Lesson 11 – The Divine Trinity

The Blessed Trinity

It Takes Three to Love”

Peace be to you.

Possible Objections Concerning Original Sin.

We have now come to a point where we propose to discuss the Trinity, but as I was preparing something to say about the Trinity there came to my mind two possible objections that you might have had concerning original sin. May we treat those briefly?

One objection might be this:

  • Why is it that I have to suffer on account of Adam? I had nothing to do with him. I was not involved with his sin.

  • The answer is, yes, you were involved. So was I. We were all involved simply because Adam was the head of the human race. The river polluted at its source affects the entire current.

  • When parents are infected, the infection passes on to their children.

  • When the president declares war, we are at war, and without any individual declaration on our part for the simple reason that the president is the head of our country.

  • So, too, Adam was the head of the human race. What he did, we did.

  • Just as one man’s evil can affect a whole nation, as the goods and honor of a father can affect the family, so, too, the disobedience of one man, Adam, affected us all.

And God, in His mercy has repaired that harm through the obedience of the new Adam, which is our Blessed Lord.

The second objection:

  • that might be urged against original sin is, why should I lose the blessings that Adam had on account of his sins?

  • Is there not an injustice on the part of God to deprive me of the many favors that he had simply because he sinned?

In answer to that objection it must be recalled that there is no injustice done because injustice is the depriving one of something that is his due.

  • When Adam sinned he lost only gifts. Gifts that God gave him, not things to which he was entitled, because of his nature.

  • On Christmas Day when you go around giving gifts to all of your friends, suppose you give every one of them for Christmas a velvet pot holder. I come to you the day after Christmas and I say, “Why didn’t you give me a gift?” You might very well answer, “Well I did not even need to give gifts to my friends and to my relatives. If I did not give them anything I would not be depriving them of that which was their due, and when I do not give you anything I am not depriving you of that which is due you in justice.”

  • And furthermore, though we lost those gifts, we get them all back. We get back communion with God, now, through grace, but the other gifts which Adam lost we do not get back until the General Resurrection.

And we get back more than we lost. As the priest says when he puts water into the wine at the offertory of the Mass, Mirabiliter condidisti et mirabilius reformasti, What Thou didst so wonderfully make Thou didst more wonderfully Reform.”

Blessed Trinity:

  • Leaving, now, those objections behind, we come to the Trinity.

You know how to bless yourself, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

  • When you say, “in the name of the Father”, you put your hand to your forehead. When you say, “in the name of the Son”, you put your hand below to the breast. And when you say “the Holy Spirit”, you place your hand first on your left shoulder and then on your right. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

  • Notice that when you do that you also make the Sign of the Cross, which is a redemption.

  • You were Baptized in the name of the Trinity, and Our Blessed Lord often spoke of it, for example, when He said: “Go and teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”(1) Our blessed Lord did not say “in the names of”. In the name of, because there is only one nature, the Nature of God.

Nature / Person:

  • The Trinity means there are three persons in God and only one nature.

  • Without going into very profound explanations of nature and person, a nature answers the question, “what”. And a person answers the question, “who”.

  • I repeat, there are three persons in God and only one nature, and a person in the Trinity does not mean the same as a person in this world.

  • A person in the Trinity is not someone with hands and feet and a beard.

  • A person in the Trinity means a relation or a relationship.

  • For example, there’s a road that runs between Chicago and New York. There’s a road that runs between New York and Chicago. It’s the same road, but it is a different road under a different relationship. You see how out of one thing you get the multiple?

  • Remember your chemistry? What was the chemical symbol for water? H2O. That is its nature. It has only one nature. But is it possible to have various relationships within that one nature? Most certainly! H2O can be a liquid, it can be ice, it can be steam. Is the liquid a different nature from H2O? No. The ice? No. The steam? No. Somehow or other, the three are in one.

  • Just as in the sun there is substance, light and heat and yet only one sun.

Explanation of the Trinity:

  • Now we’re going to apply this in some way to the Trinity, which is a great and tremendous Mystery, and when I get through I will not have explained it to you.

  • I remember once having spent an hour describing, with analogies, the Trinity to someone who was taking instructions, and I insisted very much upon the fact that it was a mystery.

  • When I finished, the good lady said: “At the beginning you said this was a mystery, it’s no longer a mystery to me, you made it perfectly clear.”Well”, I said, “Madam, if I made it perfectly clear to you, I did not explain it right, it should be a mystery.” And it will be when I finish.

  • There are various ways of approaching the subject, and I am going to start very low. I am going to start with life to show you that life is complex.

  • And then we’re gradually going to take life right up to the Trinity, by analogy. It will seem as if I’m a million miles away from it, but bear with me.

  • I hope the explanation will not be like that of a lawyer who, arguing before a judge, went into a long history of cases, legal decisions, precedents, and in a most confusing way. He had a dim suspicion that he was not perfectly clear and he said to the judge, “Your honor, do you follow me?” The judge said, “Yes,” he said, “I do, but if I knew the way back I would leave you now.” So, I beg you, bear with me.


  • Life, what is it? That mysterious thing that is bound up with all of our pleasures and destinies, that thing which thrills me and saddens me, that sometimes seems the greatest of all gifts and at other times the most burdensome.

  • That thing which I know best and which I know least. What is it?

The first obvious answer is given to us by the commonplace things round

about us.

  • We always associate life with some kind of movement or activity. If we see an animal lying motionless in the field it gives rise to the suspicion that possibly the animal is dead because there seems to be no movement.

  • And then when a child is full of exuberance and joy we say he is full of life.

  • Notice that we associate life with movement and our explanation and description is really not too bad.

  • When you come to a more scientific definition you find out that the movement or the activity has to be what is called immanent, has to be inside of the thing.

  • There is another kind of movement, which is called transitive. For example, the light that seems to come from phosphorous, heat that comes from a radiator. It has no power of generating heat within itself; it just passes from the outside.

  • Stone, for example, has purely transitive activity, so does radium.

  • Stone rolling down a hill has transitive activity.

  • But life, on the other side, has this different kind of activity, which is called immanent. It is from the inside.

Law concerning this Life:

  • Now let us try and find a law concerning this life. And the law is, note it carefully, the greater the immanent activity, the higher the life.

  • In other words, the more the activity is inside of the living thing, the higher it is.

  • All creation, as you know, is a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is the material, chemical order. Then there are plants and animals, man, angels and God.

We are now going to apply this law.

  • It is so universal that it can be verified in every one of the orders.

  • Stone, as we know, has no imminent activity, though Michelangelo, when he finished his statue of Moses, struck it with his chisel. You see, he said; “Speak!” It seemed so lifelike that really it ought to be full of speech, but it had no inner activity


  • But there is inner activity in a plant. It always has its mouth to the breast of Mother Nature, and it takes up into itself all of the vital elements that are needed for it.


  • When you come to an animal it has higher life than the plant. The plant has the power of vegetation, has the power of generation, it has the power of begetting seeds.

  • But the animal has two powers, immanent power, that the plant does not. One is the ability to move. The other is the ability to see, to taste, to touch and to smell. That is called sense activity.

  • The plant cannot decide, during the winter, to move from New York down to Florida or California. (We have to be very fair in our examples.) But an animal can move from light to shade. Then too, thanks to its sense knowledge, it gets the outside world inside of itself. It possesses an inner world. A dog can know its master’s voice.


  • When you come, now, to man, is there a higher activity? Oh, yes, thinking and willing.

  • Man has all the imminent activity of plants and animals, but he has also something else that plants and animals have not, knowledge and love.

  • First of all he thinks. He thinks thoughts like faith, justice, hope, relationship, fortitude. Where do these thoughts come from?

  • They’re not in the outside world. You never saw faith out for a walk. You never saw fortitude eating a dessert. You never saw relationship climbing a hill. Where did you get these ideas?

  • Your mind generated them. Your mind is fecund. Do not think the only kind of generation in the world is the generation that the animal has, that the human being has to beget his kind.

  • There’s the chaste generation of the mind, the ability to beget ideas or words.

Mind of Man:

  • Now come to another point about the mind. When the mind begets an idea, generates something, what it generates does not fall from itself like an apple falls from a tree, like an animal falls from its kind when it is born. The fruit of our mind stays inside of the mind.

  • All we’ve got to do is just simply look into the mind and there it is. It is distinct from the mind, but it is never separate. That is why when I want to find a thought, I go back into my mind. I do not look on a shelf for it.

  • Take now the will. We have a will and we can choose. We can love, and we have the power, thanks to our will, of loving that which we think about. We can Love the truth, love the truth even if it is in our own mind.

  • We do not always need to love things that are outside of us. That’s the amazing thing about our will, that our loves, just like our thoughts, can be imminent, on the inside of us.

We will not have time to touch how the Angels think, but let us go to God.


  • God is perfect life, therefore He will have perfect imminent activity.

  • I say perfect immanent activity. Since He’s a Spirit we will have to understand that perfect imminent activity after the analogy of our own, namely after the intellect and our will.

  • So, we look inside of ourselves to find some faint resemblance to this divine life.

  • Now we said what we do in our mind is to think and also to love.

  • Now God also thinks, and what does God think?

  • He thinks a thought or a Word.

  • That thought of God or that word of God is distinct from Him but it is not separate from Him as my thought is not separate from my mind yet distinct from my mind.

  • I have many thoughts. So do you. But God has only one thought, and in that one thought or that one Word is contained all of the knowledge that is possible, all things that are known and can be known.

  • God, therefore, does not need any word but that one word which is the image and the splendor of His substance.

  • Now, recall the words of the Gospel of John,The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”(2)

  • Who is the Word that became flesh? The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, the thought of God.

  • You may ask, “Well, why do we call Him the Son of God?” Oh, that’s not difficult to answer.

  • Did we not say that you generate the thought in your mind or the word that is in your mind?

  • Did we not say there is a higher generation, the carnal generation? Well, God generates an Eternal Word.

Applying it to the Human Order:

  • Now, applying it to the human order, what do we call the principle of generation? The Father, do we not?

  • And what is the term of generation in the earthly order? The Son!

  • Alright, instead of calling God who thinks, the thinker, and instead of calling the thought or the Word of God just the thought, why not call God Who Thinks the Father, and why not call the God or the Person Who is the Thought the Son?

  • That is why the Word that became flesh is called the Son.

  • That is why the psalmist said, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten You.”(3)

  • And the Son of God became the Son of Man, and the Son of God who became the Son of Man is Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Another Analogy:

  • Now let us take another analogy. We have yet the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

  • We said that we not only think, but we also love.

  • Now, love is a relationship. It’s a movement toward that which is loved to unite it to oneself.

  • I love you simply because I am communicating to you truth.

  • Now, love is not something in me. Love is not something you.

  • Love is a mysterious bond Uniting both of us.

  • Love, therefore, is always to be understood as something that unites.

  • And notice, too, that though love is distinct from the thought, it proceeds from the thought, and also from the thinker.

  • God loves us. God loves His perfection. Every being loves his perfection.

  • The perfection of the eye is color, it loves color.

  • The perfection of the ear is harmony, it loves harmony.

  • The perfection of the stomach is food, it loves the food.

  • The perfection of God the Father is God the Son.

  • The perfection of God the Thinker is God the Word, is the Word of God, and the Father loves the Son.

  • Love is not something in the Father alone, love is not something in the Son alone.

  • Love is a mysterious bond uniting the two, and because here we are dealing not with the personal and the biological, but with something infinite, that Love cannot express itself by canticles, by words, by embraces.

  • It cannot express itself like unto anything that we have on this earth.

  • It can only express itself by that which signifies the very fullness and exhaustion of all giving, namely a s-i-g-h, something that lies too deep within us.

  • All deep love is speechless, and that Bond of Love which Unites Father and Son is called Holy Breath, Holy Spirit, Holy Love.

  • And just as the color, the perfume, and the beauty of the rose do not make three roses, but one, as one times one times one times one do not make three ones, just as I am I think and I love and yet I have only one nature, so in a far more mysterious way there are three Persons in God and only one God.

  • Thus, there is, in God, a tremendous, Encircling Love.

  • God is Life, Truth and Love.

  • Now we know the Life is the Father, the Truth is the Son and Love is the Holy Spirit, and with John Donne we say:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,

Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,

But am betroth’d unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie me or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. (4)

God love you.


  1. Mt 28:19

  2. Jn 1:14

  3. Ps 2:7

  4. Divine Poems, Holy Sonnet XIV by John Donne

1. In today’s lesson on The Blessed Trinity – what stood out the most to you?


2. Why do you think Bishop Sheen gave the title “It Takes Three to Love” to this lesson?

3. How would you explain the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity to someone who is seeking the truth?

4. Now that you have learned more about The Blessed Trinity – Their role in your Salvation – what changes do you think this will have in your daily life?




189. “The first ‘profession of faith’ is made during Baptism. The symbol of faith is first and foremost the baptismal creed. Since Baptism is given ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’,[Mt 28:19 .] the truths of faith professed during Baptism are articulated in terms of their reference to the three persons of the Holy TRINITY.”

To view the context, please visit http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/profess5.html#ONLY

198. “Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and the Last,[Cf. Is 44:6 .] the beginning and the end of everything. The Credo begins with God the Father, for the Father is the first divine person of the Most Holy TRINITY; our Creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works. “

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232. “Christians are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’[Mt 28:19 .] Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: ‘I do.’ ‘The faith of all Christians rests on the TRINITY.’[St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.: CCL 103, 47.]

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233. “Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names,[Cf. Profession of faith of Pope Vigilius I (552): DS 415.] for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy TRINITY. “

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234. “The mystery of the Most Holy TRINITY is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith’.[GCD 43.] The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men ‘and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin’.[GCD 47.]

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235. “This paragraph expounds briefly (I) how the mystery of the Blessed TRINITY was revealed, (II) how the Church has articulated the doctrine of the faith regarding this mystery, and (III) how, by the divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfills the ‘plan of his loving goodness’ of creation, redemption and sanctification.”

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237. “The TRINITY is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the ‘mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God’.[Dei Filius 4: DS 3015.] To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy TRINITY is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.”

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245. “The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): ‘We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.’[Nicene Creed; cf. DS 150.] By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as ‘the source and origin of the whole divinity’.[Council of Toledo VI (638): DS 490.] But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son’s origin: ‘The Holy Spirit, the third person of the TRINITY, is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance and also of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the Spirit of the Father alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son.’[Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 527.] The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople confesses: ‘With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified.’[Nicene Creed; cf. DS 150.]

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249. “From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy TRINITY has been at the very root of the Church’s living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’[2 Cor 13:14 ; cf. 1 Cor 12:4 – 6 ; Eph 4:4-6 .]

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251. “In order to articulate the dogma of the TRINITY, the Church had to develop her own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: ‘substance’, ‘person’ or ‘hypostasis’, ‘relation’ and so on. In doing this, she did not submit the faith to human wisdom, but gave a new and unprecedented meaning to these terms, which from then on would be used to signify an ineffable mystery, ‘infinitely beyond all that we can humanly understand’.[Paul VI, CPC # 2.]

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253. “The TRINITY is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the ‘consubstantial TRINITY‘.[Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 421.] The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: ‘The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature one God.’[Council of Toledo XI (675): DS 530:26.] In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), ‘Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature.’[Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 804.]

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257. “‘O blessed light, O TRINITY and first Unity!’[LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.] God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the ‘plan of his loving kindness’, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: ‘He destined us in love to be his sons’ and ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son’, through ‘the spirit of sonship’.[Eph 1:4-5, 9 ; Rom 8:15, 29 .] This plan is a ‘grace (which) was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began’, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.[2 Tim 1:9-10 .] It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.[Cf. AG 2-9.]

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258. “The whole divine economy is the common work of the three divine persons. For as the TRINITY has only one and the same natures so too does it have only one and the same operation: ‘The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three principles of creation but one principle.’[Council of Florence (1442): DS 1331; cf. Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 421.] However, each divine person performs the common work according to his unique personal property. Thus the Church confesses, following the New Testament, ‘one God and Father from whom all things are, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one Holy Spirit in whom all things are’.[Council of Constantinople II: DS 421.] It is above all the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit that show forth the properties of the divine persons.”

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260. “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed TRINITY.[Cf. Jn 17:21-23 .] But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy TRINITY: ‘If a man loves me’, says the Lord, ‘he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him’:[Jn 14:23 .]
O my God,
TRINITY whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.[Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the TRINITY.]

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261. “The mystery of the Most Holy TRINITY is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “

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265. “By the grace of Baptism ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’, we are called to share in the life of the Blessed TRINITY, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light (cf. Paul VI, CPG # 9).”

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266. “‘Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the TRINITY and the TRINITY in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal’ (Athanasian Creed: DS 75; ND 16).”

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