Don’t you believe that there is in man a deep so profound as to be hidden even to him in whom it is?

St. Augustine

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Reading Rev. Robert Barron’s book Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of Faith makes me aware of what a huge mistake we make by not reading, remembering and guarding the genius of those who made the Christian church.

Thanks to Fr. Barron, I think, in particular, of the genius of St. Augustine in the 3rd and 4th century.

I illustrate by recounting what Fr. Barron observed about St. Augustine and the Trinity.

St. Augustine wrote a book entitled De Trinitate (About the Trinity).  In it he explained the Trinity, how three persons can exist in one God. Augustine was inspired to do so by thinking about the human person “made in the image and likeness of God” and proceeding to explain what he understood about the human person as a way to understand and explain the Trinity.

He focused on how the human knows what he or she knows.  He recognized that humans have the intellectual ability to contemplate, to wonder who he or she is. From this he discerned that the same human person who thinks reflectively can gain knowledge of who they are.  Then he recognized that this same person, through this self-examination and the knowledge it yields, can become aware as to why they do what they do.

He reasoned that one person can undergo three distinct personal functions without being divided into three distinct people.  He reasoned further that God can be three distinct entities yet remain one God.  The genius of St. Augustine.

In particular, Augustine concluded that God can “self-other,” make that which God is to be in another, the Son.  Likewise, he concluded that God can gaze in love upon the Son and the Son upon the Father in that same loving manner and he reasoned that the two are One and that a mutual love that exists between them is a third manifestation of the God who is Love: the Holy Spirit – the active love of Father and Son embodied in the Holy Spirit.  Fr. Barron reminds us that in one God we have the Lover, the Beloved, and the shared love (the Holy Spirit).  Three iterations, or personifications, in One.

In a time when popular thought is far less informed about these things, we had best return to these cornerstones of belief and living, return to the beginning, learn from the past and those who built Christianity and Western Civilization.

At present, many function without knowledge of what we possess: our inheritance. It is unwise to discard wisdom. Preservation of it is itself the wiser thing.

Shalom.

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