Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Suspending disbelief

Lord, I do believe; help me in my disbelief!” Mark 9:24

Today I was having coffee with my friend Lynne. I was telling her how I felt the Holy Spirit was present in my life and I was making a feeble effort to explain to her the concept of the Holy Trinity. Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I realized how the concept sounds like fantasy—there’s God the Father, Jesus who is God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are not separate, but one God with three separate parts. I felt so inadequate and wished that I had remembered what I memorized in third grade from the Baltimore Catechism #2.

Thank you, Lord, for creating the Internet because now I can look up these things. Even though I hear the Catholic Church is now on to Baltimore #3 or #4, here’s what I learned from Baltimore #2:

21. Q. Is there but one God?
A. Yes; there is but one God.
22. Q. Why can there be but one God?
A. There can be but one God, because God, being supreme and infinite, cannot have an equal.
23. Q. How many Persons are there in God?
A. In God there are three Divine Persons, really distinct, and equal in all things-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
24. Q. Is the Father God?
A. The Father is God and the first Person of the Blessed Trinity.
25. Q. Is the Son God?
A. The Son is God and the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
26. Q. Is the Holy Ghost God?
A. The Holy Ghost is God and the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.
27. Q. What do you mean by the Blessed Trinity?
A. By the Blessed Trinity I mean one God in three Divine Persons.
28. Q. Are the three Divine Persons equal in all things?
A. The three Divine Persons are equal in all things.
29. Q. Are the three Divine Persons one and the same God?
A. The three Divine Persons are one and the same God, having one and the same Divine nature and substance.
30. Q. Can we fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the same God?
A. We cannot fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the same God, because this is a mystery.
31. Q. What is a mystery?
A. A mystery is a truth which we cannot fully understand.

But now that I read these questions and answers again for the first time in 50 years, I appreciate that the Trinity is a difficult concept that could sound like the subplot of a Star Wars movie to a non-believer. I don’t think reciting these answers to my friend would have made one bit of difference in her understanding because I don’t understand it either. It is a difficult concept, but I believe it without understanding it. No, it doesn’t make sense in the rational way that we humans think. That’s the limitation—we mere mortals don’t get it and can’t ever get it because it’s not our nature. Baltimore #2 calls it a mystery, but I prefer to think of it as a leap of faith.

When I’m finished figuring out the Holy Trinity (i.e., never) then I’ll start working on the mystery of eternity. Last night in an idle moment of light-hearted thinking, I remembered that when I was a kid it used to make me dizzy to think about eternity. I wondered how it would feel to go on and on and on . . . ad infinitum. And just thinking about it again made me dizzy again and then I began having a panic attack thinking about it. I just can’t cope with eternity. One day at a time is enough. I suppose it’s a great concept but it sounds tedious. Guess I’ll have to make a leap of faith to accept eternity too.


  1. or you could think..
    God = home cooking, African-American woman
    Jesus = Israeli carpenter
    Holy Spirit = Asian woman who you can't look directly at.

    via The Shack.

  2. I haven't read The Shack. Am I the only person on the face of the Earth who hasn't? I'll put it on my list.