St. Augustine’s puzzle: how can we understand the Trinity?

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I’ll bet many of you know the old story of St. Augustine walking along the beach one day, taking a break from writing his treatise on the Trinity, whose Solemnity we celebrate this week.  The great scholar just couldn’t get his mind around this great mystery.  The story goes that he saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand, and then running to the ocean, filling up his hands with the seawater, running back to the hole and emptying the water into the hole.  Augustine watched as the child went back and forth several times. Finally he said to the boy, “What are you doing?”  The boy said, “Trying to fill that hole with the ocean.” And Augustine said, “You’ll never fit the ocean in that hole.”  And the boy said, “Neither will you be able to fit the Trinity into your mind.”

It’s true that the concept of God as three “Persons” is a mystery.  And yet if we reflect on it, we can see also that it is the way that God has been revealed to us, as Father or Creator; as the Son, Jesus; and as the Holy Spirit or the Advocate.  It’s also clear that one of the fundamental attributes of the Trinity is that it is about relationship between those three, and with us.  So this week, perhaps take some time to meditate on the place of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in your life, and while you’re not going to “fit” that mystery of the Trinity into your mind, you might find a greater place for it in your spiritual life.

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Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Maria Alderson
1 month ago

I never know which Person to address in prayer. I waste a lot of time on it.

Joan Sheridan
1 month ago

I thought this article might help but it said nothing

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