[Station at St. Peter’s.]
Today begins the Third Cycle of the Easter Season—the Time After Pentecost, beginning with the Feast of the Blessed Trinity, and is the longest of the Liturgical Year. It may comprise from twenty-four to twenty-eight weeks and differs considerably from the other liturgical seasons.
In the Liturgical Year there is a historical progression, beginning in Advent with the waiting for the coming of the Messias, followed by His birth at Christmas. During the Sundays after Epiphany, the Holy Childhood is commemorated, while during Lent we are reminded of the fasting in the desert and the Passion of Our Lord. The sacred cycle is completed in the Eastertide, when we celebrate the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord and the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.
In this last part of the ecclesiastical year, the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, continues the work of the Redemption, realized during the preceding part of the Liturgical Year.
The Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you.
This last season of the Liturgical Year is filled with feasts of major importance: those of the Blessed Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart, the Assumption and Nativity of Our Lady, All Saints and All Souls.
As soon as we have celebrated the Advent of the Holy Ghost, we celebrate in song the Feast of the Holy Trinity in the office of the following Sunday. The place is well chosen, for, immediately after the descent of this Divine Spirit, began the preaching and belief, and, through Baptism, faith and confession in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (St. Rupert). The fundamental dogma to which everything in Christianity is related is that of the Holy Trinity, of Whom are all things (Epistle) and to Whom are to return all those who are baptized in Its name (Gospel). Therefore after having reminded us in turn during the Cycle of God the Father, Author of the Creation, of God the Son, Author of the Redemption, and of God the Holy Ghost, Author of our Sanctification, the Church chiefly recapitulates on this day the great mystery which calls on us to recognize and adore in God the unity of nature in the Trinity of persons (Collect).
Not that the Old Testament books were altogether silent on the Three Divine Persons, whose ineffable relations are eternal, but the mysterious passages which spoke of them were not understood by the people at large. A Christian child of seven will answer anyone who asks, that in God, the Three Divine Persons have but one nature, and one and the same Divinity. But when the Book of Genesis tells us that God spoke in the plural and said, Let Us make man to our image and likeness, the Jew bows down and believes, but he doesn’t understand the sacred text.
In the Books of Proverbs, Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus, Solomon speaks, in sublime language, of him who is eternal Wisdom; he tells us of the divine essense of this Wisdom, and of his being a distinct Person in the Godhead;—but how few among the people of Israel could see through the veil? Isaias heard the voice of the Seraphim as they stood around God’s throne; he heard them singing, in alternate choirs, and with a joy intense because it is eternal, this hymn: Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord! but who will explain to men this triple Sanctus, of which the echo is heard here below, when we mortals give praise to our Creator? So, again, in the Psalms and the prophetic Books, a flash of light will break suddenly upon us; a brightness of some mysterious Three will dazzle us; but it passes away, and obscurity returns all the more; we have only the sentiment of the divine Unity deeply impressed on our inmost soul, and we adore the Incomprehensible, the Sovereign Being.
The world had to wait for the fulness of time to be completed; and then God would send into this world his Only Son, Begotten of him from all eternity. This, his most merciful purpose has been carried out, and the Word made Flesh hath dwelt among us. By seeing his glory, the glory of the Only Begotten Son of the Father, we have come to know that, in God, there is Father and Son. So we now know the Father, from whom comes, as the Apostle tells us, all paternity, even on earth. We know him not only as the creative power, which has produced every being outside himself, but, guided as it is by Faith, our soul’s eye respectfully penetrates into the very essence of the Godhead, and there beholds the Father begetting a Son like unto himself. But in order to teach us the Mystery, that Son came down upon our earth. He himself has told us expressly that no one knoweth the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal him. Glory, then, be to the Son, who has vouchsafed to show us the Father! and glory to the Father, whom the Son hath revealed unto us!
The intimate knowledge of God has come to us by the Son, whom the Father, in his love, has given to us. And this Son of God, who in order to raise up our minds even to his own Divine Nature, has clad himself, by his Incarnation, with our Human Nature, has taught us that he and his Father are one;—that they are one and the same Essence, in disctinction of Persons. One begets, the other is begotten; the One is named Power, the Other, Wisdom, or Intelligence. The Power cannot be without the Intelligence, nor the Intelligence without the Power, in the sovereignly perfect Being; but both the One and the Other produce a Third term.
The Son, who had been sent by the Father, had ascended into heaven, with the Human Nature which he had united to himself for all future eternity, and the Father and the Son send into this world the Spirit, who proceeds from them both. It was a new gift, and it taught man that the Lord God was in Three Persons. The Spirit, the eternal link of the first Two, is Will, he is Love, in the divine Essence. In God, then, is the fulness of Being, without beginning, without succession, without increase, for there is nothing which he has not. In these Three eternal terms of his uncreated Substance, is the act, pure and infinite.
From The Liturgical Year, by Dom Prosper Gueranger
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