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The Roman Catholic Church

The Holy Trinity

Why do Catholics believe that God is three Persons, called the Holy Trinity? How can God be three Persons and still be one God?

Catholics believe there is one God consisting of three distinct and equal divine Persons--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost(Spirit)--because on numerous occasions God has described Himself thus. The Old Testament gives intimations that there are more than one Person in God. In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let us make man to our image and likeness." In Isaias 9:6-7, God the Father revealed the imminent coming into the world of God the Son. In Psalms 2:7, we read, "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee." And in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father was heard: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:16-17). In Matthew 28:19, God the Son commanded the Apostles to baptize "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And in 1 Cor. 12:4-6, the Bible refers to God with three names: Spirit, Lord, and God-- corresponding to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Three divine Persons in one Godhead may be incomprehensible to the human mind, but that is to be expected. St. Augustine (3rd century), pondered the mystery of the Trinity. This sagacious bishop wondered how there could be three Persons but one God. He consulted with philosophers, doctors of the Church, intellects, but could not comprehend this sublime Truth. One day, as he was walking down the seashore, he saw a small child playing with sand. The young boy dug a hole in the sand, and with a bucket in hand ran to the sea, filled the bucket with water, and ran back to the hole to fill it with water. The child did this over and over again. As St. Augustine neared the boy, he smiled at him and told him that there is no way he can ever fill that hole with water. The boy stopped, looked at him and said, "Neither can man comprehend the infinite glory of God." As the bishop continued his way, he suddenly stopped dead on his tracks, struck by the wisdom of this child. As he turned around to query this prodigy, the little boy was gone. Then and there he realized that that child was angel sent by God. How can man fully comprehend God's infinite make-up when he cannot fully comprehend his own finite make-up? Also, we can satisfy ourselves as to the feasibility of God's triune realities. The triangle, for example, is one distinct form with three distinct and equal petals. There are many physical trinities on earth, therefore a Spiritual Trinity, who is God in Heaven, is not against human reason--it is simply above human reason.

Why do Catholics believe that Jesus Christ was God the Son--the Second Person of the Holy Trinity? Would it not be more reasonable to believe that He was a great and Holy man...a religious leader of exceptional talent and dedication...a prophet?

Catholics believe that Jesus was God the Son, incarnate in human flesh, firstly because God's physical manifestation on earth, plus all the circumstances of that manifestation, were prophesied time and again in Divine Revelation, and Jesus fulfilled that prophecy right to the letter; secondly, because He claimed that He was God (John 10:30, 14:9-10 and numerous other passages), and He never deceived anyone; thirdly, because He proved His divinity by His impeccable holiness and the flawless perfection of His doctrine; fourthly, because only God could have performed the miracles He performed-- miracles such as walking on the sea, feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and, after His death on the Cross, resurrecting Himself from His own tomb; fifthly, because only God could have, in the brief space of three years, without military conquest, without political power, without writing a single line or traveling more than a few score miles, so profoundly affected the course of human events; sixthly, because only God can instill in the soul of man the grace and the peace and the assurance of eternal salvation that Jesus instills.

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Excerpted from "The Catholic Church has the Answer." by P. Whitcombe