Fr. John Zuhlsdorf Explains the Holy Trinity – Beautifully!

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf Explains the Holy Trinity – Beautifully!

I don’t know what I did to deserve having one of the great minds of the Church serving alongside of me, but I praise and thank God everyday for this wonderful gift. I am speaking about Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z). If you are not reading his blog every day, you are missing out on amazing treasures of our faith, mixed in with a rich sense of humor.

I read his blog for most of the years he has used it for his incredible teachings, but we became acquainted once he became aware of some of the bricks I was laying in the “brick by brick” process of restoring the liturgy (Save the Liturgy, Save the World!) and promoting the indisputable and necessary value of the Traditional Latin Mass.

By the grace of God, we found each other, after he entered the sheepfold of the great Bishop Morlino in the Diocese of Madison. One thing led to another, and here we are, serving God’s people together. And now, every time I am with him, I pick up all of the scraps that fall from his bountiful knowledge of this treasure chest we call the Roman Catholic Church.

So, as I was preparing my sermon for the weekend, I do as I often do … see what Fr. Z has to say.

This weekend is Trinity Sunday. Sometimes referred to as the “Preacher’s Nightmare.” Why? Because the Trinity is a great mystery, and very difficult to explain. See the humorous cartoon below that shows how easy it is to slip into heresy when making these attempts.

However, I found Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s writings on the Holy Trinity to be some of the best I have encountered, and I plan to share them with my people.

Here is what Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote about the Holy Trinity in his recent blog post. You can read the entire post HERE. If you are just discovering his blog, please bookmark it and visit it daily … you won’t regret it. Here is the portion of his magnificent post …

In the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God we believe that, from all eternity and before material creation and even outside of time itself, the One God who desired a perfect communion of love expressed Himself in a perfect Word, containing all that He is. The Word God uttered was and is a perfect self-expression, also perfectly possessing what the Speaker possesses: being, omniscience, omnipotence, truth, beauty, and even personhood. So, from all eternity there were always two divine Persons, the God who spoke and the Word who was spoken, the God who Generates and the God who is Generated, true God with and from true God, Begetter and Begotten, Father and Son. There was never a time when this was not so. These two Persons eternally regard and contemplate each other. From all eternity they knew and loved each other, each offering the other a perfect gift of self-giving. Since the self-gift of these perfect and divine Persons, distinct but sharing one divine nature, can be nothing other than a perfect self-gift, perfectly given and perfectly received, the very Gift between them also contains all that each of the Persons have: being, omniscience, omnipotence, truth, beauty, and even personhood. Therefore, from all eternity there exist three distinct divine Persons having one indivisible divine nature, Father, Son and the perfect self-gift of love between them, the Holy Spirit.


This is a foundational, saving doctrine we believe in as Christians. At the core of everything else we believe in and hope for, we will find this mysterious doctrine of divine relationship, the Triune God.


By baptism we images of God are brought into a new relationship with this Triune God.


We become the adoptive children of the heavenly Father, members of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ in the Mystical Person of the Holy Church which He founded. The Holy Spirit makes of us His dwelling so that all the divine Persons are present to us and in us, informing all that we are, do and say. Our membership in the Church opens the way to an eternal relationship of glory and praise with the Trinity.


The promise and token of this eternal reward is how we, as members of a Church of believers professing a common Faith, can take into our bodies, and thus into our souls, the already transformed Body and Blood of the Second Person, the one who unites in His divine Person both the eternity divinity of God and the finite two-fold nature of man.


For this to have taken place, and to make it possible for us to “return back” to the Father, the Second Person “went forth” from the Father in a new way, this time in the context of time and space.


In taking us up in our human nature, He made an act of self-empyting. In filling us with divine gifts in Holy Communion, Christ renews (not re-sacrifices) His Sacrifice, His giving forth and His taking back up again.


In Holy Mass we are asked to “take up and give forth” (susceptio et confessio). In our confessio we make an exterior expression, giving forth outwardly what we are within.


“I confess (confiteor) to almighty God…” is just a scratching of the surface, though an important one.


For St. Augustine, in his great prayer and autobiographical “giving forth” (The Confessions), the word confessio carried layers upon layers of meaning. As we learn from the magisterial Augustinus Lexicon, for Augustine confessio simultaneously, and in a fluid way, bore three main concepts: confession of sin, praise of God, and profession of faith.


For Augustine all created things in the universe, even inanimate things, both give witness to God and give Him glory:


“Respondent tibi omnia: Ecce vide, pulchra sumus. Pulchritudo eorum confessio eorum… All things respond to you, O God: ‘Behold! See! We are beautiful!’ Their beauty is their hymn of praise/demonstration that you are God/admission that they are not God” (s. 241, 2 – PL 38: 1133).




Are we beautiful at Mass?


What we do outwardly in our bodies, and what we do interiorly in our souls, must conform to the Trinity in whose image we are made.


Receiving Holy Communion is a profound statement of who we are and what we hope to be. The act of reception must be consistent with who we are and what we are about in life. That act of reception must inform and transform all other acts which, in their turn, are a living “confession”, bearing witness, giving praise, and recognizing our true status before God which can often involve confession of sins.


Similarly every act of praise and testimony of the Church in her liturgy should reflect beautifully and accurately all that the Church professes and longs for.


Every liturgical gesture, church building, vestment, and musical prayer, must be like a gift simultaneously coming forth from the Sacred Heart of the Son and given to us for our benefit as well as a response we make to the glory of the Triune God who gives them.


“Their beauty is their praise.”


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