Symbol of the Trinity
Note: If you have not read the first part in this series you can find it here.
A man and woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family (CCC 2202).
How is the family a symbol of the Trinity? We can quickly give it a nice analogous meaning. But it goes a lot deeper than simple analogy. Let’s take a quick look at the Trinity first. Quick because the Trinity is one of those mysteries that we cannot begin to understand (cf. CCC 237).
The Most Holy Trinity is God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This alone is hard to understand—how can one be three? Let’s see what the Catechism says: “Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: ‘In the relational names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both’” (255). So there are three relationships in the Trinity. The Father has a paternal relation to the Son, the Son has a filial relation to the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Basically, in saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, we are speaking of a special relationship between the Father and the Son. The Trinity is the perfect community of love. The love between the persons in the Trinity is so unique that it brings forth life. The Father and the Son have so much love for each other that their love is a person in itself: the Holy Spirit. This is the very simplified explanation of it. For a much wordier and better description, check out Summa Theologica, I.Q36.A 1-2.
Basically, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son. Now let’s get back to the family.
Children are the result of love between man and woman. Love is consummated in the marital act, which is the complete and total giving of a man and woman to each other. The purpose of such an act is children:
By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory (CCC 1652).
Because the family is ordered from and towards love, it is a symbol of that perfect community of love: the Trinity.
It’s understandable that Lucifer would hate the Trinity pretty well above all else. But he knows he can’t attack the Trinity directly, because it just wouldn’t work. So he goes for the symbol of the Trinity on earth: the family. Since the family is based on love, self-sacrifice, respect, and communication, Satan abhors and fears it. And this is why the family is so important, and why we must strive above all to protect family life especially in this time of confusion and doubt.
So, now it is our Christian duty to withstand the forces of evil. As I mentioned and explained, this is no longer just us trying to defend our Catholic beliefs against the secular world. This is really us fighting for the Kingdom of Heaven. But we’re not alone. We have some pretty sweet allies, which is good because the outside world is really scary. I know to me at least it seems that the devil (under the guise of secularism) is gaining hold. Our premier (basically equivalent to American governor) here in Ontario is gay. Our Prime Minister pretty well demands that the members of his party vote pro-choice. There’s tons more examples. We need those allies I mentioned.
Allies in the entire Mystical Body of Christ, both in Heaven and on Earth. Allies headed by none other than God himself. And we know that we are not alone because of what Scripture says. Scripture’s great; I love it.
One of the best verses is this: “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Okay, yeah. We’re not alone. And when it seems there’s too much opposition, just think of this: “This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, you faith will have been tested and proved like gold—only it is more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
We are living in a time when we will be persecuted for our faith, whether it be at the hands of our peers or at the hands of Islam. We’ve already seen it happening in the Middle East. But this is not the first time this has happened and, really, it’s a privilege. St. Peter continues in his letter with this theme: “None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one” (4:15-16).
But, practically speaking, what exactly are we supposed to do? We can’t all go out and be extreme activists. Some, yes. But only if we’re called to it by God. Rather, we must simply evangelize by our daily lives. In each moment, we must ask what the most loving thing is. It’s the small things in our everyday interaction with everyone we meet.
I’m not a huge fan of The Hobbit movies, but if there’s one thing they got right, it was this line of Gandalf’s: “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
We are in a time of darkness. Along with Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring, it’s easy to say, “I wish it need not have happened in our time.” And that’s when we get Gandalf’s awesome response: “…so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The one thing we must not do is conform ourselves to the world. “Don’t you realize that making the world your friend is making God you enemy?” (James 4:4). Rather we must be firm in our belief and faith. We must witness to our belief in all that we do. As Gandalf says, it really is the small things that make us Christian. St. Paul says, “…I would rather say five words that mean something than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).
Let our lives be a witness, even if only to ourselves.
So be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, like intelligent and not like senseless people. This may be a wicked age, but your lives should redeem it (Ephesians 5:15-16 [emphasis added]).
“So you will be able to lead the kind of life which the Lord expects of you, a life acceptable to him in all its aspects; showing the results in all the good actions you do and increasing your own knowledge of God. You will have in you the strength, based on his own glorious power, never to give in, but to bear anything joyfully, thanking the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light” (Colossians 1: 10-12).