After Good Friday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost, the following Sunday in the Roman church is the "Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity," as intellectual as the preceding observances were emotional. In most people's minds, I suspect, the mystery of "Three persons in One God" is accepted on faith. Theologians have belabored the point with little success in explaining how God could be Father, Son and Holy Spirit at one and the same time. They explain that, "the Son is begotten of the Father by an eternal generation, and the Holy Spirit proceeds by an eternal procession from the Father and the Son." The last phrase, in Latin "filioque" (= "and the son"), was an addition to the Creed, which was rejected by the church in the East and has been a sore point between the Rome and Orthodoxy for hundreds of years.

Proponents of the doctrine of sola scriptura, that scripture is the only authority for belief, will be hard pressed to find the Trinity unambiguously defined in scripture. While the persons of the Trinity are mentioned individually, there seems to be no verse where the Three are referred to as One. Matthew 28:18 contains the injunction to baptize the nations "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," but a unity is not implied. There is sufficient evidence in scripture to believe that the Father and the Son are one, but the position of the Holy Spirit is ambiguous.

Perhaps the best example of the unity can be found in II Corinthians 13:13 where St. Paul writes: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all," all three mentioned in the same breath, so to speak.

Understanding the how and wherefore of the Trinity, as I've suggested, is not essential to faith. It is hardly worth fighting over, although many have died in the name of truth about the Trinity.

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