A Manual Of Catholic Theology, Based On Scheeben's “Dogmatik”
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.
With A Preface By Cardinal Manning

Vol. 1. The Sources Of Theological Knowledge, God, Creation And The Supernatural Order
Third Edition, Revised, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Lt.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Benziger Bros.
1906

[pp.316-354]

CHAPTER IV.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE TRINITY FROM THE FECUNDITY OF THE DIVINE LIFE.

SECT. 101. --The Origins in God resulting from the Fecundity of the Divine Life as Absolute Wisdom.

A PURELY scientific explanation of the Trinity is impossible; the only possible explanation is a theological one, starting from at least one revealed principle. That principle is “the inner fecundity of the Divine Life,” the determination of which is the object of the present portion of our treatise.

I. That the plurality of Persons is brought about and can be brought about only by the production of two of Them from the First Person, is certain from Revelation, and (given the real distinction of the Persons) is also evident to reason. The teaching of Revelation is already known to us. As regards reason we observe that, as the Divine Substance cannot be multiplied, the distinction of the Divine Persons necessarily rests upon the distinct possession of the same Substance; and a difference in the manner of possessing the Divine Nature is necessarily founded upon the distinction between giving and receiving.

II. It is likewise certain from Revelation, and evident to reason, that the Divine productions are essentially acts of life. For the products are living Persons, generated and spirated, and life can only be communicated by a living principle.
III. Since the nature of a being is the principle of the acts of its life and of the communication of life, we must hold that in God the principle (principium quo) of the inner communications of life is His Divine Nature; that is, the Divine Nature as formally identical with the acts of knowing and willing.

IV. The communication of life being the essential outcome of the absolutely actual and purely spiritual life-activity of God, its form is necessarily different from any form of productivity observable among creatures: it is neither a reproduction of the Divine Essence in the Persons produced, nor a production of organs destined to enlarge and develop the sphere of life. The form of the Divine productivity can only be conceived as an immanent radiation and outpouring of the force and energy of the Divine Life, expressing itself in distinct subjects; so that the Divine Life, by reason of this very manifestation of itself ad intra, communicates itself to the Divine Persons. Hence the foundation of the Divine fecundity or productivity is the superabundant fulness of the Divine Life; and, as God is the absolute Spirit, that is Life itself, His fecundity is, unlike that of any being outside of Him, infinitely productive.

From this also appears the deep meaning of the old Roman doctrinal formula: “The three Persons are one Spirit” (Greek term).

V. In order to arrive at a more concrete determination of the productivity of the Divine Life, we must consider it as the absolute and substantial Wisdom--that is, the most perfect Knowledge of the highest Truth and the most perfect Love of the highest Good. According to this, the communication of life in God must be effected by means of acts of the Divine Intellect and Will in such a manner that the products of the communication manifest, represent, and complete the Divine Knowledge and Volition, and that the products are but the inner manifestation and the adequate expression or outpouring of the substantial Wisdom of God. Now, Wisdom contains two, and only two, distinct forms of life-activity, viz. Knowledge and Volition, and is itself a combination of the Living Truth with the Living Holiness. Hence the two productions which we know by Faith to exist in God, must be distributed between these two forms of life in such a manner that one of them must be the expression and completing terminus of the absolutely perfect Knowledge, or the manifestation of the Living Truth; and that the other must be the out-pouring and terminus of the absolutely perfect Volition and manifestation of the Holy Love or the absolute Holiness of God. The productions, however, are not distributed in such a way as to be independent of one another, which would happen if the one manifested only the Knowledge of truth and the other only Love and Holiness. They are even more intimately connected in God than knowing and willing in created minds. The expression of Knowledge is essentially the expression of a Knowledge which breathes holy Love; and the outpouring of Love is essentially of a Love full of wisdom. Thus, in both productions, although in a different manner, the whole of the Divine Wisdom is manifested. (Cf. St. Aug., De Trin., 1. xv., n. 8 sqq., Franzelin, th. xxvi.)

VI. The proposition, “The communication of life in God is based upon a twofold manifestation of the Divine Wisdom,” is more than a working hypothesis; it is the only admissible one, and claims the character of a fixed principle for the declaration and the evolution of the dogma. Holy Scripture indicates this clearly enough, and Tradition has from the very commencement treated it as such. It is, therefore, of such a degree of certitude that to deny it would be temerarious and erroneous.

I. The character of the first production as inner expression of the Divine Knowledge, is set forth in Holy Scripture with all possible distinctness. The Second Person's proper name is “the Word“ (spelled in Greek, Verbum in Latin) and the name “Wisdom” is appropriated to Him; to Him alone are applied the terms “image” (Greek), “figure” (Greek) “mirror,” “radiance,” and “splendour” (Greek) of God, terms which in themselves imply an expression of the Divine Knowledge, and which, taken in conjunction with the names “Aoyoc” (in Greek), and Wisdom, can imply no other meaning. In this manner the first production was conceived and declared even in ante-Nicene writers, but more especially by the Fathers of the fourth century.

2. The character of the second production as a manifestation of the Divine Volition, is not so formally set forth in Holy Scripture. Still it is sufficiently indicated, negatively and indirectly, by the non-application of the names of the intellectual production to the Third Person, and by the appropriation of the first of these names (Word) to the Son; whence the second production, which must be analogous to the first, is necessarily a manifestation of the other form of life in God, viz. of the Divine Will. And also, positively and directly, in the two elements of the name of the Third Person (“Holy,” “Ghost“), and in the description of the many functions and operations attributed to Him, which all characterize Him as the representative of Divine Love. In Scripture and in early Tradition alike, the character of the production of the Holy Ghost is only hinted at; in the fourth century it received a certain amount of development during the controversies on the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. The exposition of the Greek Fathers is slightly different from that of the Latins. The Greeks represent the Holy Ghost as a manifestation of the absolute sanctity of the Divine Will, as the Spirit of Holiness, and “Subsisting Holiness.” The Latin Fathers represent Him as the hypostatic manifestation of the Love of the Divine Will existing between Father and Son; He is the “Spirit of Mutual Love and Unity,” or “Subsisting Union.” These two views differ only on the surface. The Sanctity, common to Father and Son, from which the Holy Ghost proceeds, is the Love of the supreme goodness and beauty of the Divine Essence, and as such includes Love of the Persons Who possess that Essence. On the other hand, the mutual Love of Father and Son is Love of their communion in the possession of the supreme goodness and beauty; hence this Love is but Sanctity conceived in a more concrete manner. The unity of the two views is best expressed thus: “The Father loves in the Son, as in the resplendent image of His Goodness, the Supreme Beauty; and the Son loves in the Father, as in the principle of His Beauty, the Supreme Goodness.”

SECT. 102. --The Productions in God are True Productions of an Inner Manifestation (I) of the Divine Knowledge through Word and Image; and (2) of the Divine Love through Aspiration, Pledge, and Gift.

I. The chief difficulty of the doctrine of the Divine Productions consists in clearly determining how a real production in the Divine Intellect and Will is to be conceived.

The Divine Intellect and the Divine Will essentially possess their entire actual perfection, and are identical with the acts of knowing and willing. Hence a production by the acts of knowing and willing similar to that which takes place in the created mind (viz. by a transition from potentiality to act), is impossible in God. The First Person does not acquire His wisdom through the Generated Wisdom, but possesses in His own Essence Wisdom in its fullest actuality. In the created mind, all productions are the result of a faculty passing from potentiality into actuality; this being impossible in God, we cannot conclude from His acts of thought and volition that these acts result in the production of any reality. This is also the reason why the reality of the Divine Productions cannot be known by reason alone, but must be learned from Revelation. The only conceivable form of a Divine Production is that, in virtue of the superabundant fulness of the actuality of the Divine Knowledge, a manifestation of it is brought about and a fruit produced. This is the element which Revelation adds to our natural knowledge of the perfection of Divine Life, and which connects the doctrine of the Trinity with the doctrine of the Nature of God.

II. The character of the first production in God as a manifestation and an exercise of the Divine knowledge is fittingly pointed out in Holy Scripture by the names of “Word” and “Image” (John i.; Heb. i.). “The Word” designates the product formally as the expression of the knowledge; “the Image” designates it as the expression or copy of the object of the Divine knowledge --that is, the Divine Essence. The inner manifestation and expression of knowledge is called Word and Image in analogy with the external word and image which manifest our knowledge externally. But, whereas in man we apply the names “word” and “image” to the act of knowledge itself because our mental representation is distinct from its principle and from its object; in God, Whose actual knowledge is identical with its principle and its object, the terms “Word” and “Image,” in their proper sense, can only be applied to the manifestation of the knowledge and to the expression which results from the manifestation. The sense of both names is contained in the representation of the intellectual product as radiation and splendour of the Divine Light; for God is Light, especially inasmuch as He is the substantial Truth --that is, the “adequation of the highest knowable with the highest knowledge,” --and hence the “splendour and radiance” of this Light is necessarily the expression of the Divine knowledge as well as of the Divine Essence. Moreover, this way of designating the intellectual production illustrates how the Divine knowledge necessarily produces an expression of itself, not from any want, but by virtue of its essential fecundity.

III. Holy Scripture indicates the character of the second production in God as a manifestation and exercise of His Love, by representing its product as an “Aspiration” and “Gift” or “Pledge” of Love. Just as thought naturally craves to express itself, so love naturally desires to pour itself forth; the external out-pouring of love is manifested by an aspiration or sigh coming from the heart, and by the gifts which pass from the lover to the beloved as pledges of his love. In like manner the internal effusion of love, in as far as the effusion can and ought to be distinguished from love itself, must be considered as an internal aspiration, gift, and pledge. Holy Scripture applies the names of gift and pledge to the Holy Ghost only in relation to creatures; but we have to determine the operation of the Divine Love independently of creatures, and must therefore study it in its own essence.

The Divine Love must be viewed in a threefold manner:

I. First, and above all, as God's complacency with Himself as the supreme Goodness and Beauty. The product of the Love in this sense does not yet appear as a pledge or gift, but rather as an aspiration or as a sigh of love, in which Love breathes forth its ardour and energy, or as the seal of love (Cant. viii. 6: “Put me as a seal upon thy heart”). It is in this sense that the Greek Fathers conceive the Holy Ghost when, in analogy with the odour of incense or of plants, they describe Him as the odour of the sanctity of God.

2. Divine Love may be considered as the mutual love of Father and Son for each other, as founded upon their common possession of the supreme Goodness and Beauty. In this respect the manifestation of Love appears as the final act or complement of the living communion of Father and Son: the manifestation still bears the character of an aspiration, but at the same time it conveys the notion of a bond or link, which, as a bond (vinculum, nexus) of love, is called “Pledge” (pignus, arrha, inasmuch as in the pledge the lover possesses the beloved, or gives himself to be possessed by the beloved), and “kiss” (osculum) and “embrace.“ (amplexus, by St. Aug.).

3. God loves Himself as the infinitely communicable and diffusive Good; consequently His Self-Love contains a readiness to communicate His goodness --that is, supreme liberality. In this respect the Divine Love acts as giver, and the fruit of the Liberality of Divine Love is called Gift. This name, however, is not quite adequate, because at first sight it signifies only that the inner product of the Divine liberality should manifest it ad extra, as a gift to others, whereas the self-giving Love of God cannot pour out its entire plenitude on its product without making this the object and the subject of the communication. In other words, the term “Gift” supposes the existence of a receiver, whereas the communication of Love in God produces both Receiver and Gift.

In every one of these three ways, the effusion of the Divine Love appears as an effusion of Divine delight, happiness, and suavity; as a bright burning flame rising from the fire of Divine Love; as the burning breath escaping from a loving heart. Hence the manifestation of Love in God is as much a breathing of Love and a flame of Love, as the manifestation of knowledge is a radiation of knowledge.

SECT. 103. --The Perfect Immanence of the Divine Productions; the Substantiality of their Products as Internal Expression of the Substantial Truth and Internal Effusion of the Substantial Sanctity.

I. However necessary it may be to distinguish in God the expression of knowledge from knowledge itself, and the effusion of love from love itself, it is equally necessary not to separate or divide the expression from the knowledge or the effusion from the love. As we are dealing with productions in God which have their principle and their terminus in God Himself, expression and knowledge, effusion and love are not only intimately connected, but are identical, are one and the same tiling. Hence the Divine Knowledge is not only in its inner word as the thought of man is in the external word (i.e. as in its sign), or as the idea of the artist is in his work (i.e. as in its representation): the Divine Knowledge lives and shines forth in its expression exactly as it does in itself, being so produced in its expression as to completely pass into it. In like manner, the Love of God is in its inner effusion not only as a force in its effects or as human love in an external pledge, but in such a way that it burns and flows in its effusion as it does in itself; the effusion being such as to completely contain the outpoured Love.

II. The identity just described constitutes the supreme perfection, the unique reality and absolute immanence of the Divine Word and Spiration of Love. The inner Word of God is more than a Word eminently full of life and wealth, and the Divine Spiration of Love is more than a Spiration full of life and holy delight: the Divine knowledge being not a reflex of truth but Substantial Truth, its expression, identical with itself, is also a Substantial Word, the substantial expression of the Absolute Truth, and is this Truth itself. And the life of the Divine Will being not a tendency to what is good, but Substantial Goodness and Holiness, its inner effusion, identical with itself, is also a Substantial Spiration and outflow of the Absolute Goodness and Holiness, and is this Holiness itself. In God, therefore, the Word of knowledge and the Spiration of love are not immanent in the same way as they are in the human (e.g. as accidents in their subjects), but in such a way as to be identical with the substance that produces them; they are not so much in the substance as they are the substance itself, and they also have the substance in themselves. Hence the only difference conceivable between the principle and the terminus of a production in God is that they each possess and represent the Absolute Truth and the Absolute Goodness in a different manner.

III. Hence the life and reality of the particular products can be further determined as follows: --

I. As essential and substantial Truth, the Life of the Divine Intellect is, on the one hand, identical with the Divine Nature as principle of knowledge that is, with the Divine Intellect itself; on the other hand, it is identical with the formal object of the Divine Intellect, viz. the Divine Essence. Consequently the expression of the Divine knowledge must reproduce, not only the knowledge, but also the knowing intellect, and not only an ideal representation of the Divine Essence, but the Divine Essence itself. Hence the expression of the Divine knowledge is not a mere word --that is, a manifestation of the knowledge or some image of it --but a real and substantial image of nature and essence, containing not only a manifestation of, but the Divine Nature and Essence itself. And the internal speech of God is a real radiation of His own Nature and Essence, just as His external speech gives to created things their nature and essence.

2. As essential and substantial Goodness and Holiness, the life of the Divine Will, or Love, is, on the one hand, identical with the Divine Nature as principle of the Divine Will; on the other hand, with the goodness and holiness of the Divine Essence as the formal object of the Divine Will. Consequently the effusion of Divine Love must contain, not only the Love, but also the Will of God; and not only an affective union with the Supreme Goodness, but the Supreme Goodness itself. Hence the effusion of the Divine Love is not only an expression of the affection, not only an affective surrender to the object of love and liberality, but (a) a spiration, wherein the Divine heart pours out its own Life and its whole Essence; (b) a pledge of love, wherein the loving persons are united, not only symbolically, but really and in the most intimate manner, because their whole life and their whole goodness are really, truly, and essentially contained therein; and (c) a fruit of the Divine Liberality, containing, on the one hand, that Liberality itself that is, --the Divine Will and its life, and, on the other hand, the whole riches of the real goodness that is, of the Essence and power of God; which therefore is the principle and the source of all other Divine gifts, the “Gift of all gifts,” in the same manner as God is the “Good of all goods.”

SECT. 104. --The Divine Productions as Communications of Essence and Nature; the Divine Products as Hypostases or Persons.


I. If the internal Divine productions are true productions and their products are substantial products, the productions must be conceived as communications of the Divine Nature from one subject to another, consequently as productions of other subjects, who are put in full possession of the Divine Nature and thus are Divine Hypostases and Persons.

1. The perfect actuality of the Divine Life, which requires that its product be nothing but a manifestation of its wealth of life, likewise requires that this manifestation should not take place by producing a perfection in a subject already existing. The production can only tend to communicate the perfection of the producer to another subject; and as it communicates the whole perfection --that is, the essence and nature of the producer to the produced subjects, the latter are necessarily true receivers, and hence possessors of the Divine Nature and Essence, or Divine Hypostases and Persons.

2. Where there are productions there is also a producing subject (the principle which acts, principium quod), to which the nature (the principle by or through which the subject acts, principium quo) belongs; consequently there is a hypostasis. On the other hand, in every production the product must be really distinct from the producing principle. But, by reason of the Divine simplicity, there can be no such real distinction between the producer and his products as would entail a composition of several realities in the same subject or hypostasis. Consequently the internal productions in God must result in such a distinction between the producers and the products as will oppose the products to the producers as hypostases to distinct hypostases.

3. The products of the Divine productions are substantial products; they are the Divine Substance itself. If, then, by reason of the productions, a difference must still exist between the product and its principle, it can only be that the Substance is possessed by each of Them in a different manner: in other words, that in each of Them the Substance appertains to itself, or subsists, in a different manner. Consequently the Divine productions essentially tend to multiply the modes of subsistence of the Divine Substance, and to make the Divine Substance subsist, not only in one, but in three modes.

Moreover, the three Hypostases in God are also essentially Persons, and Persons of the most perfect kind, because their Substance is the most self-sufficient of all substances, their Nature the most spiritual of all natures, their Essence the noblest of all essences.

II. Assuming that the internal productions in God are the result of His active cognition and volition, it can be strictly demonstrated a priori that there are necessarily three Divine Persons. There cannot be less than three because the communication and manifestation of the Divine Life would be incomplete, if either the intellect or the will remained barren. Nor can there be more than three because, in this case, either other productions would take place besides those admitted by the internal manifestation of knowledge and will; or the productions would not be perfect and adequate manifestations of knowledge and volition; or, lastly, the acts of knowing and willing would be multiplied as well as the products.

The Trinity of the Divine Persons is, therefore, not accidental, but based upon the nature of the Divine fecundity, which would be manifested incompletely in less than three Persons and cannot be manifested in more than three, because in three it manifests and exhausts its full wealth.

III. Likewise, in the above hypothesis, the Three Persons appear essentially in the fixed order of succession determined by their origin as revealed in Scripture. For the production by knowledge supposes, from its nature, but one knowing Person as principle, yet, at the same time, through the intermediation of the fecundity of the knowledge, tends to give fecundity to the love which proceeds from the knowledge. The production by love from its very nature, presupposes the existence of two persons, because, in God, love can only be fruitful in as far as it proceeds from a fruitful knowledge, is essentially mutual love between the first Person and His Image, and takes the form of a gift of two persons to a third. But the order of origin does not imply an order in the Nature, Essence, or Substance of the Persons, because in kind and in number there is but one Nature. In general, the order of origin does not imply that what stands first in the order actually exists, or even is possible, before or without what stands last; or that the last is in any way dependent on or subordinate to the first. For the producing Persons cannot be conceived in their particular being without the relationship to their Product, nor can the first production be conceived without the second, which is consequent upon it; and as the producing Persons are related just as necessarily to their Products as the Products are to Them, the subordination and dependence otherwise existing between Product and Principle is here obviated.

IV. There can be no question of an order of dignity between the Divine Persons, as if the producing Persons possessed either a higher dignity than their Product or authority over it. For, although the character of principle is a true dignity (Greek), or rather constitutes the personal dignity and personal being of the Persons Who possess it, still it is no less a dignity for the produced Persons to be the end and object to which the communicative activity of the others is directed essentially, or that the whole being of the Producers is as essentially for the Products as the whole being of the Products is essentially from the Producers. In other words, in God there is no order founded upon degrees of personal dignity, but upon the various ways, determined by the relationships of origin, of possessing the same supreme dignity, viz. the essential possession of the Godhead.

V. The reasons why the first production in God is alone termed “generation” are manifold. Some are taken from the inconveniences that would arise from applying the same name to both productions. All the others may be reduced to the fact that the first production alone has a special likeness to the generation of bodies, considered as a natural operation (operatio per modum naturae), and as a “building up” and “representative” operation. As regards the mode of operation, the likeness rests upon this, that the first production, being carried out by the intellect, is similar to the mode of operation of nature, as opposed to operation by free will; in a more special sense, it proceeds from its principle spontaneously and essentially, and is effected through the fundamental life-force of the Divine Nature. On the part of its tendency the first production possesses the specific type of generation, in as far as in it the communication of life is effected by the expression of an intellectual word and the impression of a real image, and consequently it has essentially the tendency to express and represent, in the most perfect manner, the essence of its principle. Again, it is not only generation really and truly, but generation in the purest and highest sense of the word, because it is free from all the imperfections of material generation, and, most of all, because it perfectly realizes the fundamental idea of all generation, viz. the attestation or representation of what the progenitor is. It produces, in the most sublime sense of the word, a “Speaking Likeness,” in which the whole Essence of the Progenitor is substantially, vitally, and adequately contained and represented. The second production is not named “generation,” because all the elements which stamp the first production as true generation are taken precisely from the specific character of this first production, and are not found in the second.

VI. The first production, being alone a generation, its product may be illustrated in many ways by a comparison with the product of plant generation. The eternal is at the same time the Germ, the Flower, and the Fruit of the Divinity: the Germ, because He is the original manifestation of the Divine power; the Flower, as manifesting the Divine beauty and glory; and the Fruit, as concentrating the whole fecundity and the wealth of Divinity, through which all other Divine productions go forth, so that all being, form, and perfection in creation are virtually contained in it. As that which first springs from the root, viz. the stem, produces and supports all the other products, and therefore is called in Latin robur, we understand why the Son is so often called the “Strength (virtus) of the Father.” The analogy of the blossom or flower further illustrates why Holy Scripture represents the Son as the “Figure” or “Face” of the Father, and the analogy of the fruit explains why the Son, and the Son alone, is represented as the “Food” or “Bread of life” of created spirits. Cf. Ecclus. xx iv. 17-24.

VII. The dogmatic name “Procession” (Greek spelling) is not considered by the Latin doctors as the specific name for the second production in God: they use it for want of another expressing a more definite character. In order to determine its signification they combine it with the term “Spiration,” in the sense of animal breathing, in as far as this indicates partly the mode of operation of the second production (processio sive impulsus amorus, motus ab anima), partly the nature of the act by which it is effected, viz. the transitive mutual love of two Persons (Patris in Filiium, Filii in Patrem). The Greek Fathers, on the other hand, use the term (in Greek) to designate a special form of substantial emanation, analogous to the emanation which takes place in plants side by side with generation, and is effected by the plants themselves and their products, viz. the emission of the vital sap or spirit of life in the form of fluid, oily substances in a liquid or ethereal state, such as balsam and incense, wine and oil, and especially the odour or perfume of the plant which is at the same time an ethereal oil and the breath of the plant.

Hence, to designate the active production of the Holy Ghost, the Greek doctors seldom use the name (in Greek), (spirare, to breathe); they prefer the expressions (Greek) with the corresponding intransitive expressions (Greek text). The two conceptions complete and illustrate each other: they show that the procession in God is an emission in the highest sense of the word, viz. the emission of an affection and of a gift, not, however, of a mere affection and an empty gift, but the most perfect and most real outpouring of the substantial love of God, which is at once Substantial Goodness, Holiness, and Happiness, and the crown and complement of the entire Divine Life.

From its analogy with the emission from plants, the name “Procession” (in Greek), besides its principal meaning which refers to the form of the procession as a motion directed outward, receives a twofold secondary meaning, the one relating to the principle, the other to the terminus or object of the motion. This secondary meaning shows the emission as a transmission, and is also applicable to the Holy Ghost. For, as the fluids emitted by a plant proceed immediately from the product of generation (the stem, flower, and fruit), but originally from the principle of generation (the seed or root), and consequently pass through the product of generation; so also in God, the effusion of His Substantial Holiness essentially flows through His Substantial Truth from the principle of the latter. This the Greek doctors convey by the terms (Greek definitions). And just as the fluids emitted by plants have a particular facility and tendency to spread and diffuse themselves outward, so also the Holy Ghost, in His quality of Effusion and Gift of the Divine Love, and as the completing act of the Divine fecundity within, bears a particular relation to the outward diffusion of Divine Love and donation of Divine gifts, and especially represents the all-filling and all-penetrating power of the Divine Love (Rom. v. 5).

SECT. 105. --The Special Names of the Divine Productions as Communications of Life in analogy with Generation and Spiration in the Animal Kingdom--The Personal Names Father, Son, and Holy Ghost --The Economy (spelled in Greek) of the Divine Persons.

I. The name “generation,” is given to the first production in God, because it is “a true communication of intellectual life to another subject, or a production of one person from another,” whence also its Principle is termed “Father” and its Product “Son.” In mankind, the father, and not the mother, is the proper active principle of generation; and the son, not the daughter, is the product of generation perfectly like the father. The paternity in the Divine generation is not only real but is paternity in the highest sense. The Divine Father transfers His life into His Son, exclusively by His own power, whereas the human father only prepares a communication of life, which, in reality, is accomplished through the influence of a higher vital principle. Moreover, the Divine Father does not require the cooperation of a maternal principle in order to perfect His Product: His generation is absolutely virginal. In short: God the Father, as such, is the sole and adequate principle of the perfect Son. Thus the Eternal Father is, in the strictest sense, the “own” Father (Pater proprius) of His Son, and the eternal Son, the “own” Son (Filius, proprius) of the Father. For the same reason the Paternity of the Eternal Father is the ideal and type of “all paternity in heaven and on earth” (Eph. iii. 15) --that is, of any paternity of God respecting creatures and of all paternity among creatures. And the Sonship of the Eternal Son is the ideal and type of all sonship, but particularly of the sonship of adoption, which consists in the creature being made by grace partaker of the life which belongs to the Son by nature.

II. The second production in God, as far as it is a real communication of life to another person, has no analogue in human nature. It has, however, an analogue in the tendency to communicate one's own life to another person, and this is “the emission of the breath from the heart” which, notably in the act of kissing, gives a most real expression to the tendency of love towards intimate and real communion of life. More than this is not required to show that the corresponding act in God is a real communication of life, and that its Product is a real Person. What in the creature is a powerless tendency or striving, is in God an efficacious operation; wherefore, as the Spirit or Breath of God not only awakens and fosters, but gives life when emitted and imparted to creatures, so also the internal emission of this Spirit is necessarily a real communication of life. This becomes still more evident if we consider that the emission of the Divine Spirit of life is not destined to bring about a union of love between two loving hearts existing separately, but flows from one heart, common to two Persons, to manifest and enact their absolute unity of life, and consequently must tend to communicate life to a Third Person, distinct from the First and Second. The emission of the human breath is inferior to generation as an analogue for a Divine communication of life, because it does not produce a new person; but, on the other hand, it has the double advantage of being more apparent and visible, and of standing in closer connection with the higher life of the human soul, notably with love.

By reason of this analogy of origin there can be no human personal name designating the Third Person in the Trinity as the name “Son” designates the Second. On the other hand, however, the name “Spirit,” or “Ghost,” in the sense of immaterial being, cannot be His proper name, because in this sense it is common to the Three Persons. The proper name of the Third Person is taken from the impersonal emission of breath (in Greek, spiritus), in man, and receives its personal signification in God by being conceived as “Spiritus de Spiritu” the life-breath of the purest Spirit. Where the spirating subject is a pure spirit, its whole substance and life are necessarily contained in the substantial breath (spirit) which it emits; and thus this breath is not only something spiritual, but is a Spiritual Hypostasis or Person. The relation of the Spirit of God to the spiritual Nature of its Principle and its Essence is expressed by the name “Holy Ghost,” because the purest spirituality of God culminates in the Substantial Holiness of the Divine Life.

The connection of the name “Ghost” or “Spirit” with the human breath is generally taught by the Fathers. Its relation to the spirituality of the spirating (breathing) person is especially pointed out by the Greek doctors, although they do not describe the origin as spiration as often as the Latin writers; it corresponds with their organic conception of the Holy Ghost as the “Perfume” and “Oil” of the Godhead. The Latin Fathers, on the other hand, although they more frequently use the term spiratio, do not lay much stress on the original meaning of spirit, but give great prominence to the idea of the osculum (kiss) as a bond of union. They used to say, following St. Augustine, that the Third Person is properly called “Spirit,” because the other Two, whose communion He is, are commonly so called. By both Greeks and Latins, however, it is always noted that the name Spirit, applied to the Third Person, ought, like the name Son, to be taken relatively, that is as the Spirit of Somebody. The Greeks lay more stress on the genitive of origin (viz. origo per emanationem substantialem ex principio), whereas the Latin doctors rather point out the genitive of possession, considering, as it were, the Holy Ghost as the common soul of the two Persons united in love.

III. Although no human person furnishes an adequate analogue for the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity still we can point to one who approaches as near as the diversity between Divine and human nature allows. This human person is no other than the bride, who, as spouse and mother, stands between father and son in the communication and representation of human nature, and is as essentially the third member of the human community, or the connecting link between father and son, as the Holy Ghost is the Third Person in the Divinity.

1. The analogy is easily understood if the bride be considered in her ideal, ethical position in the human family, as wife and mother. Here she stands out as the representative of the union of father and son; as the focus in which the mutual love of father and son centres; as love personified and as the soul of the family. The differences arising from the diversity of Divine and human nature are: (a) In the Trinity the Personified Love is only a bond--not a mediator between Father and Son, and, consequently, is not the mother of the Son. (b) The Person of Love cannot be considered as the wife of the Father, because this Person is not a co-principle with Him, but only proceeds from Him. (c) The Person of Love stands in the same relation to the Son as to the Father; hence, as regards origin, the. Son comes between the Father and the Substantial Love of Both. The intermediate position of the human mother between principle and product; her function of nourishing, fostering, cherishing and quickening, and of being the centre where the love of father and child meet, find their analogue in the relations of the Holy Ghost to the external products of Father and Son, viz. to created natures.

2. Considering the wide differences between the “Person of Love” in God and in mankind, human names cannot be unreservedly applied to the Holy Ghost. The names “mother” or “wife” must be excluded altogether; the name “bride” might be applied in the restricted sense that the Holy Ghost is the original and bridal partner of Father and Son. He is a bridal partner, because in virtue of their love He constitutes a substantial unity with them; He is a virginal partner, because He is with Father and Son, not as supplying a want of their nature, but as a Gift; He is the bridal partner of Both, because He bears the same relationship of origin to the Father and to the Son.

3. The constituents of the analogy in question are sufficiently expressed by the name “Holy Ghost“ (which in Hebrew is of the feminine gender, (Hebrew), ruach, like anima in Latin), inasmuch as it designates the Third Person of the Trinity precisely as the focus of a mutual love that is purely spiritual, chaste, and virginal. We may further remark that the name Holy Ghost is derived from the name Ghost common to the other Two Persons, just as the name Eve, with respect to her relationship of origin, was derived from that of man (Gen. ii. 23). Moreover, the proper name which Adam gave to the wife taken from his side to signify her maternal character, is not only analogous in construction, but quite synonymous with the name Ghost; for Eve (Hebrew text) signifies life, or, more properly, the outflowing life, the breath, i.e. that which, in analogy with the breath, quickens and fosters by its warmth. And as herein is expressed the ideal essence of the universal mothership of the first woman (“And Adam called the name of his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living”), so also it expresses the characteristic of the Holy Ghost as principle of all the life of creation; wherefore also the Holy Ghost in this respect is called the “Fostering Spirit.”

This analogy is completed by the origin of the first woman, an origin different from generation but similar to the origin of the Holy Ghost, and symbolizing the origin of the mystic bride of God. For the “taking” of Eve from the side of Adam, that is, from his heart, can only signify an origin by loving donation on the part of Adam, although this donation only gave the matter which, by the supernatural intervention of God, was endowed with life. Now, according to all the Fathers, the origin of Eve was the type of the origin of the Church, the virginal bride of Christ, from the side of her Bridegroom, nay, from His very Heart, and by virtue of His own vital force through the effusion of His life's Blood. But, on the other hand, the effusion of the Blood of Christ being the vehicle and the symbol of the effusion of the Holy Ghost, and the Church, by reason of her moral union with the Holy Ghost, being the bride of Christ, we have here an illustration of the character of the eternal procession of the Holy Ghost Himself, which bears the closest relation to the emission of the breath from the heart

IV. In order to preserve all the force of this human analogy, and, at the same time, to do away with its inherent imperfections and to point out the elements which do not appear in it, Revelation itself represents the Holy Ghost, with regard to this origin and position, under the symbol of an animal being, viz. the Dove. He appeared in the form of a dove on the Jordan (Matt. iii. 16), but already in the narrative of creation (Gen. i. 2) this form is hinted at. The dove, in general, is the symbol of love and fidelity, especially of chaste, meek, patient, and innocent love, and illustrates nearly all the attributes of the Spirit of Wisdom, described in Wisd. vii., that is, in one word, His Holiness. But the Divine Dove represents also the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of God --that is, as the Spirit proceeding from Father and Son and uniting Them. Like a dove, the Holy Ghost ascends from the heart of Father and Son, whilst in Him they breathe their Love and Life or Soul; and, like a dove, with outspread wings and quiescent motion, He hovers over them, crowning and completing their union, and manifesting by His sigh the infinite felicity and holiness of Their love. In short, this image shows the Holy Ghost as the hypostatic “Kiss,” “Embrace,” and “Sigh” of the Father and the Son, that is, in His character of Their virginal Bride.

The same image also represents the Holy Ghost in His relation of “Virginal Mother” to creatures. As a dove He descends from the heart of God upon the creature, bringing down with Him the Divine Love and its gifts, penetrating creatures with His warming, quickening, and' refreshing fire, establishing the most intimate relations between God and them, and being Himself the pledge of the Love which sends Him and of the love which He inspires; and lastly, in the supernatural order, penetrating into the creature as into His temple to such a degree that the creature in its turn becomes the virginal bride of God and the virginal mother of life in others, and thus receives itself the name of dove --a name applied especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church, and the virgins of Christ, and generally to all pious souls (Cant. ii. 10).

SECT. 106. --Complete Unity of the Produced Persons their Principle, resulting from their Immanent Origin: Similarity, Equality, Identity, Inseparability and Coinherence (in Greek).


I. The intellectual origin of the Divine Persons accounts not only for their personal characters but also for their perfect unity, which is commonly considered under the five different forms mentioned in the title of this section, and comprehends their Essence, Life and external operations their Dignity, Power, and Perfection. The unity of identity in Essence --that is, the absolutely simple unity of the Divine Essence itself contains the germ of the other forms, and gives to these other forms of unity in God a perfection which they have nowhere else. Similarity and equality, inseparability and interpenetration, are but so many inadequate conceptions of one and the same essential identity. The several forms of unity express certain relations between the Divine Persons. But these relations are of a different kind from the relations of origin, of which they result. Theologians term them relationes rationis, in contradistinction to the relationes reales, --that is, the relation of origin.

II. In detail the several forms of unity of the Divine Persons are originated and formed as follows: --

1. From the fact that in God the produced Persons are similarity the innermost manifestation of His Nature and Life, there follows, first of all, a similarity entailing more than a mere agreement of qualities, viz. a similarity extending to the very Essence; and, as there are no accidents in the Divine Nature, but all perfections are contained in its Essence, the similarity is perfect in all and excludes all dissimilarity (Greek text) Cf. Card. Newman, Athan., ii. 370).

2. As the produced Persons are, further, an exhaustive Perfect manifestation of their Principle, which completely expresses and diffuses Itself in Them, we have as a consequence the equality (identity of quantity) between the Divine Persons. Quantity in God is not a material quantitative greatness, but the virtual internal greatness of perfection and power, which is infinite (cf.
§ 64).

3. Similarity in kind, combined with equality of quantity, or, generally speaking, intrinsic and universal agreement, is sufficient, even in creatures, to justify the expression “The one is what the other is,” viz. they are something more than similar and equal. In this sense the Greeks apply to creatures the term (in Greek) which, in etymology, though not quite in sense, is equivalent to identity. The identity, however, of creatures, e.g. of the members of the same family, is but partial and very imperfect. In God, on the contrary, the identity of the Three Persons is absolutely perfect. For the internal and exhaustive manifestation of the Divine Nature is not a multiplication but a communication of It to the produced Persons, and is therefore present in all and is identical with each of Them; consequently, as to what They are, the Persons are not only similar, equal, and related, but are purely and simply the same. The notion of identity, without destroying the distinction of the Persons, completes the notions of similarity and equality, at the same time presenting them under a form peculiar to God. The Divine Persons are similar and equal, not by reason of like qualities and quantities possessed by Them, but by reason of the possession --in all alike essential, perfect, eternal, and legitimate --of the quality and quantity of one Substance. On the other hand, the identity of Essence adds to simple similarity, which may exist between separate things, the notion of intimate connection; and to simple equality in quantity, the notion of intrinsic penetration. Further, it completes the notion of this connection and penetration by representing them as effected, not by some combination or union, but by the Essence of the Three Persons being one and undivided.

4. The inseparable connection of the Divine Persons with one another is brought about in the most perfect manner by Their relations of origin. The produced Persons cannot even be conceived otherwise than in connection with their Principle, and, being the immanent manifestation of a substantial cognition and volition, They remain within the Divine Substance and are one with It. The producing Principle, likewise, cannot be conceived as such, and as a distinct Person, except inasmuch as He produces the other Persons; and These, being the immanent Product of His Life, are as inseparable from their Principle as His life itself.

5. The intimate unity of the Divine Persons appears at its highest perfection when conceived as interpenetration and mutual comprehension. The Greek (spelling) and the Latin circuminsessio (better circumincessio), are the technical terms for the Divine interpenetration. (This Greek phrase) has a fourfold construction: (in Greek terms); the first three correspond with the meanings “invade,” “pervade,” of (Greek) the last with its meaning of “hold” or “comprehend.” The circumincession, or comprehensive interpenetration, implies the following notions. Each Person penetrates and pervades each other Person inasmuch as each Person is in each other Person with His whole Essence, and possesses the Essence of each other Person as His own; and again, inasmuch as each Person comprehends each other Person in the most intimate and adequate manner by knowledge and love, and as each Person finds in each other Person His own Essence, it follows that it is one and the same act of knowledge and love by which one Divine Person comprehends and embraces the other Persons. “Each of the Three Who speak to us from heaven is simply, and in the full sense of the word, God, yet there is but one God; this truth, as a statement, is enunciated most intelligibly when we say Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, being one and the same Spirit and Being, are in each other, which is the doctrine of the (Greek term)”
(Card. Newman, Athan., ii., p. 72; cf. Franzelin, th. xiv.).

By reason of these several forms of unity arising from the unity of Essence, the Divine Persons constitute a society unique in its kind: a society whose Members are in the most perfect manner equal, related, and connected, and which, therefore, is the unattainable, eternal, and essential ideal of all other societies.

III. The unity of the Divine Persons, in all its forms, embraces as subject-matter Their inner Being and Life, and also Their operations ad extra. As regards the power necessary to these operations, and the various elements concurring in its exercise (viz. idea, decree, execution), the activity of each Person is in the most perfect manner similar, equal, and identical with that of the other Persons, and consequently is exercised so that all the Persons operate together, inseparately and inseparably, not only in external union, but intrinsically, in each other, so as to be but one absolutely simple activity.

The absolute simplicity of the Divine activity is not impaired by the scriptural and traditional expression “that the Divine operation proceeds from the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost.” This expression is intended to convey the meaning that the Divine operation or activity is perfectly common to the Three Persons, but is possessed by each of Them in a particular manner, viz. in the same manner in which they possess the principium quo of action --that is, the Divine Nature. Another signification of the same formula will be explained in the following section.

SECT. 107. --The Appropriation of the Common Names, Attributes, and Operations to Particular Persons.

I. Although all the names, attributes, and operations which do not refer to the personal relations of the Divine Persons are, by reason of the unity of Substance, common to them all, it is, nevertheless, the constant style of Holy Scripture and Tradition to ascribe certain names, attributes, and operations to particular Persons so as to serve to distinguish one Person from another. The process by which something common to all the Persons is attributed as peculiar to one of Them, is called Appropriation (Greek text). Such appropriation, of course, does not exclude the other Persons from the possession of what is appropriated to one. Whatever is appropriated is not even more the property of one Person than of another. The only object of appropriation is to lay special stress on, or to bring out more distinctly, the possession of some of the common attributes by one Person, so as to illustrate either this particular Person or the attributes in question, by showing their connection. For this purpose it is sufficient that the Person in question, by reason of His personal character, bears a special relationship to the attribute, and is, therefore, not only its owner but also its representative.

The appropriations are so indispensable that without them it would be impossible to give a vivid picture of the Trinity. They are useful and indispensable to represent each Person as distinguished from the other Persons, since we always associate separate persons with separate properties and operations; they are especially useful and necessary to bring out the Persons of the Father and the Holy Ghost as distinct from the Son Who appeared among us in a human nature with properties and operations exclusively His own; they further serve to distinguish the Divine Persons from other and imperfect beings bearing the same names; this is notably the case in the appellations “Pater aeternus,” “Filius sapiens,” “Spiritus sanctus.” The appropriations also help to illustrate and represent the Divine attributes and operations in life-like form, and especially to represent the Divine Unity as essentially living and working in distinct Persons.

II. The appropriations in use in Holy Scripture and in the language of the Church, may be grouped under the clarified, following categories: --

1. Of the substantive names, “God” is appropriated to the Father as the “Principle of Divinity;” “Lord” to the Son, as the natural heir of the Father, Who, in the Incarnation, has received from the Father a peculiar dominion over creatures. Hence the Son is commonly called “Son of God,” and the Holy Ghost “Spirit of God,” or “Spirit of the Lord.” The Holy Ghost bears no other appropriated Divine name, because His proper name (Spirit), if not considered as expressing His relationship to Father and Son, is in itself a substantive Divine name, and, in a certain sense, only becomes a proper name by appropriation, viz. inasmuch as, like the air in the wind, the Divine Substance reveals in its spiration the full energy of its Spiritual Nature. In I Cor. xii. 4, however, “Spirit” may be taken as an appropriation on a line with “God”
and “Lord.”

2. The names designating properties of the Divine Being and Life are distributed among the Three Persons either in the form of adjectives (“one,” “true,” “good,”) or of nouns (“unity,” “truth,” “goodness”), so as to correspond with their active or passive relations of origin. The Second and Third Persons receive only positive predicates, because the special nature of Their origin is always taken into account, whereas to the Father, as Ingenerate or Unbegotten, negative predicates are likewise appropriated, e.g. eternity. To the Father are appropriated, in this respect, essential being, then eternity and simplicity, also power and goodness in the sense of productive and radical fecundity, because these attributes shine forth with more splendour in the Unbegotten Principle of the Trinity. To the Son, as the Word and intellectual Image of the Father, is appropriated Truth (objective and formal, § 73) and resplendent Beauty. To the Holy Ghost, as the Aspiration, Pledge, and Gift of the eternal Love, is appropriated Goodness, as well in its objective sense of what is perfect, amiable, and beatifying (§ 74), as in the formal sense of holiness, bounty, and felicity. As, however, unity may be considered under many respects, unity pure and simple is ascribed to the Father, unity of equality to the Son, and unity of connection to the Holy Ghost.

3. With regard to the Divine operations ad extra, the external appropriations receive various forms and directions. As regards the power, wisdom, and goodness manifest in all Divine operations, power, as efficient cause, is appropriated to the Father; wisdom, as exemplar cause, to the Son; and goodness, as final cause, to the Holy Ghost. Considering, in analogy with created activity, the order or evolution of the Divine operations, the decree (= resolution, will) to operate is appropriated to the Father; the plan of the work to the Son; the execution and preservation to the Holy Ghost. With regard to the hypostatic character of the individual Persons, the Father is said, by appropriation, to produce the substantial being (= the substance) and the unity of all things by creation, and to perform works of power, such as miracles; the Son is said to give all things their form and to enlighten all minds, likewise to confer dignities and functions; the Holy Ghost vivifies, moves, and guides all things, sanctifies spirits and distributes the charismata.

4. In connection with these, there are other appropriations founded upon the general relation of the creature to God, and especially on the relations of intellectual creatures with their Creator. As all things exist of the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost, so intellectual creatures are made the children of the Father through the Son to Whom they are likened, in the Holy Ghost with Whom they are filled. Thus they also can direct their worship to God the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost, the Son and Holy Ghost being not only the object of worship, but, at the same time, mediators of the worship offered to the Father from Whom They originate and Whose glory They reveal, and with Whom They receive the same worship because They are one with Him. The Father especially is represented as receiving the Divine worship offered to God by the Incarnate Son as High-priest, although the sacrifice of Christ is offered to Himself and to the Holy Ghost as well as to the Father. Here, however, we go beyond simple appropriations, and enter the domain of the mission of the Divine Persons, of which we shall speak in the following section.

A beautiful exposition of appropriations is found at the end of St. Augustine's De Vera Religione, “Religet ergo nos religio, etc.” See also St. Thom., I., q. 39, arts. 7, 8.

SECT. 108. --The Temporal Mission of the Divine Persons.

I. Revelation often speaks in general terms of a coming of God to and into His creatures, and of a manifesting Himself to, and dwelling in, them. This coming and indwelling is especially set forth in connection with the two Divine Persons Who have Their eternal origin from another Person, and it is represented so as to make this temporal procession appear as a continuation of Their eternal procession. In consequence of this, the Person from Whom another proceeds assumes towards the One Who proceeds the same position as exists between a human sender and his envoy; and for this reason the procession ad extra of a Divine Person is spoken of as a “Mission.”

II. The external mission of Divine Persons admits of none of the imperfections inherent in human missions. The perfect equality of the Divine Persons excludes the notion of authority in the Sender, and, in general, any influence of the Sender on the Sent other than the relation of origin. Again, the perfect coinherence or interpenetration (Greek spelling) of the Divine Persons excludes the idea of any separation of the Person sent from His Sender, and of any separate activity or operation in the mission. Lastly, the immensity and omnipresence of the Trinity exclude the possibility of any local change caused by the temporal mission of one of the Persons. The procession ad extra can be brought about only by a new manifestation of the substantial presence of the Person sent, and consequently by a new operation taking place in the creature, whereby the Divine Person reveals Himself externally or enters into union with the creature.

III. To lay too great stress on what we have just said might lead to a false notion of the missions of Divine Persons. It must not be thought that the whole mission consists in a Divine Person coming down to the creature merely as representative of an operation appropriated to Him but common to the Three Persons, thus infusing not Himself but merely His operation into the creature, and consequently not proceeding ad extra in the character of a Person distinct from His Principle as well as from His operations. As a matter of fact, in many texts of Holy Scripture the mission of Divine Persons implies no more than that They reveal themselves in creatures as bearers of an activity appropriated to Them and as Principle of an operation in the creature. Such is the case, for instance, where, in the spiritual order, every supernatural influence of God on the soul is ascribed to a coming of the Son or the Holy Ghost. But the theologians of all times agree in considering this kind of mission as an improper one, and assert the existence of another, to which the name of mission properly belongs.

IV. The manifestation ad extra of a Divine Person, in a mission properly so called, takes place in a twofold manner. Either the Divine Person appears in a sensible form or image really distinct from Himself, which makes the Person Himself and His presence in the creature apparent, this is called a Visible or External Mission; or the Divine Person really enters into an intellectual creature, uniting Himself with it in such intimate, real, and vivid manner, that He dwells in it, gives Himself to it, and takes special possession of it, --this is called an Invisible or Internal Mission.

Both forms are found in their greatest possible perfection in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In His Incarnation the Son of God contracts with a created nature, at the same time intellectual and visible, a union which is proper to Himself alone, exclusively of the other Divine Persons, and by reason of which the visible body in which He appears is not only a symbol of His Person, but is His own body. Besides, the Incarnation was at the same time a mission of the Son of God in His own human nature and to all men, among whom He dwelt visibly. The Incarnation stands alone as a pre-eminent mission. In other missions the visible and invisible are not necessarily connected, nor do they exist in the same perfection. A visible mission, indeed, never takes place without an invisible one, but invisible missions are not always accompanied by visible manifestations. Besides, excepting the Incarnation, visible missions are not real but symbolical; the invisible ones are real: but whilst in the Incarnation we have an hypostatic union with the substance of a created nature, here we have the hypostatic presence of the Divine Person in the life of the creature, which presence includes an intimate relation between the Divine and the created person, making them, as it were, belong to each other; wherefore this kind of mission is termed “Missio secundum gratiam” or, better, “secundum gratiam gratum facientem.”

V. The invisible mission of God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, especially the latter, to the souls of the just, being such a consoling mystery, it is of the utmost importance to gain a clear conception of it; viz. to understand as far as possible, how in this mission a Divine Person enters the soul, not figuratively but really, in the proper and strict sense of the word.

In order that the coming of a Divine Person to the soul may be really personal, two things are required. It is not enough that the Person should come as principle of a new operation; it is necessary that His Substance should become present to the soul in a new manner, otherwise the mission or coming would be personal only in a figurative sense. As, however, the Divine Substance and activity are common to all the Persons, the presence of the Substance of a Divine Person is not sufficient to enable us to say that He is present as a distinct Person, or as distinct from His Sender. If the hypostatic character of the Person sent is not brought to the fore, His mission is not strictly personal, but must be considered as an appropriation. Moreover, the coming of a Divine Person into the soul must be conceived from the point of view of a living union of the Person with the soul, or of an intimate presence of the Divine Person in the supernatural life of the soul, in virtue of which the Divine Person gives Himself to the soul and at the same time takes possession of it Holy Scripture constantly speaks of an intimate, holy, and beatifying union as the consequence of the coming of a Divine Person into the soul; the Person is given to the soul and the soul becomes His temple (cf. Rom. v. 5; I Cor. iii. 16). Hence, the personal mission of the Divine Persons consists in a donation of themselves to the soul and in a taking possession of the soul; their personal presence in the soul implies a relation of most intimate and mutual appurtenance between the Divine and the human person.

VI. We have, then, to show how, in the communication mission of supernatural life by means of sanctifying grace (gratia gratum faciens), a personal presence in the soul, and a personal relationship of the Divine Person to the soul, is to be conceived. The demonstration may be effected in two directions, considering, on the basis of Holy Writ, the relation of the Divine Person to the supernatural life of the soul: (1) as its exemplar principle, or (2) as its final object. Both relations, however, are closely connected, and ought to be considered together in order to arrive at an adequate conception of the personal presence and relationship.

I The supernatural life of the soul consists, in its inmost essence, in a participation in the Divine Life--that is, in a knowledge and love of such an exalted kind as is proper only to the Divine Nature; it has, therefore, its root and ideal (=exemplar) in God Himself. Hence, God, when communicating supernatural life, must approach the soul in His Substance in a more special manner, distinct from every other Divine influence; so that, if He were not already substantially present as Creator, He would become so present as Giver of supernatural life. Moreover, this communication of God's own life to the soul appears as an imitation, a continuation, and an extension of that manifestation arid communication of life which produces the Son and the Holy Ghost. The irradiation of supernatural knowledge into the soul is essentially an imitation and an extension of the internal radiation of Divine knowledge terminating in the Eternal Word and Image, and so implies a speaking of His Divine Word into, and impression of this Divine Image upon, the soul. The infusion or inspiration of supernatural love is an imitation and an extension of the internal effusion of Divine Love terminating in the Holy Eternal Spirit, and thus implies an effusion of the Divine Spirit into the soul. Hence, just as the supernatural life results from an internal and permanent impression of the Divine Substance on the soul --as from the impression of a seal, --so also the Products of the Divine Life impress themselves on the soul in an innermost presence. Consequently, the Persons proceeding ad extra, enter into a living relationship with the soul, not only as to their Substance, but also as to their personal characters. They are personally united to the soul, inasmuch as They permeate the life of the soul, manifest Their personal glory in it, and live in it.

This view of the Divine missions is alluded to in the following texts:

(a) The mission of the Son: “My little children, of whom I am in labour again, until Christ be formed in you” (Gal. iv. 19); “That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts” (Eph. iii. 17).

(b) The mission of the Holy Ghost: “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost Who is given to us” (Rom. v. 5); “In this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (I John iv. 13). To these must be added all the texts which represent the Holy Ghost as living in us, or us as living in Him, as if He were the breath of our life. Thus: “But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ [= the Spirit of Love], he is none of His” (Rom. viii. 9); “For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons [= in filial love], whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (ibid., 14, 15); “We have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God” (1 Cor. ii. 12).

2. The knowledge and love which constitute supernatural life (like the Divine knowledge and love of which they are a copy), have for their proper object God Himself, as He is in Himself. As in the Divine Life, so in the supernatural life of the soul, the Divine Essence is the object of possession and fruition, and must therefore be substantially present to the soul in a manner not required by the natural life of the soul. This presence attains its perfection only in the Beatific Vision and in beatific charity, but it already exists in an obscure and imperfect manner in our present state of cognition and charity (cognitio et caritas viae}. For if the Divine Substance becomes an object of intimate possession and fruition to the soul, the Divine Persons Themselves, each with His original characters, likewise become the object of the soul's possession and fruition by knowledge and love, and They enter the soul as such object. The Son is given to the soul as the Radiance and Image of the glory of the Father, in order that in Him and through Him, the soul may know and possess the Father. And the Holy Ghost is given as the Effusion and the Pledge of the infinite Love that unites Father and Son, and of God's Fatherly love for His creatures; as the Blossom of the Divine sweetness and loveliness, as the personal “osculum Dei,” which the soul receives as the adopted daughter of the Father and bride of the Son, and which is the food and the fuel of the soul's love to God. This is the deeper sense of the words, “That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John xvii. 26). Consequently, both Persons are given to the soul as an uncreated Gift, and the created gift of sanctifying grace has precisely this object --to enable the soul to receive and to enjoy the uncreated Gift.

As the object of supernatural knowledge and love, the Divine Persons are also the final object, or the end, of the soul, in which the soul finds rest and beatitude, but which likewise claims from the soul honour and glorification. Now, each Divine Person, in His hypostatical character, can claim an honour especially directed to Himself, and a special manner of dominion over creatures; hence, although the Three Persons always enter the soul together, and take possession of it and live in it as in Their consecrated temple, nevertheless each of Them does so in a manner peculiar to Himself. This indwelling is especially proper to the Holy Ghost, because He is the representative of the Divine sanctity and the model of the sanctity of the soul; and further because, being pre-eminently the personal Gift of the Divine Love, He naturally receives and accepts the love by which the soul gives itself to God. The Holy Ghost being pre-eminently the “Sweet Host” of the soul, is also the Holy Lord and Master Who transforms it into His temple and takes possession of it in the name of the Father and of the Son. (See Scheeben's Mysteries,
§ 30; and Card. Manning's two works on the Holy Ghost).

SECT. 109. --The Trinity a Mystery but not a Contradiction.

I. We have shown (in § 57) that the real existence of Cause the Three Persons in one God cannot be demonstrated by created reason. From this it follows that our conceptions of the Trinity of Persons can be but analogical and imperfect, and even more obscure and imperfect than our conceptions of the Divine Essence and Nature. It is, consequently, a matter of course that our reason should find it always difficult, and sometimes impossible, to comprehend the possibility of the several Divine attributes and of their coexistence in God. However, correct and accurate conceptions of the analogical notions enable us not only to see the necessary connection between several attributes, but also to show that no evident contradiction exists between them. Most of the contradictions which the Arians, the Socinians, and the modern Rationalists pretend to detect in the mystery of the Trinity, present hardly any difficulty, because they are based either upon misrepresentation or misconception of the dogma.

Our modern Rationalists are far more superficial than their predecessors. They think they raise a serious objection when they say that one cannot be equal to three! As if the dogma stated that one God is three Gods or one Person three Persons! Most of the difficulties of detail may be met by an accurate statement of the dogma, such as we have been attempting to give. We only touch here upon the chief difficulties which may still remain.

II. These difficulties are in reality but two viz.--(I) the real distinction of the Persons, notwithstanding their identity with one and the same absolutely simple Essence; and (2) their perfect equality in every perfection, notwithstanding the origin of one Person from another. The first difficulty rests on the axiom: Things identical with the same thing are identical with each other; and the second on the principle that origin implies inferiority.

1. The first difficulty is solved thus: Although Person difficulty, and Essence in God are “One Supreme Thing, altogether simple,” still, Person and Essence no more represent the same side of this “Supreme Thing” than cognition and volition. “Person” is the Supreme Thing as possessing itself; “Essence” is It as object of possession. Hence it is not absolutely inconceivable that a substance as wealthy as the Divine should possess Itself in several ways; and if so, It must also be able to manifest Itself in several Possessors, Who, as such, are no more identical among Themselves than the forms of possession are identical. If, further, each Person is identical with the Essence, He is only identical as a special form of possession of the Essence, and thus, from the axiom, “Things which are identical with the same thing are identical with each other,” it only follows that They all possess the same Essence through identity with the same; and not that They are also identical in the form of possession.

2. The second difficulty is solved thus: An origin in God is the result, not of an accidental, but of an essential act--that is, of an act identical with its principle as well as with the Divine Essence, and essential to both principle and Essence; but this being admitted, it is not at all evident that the produced possession ought not to be likewise essential, but merely accidental, or merely by connection and not by identity with the Divine Essence. Moreover, the communication of the Nature by the Father does not result from a power and wealth founded on His personality, but from the power of the common Nature, which essentially tends to subsist not in one but in three Persons, and manifests this power equally in the Three Persons, although in a different form in each.

SECT. 110. --The Position and Importance of the Mystery of the Trinity in Revelation.

I. Considered in relation to our natural knowledge of God, the dogma of the Trinity has a certain philosophical importance, inasmuch as it adds clearness and precision to our notions of a living and personal God, perfect and self-sufficient, operating ad extra with supreme freedom, power, and wisdom. The dogma thus prevents pantheistic and superficial deistic theories on God and the world. Still, however useful it may be from this point of view, its revelation cannot be said to be necessary, as such necessity would destroy the transcendental (supernatural) character of the dogma.

II. The revelation of the Trinity has its proper and essential significance in relation to our supernatural knowledge of God (1) as object of beatific fruition, (2) as object of glorification (objectum fruitionis beatificans, objectum glorificationis).

I. The beatitude of intellectual creatures consists in their knowledge of God and in the love of God consequent upon such knowledge. Wherefore, the greater the knowledge the greater the beatitude, and vice versa. Hence the revelation of the Trinity has, in general, a substantial value inasmuch as it essentially increases our knowledge of God. It has also a special value, because, unlike natural knowledge, it shows God as He is in Himself, and discloses His internal life and activity, thus making the knowledge by Faith an anticipation of and introduction to the immediate vision of the Divine Essence and a pledge of its reality. The revelation of the Trinity further leads us into the knowledge of an internal manifestation of God's greatness and power, goodness and love, beatitude and glory, which represents God as the highest Good in quite a new light, far above anything that external manifestations could teach us, and therefore producing, even in this life, a love full of delight, unknown to natural man. In the trinitary origins especially, the Divine fecundity and tendency to communication appear as objectively infinite, whereas the unity of the Three Persons reveals the beatitude of God as possessing in a wonderful manner the element which is the flower and condiment even of created happiness --that is, the delight of sharing one's happiness with others.

2. The knowledge of God, coupled with the admiring love which it begets, constitutes also the external glorification of God by His intellectual creatures: the glorification increases in perfection with the perfection of the knowledge. The influence which the knowledge of the Trinity exercises on the perfection of God's glorification by creatures affects its very essence. It discloses the internal greatness and glory of God as an object of our admiration and adoration; it proposes for our worship not only the Divinity as a whole, but each of the Holders and Possessors of the Godhead, and so enables us to worship the Divine Persons separately; it reveals in God an infinite, real, self-glorification, the Divine Persons as Principle or Product glorifying each other in the most sublime manner --the Father glorified in the Son as His perfect Word and Image, and Both in the Holy Ghost as the infinite Effusion of their Love --infinitely more than in any external manifestation. The revelation of the internal Divine self-glorification renders it possible to creatures to join in the honours which the Divine Persons receive from each other, and thus to complete their finite worship by referring it to an infinite worship. This is done especially in the formula: “Glory be to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Ghost.”

III. The revelation of the Trinity is of great importance Trinity for the right understanding of the supernatural works of God in the world. These works bear such a close and essential relation to the internal productions in God, that their essence, reason, and object can be understood only when they are considered as an external reproduction, and a real revelation ad extra, of the internal productions and relations of God. The supernatural works which here come under consideration are the union of God with His creatures (1) by Grace, (2) by the Incarnation.

I. Grace elevates the creature to be the adoptive son of God. The adopted son, as such, is admitted by grace to a participation in the dignity and glory of the natural Son. As in human relationships we cannot conceive adoptive sonship without referring to natural sonship, so likewise in the supernatural order the adoptive sonship of the children of God cannot be rightly understood without referring to the Sonship of the only-begotten Son of God. Hence the natural Sonship in God is the ideal of all adoptive sonship on the part of God. It is also the foundation of the possibility of adoptive filiation; for only from the fact that in God there exists a substantial communication of His Nature, and not from His creative power, we gather the possibility of a participation in the Divine Nature. The natural filiation in God must likewise be considered as the proper motive and object of the adoptive filiation. It is God's love of His only-begotten Son, and the delight He finds in His possession, that urge Him to multiply His Son's image ad extra. Thus He intends to bring into existence His adoptive children in order that they may glorify His paternity and His only-begotten Son. In the adoptive filiation we must consider also the manner in which it is brought about, viz. by gratuitous love. From this point of view, adoptive sonship has its ideal, the ground of its possibility, its motive, and its final object in the procession of the Holy Ghost, as a communication by means of the purest love and liberality. Further, it bears to the Person of the Holy Ghost this essential relation, that the Holy Ghost is the Pledge and Seal of the communion of God with His adoptive sons, just as in God He is the Pledge and Seal of the Love between Father and Son. As the grace of adoptive sonship, considered in its origin, is a reflex of the Trinitarian productions and relations, so it has the effect of introducing the creature into the most intimate communion and fellowship with the Divine Persons: “That our fellowship may be with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (I John i. 3).

From this it follows that the triune God is the God of the life of grace, and that a full and perfect development of the life of grace is impossible without the knowledge of the Trinity. Hence in the New Testament, where the life of grace first appears in its fulness, the relations of man to God and man's communication with God are always attributed to one or other of the Divine Persons. For the same reason, the naming of the Three Persons is as essential in the Sacrament of regeneration and adoption as the faith and confession of the Trinity are the normal condition of its reception. Hence also the Fathers pointed out that the faith of Christians in God the Father transcends reason and opens the way to adoptive sonship. Cf. St. Hilary, De Trin., 1. i. c. x. sqq; St. Peter Chrysol., Serm. 68 (in Orat, Dom.): “Behold how soon thy profession of faith has been rewarded: as soon as thou hast confessed God to be the Father of His only Son, thou thyself hast been adopted as a son of God the Father.”

2. Whereas in grace we have first an invitation and then, secondarily, a continuation of the Trinitarian productions and relations, the Incarnation is first of all and in the strictest sense a continuation ad extra of the eternal origin of the Son of God and of His relation to the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Incarnation must not be conceived merely as God or any one of the Divine Persons taking flesh, but as the incorporation of a Person gone forth from God, and precisely of that Person Who, as Word and Image of God, is the living testimony by which He reveals Himself internally and externally; Who, as Son of God, is the born heir of His kingdom; through Whom God reigns over and governs the world; Who, as the First-born of all creatures, is naturally called to be, in His humanity, the head of the whole universe; Who, lastly, through His hypostatic mission ad extra, can bring the Holy Ghost, Who proceeds from Him, in special connection with His mystical body, and thus make the “seal and bond of the Trinity” the seal and bond of transfigured creation.


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