wine shared.] An analogy is an analogy because there is some similarity but even more difference. And here on earth we’re using limited material objects to try to grasp a ineffable revealed truth about our infinite God. Granted, some analogies are way off the mark. But, no analogy will ever be perfect.

    PS I heard Tertullian’s: root, shoot, fruit of same plant; St. Augustine’s: Memory, Mind, and Will; and St. Patrick’s Shamrock. The priest did point out that these analogies are imperfect, but the analogies serve to show that while we cannot reason to the Trinity, the notion of the Trinity is reasonable and not irrational.

  169. Andrew, medievalist says:

    Isn’t the wine bottle analogy Graham Greenism? cf: Monsignor Quixote. ;-)

  170. 4thePriests says:

    Homily started out…This is a unique feast day in which we are celebrating a MYSTERY. The Franciscan talked of the love that makes up the Triune God and how we are created to participate in that love. Love cannot exist without relationship. That begins with the Trinity and is extended to us but is not forced upon us. We choose to accept the relationship/love.

  171. irishgirl says:

    At the TLM I went to yesterday, the priest used the Sign of the Cross in reference to the Trinity.

    He started out by telling a story from the Civil War. A Confederate general named Smith was marching with his troops to the main camp. A password was required to get into the camp. If they didn’t know it, there was a good chance they would be shot by their fellow soldiers. General Smith asked for a volunteer to go alone to the camp. He gave the volunteer-who was a Catholic-a piece of paper to have on his person with his [the General’s] name on it. As the Catholic soldier approached the camp, he heard the challenge from the sentry, ‘Halt! Who goes there? Give the password!’. When the Catholic soldier didn’t know it, the other soldiers in the camp pointed their rifles at him, ready to shoot. The Catholic soldier, thinking his last hour had come, made…the Sign of the Cross! To his surprise, the soldiers with the rifles lowered their arms. The password was…get this…THE SIGN OF THE CROSS! General Beauregard, the commander in the camp, made that the password!

    My mouth fell open when I heard that!

    The priests who do the TLM give great stories at the start of their sermons!

    The rest of the sermon was about using the Sign of the Cross as an expression of belief, not only in the Trinity, but in all the truths the Church has taught!

  172. Another little tidbit to add to my previous post about the analogy (way up near the beginning of these comments)…

    It is about mystery: my priest reminded us that a mystery cannot be explained; it can only be experienced.

  173. Jacque B says:

    Our priest is from India.. He has been at our parish for alomst a year and I am just now understanding his accent.
    He is a good pastor and I have grown to love him.
    This Sunday his Provential was here and he gave the homily and I couldn’t understand a thing he said.
    Even at that…I thank God that we had a Mass and not a “Celebration of the Eucharist in the absence of a Priest” Thank God for holy men who still want to serve God in the USA!

  174. MVine says:

    An interesting analogy a friend of mine (not a priest) offered was that of White light. He said that, on a physical level, white light is composed of three colors: Red, Green, and Blue. Each is distinct, yet each share in the properties of light, and all together the are White light (it cannot exist without the three).

  175. Steve says:

    There is no analogy here, but I believe the message gets across:

    The Sacrament of Confirmation was to be conferred in a parish by the Diocesa Ordinary. Whe it came time for the Bishop to ask the Confirmandi questions prior to conferring the Sacrament he asked, “What is the Blessed Trinity?” One of the students, a young lady just getting over a nasty cold, raised her hand to answer and the Bishop called on her. “The Blessed Trinity”, the girl began to answer in a low, raspy voice, “is One God in three Divine Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” “I’m sorry, I didin’t understand you”, said the Bishop. And the young Confirmandi responded, “You’re not supposed to; it’s a Mystery.”

    It can’t get much more simpler than that.

  176. Mitch_WA says:

    No my parish priest did use an analogy, or if he did it was not a memorable one. He talked about being part of God’s triune life, the true community. Then in reference to the Deut. reading where Moses says that if the jews followed God’s laws they would live long lives and be prosperous. And then of course came a spock reference (my parsih priest never struck me as a trekkie, but he also referenced one episode by name from the original series to make another point in the homily. All in all it was a interesting addition.)

  177. Mitch_WA says:

    On a related note, my parish is now permenatly sticking with the Preface Dialogue and Gloria sung in Latin for as long as the current pastor is there, and hopefully longer.

  178. Mary Kay says:

    Wanting to avoid a slippery slope is laudable, but I think you’re missing an important point.

    Jesus says in all the synoptic Gospels that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God/unless converted and become like a child…will not enter the kingdom of heaven (see Luke 18:17, Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:14).

    Jesus sets the example. If God Himself is willing to become a child, are we not also to retain our child-like qualities? That’s not permission to act childish, but rather to re-acquire the qualities of childhood: a child’s trust, a child’s joy, and apt in discussing a mystery of the Church, a child’s sense of wonder.

    If you’re a parent and your child displays trust, joy, or wonder, do you really think that he or she is starting down a slippery slope of disrespect?

    Many people can not look to their families or growing up as an example of how to be like a child, but that’s what we’re called to be.

  179. Eric R. says:

    Homily from a Dominican, the parish pastor and prior of the local community, did not use an analogy for the Trinity but rather emphasized “adoption”, as in our adoption into the communion of perfect love that is the Trinity. Good stuff.

  180. Matt M. says:

    Father was recounting a conversation that he had with a Jewish boy when he was in high school, the Jewish boy said “Why profess a faith based on the Son of God when you can be a Jew and have God?” to which Father answered ” I do have God, and since He is a Trinity of persons I’m 3 times as lucky as you.” BA-Zing!

  181. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I spent Trinity Sunday in New York celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Old St Patrick’s Cathedral. Archbishop Dolan was, as always, wonderful. The parade afterwards was fun, too.

    The Nicene Creed is one of my favorite prayers, and the Trinity is one of my favorite subjects on which to meditate. My fiancee’ and I are putting the Shield of the Trinity on back of our wedding program: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_of_the_Trinity, and she her engagement ring is a triangular diamond solataire.

    One analogy I have yet to read in the com box:

    In his Autobiography, St. Ignatius relates that he was deeply troubled by his understanding of the Trinity until he experienced a revelation wherein he saw the Three Persons of the Trinity as keys of a musical chord, where each is distinct but inseparable from the others.

  182. Rob Cartusciello says:

    “In the first place, he had a great devotion to the Blessed Trinity. Every day he prayed to each of the three Persons and to the whole Trinity. While thus praying to the Blessed Trinity, the thought came of how to offer fourfold prayers to the Divinity. This thought, however, caused him little or no trouble. Once, while reciting on the steps of the monastery the little hours in honor of the Blessed Virgin, his vision carried him beyond the earth. He seemed to behold the Blessed Trinity in the form of a lyre or harp; this vision affected him so much that he could not refrain from tears and sighs. On the same day he accompanied the procession from the church, but even up to the time of dinner he could not withhold his tears, and after dinner his joy and consolation were so great that he could speak of no subject except the Blessed Trinity. In these conversations he made use of many different comparisons to illustrate his thoughts. Such an impression was made on him on that occasion that during his after life, whenever he prayed to the Blessed Trinity, he experienced great devotion.” – Autobiography of St. Ignatius

    In other translations, the lyre comment is translated as “three keys”. I can’t source the difference in translations, however.

  183. mrteachersir says:

    Our Mass started out when the presider said: “Without us, the people, the Trinity wouldn’t be…”

    The homily began with an allusion to in the 60’s when some Episcopal bishop said that the Trinity wasn’t real, and that people wanted this guy to resign (said in a manner that made you simpathetic to the bishop). He then said, “I sympathized with him…” and explained how the word Trinity is not in the Bible and the word wasn’t used very much until the late 200s.

    He then went on to say that the feast day was the only one celebrating an [i]idea[/i]. He explained that this idea came about from our experience…intimating to my brother-in-law and myself (looking at each other quizzically the entire homily), that we made the idea up.

    Finally at the end he made reference to the Theology of Body: that our human love is a pale reflection of the Trinitarian love as the children proceed from the love of the father and mother, in a similar way to the Spirit proceeding from (as?) the love between Father and Son.

    He never really out and out said that the Trinity was “non-essential”, but I definitely left with that impression.

  184. Cathy says:

    No analogies, but we were reminded that since it was Trinity Sunday, it was the last day to fulfill your Easter Duty.

  185. mrteachersir says:

    I might confuse poeple: I left Mass with the impression that he was saying the Trinity is non-essential.

  186. Robert Eckstein says:

    How about a quantum analogy to the electron: it’s a wave, it’s a particle, it’s a probability

  187. Jenny says:


    I would be interested in knowing which parish you were at since I am in Middle TN as well. Much like other dioceses, the parishes here range from fairly orthodox to absolute hippy dippy “we are church” dreck.

  188. Sarah L says:

    Michelle Marie Romani, I believe the book your priest meant was current bestseller “The Shack.” In it, a man spends a weekend in a shack with the three unusual persons of the Trinity. They help him deal with his daughter’s death and the overall problem of God allowing suffering to happen. I thought it raised some valid points, but was overall pretty cheesy. It didn’t change my life the way some people claim it has. Oh yeah, and the man’s religious wife calls God “Papa.”

    While I am pretty sure that God is not necessarily a white man, is it heresy to say God has female characteristics? I seem to remember Scott Hahn writing about the femininity of the Holy Spirit.

  189. Fr. Z., Abba does not mean daddy? I was taught that in college? What’s up?

  190. Mark says:

    “I don’t like the sun-light-warmth analogy. It strikes me as Arian-esque.”

    Based on how we currently understand the sun, yes. But remember, in the past, the sun was literally seen as an orb basically MADE of light/heat. It was not known as a ball of gas that PRODUCED light and heat. It was the Origin, but co-extensive with the light and heat.

    Perhaps nowadays “flame-light-heat” might get that across better, if you dont think about the flame in terms of an oxidative reaction too literally!

    “Also the triangle is a deficient image of the Trinity, because it shows hierarchy, which is NOT Trinitarian”

    A triangle doesnt have to show hierarchy. A pyramid does, I suppose, but a 2-D triangle could be oriented in such a way that no one point is “on top”. Though the Father is the Origin, and the First Person in terms of the order of (eternal) logical causation.

    “While I am pretty sure that God is not necessarily a white man, is it heresy to say God has female characteristics? I seem to remember Scott Hahn writing about the femininity of the Holy Spirit.”

    I would hope it’s not heresy, or the Book of Wisdom is heretical.

  191. Tom in NY says:

    Check your concordance – Aleph beth it is for “father” – Strong’s #1. The Greek side picks it up for #5 in Mark, Romans and Galatians, alpha beta beta alpha.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  192. AngelineOH says:

    Jenny, it was St. Luke’s in Smyrna.

  193. Nicandro says:

    Maureen-sliding down the surface of things is just my little way of saying that sometimes our post-modern understanding of a lot of important stuuf is basic and superficial. Childishness and foolishness are not virtues. Being “Child-like” that is another thing. I marvel at it.

    A fool blubbering “daddy” makes everyone laugh because on an adults lips childish words are foolish. Jeremiah said Abba was the equivalent of Daddy. It’s just not right. Nice though.

    Pro 14:18 The childish shall possess folly, and the prudent shall look for knowledge.

    Parvuli dei. Are they still around?

  194. Roland de Chanson says:

    This thread has probably exhausted itself, but, for what it’s worth, the Trinitarian analogies using the sun or flame, light and heat are Orthodox in an oddball way, i.e. with a captital O. The flame is a plasma emitting both heat and light, which are radiation at different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. The heat does not “proceed” from the light but from the plasma itself.

    Hence, the analogy vitiates the filioque. All analogies are imperfect in some respect, but they should not gainsay the premise they seek to explicate.

    I haven’t read all the comments, so if someone pointed this out previously, I apologise for the redundancy.

    More intriguing to me is not the homiletic shoehorning of the Triadic essence into a pair of well-worn clogs, but the curious rewriting of Tobit 12:6 in the Introit and Communion antiphons. I never noticed it before, but I was amazed to learn that a post-exilic Jew was calling on the Holy Trinity. It beggars belief, so to speak.

    Is the OT fair game for such bizarre liturgical eisegesis?

  195. Gregory DiPippo says:

    A great liturgical funfact: in the Cistercian Rite, the highest grade of feast is called “festum sermonis” i.e. a feast on which the abbot or prior was required to preach to the community. The Feast of the the Holy Trinity was a “festum sermonis” because of its importance, but the oldest Cistercian consuetudinaries say “but a sermon is not required (on this feast), because of the difficulty of the subject matter.”

  196. Michelle Marie Romani says:

    Sarah, I checked with some folks in the parish who heard the same homily and it is called “the Cabin”. It was written by a woman (not a man). In fact, the woman was my pastor’s former professor at the seminary.

    It was still, in my opinion, the worst launching point for a homily. My pastor is a good man, but, the theology is nowhere near my parochial vicar’s.

  197. Patrick says:

    The “three bottles of the same wine” analogy is used by Graham Greene in the novel “Monsignor Quixote” (as you probably know). What’s interesting is that the priest who tries to explain the Trinity that way soon afterward repents of his explanation, and begs forgiveness from his atheist friend for suggesting such a thing.

  198. o.h. says:

    Beautiful, historic St. Albino Church, Mesilla, N.M. … The beauty of the church and the reasonable quality of the liturgy were completely blown away by the homily. Fr. Richard began by saying that he found the Trinity hard to understand because “person” suggested separate individuals, so he found it more helpful to think of “persona” instead of “person,” with each “persona” being a characteristic of God.

    At first it seemed like yet another sloppily thought-out explanation of the Trinity, veering more through ignorance than intent into heterodoxy. But Fr. Richard went on to explain, quite clearly, that the three “personas” were just different ways of encountering the same one God: when we experience him as Creator, that’s the Father, when we experience him as Redeemer (here he had a long and unclear digression on why “Savior” is not the right way to understand the Son, only “Redeemer” is accurate), etc.

    At the point where it was clear that he was preaching forthright Modalism, he was gracious enough to say bluntly that “this is not what the Church teaches” but that it was what Fr. Richard believes, and he then encouraged us to come up with our own ways of understanding the Trinity.

    My 23-month-old, wise beyond her years, started fussing loudly at this point and I removed her from the church, so I missed anything more.

    This was definitely the first time that I heard a homily so clearly and deliberately heretical, on a point of doctrine so central to the Christian faith, delivered with an acknowledgment that it was contrary to Christian doctrine.

  199. Mary Rose says:

    I know this post is now on the second page, but I still want to add mine. Our pastor said this:

    “The Most Holy Trinity can be best explained by observing a rose. The stem, is like the Father, who lifts up the beautiful rose, which is the Son. But long before you see either stem or flower, you are drawn by the delicate and beautiful aroma, which is the Holy Spirit.”

    I really, really like it.

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