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Holy Trinity: Voice, Word, Breath


One of the foundational but difficult to understand doctrines of Christianity is the Holy Trinity. We define the Holy Trinity as “Three Persons in One God,” but it is one of our greatest mysteries. It is a mystery not to be solved or figured out, but rather a mystery to be wrestled with and pondered.


In order to dig deeper into the mystery of the Holy Trinity, we need to realize that language can limit our understanding. When we say “Three Persons,” we typically think of the human perspective of “person” as an individual with a body and unique psyche. The “Persons” of the Trinity, however, are more than just three distinct individuals in relationship with one another. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share one existence, one essence. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ontologically intertwined, always acting together as one.


As a spiritual director, I sometimes ask people which person of the Trinity they relate to best. Most people will say the Father or the Son. I believe it is easier for us to relate to God the Father and God the Son because we have personal experiences of the roles of fathers and sons. We can also see the effects of God the Father in creation, and we know that God the Son was a human person, Christ Jesus. God the Father and God the Son both have tangible aspects to which we can relate.


The Holy Spirit, however, is more elusive. I love this Sunday’s reading from the book of Proverbs for understanding the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 8 speaks of the creative energy of the Holy Spirit as Wisdom. Wisdom declares, “…from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.” (Proverbs 8:23) Wisdom was present with God the Creator at the beginning of time. Wisdom was “beside [the Lord] as his craftsman, and was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and found delight in the human race." (Proverbs 8:30-31) I imagine Wisdom dancing across the waters, spreading the stars in the sky, breathing life into and animating the creatures of the earth and sea.


To better understand the Holy Trinity and the work of the “Three Persons,” I invite us to reflect on God at the beginning of creation. The creation account in Genesis 1 begins: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth…God said…” God spoke to create the world. This act of God speaking creation into being is a Trinitarian action. The Father is the Voice that speaks. The Son is the Word that is spoken. The Holy Spirit is the Breath that breathes life and energy into all that exists. The Voice speaks light and darkness into existence. The Word is spoken to create the heavens and the earth. The Breath goes forth to breathe life into and animate all of the creatures of earth and sky and sea.


As you continue to ponder the mystery of the Holy Trinity, practice praying to each of the “Persons” of the Holy Trinity. Spend time talk with and listening to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. How do you hear the Voice of God? What is the Word that God is speaking to you? How is God’s Breath animating you and energizing you to participate in the creative and generative Spirit of God?

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