Not one but three
Msgr. Michael Woster
Homily from the Televised Mass, NewsCenter1
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, June 4, 2023
As we end the holy season of Easter and now return to the ordinary time of the Church year, we are reminded today that the work of our salvation — the birth, the suffering, the death, and the Resurrection of Christ — are the work of a Triune God. A God of not one but three divine persons laboring together to bring the world to God’s love and God’s peace.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is a basic doctrine of the Christian faith. Understandable, I should say not understandable, with our heads but with our hearts. It teaches us that there are three distinct persons in one God sharing the same divine nature and the same glory. Your head can hurt trying to wrap your mind around this mystery. Our mind cannot grasp this doctrine which somehow teaches that one, plus one, plus one is not three but one. It doesn’t make sense logically; however, our hearts can penetrate the mystery when the mystery is accepted with childlike faith. Knowing that it is true because Jesus revealed it to us in so many clear ways in the Scriptures.
The work of salvation itself is Trinitarian as we recognize that we are connected to our God in three distinct ways: God has created us, God has redeemed us by forgiving our sins, and God is making us holy and drawing us to perfection.
Though it is true that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all work together in us and through us in these three separate ways, each person of the Trinity is connected to us uniquely. It is a heavenly Father who has created us and formed us in our mother’s womb. It is Jesus who died to prove God’s love for us and to take away sin from our lives. And it is the Holy Spirit who lives within us by the sacraments and is doing everything that he can to make us over in the image of God himself through a life of Christian holiness. We cannot understand this mystery with our heads alone, but we can penetrate it with our hearts through faith, through prayer, and especially through love.
Each year on this solemnity I offer a suggestion as a way of getting more deeply into the mystery of our Triune God. Christians, in their prayer, tend to focus primarily upon one person or another of the Blessed Trinity. Some pray to Jesus when they pray. Some to the heaven Father. Others still think of the Holy Spirit when they’re praying. Which of these fits you and your manner of prayer?
Regardless, I would suggest to everyone a three-minute Examen, or in English an examination of conscience, each day especially before we go to bed at night. How does it work? Take one minute, calling to mind some good thing that has happened that day. Some gift that you’ve received. No matter how bad our days might be there’s always something that’s good within them. And then we remember that every gift comes from our heavenly Father, from our creator God.
Secondly, take another minute, call to mind some mistake, a failure, an error, or sin. And then ask Jesus’ forgiveness and the grace of amendment of life. Repentance and conversion are his special gifts that comes to us through his holy cross.
Thirdly, take that third minute to call to mind the challenge of the day to come, and then ask the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe there’s a difficult conversation with the family member, maybe something difficult at work, whatever it might be. Most of us have something the next day we need to think about and prepare for. Then asked the Holy Spirit for his presence, his blessing, his wisdom, his strength to guide us for what you need to do and that you might manage it well.
It’s a very simple exercise, this Examen of the Holy Trinity, but people who practice it, who would even for a month each day, find the three Persons of the Triune God come alive and more distinct for them. They come to know the real grace of this mystery. That there are not one but three Divine Persons present in your life and guiding you safely to heaven.