Teaching of the Faith
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified
Root of Faith (249)
The Trinity has always been the very root of the Church's faith (expressed in the baptismal liturgy). Paul summarized this apostolic faith in saying "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you" (2 Cor 13:13).
Three Important Terms (250-252)
In the early Ecumenical Councils, the Church clarified its understanding of the Trinity in order to respond to heresies. The Church developed three important terms:
- Substance, (also called essence or nature) which designates the divine being in its unity
- Person, which designates the Father, Son and Spirit in the real distinction among them
- Relation, which designates that their distinction lies in the relationship of each to the others
One God (253)
The Trinity is one. The Church does not believe in three Gods but in one God in three persons (the "consubstantial Trinity)." The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves. Each of them is God, whole and entire. "Each of the persons is that supreme reality, namely, the divine substance, essence or nature" (Fourth Lateran Council).
Distinct Persons (254)
Father, Son and Spirit are not just three names for three modalities of the one God. They are really distinct from one another in their relations of origin. "It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten and the Holy Spirit who proceeds" (Fourth Lateran Council).
Based on Relationships (255-256)
The real distinction of each Person lies in their relationship to one another. "In the relational names of the persons, the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father and the Spirit to both"(Eleventh Council of Toledo). The Father is wholly in the Son and in the Spirit. The Son is wholly in the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit is wholly in the Father and the Son (Council of Florence).
"I entrust to you today the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each person considered in himself is entirely God" (St. Gregory of Nazeanzus).