The Divine Persons Dwell in Us through Grace

How blessed we would be if we truly appreciated the treasures the Divine Persons pour into our souls when we are baptized! “From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

Through Baptism we become members of the Lord’s Mystical Body, with the Trinity infusing into our souls the magnificent gifts of sanctifying grace, the supernatural virtues, and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, all flowing from the Lord, our Head, to us. When St. Cyril of Jerusalem explained to the newly initiated Christians the miracles they had experienced through Baptism, he assured them that through this wondrous sacrament, paradise itself had been opened to them.

Sanctifying Grace

Indeed, through sanctifying grace bestowed on us in this sacrament, we now dwell in a profound way in paradise, for at Baptism the Divine Persons come to dwell intimately in our souls. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that sanctifying grace is a supernatural quality, a wondrous habit that elevates our souls, giving them a created participation in the very life of the Trinity.

Through sanctifying grace we are intimately united to the Divine Persons, who are Heaven. It is Their sweet presence within us that enables us to taste the joys of heaven here on earth.

The Lord Himself tells us that He and His Father, and therefore the Holy Spirit as well, will come to us and make Their home within us (John 14:23). Through the precious gift of sanctifying grace, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit give Themselves completely to us, to dwell intimately within us, not as our Creator, but in an entirely new way, as intimately beloved to us.

What joy and peace would be ours if we truly realized the priceless treasure we bear within us! The God of heaven and earth, the Divine Persons of the Trinity, who are beauty, goodness, tenderness, mercy, and love, dwell within us and make us Their sweet and intimate home through the gift of sanctifying grace.

This article is from a chapter in Heaven’s Splendor.

A Home Within Us

Furthermore, every time there is an increase of sanctifying grace or infused virtue in our souls, all Three Divine Persons deepen their presence in us. In a special way, when charity, which is a created participation in the Holy Spirit, is increased in our wills, the intimate presence of the Holy Spirit is deepened in our souls. Inseparably, when a “sweet” knowledge of the Trinity — a knowing that breaks forth into love — is increased in our minds, the presence of God the Son, the Word who eternally breathes forth the Spirit of love, is deepened within us. We experience this “sweet knowledge,” for example, when we read or hear a Scripture passage, or understand more profoundly a truth of our Faith, in such a way that our heart is inflamed with deeper love of the Trinity.

Since the Divine Persons of the Trinity are one God, when the presence of one Person is deepened in us, so, also, is the intimate presence of the other two Persons. Even more, when Their presence is bestowed or deepened in us through sanctifying grace, They give Themselves to us without reserve. They do this for an astounding reason: so that they may dwell within us and make our souls Their home and heaven, enabling us to “possess” and “enjoy” Them as our very own.

We learn by experience that the Persons of the Trinity live within us to fill us with Their “sweetness, refreshment, and consolation.” The Father tenderly told St. Catherine of Siena, “I call the soul ‘heaven’ because I make heaven wherever I dwell by grace.” As Catherine herself grew to savor the Trinity’s presence within her, she would cry out in worship and praise, “You, Eternal Trinity, are a deep sea. The more I enter You, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek You.” Catherine’s example encourages us to rest often in the Trinity’s loving presence within us, and in this way to find heaven in our souls.

Perhaps no other saint so strongly urges us to live consciously in the presence of the Trinity dwelling within us than St. John of the Cross. He reminds us that when we truly love someone, there is nothing we desire as much as our loved one’s intimate presence and companionship. St. Augustine’s words to the Lord, “I sought You outside of myself, but all the while You were within me,” so deeply touched St. John that he begs us to dwell “within” our souls, where the Divine Persons intimately live. May our souls be ever more deeply the Trinity’s sweet heaven!

Throughout the day, in our work and our rest, in our successes and failures, in our sufferings and joys, may we adore the Trinity, who make Their home within us. May we savor the Trinity’s presence especially through contemplative prayer, taking time daily to repose in the Divine Persons’ presence. By practices such as gently repeating a phrase that the Holy Spirit may place in our hearts, we can grow in the habit of prayer that draws us to rest more deeply in the Trinity dwelling in our souls, and thus to taste the joys of heaven even now.

This article is an excerpt from Sr. Fatula’s Heaven’s Splendor: And the Riches That Await You There. It is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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Sr. Mary Ann, O.P., holds a doctorate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America and taught theology for more than 30 years at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio.

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