From the Writings of
The Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta
The Little Daughter of the Divine Will
Trinity in Heaven
Trinity on earth!
Three – The Signature of the Holy Trinity
God the Father Jesus the Son The Holy Spirit
Fiat of Creation Fiat of Redemption Fiat of
Current of LIFE Current of WORD & POWER Current of LOVE
Tree of LIFE Tree of KNOWLEDGE of good/evil Tree of LOVE
Immaculate Conception Divine Motherhood Assumption
Daughter of the Father Mother of the Son Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Water Blood Fire
Power Knowledge Love
Intellect Memory Will
Garden of Eden Garden of Agony Garden of Mary/Luisa
Mary Jesus Luisa
Green Red White
Know Love Possess
Joy Sorrow Glory
Faith Hope Charity
Old Testament New Testament Testament of the Kingdom
St. John the Baptist Jesus/Mary Luisa
Manna Eucharist Food you do not know of
Daily Bread Sacramental Bread Bread of His Will
Transfiguration Transubstantiation Transmutation
Jerusalem Rome New Jerusalem
Jews Christians little Children of the Divine Will
Men of Good Will Saints Sharing in Divinity
Thrones Cherubim Seraphim
Principalities Powers Dominations
Angels Archangels Virtues
Other references to 3 in the writings of the Divine Will:
Jesus 33 years old
3 Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity
3 Marriages – Jesus the Mystical Marriage, in Heaven to the Holy Trinity – Marriage of the Cross
Ring 3 with stones Jesus gave to Luisa – white, red & green stone
Luisa’s vision of 3 babies having one singe body with 3 distinct heads
3 Characteristics of Love – force of benefits, attractions and persuasions
3 ways Jesus uses manifest Himself to the soul – With Power, with News, with Love
3 way sacrifice of Jesus– to glorify the Father, Conversions of Sinners, companions in my pains
3 Signatures of Love – resignation, humility & obedience
3 suns – One sets in the East, the West and the third in the South
3 powers of the Trinity given to mankind– Memory in the Father, the intellect in the Son, the will in the Holy Spirit
3 different days to come – one far from the other of storms, hail thunder and floods
3 Divine Breaths given to Luisa
3 enemies of man = Love of pleasures, of riches and of honors
Luisa’s vision of 3 children – their beauty and similarity was so striking…of the same birth…golden cords
Jesus gave off 3 breaths full of Light that took the place of Luisa’s heart
Most Holy Trinity, for while You are one, You are also 3 …speaking a single Voice
Jesus “I was conceived in sorrow, born in sorrow and died in sorrow”
3 nails that they crucified me (Jesus), I nailed down the 3 powers intellect, memory and will
3 wise men
3 gifts – gold = intelligence & knowledge of truth = gold of their will, affections desires preferences of their whole essence, frankincense = adoration love, myrrh = sacrifice
Jesus conveyed Himself to the Magi in 3 ways – with Love, with Beauty with Power
3 effects – Love for Jesus = Detachment from themselves, Beauty = disregard for earthly things, Power = bravery to risk both blood and life for Me.
Jesus waning to Luisa – Daughter, Three terrible trials are going to happen.
3 qualities of the Holy Trinity = Might, Wisdom and Charity
3 prerogatives of True Love – Constant Love without limits, strong love and love renewed together for God and Neighbor.
3 stages of the World – natural law, written law and the law of Grace
3 stages of man – adolescence, youth and old age
3 types of true love – untiring suffering, perpetual atonement and preserving love
Luisa’s vision of 3 men in the shape of 3 untamed horses let loose across Europe bringing it bloody terror.
3 wicked domains – the world the devil and the flesh
3 Holy domains – the Spiritual Reign the Divine and the Eternal
3 of the Passion:
3 Times crowned with thorns
3 hours of agony in the garden
3 fold flagellation done with 3 different kinds of whips
3 times striped, condemned to death at night morning and full daylight
3 times fell under the Cross
3 nails to the Cross
3 times My Heart bled – In the garden, the Crucifixion and pierced with a lance
3 hours of agony on the cross
3 places in Italy, there were 3 points, 3 volcanic mouths …. To level the towns
3 steps for Luisa – Transformed interiorly in Him, operating exteriorly with Him and doing so for the benefit of all creatures and God.
3 ways that enable Jesus to be born in one’s heart – to be empty of everything to be filled by Him,
All is and must be done for Him, The 3 loves, heroic, ever-increasing, and love of sacrifice.
3 virtues of true love: To purify all, to triumph over all and to attain all.
Luisa’s vision of the Baby Jesus in my arms from One Three emerged.
Jesus gave to men six hours of my Passion so that I may die. 3 in the Garden were for help in agony the 3 on the Cross were for help at the last gasping at death.
3 Weapons that Combat Anxiety – : purity of intention, the right work good in itself of victim and of sacrificing yourself for Me, and having the sole purpose to love Me.
THREE wounds that give Me (Jesus) mortal pain and such bitterness of sorrow as to surpass all the other wounds together.
“[First:] These are the pains of My loving souls.
“The second mortal wound of My Heart is ingratitude.
“The third [wound] is obstinacy. What mortal wound to My Heart!
“My daughter, the First Fiat was said in Creation without the intervention of any creature.
For completion of the Second Fiat I chose My Mama.
Now for the completion of both I want to say the Third Fiat, which will complete the glory [and] honor of the Fiat of Creation, as well as will be the confirmation and development of the fruits of the Fiat of Redemption.
These THREE Fiats will veil the Sacrosanct Trinity on the earth, and I will have the Fiat Voluntas tua, come in Cielo cosi in terra. These THREE Fiats will be inseparable; one will be life of the other. They will be One and Triune, but distinct among themselves.
“These THREE Fiats have the same value and power.
“My daughter, these THREE ‘Fiats’ are the Creating, the Redeeming, [and] the Sanctifying [Fiats]. In creating man I endowed him with THREE powers—intellect, memory, and will. Moreover, with THREE ‘Fiats’ I will complete the work of the sanctification of man.
“This generation will not end if My Will does not reign on the earth. My Redeeming Fiat will put Itself in the middle, between the Creating Fiat and the Sanctifying Fiat. The THREE will mix together and will complete the sanctification of man. The Third ‘Fiat’ will give such grace to the creature as to make her return as if to her state of origin. And then, when I have seen man as he came forth from Me, My work will be complete and I will take My perpetual repose in My last ‘Fiat.’ Only life in My Volition will restore man to his state of origin.
I stayed in prison THREE hours. In so doing, I wanted to restore the THREE epochs of the world: the law of nature, the written law, and the law of Grace. I wanted to free everyone, reunite everyone, and give them the freedom that belongs to my sons. By staying THREE hours, I wanted to restore the THREE stages of man: childhood, youth, and old age.
Luisa’s 3 affirmations:
I was saying my usual prayers when my ever-loving Jesus, surprising me from behind, called out my name and said: “Luisa, daughter of my Will, do you want to live always in my Will?”
I replied: “Yes, oh Jesus.”
He said: “But do you truly want to live in my Will?”
I replied: “Truly, my love. Besides, I would neither recognize nor adapt to any other will.”
And again Jesus said: “But…do you mean it certainly?”
Then, feeling confused and almost fearful, I added: “Jesus my life, you frighten me with these questions. Explain Yourself better. I say it with certainty, but always aided by You and with the strength of your Will, which envelops me so that I could not but live in your Will.”
He gave a sigh of relief and continued:
“How happy your THREE affirmations make Me! Fear not, they are but reaffirmations and confirmations to seal in you the triple seal of the Volition of the THREE Divine Persons.
Jesus in the Garden:
Suffering was I crying out? Ah, no! You are deceiving yourself if you think that. I loved suffering to the point of folly; I loved death in order to give Life to my children.
That was the cry of all the human family together echoing in my Humanity. I, crying out together with them, repeated THREE times: ‘If it is possible, let this chalice pass from Me!’ I cried out in the name of all humanity in so far as all humanity was a part of Me, and I felt oppressed and crushed.
Now I come to you. After calling my Celestial Mother I called you so that all human acts would have THREE seals: the first seal given by Me, the second seal given by my Mother, and the third seal given by an ordinary creature.
3 Types of Bread:
“Our Will, seeing the great value in acting as one in THREE distinct Persons, also wants to act as one in THREE distinct persons on earth: the Mother, the Son, and the Bride. From these THREE persons other seas of happiness will flow, bringing immense good to all wayfarers.”
, I beseech You for THREE kinds of daily bread. The first is the bread of your Will; . Father, without this Bread of your Will, I will never be able to receive all the fruits of my Sacramental Life, which is the second kind of bread I ask You for every day. “After that I asked for the third bread, which is material bread.
THREE times has the Divinity decided to work ‘ad extra’: the first was in the Creation, and this was without the intervention of any creature, since none had come yet forth to the light of day; the second was Redemption, which involved the intervention of a woman, my Heavenly Mother, who was the holiest and most beautiful of all, and the channel and the instrument I used to accomplish the work of the Redemption; the third is the fulfillment of my Will, that It may be done on earth as It is in Heaven, so that the creature live and work with the Holiness and the Power of our Will,
“From then on I formed the epic of the Fiat Voluntas Tua upon the earth; and by saying it for [a] THREE times, in the first I impetrated, and in the second I made It descend, and in the third I formed It reigning and dominating. And as I said ‘Non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat,’ I intended to empty creatures of their will, and fill them with the Divine.
3 in the creation of man
…in creating man, formed diverse ways of communication between the Creator and the creature, ways that form the THREE powers of the soul: Intelligence, the means to understand my Will; memory, means to always remember It; and the will. The middle of the first two ways formed the third way to fly in the Will of its Creator. The intelligence and the memory were the help, the defense and the strength of the way of the will, because they could not deviate either to the right or to the left.
“The mission of my Volition will reflect the most Holy Trinity upon the earth. And as in Heaven there are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, inseparable yet distinct among themselves, who form all the beatitude of Heaven, so also on earth there will be THREE persons who for their mission will be distinct and inseparable among themselves: The Virgin with her Maternity, which reflects the Paternity of the Celestial Father and encloses his Power to fulfill the mission of Mother of the Eternal Word and Co-Redemptrix of the human race; my Humanity, for the mission of Redeemer, enclosed in the Divinity of the Word, without ever separating Itself from the Father and Holy Spirit, manifesting my Celestial Wisdom, adding the bond to make Me inseparable from my Mother; and you for the mission of my Will. In you the Holy Spirit will make his Love overflow, manifesting to you the secrets, the prodigies of my Will, the goods It contains, to make happy those who will want to know how much good this Supreme Will contains and who want to love It and have It reign in them. They will offer their souls to let It inhabit their own hearts and form its Life in them. And the bond of inseparability among you, the Mother and the Eternal Word will remain.
The 3 missions:
“These THREE missions are distinct and inseparable. With extraordinary suffering the first two have prepared the grace, the light, the work and everything for the third mission—the mission of my Will—to fuse both in It so as to find Its repose, because my Will alone is celestial repose.
And glory to Mary; and THREE times Holy, She who has let this Supreme Will operate!’
The course of my thirty-THREE years was not sufficient, nor were the creatures prepared, disposed, to foresee a food so delicate that I gave to all Heaven;
THREE Divine Persons; It placed in him THREE motions which were to murmur continuously, to unite with that continuous motion and murmuring of love of their Creator. And these are: the motion of the beating of the heart which never ceases, the circulation of the blood which always flows without ever ceasing, the breathing of the breath which never stops. This, in the body; in the soul there are THREE more motions which murmur continuously: the intellect, the memory and the will.
But in order to manifest to the peoples the coming of Myself, Word of the Father, upon earth, I wanted and used royal authorities, learned and erudite men, so that, by their authority, they might diffuse the knowledges of the incarnate God and, eventually, also impose themselves to the peoples. In spite of this, the star was seen by everyone, yet only THREE of them move, pay attention and follow it.
Then I will have THREE Kingdoms – one in the Celestial Fatherland, another in the Creation, and the third among the creatures – and each one will be the echo of the other, each one the reflection of the other.
. For your Jesus there will no longer be difference between staying in the Celestial Fatherland, and descending to be in the midst of creatures in the Kingdom of the Supreme Fiat upon earth. Then, Our work of Creation will sing victory and full triumph, and We will have THREE Kingdoms in one – symbol of the Sacrosanct Trinity, because all of Our works carry the mark of the One who created them.”
The THREE Appeals
With His Father and the Holy Spirit, the Divine King appeals to His children on earth to come now and enter into the Kingdom of His Will.
THE APPEAL OF THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN FOR HER CHILDREN TO COME INTO THE KINGDOM OF THE DIVINE WILL From “The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will”
And in the first place, I appeal to the HIGHEST HIERARCH, to the ROMAN PONTIFF, to HIS HOLINESS, to the representative of the Holy Church, and therefore the representative of the KINGDOM OF THE DIVINE WILL. At his holy feet, this little, tiny child places this Kingdom, so that he dominate It and make It known, and with his paternal and authoritative voice, call his sons to live in this Kingdom so holy.
May the Sun of the SUPREME “FIAT” invest him and form the first Sun of the Divine Volition in Its Representative on earth; and forming Its primary Life in Him who is the Head of all, It will spread Its interminable rays in all the world; and eclipsing all with Its Light, It will form one flock and one Shepherd
The second appeal I make to all PRIESTS. Prostrate at the feet of each one, I pray, I implore them to interest themselves in knowing the Divine Will. Take your first movement, your first act from It; rather, enclose yourselves in the “FIAT,” and you will feel how sweet and dear Its Life is. Draw from It all your workings; you will feel a Divine strength in you, a voice that always speaks, that will say admirable things to you that you have never heard. You will feel a light that will eclipse all your evils, and eclipsing the peoples, will give you the dominion over them. How many labors you do without fruit, because the Life of the Divine Will is lacking. You have broken a bread for the peoples without the leaven of the “FIAT”; and they therefore, in eating it, have found it hard, almost indigestible; and not feeling the Life in themselves, they do not submit to your teachings. Therefore, you eat this bread of the Divine “FIAT!” Thus you will have sufficient bread to give to the peoples. Thus you will form with all, one single Life and one single Will.
The third appeal I make to all, to the entire world, for you are all my brothers and sisters and my children. Do you know why I am calling all? Because I want to give to all the Life of the Divine Will. This is more than air that we can all breathe. It is as Sun from which we can all receive the good of the light; It is as palpitation of the heart that wants to beat in all. And, as a little baby, I want, I yearn for you to take the Life of the “FIAT”…Oh, if you knew how many goods you would receive; you would consume your life to make It reign in all of you! This little, tiny one wants to tell you another secret that Jesus has confided to her; and I tell you it so that you give me your will, and in exchange you will receive that of God which will make you happy in soul and in body.
Come Holy Spirit, Come Supreme Will,
down to reign in Your Kingdom on earth
and in our hearts!
Come Holy Spirit, Come Supreme Will,
down to reign in Your Kingdom on earth
and in our hearts!
Come Holy Spirit, Come Supreme Will,
down to reign in Your Kingdom on earth
and in our hearts!
“Adorable Trinity, hurry, delay no more; we pray You, we press You, that Your Will descend upon earth, make Itself known and Reign on it as It does in Heaven!”
HOLY TRINITY ON EARTH
Volume 17 – May 4, 1925
The mission of the Divine Will, will veil the Most Holy Trinity upon earth, and will make man return to his origin.
After writing what is written above, I began to do the adoration to my Crucified Jesus, fusing all of myself in His Most Holy Will; and my beloved Jesus came out from within my interior, and placing His most holy face close to mine, all tenderness, told me: “My daughter, did you write everything on the mission of my Will?” And I: ‘Yes, yes, I wrote everything.’ And He, again: “And what if I told you that you have not written everything? Rather, you have left out the most essential thing. So, continue writing, and add: ‘The mission of my Will will veil the Most Holy Trinity upon earth. Just as in Heaven there are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, inseparable from One Another but distinct among Themselves, forming the whole beatitude of Heaven; in the same way, on earth there will be three persons who, because of their missions, will be distinct and inseparable among themselves: the Virgin, with Her Maternity which veils the Paternity of the Celestial Father and encloses His power in order to fulfill Her mission of Mother of the Eternal Word and Co-Redemptrix of mankind; my Humanity, for the mission of Redeemer, which enclosed the Divinity, and the Word, without ever separating from the Father and from the Holy Spirit, manifested my celestial wisdom – adding the bond of rendering Myself inseparable from my Mama; and you, for the mission of my Will, as the Holy Spirit will make display of His love, manifesting to you the secrets, the prodigies of my Will, the goods It contains, to make happy those who will give themselves to knowing how much good this Supreme Will contains, to love It and to let It reign in their midst, offering their souls to let It dwell within their hearts, that It may be able to form Its Life in them – adding the bond of inseparability between you, the Mother and the Eternal Word.
These three missions are distinct and inseparable. The first two have prepared the graces, the light, the work, and with unheard-of pains, for the third mission of my Will, to then fuse themselves all in It without leaving their office, so as to find rest, because my Will alone is celestial rest. These missions will not be repeated, because the exuberance of grace, of light, of knowledge is such and so great that all human generations can be filled with them; even more, they will not be able to contain all the good which they contain. These missions are symbolized by the sun; in fact, in creating it, I filled it with so much light and heat, that all human generations have superabundant light. Nor did I consider that, since at the beginning of creation there were only Adam and Eve who would enjoy it, I could place the necessary light for them only, to then increase new light as the generations would grow. No, no – I made it full of light, just as it is now, and will be. For the decorum and the honor of Our power, wisdom and love, Our works are always done with the fullness of all the good which they contain; nor are they subject to increasing or decreasing. So I did with the sun: I centralized in it all the light which was to serve up to the last man. But how many goods does the sun not do for the earth? What glory, in its mute light, does it not give to its Creator? I can say that because of the immense goods it does to the earth, in its mute language the sun glorifies Me and makes Me known more than all other things together; and this, because it is full in its light, and stable in its course. When I looked at the sun which, with so much light, only Adam and Eve were enjoying, I also looked at all the living; and in seeing that that light was to serve all, my paternal goodness exulted with joy, and I remained glorified in my works. So I did with my Mama: I filled Her with so much grace, that She can give graces to all without ever exhausting even one of them. So I did with my Humanity: there is no good which It does not possess; It enclosed everything, and the very Divinity, to give It to whomever wants of It. So I did with you: I enclosed in you my Will, and, with It, I enclosed Myself. I enclosed in you Its knowledges, Its secrets, Its light. I filled your soul up to the brim; so much so, that what you write is nothing other than the outpouring of what you contain of my Will. And even though it now serves you alone, and a few glimmers of light serve a few others, I am content because, being light, more than second sun, it will make its way by itself, in order to illuminate the human generations and to bring about the fulfillment of Our works: that Our Will be known and loved, and that It reign as life in the creatures. This was the purpose of Creation – this, its beginning, and this will be the means and the end.
Therefore, be attentive, because this is about placing in safety that Eternal Will which, with so much love, wants to dwell in the creatures. But It wants to be known, It does not want to be like a stranger, but wants to give Its goods and become Life of each one. However, It wants Its rights, Its place of honor; It wants the human will to be put aside – the only enemy for Itself and for man. The mission of my Will was the purpose of the creation of man. My Divinity did not depart from Heaven – from Its throne, while my Will not only departed, but descended into all created things and formed Its Life in them. But while all things recognized Me, and I dwell in them with majesty and decorum, man alone drove Me away. But I want to conquer him and win him, and therefore my mission is not ended. So I called you, entrusting to you my own mission, that you may place the one who drove Me away on the lap of my Will, and everything may return to Me in my Will. Therefore, do not be surprised at the many great and marvelous things I may tell you for the sake of this mission, or at the many graces I may give you; because this is not about making a Saint, or saving the generations. This is about placing a Divine Will in safety, that all may return to the beginning, to the origin from which all came, and that the purpose of my Will may have its fulfillment.’”
Catholic Doctrine on the Holy Trinity
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the most fundamental of our faith. On it everything else depends and from it everything else derives. Hence the Church’s constant concern to safeguard the revealed truth that God is One in nature and Three in Persons.
In order to do some justice to this sublime subject, we shall look only briefly at the heretical positions that at various periods of the Church’s history challenged the revealed Trinitarian faith. Our principal intention is to see in sequence the development of the doctrine, with emphasis on how the Church’s authority has contributed to the progress in understanding the plurality of persons in the one true God.
There is also great value in seeing some of the implications of the doctrine for our personal and social lives, since the mystery was most extensively revealed by Christ during the same discourse at the Last Supper when He taught us the “New Commandment” by which we are to love one another as He has been loving us.
There is a certain logic in the adversative positions assumed by those who called into question one or another aspect of the Trinity. Not surprisingly the human mind has wrestled with what God revealed about Himself in His inner Trinitarian existence. And depending on the willingness to recognize its limitations, the intellect has been enlightened by what God says about His mysterious being.
Thus we have, on the one hand, such extensive treatises as St. Augustine’s De Trinitate that show how perfectly compatible is the mystery of the Triune God with the deepest reaches of human intelligence. Indeed, the better the Trinity is understood, the more the human mind expands its horizons and the better it understands the world that the Trinity has created.
At the same time, we have the spectacle of another phenomenon. Minds that are not fully docile to the faith have, in greater or less measure, resisted the unquestioning acceptance of the Trinity. From apostolic times to the present, they have struggled with themselves and in their misguided effort to “explain” the mystery have only rationalized their own ideas of what the mystery should be.
For the sake of convenience, we can capsulize the leading anti-Trinitarian teachings of Christian history. Although given here somewhat chronologically, they are all very current because one or another, or a combination of several, may be found in contemporary writings in nominally Christian sources. There is no such thing as an antiquated doctrinal error, as correspondingly there is no such thing as an entirely new heresy. Error has its own remarkable consistency.
By the end of the first century, certain Judaizing Christians lapsed into a pre-Christian notion of God. According to them God is simply unipersonal. Such were the Corinthians and the Ebionites.
Within the next hundred years these theories were systemized into what has since become known as Monarchianism, i.e., monos = one + archein = to rule, which postulates only one person in God. In practice, however, Monarchianism affected certain positions regarding the nature and person of Christ; and these were the ones that finally had to be countered by the Church’s Magisterium.
If there is only one person in God, then the Son of God did not become man except as the embodiment of an adopted son of God. According to the Adoptionists, Christ was a mere man, though miraculously conceived of the Virgin Mary. At Christ’s baptism, He was endowed by the Father with extraordinary power and was then specially adopted by God as son. Among others, the best known Adoptionist was Paul of Samosata.
Another group of Monarchians took the view that Christ was divine. But then it was the Father who became incarnate, who suffered and died for the salvation of the world. Those favoring this idea were called Patripassionists, which literally means “Father-sufferers,” meaning that Christ was only symbolically the son of God, since it was the Father Himself who became man. On this hypothesis, of course, the Father, too, is only symbolically Father, since He does not have a natural Son.
The best known Patripassionist was Sabellius, who gave his name to a still popular Christological heresy, Sabellianism. According to Sabellius, there is in God only one hypostasis (person) but three prosopa, literally “masks” or “roles” that the unipersonal God assumes. These three roles correspond to the three modes or ways that God manifests Himself to the world. Hence another name for this theory is Modalism.
In the Modalist system, God manifests Himself, in the sense of reveals Himself, as the Father in creation, as the Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in sanctification. There are not really three distinct persons in God but only three ways of considering God from the effects He has produced in the world.
Unlike the foregoing, Subordinationism admits there are three persons in God but denies that the second and third persons are consubstantial with the Father. Therefore it denies their true divinity. There have been different forms of Subordinationism, and they are still very much alive, though not all easily recognizable as Trinitarian errors in which the mind tries to comprehend how one single infinitely perfect divine nature can be three distinct persons, each equally and completely God.
The Arians, named after the Alexandrian priest Arius, held that the Logos or Word of God does not exist from eternity. Consequently there could not have been a generation of the Son from the Father but only by the Father. The Son is a creature of the Father and to that extent a “son of God.” He came into existence from nothing, having been willed by the Father, although as “the first born of all creation,” the Son came into the world before anything else was created.
The Semi-Arians tried to avoid the extreme of saying that Christ was totally different from the Father by conceding that He was similar to or like the Father, hence the name Homoi-ousians, i.e., homoios = like = ousia = nature, by which they are technically called.
There was lastly the group of Macedonians, named after Bishop Macedonius (deposed in 360 AD), who extended the notion of subordination to the Holy Spirit, who was claimed not to be divine but a creature. They were willing to admit that the Holy Spirit was a ministering angel of God.
At the other extreme to saying there was only one person in God was the heresy that held (and holds) there are really three gods. Certain names stand out.
According to John Philoponus (565 AD), nature and person are to be identified, or, in his language ousia = hypostasis. There are then three persons in God who are three individuals of the Godhead, just as we would speak of three human beings and say there are three individuals of the species man. Thus instead of admitting a numerical unity of the divine nature among the three persons in God, this theory postulates only a specific unity, i.e., one species but not one numerical existence.
In the theory of Roscelin (1120 AD), a Nominalist, only the individual is real. So the three persons in God are actually three separate realities. St. Anselm wrote extensively against this error.
Gilbert of Poitiers (1154 AD) said there is a real difference between God and the Divinity. As a result there would be a quaternity, i.e., three persons and the Godhead.
Abbot Joachim of Fiore (1202 AD) claimed that there is only a collective unity of the three persons in God, to form the kind of community we have among human beings, i.e., a gathering of like-minded persons joined together by their freedom to work together on a common enterprise. Joachim of Fiore is also known in doctrinal history as the one who projected the idea of three stages in Christian history. Stage One was the Age of the Father, through Old Testament times; Stage Two was the Age of the Second Person, the Son, which lasted from the time of the Incarnation to the Middle Ages; Stage Three began about the time of Abbot Joachim and will continue to the end of the world, as the Age of the Holy Spirit.
Anton Guenther (1873) was deeply infected with Hegelian pantheism and proclaimed a new Trinity. Guenther said that the Absolute freely determined Itself three successive times in an evolutionary process of development as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. So the divine substance is trebled.
The original Reformers affirmed the Trinity without qualification. Thus Luther and Calvin, and the sixteenth century confessions of Protestant faith uniformly attested to the Trinity of Persons in God. But the subjectivism of the Protestant principles paved the way to a gradual attrition of the faith, so that rationalism has made deep inroads into the denominations. The most common form of this rationalism takes the three persons in God as only three personifications of the divine attributes, e.g., divine power is personified by the Father, divine wisdom by the Son, and divine goodness by the Holy Spirit.
In this context, we may define rationalism as that system of thought that claims that the human mind cannot hold with certainty what it cannot understand. Since the Trinity cannot be fully understood, it cannot therefore be held to be certain.
Teaching of the Church
The history of the Church’s doctrine on the Trinity reaches back to the earliest days of Christianity. Our purpose here is to see in review some of the leading statements of the Magisterium, while pointing out some features of each document.
Pope St. Dionysius in 259 AD wrote a public letter to Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria in which he condemned the errors of Sabellius and the tritheist Marcion. The significance of this document lies in the fact that it paved the way for the Church’s later teaching, notably in the famous councils that dealt with the person of Christ. The popes led the way in defending the revealed mystery of the Trinity and in explaining its meaning, long before ecumenical councils entered the controversy. Even a few sentences from the pope’s letter will show the intransigence of the Church and her sureness of mind about the Trinity:
Sabellius’ blasphemy is that the Son is the Father, and the Father the Son. These men somehow teach there are three gods since they divine the sacred unity into three different hypostases completely separate from one another.
The teaching of the foolish Marcion who divides and separates the one God into three principles is a teaching from the devil, not the teaching of those who truly follow Christ and who are content with the teachings of the Savior.
At the Council of Nicea (325 AD), the Second Person was declared to be consubstantial with the Father, where the term homo-ousios became the consecrated word for expressing perfect numerical identity of nature between the Father and His Son who became incarnate.
But Nicea did not settle the controversy. Speculators, especially in the Near East, insisted on probing and rationalizing the Trinity so that in 382 AD Pope St. Damasus called a council at Rome in which he summarized the main errors up to his time. Called the Tome of Damasus, this collection of anathemas is a series of definitions on the Trinity that to this day are models of clarity. Twenty-four in number, a sample from the collection again reflects the Church’s perennial faith:
If anyone denies that the Father is eternal, that the Son is eternal, and that the Holy Spirit is eternal: he is a heretic.
If anyone says that the Son made flesh was not in heaven with the Father while He was on earth: he is a heretic.
If anyone denies that the Holy Spirit has all power and knows all things, and is everywhere, just as the Father and the Son: he is a heretic.
The most extensive declaration of the Church’s teaching on the Trinity was made at the Eleventh Synod of Toledo in Spain (675 AD). It is a mosaic of texts drawn from all the preceding doctrines of the Church. Its purpose was to assemble as complete a list of doctrinal statements as possible, in view of the still prevalent errors in nominally Christian circles, and (providentially) in view of the rise of Islam which struck with particular vehemence against the Iberian peninsula. Since the main target of Moslem opposition to Christianity was the Koranic claim that Christians were idolaters because they adored Christ as God, it is instructive to see how the faithful were prepared to resist the Moslem Unitarianism by a clear declaration of their own belief in the Triune God. The full text of doctrine at Toledo runs to over two thousand words. Only a few lines will be given to illustrate the tone:
We confess and we believe that the holy and indescribable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one only God in His nature, a single substance, a single nature, a single majesty and power.
We acknowledge Trinity in the distinction of persons; we profess Unity because of the nature or substance. The three are one, as a nature, that is, not as person. Nevertheless, these three persons are not to be considered separable, since we believe that no one of them existed or at any time effected anything before the other, after the other, or without the other.
Two general councils of the Church formulated the faith in the Trinity in specific creeds, namely the Fourth Lateran and the Council of Florence.
The focus of Fourth Lateran was twofold, to reaffirm the faith in the face of the Albigensian heresy and to defend it against the vagaries of Abbot Joachim.
Since the Albigenses were Manichaens, for whom there were two ultimate sources of the universe, one a good principle and the other an evil one, Lateran declared the absolute oneness of God, who is at the same time Triune:
We firmly believe and profess without qualification that there is only one true God, eternal, immense, unchangeable, incomprehensible, omnipotent, and indescribable, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; three persons but one essence and a substance or nature that is wholly simple.
The Father is from no one; the Son is from the Father only; and the Holy Spirit is from both the Father and the Son equally. God has no beginning; He always is, and always will be. The Father is the progenitor, the Son is the begotten, the Holy Spirit is proceeding. They are all one substance, equally great, equally all-powerful, equally eternal. They are the one and only principle of all things—Creator of all things visible and invisible, spiritual and corporeal, who, by His almighty power, from the very beginning of time has created both orders of creatures in the same way out of nothing, the spiritual or angelic worlds and the corporeal or visible universe.
Abbot Joachim had a plurality of gods. In his effort to explain how the persons in the Trinity are distinct, he made them so separate that he ended up making them separate deities. Joachim’s problem was transferring what happens in human generation, when something of the parent goes over to the offspring, and is thereby distinct. He pressed the analogy too far and fell into error.
In response to this, the Fourth Lateran Council used the most technical language to insist that there is no division in God just because there is a distinction of persons:
The Father in eternally begetting the Son gave Him His own substance as the Son Himself testifies, “What my Father has given me is greater than all.” But it cannot be said that He gave Him part of His substance, and retained part for Himself, because the substance of the Father is indivisible, since it is altogether simple. Neither can one say that the Father transferred His own substance in generation to the Son, as though He gave it to the Son in such a way that He did not retain it for Himself; otherwise He would cease to be a substance.
The situation at the Council of Florence (1442 AD) was different. Here the need was to state the constant teaching of the Church with a view to reuniting the Eastern and Western Churches, separated by the Eastern Schism.
One feature of Florence, however, that needed to be clarified was brought about by the addition to the Nicene Creed of the expression Filioque, i.e. “and from the Son,” which Rome had approved. The Roman Creed now read, “the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” The Easterners were uncomfortable with the addition, saying that Rome had tampered with a general council. The issue at stake was the true divinity of the Holy Spirit and the true divinity of the Second Person. Consequently, the Council of Florence, in the long Trinitarian Creed that it issued, stated as follows:
The Father is entirely in the Son and entirely in the Holy Spirit; the Son is entirely in the Father and entirely in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is entirely in the Father and entirely in the Son. None of the persons precedes any of the others in eternity, nor does any have greater immensity or greater power. From eternity, without beginning, the Son is from the Father; and from eternity and without beginning, the Holy Spirit has proceeded from the Father and the Son.
Human language could not be clearer, and there the faith of the Church stands to day and will until the end of time. Since the Council of Florence, popes and councils have simply drawn on the elaborate and absolutely unambiguous teaching of Sacred Tradition to offer the faithful for acceptance what is at once the glory of Catholic Christianity and its greatest revealed mystery.
As we are learning today, faith in the Trinity is the basic test of our Catholic faith as Christians. This is not merely to say that objectively this doctrine is the most fundamental. It is. But subjectively, from our side, it is also the most crucial because it represents the hardest demand on our creedal assent.
All natural knowledge leads us to see only specific unity among human beings. We have one human nature, indeed, but we are only specifically one as distinct persons. We are really distinct as persons but we are also separate realities. Not so with the Trinity. Each of the divine Persons is the infinite God, and no one Person has only a “share” in the divine nature, a part of it so to speak. Yet they are not three infinities, but only one infinite God.
Relative to generation, all natural knowledge tells us that the parenthood and offspring imply a before and after generation, they imply a producer and a produced, a cause and effect. Not so in the eternal generation of the Son of God by the Father.
All natural knowledge tells us that while love is “outgoing” it does not literally give rise to a third person who is at once distinct from the two who love and numerically one with them in nature. Yet this is the case with God, where the Holy Spirit is declared by the Church as “the Love or the Sanctity of both the Father and the Son.” He proceeds from them without being another god.
But the Trinity is more than a test of our faith. It is also the perfect model of our selfless love. As revelation tells us, within the Godhead is a plurality of Persons, so that God is defined as Love because He has within His own being, to use our language, the object of love which is an Other with whom each of the Persons can share the totality of their being.
We therefore see from reflection on this Triune Love that love by its essence is not self-centered, that love unites, that love gives, and that love shares perfectly within the Godhead. Love is therefore as perfect in us as it approximates the perfect sharing that constitutes the Trinity.
At the same time, we recall that, while perfectly selfless in their mutual sharing of the divine nature, the Persons in the Trinity do not thereby cease to be themselves. Again, this is a lesson for us. We are to give of ourselves generously and without stinting. Nevertheless we are also to give in such a way that we remain ourselves and not become, as it were, something else in the process of sharing. There is such a thing as calculating charity, when a person gives of himself but “not too much” because he fears that his love may be too costly. This is not the teaching of Christ, who told us to love others not only as much as we love ourselves but as much as He loves us.
Saying this, however, is not to say that charity should not be wise. It would be unwise if it deprived us of that which God wants us to be and made us less than we are expected to be. Charity must, therefore, be enlightened; it must be guided by the standard of the Trinity, where each of the divine Persons gives and shares perfectly, yet without ceasing to be what each Person is to be. The Father does not become less the Father in begetting the Son and thus totally sharing the divine nature; nor do Father and Son cease to be themselves although they completely share their divinity with the Holy Spirit.
We thus have a confluence of two mysteries, of the Trinity in heaven and of liberty on earth. The Trinity is the pattern for our liberty. If we use our freedom to love others as we should, modeled on the Triune God, we shall reach that God in eternity. This is our hope, based on our faith, and conditioned by our love.