In the early days of the church, there were many concerns over various types of heresies. And people would be willing to go to prison, or suffer worse, rather than give in to anything that would contradict what was considered the truth of church teaching concerning who Jesus was.
For example, there’s Saint Athanasius. He was the fourth century bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. He fought against the Arian heresy which denied the divinity of Christ. Athanasius was a staunch defender of Christ’s divinity, and he did a lot to support the pope at the time and hold the true faith in place. But he suffered for it. He was imprisoned, slandered, framed, and five times he was exiled. He actually had to hide in the desert the escape being murdered!
And St. Athanasius wasn’t only one, there were others as well. Many of the basics of our faith—the very beliefs that Athanasius and others defended, are contained in the Creed which we say every Sunday.
There’s something that the early Church instinctively recognized that today we rarely even think about: If our idea about God is wrong, then our idea about how to follow God and achieve salvation will also be wrong. And if our idea of God is wrong, then it certainly affects how we interact with this God of ours. This can have an effect on how we pray—or whether or not we will even make the attempt to pray.
So, today, as we remember the Holy Trinity, it’s important to realize that the better sense we have of who God is, the more we can be drawn toward Him in faith and love.
The basic idea here is this: When we speak of the Trinity, we are talking about one God, three persons—Father, Son, and Spirit. Certainly not three Gods. And we can’t compartmentalization these three persons. They are all interconnected. The other basic idea here is that this is a mystery which we will never fully understand until we get to heaven.
When we think about the Trinity it’s important to see it as a dynamic interaction between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the Seminary we were told this: The “energy” that exists between the three persons of the Trinity is Love. The love of the Father begets the Son, and the love shared between the Father and the Son begets the Holy Spirit. Does that help to “clarify”, or does it muddy the waters for you?
If what lies at the very heart of God’s essence is love, I think that can perhaps make God more approachable. Not to say that our God is a big push-over, but we can start to realize that this love extends to us.
Would we be willing to go to prison for our faith? How much of this faith of ours, and our understanding of who God is for us would we be willing to defend? If God is for us something—or someone significant, then our professed love for God has to manifest itself in how we live our life. So, as we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, we take the opportunity to clarify in our own minds who this God is for us. Is my idea of God wrong? Pray for the grace to better understand.