Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity, writes Cathal Barry

Christians are baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: ìI do.î The Church teaches that the faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is, according to Church teaching, ìthe source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens themî.

The General Catechetical Directory maintains it is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ìhierarchy of the truths of faithî. It states that the whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men ìand reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sinî.

The Blessed Trinity

This paragraph expounds briefly on how the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was revealed, on how the Church has articulated the doctrine of the Faith regarding this mystery, and on how, by the divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit, God the Father fulfils the ìplan of his loving goodnessî of creation, redemption and sanctification.

The Fathers of the Church distinguish between Theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). ëTheologyí refers to the mystery of Godís inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and ëeconomyí to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life.

The Catechism states that through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. Godís works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions.


The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, and according to the Church, one of the ìmysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by Godî.

The Church teaches that, to be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. However, according to the Catechism, ìhis inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israelís faith before the Incarnation of Godís Son and the sending of the Holy Spiritî.