O unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity! How can we comprehend You? Our eyes do not behold You. Our minds cannot conceive You. In our confusion, do we simply believe as from a distance?
We often hear of the Trinity as a mystery we believe in but cannot understand. Although there is some truth to this, when we contemplate the Trinity, we as "children of the light" (Eph 5:8) do not speak of something light years beyond us, as something unfamiliar to us. We speak of Persons within us, of a Light united most intensely to us. Theological tradition has named this phenomenon the Indwelling Trinity. Contemplating this mystery would profit us much.
God is present everywhere. He is present to all things by his creative power and action. But in those enlightened by grace, God is present in a more profound way — by a personal union, a living relationship, and a redeeming covenant of love above and beyond his creative power and action. We believe in this mystery of the Indwelling Trinity because on the night before He died, Jesus said to his apostles, "If any man loves me, my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (Jn 14:23). Jesus also speaks of the Indwelling of the Spirit: "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth… you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you" (Jn 14:16-17). How did we receive such a surpassing gift?
Each of us was baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Mt 28:19). When we were baptized, we were immersed not only in water but in divinity. Baptism is the door through which the Holy Trinity enters our souls. So, St. Paul says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ," (Gal 3:27) and "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… and all were made to drink of the one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13).
The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity slakes the deepest thirst of our hearts. We were made for God the Father. We were created to be united to Him in infinite splendor, but due to original sin we all enter into this world distant from Him. In an act of the greatest love and divine generosity, God the Son has merited our reconciliation with the Father through His Cross and Resurrection. Consequently, through Baptism, the Father and the Son bestow upon us God the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit in turn unites us to God the Son who returns us to God the Father. All of this reconciling, uniting, and handing over, however, happens mainly inside of us. Through Baptism, our hearts have become like an altar upon which the Son constantly offers to his Father nothing less than our very selves — changed now as we are by the power of the Spirit. Thus we are caught up in the life of the whole Trinity, and the whole Trinity is at work in us. In fact, the Trinity within us now is the seed of eternal life. Let us look in detail at what this means.
Fr. John Hardon, SJ, said that there is only a difference in degree between God's presence in our souls now and that same presence in our souls in heaven. Our union with the Holy Trinity grows and matures over time. There is a little story Fr. Hardon used to tell to illustrate this growth process. Slightly modified it goes like this:
Imagine you are a blind child who has never met your father, since he has been working in a foreign country ever since you were born. Imagine further that you are sitting on a couch in a room in your house one day when your father comes to visit you for the first time. Your mother brings him into the room. At first, you have no idea that he is there. But then imagine that your father says a word to you. You hear your father's voice. Now he speaks with you and you are able to speak with him. You rejoice in his presence. Finally, imagine if one day you were cured of your blindness, and you were now able to see your father face-to-face and embrace him.
When we were first baptized, it is like the father entering the room. We perhaps did not realize he was there; we are usually not aware of the Indwelling (since many of us are baptized as infants). As we grow spiritually, it is like when the child first hears the father's voice and begins to speak to him. In our spiritual life, this corresponds to when we begin to be conscious of the Trinity's presence within us. We pray to God, and He speaks to us, and we rejoice in His Presence, learning to live in loving relation with the Trinity within. Finally, heaven corresponds to when we are able to open our eyes and fully embrace our father. This story illustrates how God, the Holy Trinity is present within us the whole time, from the moment of our baptism. We progressively appropriate and incrementally appreciate this presence. Then we grow spiritually until finally we are perfectly united to the Trinity in infinite glory.
God has come to our souls in order to dwell within us, to sanctify us through grace and virtue, and to be the object of our faith, hope, and love until at last we come to see God face-to-face. He has come to be our Life. Deeper union with the Trinity can be ours through cultivating a loving awareness of God's Presence. In this, the Mother of God, who is closest to the Divine Persons, gives us personal assistance. Vital also is the Eucharist, since the Trinity is most present to us in the humanity of the Son of God.
The Indwelling Trinity is the perfect fulfillment of our hearts and yet how easy it is for us to be oblivious to this Presence, this surpassing Treasure, in our souls! The Most Holy and Most Blessed Trinity is calling us deeper into His Life and Presence. "Abide in me, and I in you" (Jn 14:4). "Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?" (2 Cor 13:5) "Do you not know that God's Spirit dwells in you? … For God's temple is holy and you are that temple" (1 Cor 3:16). "Little children, you are of God… for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 Jn 4:4).