Catholic Truth Society Postal Course #7: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, by Father Herbert C Fincham
More than once we have quoted the final injunction of Our Lord to His apostles: “Going, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” and we must now make clearer what is meant by the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. These words contain one of the greatest mysteries about God that has been revealed to us by Jesus Christ, and so until we had established the fact that Jesus is Very Truth and His Church the infallible custodian and teacher of that Truth we could not consider deeply all that was revealed by Truth Himself. Now we can accept these mysteries and doctrines with absolute certainty and conviction even without fully understanding them, because we know that the Catholic Church can only teach what is true, and cannot lead her children into error and falsehood, on account of her Divine guidance and guarantee.
There Are Three Persons In One God
There is One Infinite God and only one. This much we discovered without God’s revelation by use of our reason in the first instruction and it is the clear teaching of both the Old and New Testament. Nevertheless Jesus tells His apostles to baptize “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” seeming to imply three Gods. But three Gods are impossible and Jesus shows He did not mean that by saying in the Name and not in the Names, There is only one DiYine Nature, infinite in all perfections and alone existing in Himself; yet in some sense this one God must be threefold, for Jesus undoubtedly teaches that His Father is God and He, as we have seen, claims to be God Himself, and speaks of the Spirit of God as another “Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name” (John 14:26). Thus here again we have the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost mentioned separately and individually as three separate persons. Clearly then Jesus does teach that God is three separate Persons and yet He insists there is only One God or, as we now put it, one Divine Nature. This mystery of the Three Divine Persons in the One Divine Nature is called the Blessed Trinity and we make our act of faith in it every time we make the Sign of the Cross.
God Is Eternal Love
The revelation of this mystery, even though we cannot fully understand it, for God is infinite and we are finite and limited in our intelligence, opens up to us a far deeper and more perfect understanding of God. We were made to know God and here Jesus has shown us how we may know Him better. The frightening vision of God in unique and incommunicable loneliness is replaced by our Christian conception of the God of Love. For now we see in God the eternal and all-perfect intercommunication of love between the three Divine Persons, each possessing equally and undividedly the one infinite, perfect Nature of God. The Son may be compared to the Father’s thought or concept of that Divine Nature, which is begotten in the mind of God as a word or thought is begotten in our mind. But God’s thought is something more than a memory, as ours might be, it has its own Personality and is His Son. This Divine Son loves His Father and the Father loves His Son, and the mutual love proceeding from Father and Son again has its own Personality which is the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost. Thus the Father may be compared to my understanding or intelligence; the Son to my stored up thought or memory; the Holy Ghost to my faculty of love or will. In this way we find a likeness to the Holy Trinity in our souls.
God The Father
Saint John sums all this up by saying that God is love and for us perhaps the greatest and most consoling revelation of Jesus is this great truth. God is shown to us no longer as merely a great overlord to be feared and obeyed, but as our Father who loves us with an everlasting love. When you pray, Jesus said, pray thus: “Our Father, who art in heaven …” For God is the Father of all who follow Christ and indeed of all mankind and is full of care, love and solicitude for us. This is shown wonderfully in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and in many other places. “The Father Himself loveth you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came out of God” (John 16:27). We must be generous in our love, for God has first loved us far more than we can ever repay. It is the realization of the love of God, the love of our Father, that inspires the heroism of the saints and the sacrifice of the martyrs. Until we begin to realize it ourselves we cannot make any true progress in our religious lives.
God The Son Became Jesus Christ
But it is not easy for our poor human nature to feel an ardent love of the Supreme Spirit, seemingly so remote and far above our comprehension, and this was one of the reasons why the Son of God took to Himself a body and soul like ours and became a true man. By learning to know and love Him we would learn to know and love God, for Jesus Christ is truly God, having one and the same nature as the Father. So He could say: “Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me, seeth the Father also” (John 14:9).
God The Son Takes Our Human Nature
From all eternity Jesus was born of the Father for He was in very truth the only-begotten Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Thus by the Incarnation the Divine Person, the Son of God, took a second nature, the nature of man. The one Divine Person can now act through two natures, Divine and human, and all His acts will be the acts of God and therefore infinite in value. As man, with His human soul He worships God and adores Him, and this worship and adoration are infinite in value. Thus by the Incarnation God receives from mankind infinite, adequate and worthy worship, which would otherwise have never been possible. Some hold that this alone would be an all-sufficient reason for the Incarnation even had there been no need to save mankind.
Jesus Is Our Saviour
From our point of view, however, the reason for the Incarnation was to save us from sin and to teach us the way to heaven. It was because He was to be our Saviour that Christ took the name of Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish but may have life everlasting” (John 3:16). These words of Saint John give us the key to the right understanding of our Lord’s teaching. All through His words there runs this theme of man’s need to be saved and to be restored to the friendship of God, which was lost through sin. Our consciousness of the battle raging within us between our good selves and our evil inclinations can only be explained by the teaching of the Bible, that we have fallen from a holy state into a evil one. God must have created man good, for all His creation is good and perfectly fitted to its end. Whence then comes sin and evil? We have already seen how God endowed man with the great gift of free will so that we might be able to love Him. This loving God, as we have seen, means choosing God, and to choose we must be given the chance of making our choice. It was by the misuse of that choice that our first parents, Adam and Eve, brought sin into this world, and it is our continued misuse that brings upon us all the evils that engulf us in this life.
The Fall Of Mankind
Saint Paul says: For as by the disobedienoe of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just (Romans 5:19). The point about the story of Adam and Eve is not the stealing of an apple, but the disobedience to God’s one very clearly expressed command which amounted to rebellion against God. Nor did it end with Adam and Eve, for they were the first parents of the human race, to whom God entrusted the great heritage of our race, which they were to pass on to us, the gift of Grace.
Sanctifying Grace Is Our New Life
This free gift of God is called supernatural because it is above nature and in no way due to our nature. By it God raises up human nature to a new and glorious dignity and holiness (sanctification) . It makes us the children of God and no longer merely servants; sharers in Divine Nature in some mysterious way without, of course, making us in any sense part of God (2nd Peter 1:4); born anew into a new life stream (John 1:12 and 3:5). It is this last quality of sanctifying grace that Our Lord emphasizes, for He does not use the word Grace but Life. “I come,” He says, “that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Original Sin Is The Loss Of This New Life
It was human nature endowed with this supernatural life that God gave to Adam and Eve to hand on to the human race, but by their Fall into sin they deprived our human nature of this supernatural endowment and so were no longer able to pass on to us a nature raised to union with God in the Life stream of God. The lack of this higher Life of the soul means that our souls are now created lacking union with God and therefore guilty of a kind of enmity which is called original sin.
Mary Alone Was Conceived Full Of Grace
There is only one exception, apart from the human soul of Christ Himself, to this universal curse, that is the woman ordained by God to be His Mother when He came into this world, Mary. As soon as Adam and Eve fell into sin God promised a Re/ieemer and revealed that there should be the same enmity between this Redeemer’s Mother and the devil as between her Son and the devil’s seed. “I will put enmities between thee (the devil) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15). This preserYation from original sin is called Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
Sin Results In Guilt And Penalty
The effect of grave sin is twofold: first, by our rebellion against God we lose God’s love and friendship and become His enemies; this is called the guilt of sin; secondly, we upset the perfect law and order ordained by God, thus offending God’s justice and become deserving of punishment: this is the penalty due to sin. Sin is an act against the infinite Lord of all, hence in a sense it has infinite malice, for the evil of an offence must be in proportion to the person offended. No man could ever satisfy God for this insult, for what can a creature offer to God that is not already God’s? And what value have any acts of ours when compared to the infinite?
No Man Can Save Himself
The state of the human race might well have seemed hopeless, for there was nothing that man could do for himself to regain the friendship of God. But God still loved the world and sent His own Son to save us, and, as we have seen, because the Son of God is true God, all His acts, whether they be acts of His Divine Nature or of His human nature, are infinite. He could satisfy the infinite justice of God and, as He is really one of us. He could represent us and make satisfaction for the sins of all mankind. This is what we call redemption or atonement (at-one-ment, making us again at-one with God). Jesus Christ was the Redeemer promised to Adam and Eve immediately after their Fall, and all through the ages before He came, the prophets foretold the promised Christ, the anointed one of God.
The Holy Ghost
Our reunion with God is the most intimate union possible between the Creator and the creature, “Know you not that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1st Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit of God is the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, distinct from and proceeding from the Father and the Son. Our Lord calls Him “another Paraclete” that the Father will send to abide with us for ever (John 14:16). And again: “The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind” (John 14:26). Saint Peter makes it clear that the Holy Ghost is God wLere he identifies telling a lie to God with telling a lie to the Holy Ghost: “That thou shouldst lie to the Holy Ghost . . . Thou hast not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3,4). It is to the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier, that we attribute the pouring forth of the grace that makes us holy through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ by which we are saved” He saved us by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ Our Saviour” (Titus 3:5,6). Thus the work of saving the world commenced by the Holy Ghost resting upon Mary and making her the mother of Jesus, the Saviour, and was completed by the Holy Ghost resting upon Apostles and making them the founders of the one Ark of Salvation, the Church of Christ. (Luke 1:35 and Acts 2:1-4).
- Father Herbert C Fincham. “The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost”. , 1951. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 April 2016. Web. 22 January 2017. <>