Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

The first Sunday after Pentecost is the day the Church honors and celebrates the Trinity. Today's Gospel reading is from Matthew 28.

"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

The word "trinity" itself is not in Scripture but was first coined by the Latin theologian Tertullian, sometime around 190 AD. Christians accept trinitarian doctrine as divinely revealed and implicit in the Scriptures. The Trinity is an example of the term "developed doctrine." Meaning, the early church may have started to recognize the mystery of the Trinity, but didn't fully "flesh it out" and annunciate the doctrine until centuries after the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
There were some in the early church who were teaching and spreading heresy regarding the divine nature of Jesus . Bishop Arius believed and taught that Christ was somehow less than God, a "demi-god" so to speak. This erroneous teaching caught on and spread like wildfire, particularly in the eastern churches. The Church needed to declare, espouse, annuciate, and settle once and for all the truth that Christians believe in one God, in whom there are three distinct persons. This resulted in the creed that the Catholic Church Council of Nicea in 325 AD wrote and promulgated. All Christians were bound by this creed if they desired to remain in the Catholic Church. The proclamation of the Council doesn't infer that the Trinity doctrine was new at that time, but it was officially stated and promulgated to put all dissent to rest.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church's living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis, and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

During the first centuries the Church sought to clarify its Trinitarian faith, both to deepen its own understanding of the faith and to defend it against the errors that were deforming it. This clarification was the work of the early councils, aided by the theological work of the Church Fathers and sustained by the Christian people's sense of the faith."

Nicean Creed
We believe in one God the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

This creed and the belief in the Holy Trinity was being proclaimed even before the books of the New Testament had been canonized in the end of the fourth century at the Councils of Hippo, then later at Carthage. This simple chronology points out the reality that the Bible alone
cannot possibly be the source of all truth and doctrine, particularly when such doctrines were being taught and defended by the Universal Church before the New Testament Scriptures were ever canonized or readily available to the average believer.

Actually, in preparing today's blog I happened upon a website that listed 100 Scripture "proof texts" from the Bible to defend and bolster their heretical notion that the doctrine of the Trinity isn't Scriptural.
Wow! The heresy of Arius never really ended in the fourth century with the Creed of Nicea and it's sad to see folks twisting Scripture in the third millenium to defend heresy.
I thank God that the Church is the pillar and foundation of all truth (1 Tim 3:15). Otherwise, we too perhaps could choose error if left to our own devices and just our own interpretation of the Bible
. But by the grace of God.....
A discussion on the Council of Nicea :


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We believe in the Blessed Trinity because we believe in Jesus, Who revealed the Trinity. God had prepared the Jews not only to welcome the Messiah, but to recognize through revelation what philosophers like Aristotle achieved through reason: that there is a God and there can only be one God.

Moses said to the Jews, “Acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other but to believe in God Who is the only God.” When the Messiah finally came, He revealed a huge mystery that went far beyond what the Jews were expecting: that the one God in Whom they believe is not solitary, but a unity, a communion of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that the Messiah is the Son.

He told them explicitly that the Father and He are one (Jn 10:30). He told them that He and the Father would send the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26, Jn 15:26). And when He sent them out to baptize in the name of God, He didn’t give them instructions to baptize in the “names” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — as if they were three different gods — but in the “name,” for they are fundamentally a union of three persons. This is what the term Trinity means. It was devised by the early Church apologist Tertullian around the year 200 from the Latin words “unitas” and “trinus,” literally “unity” and “three.” It signifies that there is a unity of three persons in one God.

Since the beginning of the Church, theologians have spent their lives trying to penetrate this mystery and explain it to others. St. Patrick used the image of a three-leaf clover. St. Augustine used the image of the mind, with memory, reason and will. More recent minds have used the image of H20, which can exist as ice, water, or steam. But none of these analogies — though interesting and somewhat helpful — do justice to the reality of the mystery of how three persons can exist in the one God.

When St. Augustine was in the middle of his voluminous and classic study of the Blessed Trinity, he took a walk along the beach in northern Africa to try to clear his head and pray. He saw a young girl repeatedly filling a scallop shell with sea water and emptying it into a hole she had dug in the sand. “What are you doing?” Augustine tenderly asked. “I'm trying to empty the sea into this hole,” the child replied. “How do you think that with a little shell,” Augustine retorted, “you can possibly empty this immense ocean into a tiny hole?” The little girl countered, “And how do you, with your small head, think you can comprehend the immensity of God?” As soon as the girl said this, she disappeared, convincing Augustine that she had been an angel sent to teach him an important lesson: No matter how gifted God had made him, he would never be able to comprehend fully the mystery of the Trinity.

This, of course, does not mean we cannot understand anything. If we want to get to the heart of the mystery of the Trinity, we can turn to the most theological of the Apostles, who meditated deeply on all that Jesus had revealed and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said simply and synthetically, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:16). For God to be love, He has to love someone. None of us can love in a vacuum; there must always be an object of our love. Who is the object of God’s love? It cannot be man, or the created world, or the universe, because all of these existed in time and God is eternal and therefore existed before time.

It’s also impossible to say that God merely loved Himself in a solitary way, because this would not really be love but a form of egotism and narcissism. For God to be love, there needed to be an eternal relationship of love, with one who loves, one who is loved, and the love that unites them. This is what exists in the Blessed Trinity: The Father loved His image, the Son, so much that their mutual and eternal love “spirated” or “generated” the Holy Spirit. They exist in a communion of love. The three persons of the Blessed Trinity are united in absolutely everything except, as the early Church councils said, their “relations of origin,” what it means to be Father, what it means to be Son of the Father, and what it means to proceed from the Father and the Son.

These theological insights about the blessed Trinity may seem theoretical, but they become highly practical when we reflect on the fact that we have been made in the image and likeness of God and called to communion with God. To be in the image and likeness of God means to be created in the image and likeness of a communion of persons in love. Our belief in the Trinity — the central teaching of the Catholic faith — has given the Church the deepest understanding available to human beings of the nature of man, the meaning of human life, and what it means to love.

Father Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, ordained in 1999. After receiving a biology degree from Harvard College, Fr. Landry studied for the priesthood in Maryland, Toronto, and for several years in Rome. He speaks widely on the thought of Pope John Paul II and on apologetics, and is currently parochial administrator of St. Anthony of Padua in New Bedford, MA and Executive Editor of The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River. An archive of his homilies and articles can be found at

June 14, 2006 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus has a God, it is the Father. The Father doesn't have a God.
For us there is one God the Father.
God is one. Not triune.

June 27, 2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for sharing. Like I said above in my original post, a "Bible only" or "Koran only" mentality can lead you to wrong conclusions without an authority that Jesus gave us in His church to guide us in all truth.
Genesis: "Let us make man in our image"

June 27, 2006 10:30 PM  

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