I’m currently taking an online course on ecclesiology, the study of the Church. Each week of the course, I will be posting one of my assignments here. This first unit is on the Church as a Mystery, and one of the assignment questions centered on the great Mystery of God that has always befuddled me–and I guess everyone–the Trinity. So, naturally, that’s the one I chose for my essay.
Frankly, the Mystery of One God in Three Divine Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—cannot be grasped by our limited human brains. But that’s a good thing, because God cannot be fully understood by us as His creatures. Saint Augustine said that if you think you understand God, then you have failed. What we can understand better, however, is love. The Holy Trinity is a Mysterious way of Mysteriously understanding that infinite and eternal God is love, and that the story of our creation and redemption—the reality of our lives—is a love story.
We know that true love cannot be solitary. Love must be given, so there must be a beloved, and love must be received in order to be fulfilled: pure and perfect love has fulfillment. If God is pure and perfect love, therefore, God cannot be solitary. God is infinitely and eternally a communion of personal loving and of personally being loved, in perfect personal fulfillment.
God chose to create the whole world as a free act of love, choosing to give the gift of existence to all of Creation, and the particular gift of freely receiving and giving love to human beings. This gift to humankind is intimate, eternal participation in divine love—in the very life of God—and why Scripture tells us that we are made in God’s image. With our gift of freewill we nearly destroyed God’s loving plan through sin, but God planned our rescue. Through the ages, God wills to gather a people unto Himself to be restored to Him through Christ, first in anticipation of His Divine Word being made flesh, and then through completion of the Word of God’s mission. This is God’s will. In the language of the Trinity, we say that it is the Father’s plan.
“In [Christ] it pleased the Father to re-establish all things.” The Word of God assumes human nature in order to conform us to His divine likeness, restoring humans to images of God. In the language of the Trinity, we say that God the Father sent His Son as expiation for sin. As we are created by God through His gift of love, we are also restored by God through the same gift of limitless love, now made manifest by the Son of God pouring out His life for us on the Cross.
Resurrected and glorified, the Son of God returns to the Father, and our renewed human nature is lifted up with Him. God pours out His Power, the transformative power of divine love, to each and every one of us who is willing to receive it through Christ. In the language of the Trinity, this living power who makes us holy and dispenses the gifts of God’s love, our salvation, is the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are united to God the Father through Christ, and in Christ to one another, in the fulfillment of love with its eternally blessed goodness.
This is the Church: the bond of divinity and humankind, the action of God’s love uniting our lives with His eternal life, experienced now in limited beauty and fulfilled forever in pure glory. The Church is willed, instituted, and sanctified by God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— to draw us ever more closely and deeply to Himself, to indestructible love.
© 2019 Christina Chase
 “God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand you have failed.”
 Lumen Gentium paragraph 3
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.