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June 5, 1998

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana The Holy Trinity: Three persons yet one God By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for June 7, 1998: Holy Trini- ty: Cycle C: John 16:1215 Devotion to the Holy Trinit?; Father, Son, Spirit, seems to have been unknown in early Christianity apart from the ritual use of a trinitarian formula in the administration of sacraments, for example, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Even this baptismal formula, based especially on the end of Matthew's gospel was notthe only formula used. We read in Acts of Apos- tles and in Paul's letters of baptism in the name of Jesus, baptism into Christ Jesus, or into Christ. The kind of devotion to the Trinity as it is known today did not arise until well into the eighth century in what is todayknown as France. A feast of the Holy Trinity was first instituted at Cluny, France, in 1091 and at Canterbury, England in 1162. Authorities in Rome resisted this observance. It was not until 1331 that a feast of the Holy Trinity was approved for the whole Church by Pope John XMI. Earliest representations of the Trinity in art date from the fourth century. Such representation is an artistic expression of the theological controversies of the time. The earliest known representation depicts three bearded males in the act of creating Adam and Eve. Such a depiction may rest on the story of the encounter between Abraham and three supernatural "men" in the Book of Genesis. One of the more inter- esting depictions of the Trinity dates to the fifteenth century. It shows the Father as an ancient male, bearded and crowned, supporting a scantily clad Christ with his right hand under the forearm of Christ who is in the center. On the other side of the Christ figure is the Holy Spirit as a middle-aged, winged man with feminine characteristics. Both Father and Spirit are clad in full, flowing robes. The dilemma of the homilist or preacher who wants to enlighten a congregation about the doctrine of the Trinity is expressed in a well-known anecdote. A bishop on Confirmation tour examines the students on their knowledge of Christian teachings, then asks for questions. A child asks, "Bishop, would you explain the Holy Trinity to us?" The bishop, who is hard of hearing, cups his hand to his ear and says, "I didn't get that." The child responds, "That's O.K. Nei- ther does anyone else!" To even vaguely understand the doctrinal formula, three persons in one God, pre- supposes some acquaintance with Greek philosophi- cal terminology and the role such terminology played in the theological battles and Church councils of the third and fourth centuries. This is territory into which it is suspected that even angels fear to walk and around which most homilists would do well to take a detour. A simple, "I believe," and some words about biblical background and attribution of various divine functions to Father or Son or Spirit will do. The Holy Trinity, understood as three persons in one God, is not revealed in the Old Testament. How- ever, as is the case in other New Testament revelation, the foundation is prepared for such a revelation. Fre- quently the Old Testament depicts God as Father. He is father of his "firstborn son," the Israelite people. God is father to Israelites kings descended from David. God is called father as creator of his people and of individuals. The breath or Spirit of God is said to bring life, to inspire the prophets to interpret God's message to God's people. Thus we have God depict- ed as Father and as Spirit. God as son is more diffi- cult. The successors of King David, kings of Israel are adopted or called "son" of God by the prophets and the psalms. In Wisdom literature, e.g. Proverbs, The Wisdom of Solomon, divine "wisdom" is as in some way separate from the of God's glory, reflection of eternal li God's active power, image of God's came to birth before creation, always side as master craftsman, delig delighting to be with God's human children.. more important is the personalized words or "the Word of God," which is suddenly from heaven in the middle of the: go forth from God to do God's will and rettl 4,hen that mission is accomplished .... Such is the material out of which evolveS elation of the various functions of the Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit in ment. Even the New Testament does not stand God as Trinity in the full through theological controversies cils of the third and fourth centuries and that magnificent creed which Until only creed prescribed for the faithful affirm their faith at Sunday Masses. At th6r development of the doctrine came to a halt for 15 centuries. Now to return to an earlier New Testament expressing the revelation of God in Trinity various functions, Father as source the Father, and Spirit as interpreting and that revelation, guiding that revelation in life and teaching fruitful approach to meditation or Trinity is as the model or sacrament both individual family a and selfless love productive of life holiness. Readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; J 16:12-15. Golden Jubilarians Norbert and Margie (Martin) Adler of Haubstadt will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10 a.m. June 14 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, HaubstadL An Open House, hosted by their children, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Haubstadt Community Park. All family and friends are invited; the couple requests no gifts. They were married June 10,1948, at Sis. Peter and Paul Church. Msgr. Clarence Lindauer officiated. They are the parents of nine children: Patricia Reinhart of Fort Branch, Thomas Adler of Corvallis, Ore., David Adler of Browns- burg, Ind., Joan Kays of Haubstadt, Susan Forney of Evansville, Jeffrey Adler of Haubstadt, Mary Jo Braun of Newburgh, Barbara Spindler of Haubstadt and Dan Adler of Indianapolis. They have 19 grandchildren. Mr. Adler retired from the Research Department at Bristol Meyers in 1991. Mrs. Adler is a homemaker. Golden Jubilarians Gene and Mary (Hohl) Bays of Evansville will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a party from 5 to 11 p.m. June 13 at Whirlpool Union Hall. They were married June 5,1948, at St. Joseph Church, Vanderburgh County. They are the parents of 10 children: Linda Julian of Evansville, Carol Wargel of St. Wen- del, Shirley Brown of Evansville, Ronald Bay of Boonville, Rod- ney Bays of Whitmore Lake, Mich., Richard Bays, Randy Bays, Robert Bays and Raymond Bays, all of Evansville, and Roger Bays of Pensacola, Fla. They have 22 grandchildren. Mr. Bays retired from Whirlpool in 1987. Mrs. Bays retired from Clayton's in 1992 .......... Industrial, TONY NAZARIO 812-768-5207 Jane A. Chiropractic I 474' 1111S Green River CORRESSI HEATING" AIR C ! Commercial Alan Corressell WILLIAMS Chades C. Knights