Fr. Toby's Thoughts

Dear St. James parishioners,

Happy Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity! I have a few bulletin letters yet before I take up my new assignment as associate pastor at St. Margaret Mary, effective July 1st, as we announced at the Masses last weekend, but let me first just say again that I have really enjoyed my time at St. James. Thank you, everyone, for the love and care you've shown to me, and thank you for all you've done that has helped me see what a priest needs to be for the Church, the holy People of God. Again, I'll be around until the end of June, so this isn't farewell just yet, but thank you!

I thought I'd write a little today about the Most Holy Trinity, the fact that God is three Divine Persons in one Divine Nature. If you don't feel like you can wrap your mind around the mystery of the Trinity, you're in good company. A legend about St. Augustine, a doctor of the Church and one of the greatest minds in Church history, recounts that, during the time when the saint was writing his theological treatise on the Trinity, he was walking along the beach one day. There, he saw a young boy, who was running back and forth from the sea to a little hole he had dug on the beach, and the boy was holding a sea shell in which he was carrying water from the sea and dumping it into his little hole. St. Augustine asked the boy what he was doing, and the boy responded, "I'm going to pour the entire ocean into this hole." "That's impossible," replied St. Augustine, amused, "The sea is so great and your shell and hole are so small." "That's true," said the boy, "And it would be quicker and easier to draw all the water out of the sea and fit it into this hole than for you to fit the great mystery of the Trinity into your little intellect; the mystery of the Trinity is greater and larger in comparison with your intelligence than is this vast ocean in comparison with this little hole." The boy disappeared from St. Augustine's sight, and St. Augustine understood that God had spoken to him. (cf.

A priest who is my friend and classmate once told me an analogy about explaining the Trinity that I have found helpful. Imagine that you were given the task of explaining the concept of a cylinder to a two-dimensional person. Since the 2-D person is only familiar with width and height, this would be difficult, since he has no concept of depth. However, here is one way you could describe a cylinder to the 2-D person. When you look at a cylinder from one side, you see its circular cross section. When you look at it along another side, it has the shape of a rectangle. So, you might tell your 2-D friend that a cylinder is an object which is a circle and a rectangle at the same time. Obviously, he would be confused, but that is probably the best explanation you could give him. Similarly, we will be confused by the idea that the Trinity is one God and yet three Divine Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but that is the best way we have to describe a mystery which is beyond our ability to understand.

The Trinity may be beyond our comprehension, but, like the other mysteries of our faith, we should treasure this truth. Contemplating the mystery of the Trinity can draw us into deeper love of Him whom we describe with this concept. Like looking at a landscape from the top of a mountain, or gazing upon the ocean, or watching wood glow and crackle in a large fire, we can gaze upon the Holy Trinity and let His beauty continue to captivate and affect us. Indeed, the Trinity is a beautiful mystery. It is the very revelation of the inner life of God! The Trinity is a communion of Persons, whose union is love. ("God is love," as St. John tells us.) The mystery of human love often affects our hearts, so why shouldn't the mystery of divine love? When we see an elderly married couple, for instance, holding hands, gently smiling as they gaze into each others eyes, and speaking tenderly to each other, the beauty of that relationship melts our hearts. As we stand in front of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that communion of love can melt our hearts even more. I'd encourage you to take some time in prayer asking God to give you a glimpse into the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and let His beauty touch your heart.

God bless!

Fr. Toby