Dear Friends in Christ,
After the conclusion of the Easter season with the celebration of Pentecost last Sunday the Church’s liturgy now spends time as it transitions into Ordinary Time on some of the key doctrines of Faith: The Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi. Oftentimes Dogma and related doctrines get a bad rap. They are considered restrictive, anti-intellectual and oppressive. This is most unfortunate because at their core Catholic dogma and doctrines are really the deepest possible understanding of the Word of God.
The dogmas—the Trinitarian dogma, the dogma of the utterly free and gratuitous creation of the universe, the dogmas of the Incarnation, of the redemptive sacrifice, of transubstantiation, the sacramental dogmas, the Marian dogma—are the great declarations which the Church has made known against rationalization of the wonderful revelations of Holy Scripture. Far from weakening the mystery, they mark its outlines in order that the spirit may enter further into its darkness and lose itself in its depths.
The Church is divinely assisted by the prophetic light of infallibility in order to present them to us. But it is not on its created authority that we believe—the presentation which the Church offers conditions our assent to their truth, it does not provide the basis for the assent; it is on the uncreated and direct authority of God, revealing himself to us and revealing to us his work, that we believe. Faith, theological faith, is the inward, personal light by which God comes to the understanding and will of each man, so as, if no obstacle is met with, to raise them to himself. “He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself, habet testimonium Dei in se” (1 Jn 5:10); “Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (5:5).
The Knowledge of Simple Faith
At the first moment when it is received in the soul, the light of Christianity bestows both the prophetic gifts of divine revelation and also the power to recognize them, that is, the sanctifying light of theological faith that causes us to assent to their mysterious depths and that is thus seen to be the root of the whole work of justification.  The believer is encompassed by ideas, revealed statements, in which is expressed his Creed, what he believes about God and God’s work, creation, redemption, salvation, the last ends. His faith makes use of these statements in an intuitive, not a discursive, way. It is concerned to make the whole human person assent to the truth of what they contain.
Let us pass on to the second moment. Let us suppose that the divine light in the believer attains its supreme intensity. Let us suppose that theological faith, fostered by love, and not content to adapt the soul to the truth of revealed statements, begins to show that there is, in the truth of these revealed statements, still more truth than they can express. “The light of faith”, says St. Thomas, “makes us see the mysteries which are believed”;  it encounters them, it touches them in some sense in the darkness; it is on the path which divine faith opens out by means of revealed notions that God’s love draws the understanding of faith to go beyond these notions. Then it rises upon the wings of love and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost toward those things eye has not seen nor ear heard (1 Cor 2:9); it plunges into a silent contemplation in which all concepts are hushed; it is swallowed up in the mystery of “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom 11:33). Here, in this supreme act, is the realm of mystical knowledge.
But—and this is the point which must be emphasized at the end of these few pages—conceptual knowledge of revealed truths is not in any way laid aside, or in any way got rid of, it is merely for the moment covered over, transcended. All the dogmas thus subsist in the faith of the contemplative, but like the stars in the midday sunlight. In fact they are never so necessarily, so effectively present. The passing light which throws them into the shade strengthens them to a wonderful degree. When it withdraws, they reappear like stars in the evening sky, but invested with, and illuminated by, a little of its brightness.
When St. John of the Cross was engulfed in the “midday” of God, which is “midnight” for faith, how was it possible for him to think distinctly and successively of each of the mysteries of the childhood or of the Passion of the Savior? It was a silent contemplation which he was sent to teach the world. But as soon as the dazzling light of unity allowed him some respite, he found again distinctly each of these Christian mysteries and was, as it were, inebriated with them. At Baeza he carried in his arms the Child from the cradle, at Avila he sketched out his vision of the Crucified, he was on fire with love as he touched the Blessed Sacrament.  A mystical contemplation that, at the moment when it began and ceased, was not ready to allow each of the Gospel mysteries to appear, contained in it like petals in the rose, would not be Christian contemplation. ]
Thus the dogma of the Trinity is not some burdensome and oppressive instrument but rather the way in which the Church responds in faith to God and what he has disclosed to us about Who He is. The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the three Divine Persons who share the one nature of Being God. It is all about completely holy relationship and gift-of-self. It is true that the concept of the Trinity is limited because it is the divine and human way of speaking about how God interacts with creation. In that sense it is unstable as a formulation. But that takes nothing away from the truth.
The point of all this is that God the Trinity wants us to know the truth and to live the truth. We do that by living out the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Faith is the inner light of God’s truth in our souls. Hope is the adherence to the promise of eternal life. Charity is to live as God lives.
We can also understand the Holy Trinity by seeing that it is not the un-holy anti-trinity of the world, the flesh and the devil. The world refers to an attitude: “I don’t need God”, or “I can believe whatever I like”, or “I can do whatever I want”. These attitudes, and all the other ones that flow from them, when you think about it, make the individually radically cut off from everything and anything of true value. It is the gravitational pull toward self-preservation at all cost. The flesh is related but different: It is more like the attitude or world-view or life-style that gives free reign to desire without limit. It’s the point of view that any limitation on my wants is a bad thing. And it is a buying-into the “Big Lie” that as long as you can get away with it, it’s ok. The devil we’ve all heard about, but here the main thing is to think about it from the point of view of two extremes: Either an excessive fear of the devil, or (which is probably more common) not sitting back and reflecting on how the devil might be deceiving me through very subtle means. We often think of the devil as the guy in the red suit and pointy ears and holding a pitchfork. Ancient cultures, I think, have better images: Ancient dragon; prince of darkness; father of lies; the accuser. Think of an entity that is so opposed to God that he is powerless unless a person gives him permission to act. And this is the key thing: What are the ways in which a person gives permission? It doesn’t necessarily come in the form of signing a formal contract or committing a grave crime. The lesser and more subtle doorways that we keep open should be a concern as well.
This feast asks us to reflect in our lives only the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Spirit. When we give our lives in union with the Trinity, not only are we protected against the false anti-trinity we see more clearly the outlines of our own life: We are incorporated into God’ will to love all humanity in and through His Church. Our mission is to be part of what the Trinity is doing in our world today.