June 5, 2012

One and Triune God

Andrei Rublev, Trinity - Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Does not wisdom call, 
And understanding lift up her voice?
On top of the heights beside the way,
Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
Beside the gates, at the opening to the city,
At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:

“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
“From everlasting I was established,
From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.
“When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no springs abounding with water.
“ Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills I was brought forth;
While He had not yet made the earth and the fields,
Nor the first dust of the world.
“When He established the heavens, I was there,
When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,
When He made firm the skies above,
When the springs of the deep became fixed,
When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the water would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.”

~ Proverbs 8:1-3, 22-31 (New American Standard Bible).

Last Sunday the Catholic Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, otherwise known as the Trinity Sunday. The Trinity is one of the greatest and most profound mysteries of the Christian Faith. It’s also one of the most controversial theological issues among Christian scholars, to the extent that, as St. Augustine puts it in introducing his De Trinitate, “In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable” (De Trinitate, 1.3.5.).

In other words, despite the difficulties, we must not be tempted to think that there is no way to say anything about it. As again St. Augustine puts it, addressing his readers, let’s “enter together upon the path of charity, and advance towards Him of whom it is said, Seek His face evermore” (ibid.).

And yet, says St. Thomas Aquinas, silence is the best way to talk about Trinity. Are the Doctors of the Church contradicting themselves? Well, it depends on what kind of silence we are talking about...

God is honored by silence, but not in such a way that we may say nothing of Him or make no inquiries about Him, but, inasmuch as we understand that we lack ability to comprehend Him. Wherefore in Sirach 43: 32-34, “Glorify the Lord as much as ever you can, for He will yet far exceed, and His magnificence is wonderful. Blessing the Lord, exit Him as much as you can: for He is above all praise. When you exalt Him put forth all your strength, and be not weary: for you can never go far enough.” [St. Thomas Aquinas, Super Boetium De Trinitate, Quaestio 2, Prooemium]

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully said, and so true! The Trinity is at the same time the essential framework on which our faith is built and a doctrine beyond the scope of man's finite mind. It lies outside the realm of natural reason or human logic. Of course, because of this, opponents of the doctrine argue that the idea of the Trinity must be rejected as untenable. Such thinking, however, makes man's corrupted human reason the sole criterion for determining the truth of divine revelation. Thanks for sharing and reminding us the true meaning of such deep mysteries.