21 October 2006

Don't Mess with the Holy Spirit

Today's Gospel issues a stern warning about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It is a curious point that a similar offence against the Son of Man can be forgiven when we acknowledge the inherent unity of the Trinity. We can offer no concise explanation delineating the doctrine of the Trinity. We can, however, share one of the more beautiful images which inspired a phrase in our Creed.

Lumen de lumine: light from light, true God from true God, one in being with the Father. . .

It seems, that this very familiar phase in our Nicene Creed came from an early attempt to explain the Trinity by Qunitus Septimus Florens Tertullianus -- known to most of us as "Tertullian." Although his later years as a theologian led him away from the fledgling flock of the early Church into the dangers of Montanism, many of his earlier works are an excellent source of spiritual reading. In an attempt to describe the three distinct persons of the Trinity, Tertullian suggested that the Father is like the sun, the source of Light; the Son can be likened to the rays, and the Holy Spirit is the visible effect of the sun and its rays, though itself not visible: a shadow, perhaps. Light from Light. True God from true God.

An insight such as Tertullian's analogy is surely the fruit of prayer. May we, too, ponder the mystery of the Trinity, a mystery ever ancient, ever new.

"By the Holy Spirit, He has come to us and has come beforehand to us, has come into us and has assisted us, has come with us and led us on, this finishing what He had begun."
St. Francis de Sales

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