Three More Thoughts Regarding the Trinity

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Trinity Sunday (year B), June 3, 2012
“a communion of subjects”

Three More Thoughts on the Trinity:


I love that the collects of the prayerbook guide the devotee to pray to God, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. That shaping of prayer imprints early in childhood, and liturgically imbeds in us that deeply rooted relationality, the continuous motion, that perpetually open system, and an intimacy with both transcendence and immanence even when we’re not particularly paying attention. But when you do get around to paying attention – oh, the impact!


Julian’s ginger cat, Norwich Cathedral

The “Showings” of Julian of Norwich is the one book I know of besides the Gospel of John that reflects the multi-layered Reality of the Resurrection throughout the whole manuscript. Not only that, but who makes the Trinity so available, so easy, so intimate? Although my own copy (copies!) are falling apart and overly marked up, some Eastertide/ Ascensiontide/ Pentecost/ Trinity I’d love to go away someplace and just read her again for the first time. I never quite get through Eastertide without her. And Trinity Sunday? How can I manage without “And the deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we are enclosed. And the high goodness of the Trinity is our Lord, and in him we are enclosed and he in us. We are enclosed in the Father, and we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. And the Father is enclosed in us, the Son is enclosed in us, and the Holy Spirit is enclosed in us, almighty, all wisdom and all goodness, one God, one Lord.” ?


Augustine goes inside himself to try to uncover the mystery of the Trinity. This quote is from the last chapter of the Confessions (Maria Boulding’s translation):

The Holy Trinity, Andre Rublev, early 15th century

Can anyone comprehend the almighty Trinity? Everyone talks about it- but is it really the Trinity of which they talk? Rare indeed is the person who understands the subject of his discourse, when he speaks of that. People argue and wrangle over it, yet no one sees that vision unless he is at peace.

I wish they would turn their attention to the triad they have within themselves. It is, to be sure, a triad far distant from the Trinity, but I propose it as a topic on which they may exercise their minds, by way of experiment and in order to make clear to themselves how great the difference is. The triad I mean is being, knowledge and will. I am, and I know, and I will. Knowingly and willingly I exist; I know that I am and that I will; I will be be and to know. Let anyone with the wit to see it observe how in these three there is one inseparable life: there is one life, one mind and one essence. How inseparable they are in their distinctness! Yet distinction there is. Everyone has himself readily available for inspection; let each, then, scrutinize himself, and see what he can find, and tell me.

But when he has verified this unity between his powers, he must not suppose that what he has discovered is that which exists immutably above our creaturely minds, that which unchangeably is and unchangeably knows and unchangeably wills. Do these three coexistent acts constitute the Trinity? Or are all three found in each Person, so that each is this triple reality? Or are all three found in each Person, so that each is this triple reality? Or are both these propositions true, the simplicity and the complexity being reconciled in some way beyond our comprehension, since the Persons are defined by their mutual relationships yet infinite in themselves? Thus the Godhead exists and is known to itself and is its own all-sufficient joy without variation for ever, Being-Itself in the manifold greatness of its unity. Who can find any way to express this truth? Who dare make any assertion about it? (Chapter 13:11-12)

Of course we know that Augustine himself takes the project on in De Trinitate.

Well that’s enough fun for one day.


2 Responses to “Three More Thoughts Regarding the Trinity”

  1. Sylvia Corrigan Says:

    Suzanne, your words in “one” are evocative of something I remember that Kierkegaard once said…”Being is a relation which relates itself to itself…” Relationality, continuous motion, perpetually open system, and so on – these are descriptions of God as Being with a capital B! Thanks for this explanation. And the picture of Julian’s cat! – Sylvia Corrigan

    • ammaguthrie Says:

      Thanks, Sylvia. I remember seeing Julian’s cat in the Cathedral before I knew Julian! I LOVE the Kierkegaard quote. Thanks, again.

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