Image: Saint Augustine (Rubens, 1638)
“Those holy Angels come to the knowledge of God not by audible words, but by the presence to their souls of immutable truth, that is, of the only-begotten Word of God; and they know this Word Himself, and the Father, and their Holy Spirit, and that this Trinity is indivisible, and that the three Persons of it are one substance, and that there are not three Gods but one God; and this they so know that it is better understood by them than we are by ourselves.”
– Saint Augustine The City of God Book 11 Chapter 29
In the earliest days of Our Lady’s appearances at Lourdes in 1858, Bernadette Soubirous described the beautiful Lady who was appearing at the Grotto of Massabieille. She noted that during the recitation of the Rosary, the Lady passed the beads between Her fingers but remained silent – except at the Glory Be, which was the single prayer She prayed swith Bernadette. How fitting; the Immacualte One, already enjoying the vision of God in Heaven, could not pray “forgive us our trespasses” for She has none; nor could She pray the Ave, whcih would be to salute Herself. However, it was entirely fitting that She who is closest to God amongst all creatures, should join Her prayers with those of the child before Her in giving glory to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Trinity – this foundationstone of our Faith, the great Mystery which is concerned with God Himself, in His nature and His three divine Persons. Unless you have recieved divine light on this Mystery, then it remains precisely that – a mystery. We believe, even though we cannot comprehend. At least, not this side of eternity.
There is a story about Saint Augustine of Hippo, the great Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He had spent many, many years labouring over a treatise he was writing called ‘Of The Trinity’, in which he was trying to explain something of this Mystery. Standing on a beach one day, he watched a small boy running between the edge of the sea and a small hole dug in the sand. Appraching the child, Augustine asked what he was doing. The child replied he was trying to out all of the sea into the little hole. Augustin, smiling, told the child it was simply not possible, for such a small hole could not possibly contain the whole of the sea. Standing up and looking at the kindly Bishop, the child replied – “It is no more impossible that what you are trying to do – to comprehend the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity with your human intelligence”. Before the Bishop could reply, the child had vanished.
Perhaps this should be a lesson to us all.
Some things, we simply cannot grasp or inderstand; but when they are revealed to us by Faith, we are obliged to assent to them regardless. The Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is one of those things. In the Gospels, the Lord Himself reveals to us the Mystery of the Most Hly Trinity, speaking often of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, so we can be certain that this Mystery exists and is as the Lord tells us it is. But we will never understand it in this life, for we simply have not the ability to do so; this Mystery is of God Himself.
Let us, then, follow the example of the Lady at Lourdes at the beginning fo our story here, who simply bowed Her head and praised the Most Holy Trinity, in the same way as every Saint in the history of the Church has also done, and as we do every time we make the Sign of the Cross.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.