Page n.1 about the Most Holy Trinity
In 1995, a book I had written in French on the Eucharist and the Church was published, entitled "The Eucharist: The Church in the Heart of Christ." This book is available on my website at the following address: http://homily-service.net/franc/premlivr.htm
Thanks to the translation by Antoine Valentim of Montréal (Canada), this book is also available in English at the following address: http://homily-service.net/engl/frstbook.htm
I mention this because, in order to develop certain ideas on the Most Holy Trinity, I will comment on a passage from the Holy Scriptures, namely verse 57 from chapter 6 of the gospel according to Saint John, a passage which I had already studied in the book in question; therefore, what I shall present shortly is closely linked to this initial study.
The present study will be, without doubt, somewhat difficult to understand: the Most Holy Trinity is and shall always remain a Mystery, a Truth which surpasses our mind. Therefore, I shall try to be as clear as possible. I shall sometimes refer to the book which I have just mentioned; for the sake of brevity, I will denote it by the initials ECHC. Elsewhere, I shall cite one author or another, whether ancient or modern. Please take the time to weigh what I say or analyze the citations provided here and there throughout our study.
In my book "The Eucharist: The Church in the Heart of Christ", I have analyzed the scriptural argument of John 6:57 : "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me." I have presented this passage from Scripture as the sure and absolute foundation for the mediation of Mary. In this light, we shall see everything that the notion of the mediation of Mary allows us to understand, with the help of the scriptural argument of John 6:57, about the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. In other words, we shall see in this study to what extent Mary Mediatrix, reflection of the Divinity, helps us to penetrate deeper into the great Mystery of the Trinity of the Persons in God.
The first part of the sentence: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father" expresses the union of life of the Father and Son, a union which finds its full and entire realization in a person other than that of the Father or the Son: that is, in the person of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. The liturgy, in fact, says that the Son "lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit" (Conclusion of the Collect of the Mass). Now, in the text of John 6:57, there exists a comparison, or analogy, between the two parts of the sentence: "As ... so ..." Therefore, we can say that the second part of the sentence - "so he who eats me will live because of me" - expresses the union of life of Christ and the Church, a union which finds its full and entire realization in a person other than that of Christ or the Church: that is, in the person who proceeds from Christ and the Church. As Christ is mystically called "the Head ... of the Church" (Col. 1:18), and as the Church is also mystically called "the body of Christ" (1 Co. 12:27), the person who proceeds from Christ and the Church can be called the mystical Person of Christ, or the mystical union of Christ the Head and Christ the Body. Finally, in virtue of the analogy of the two unions, each expressed by part of the scriptural text of John 6:57, we can say that the mystical Person of Christ resembles, at least in terms of the proper relation of life, the very Person of the Holy Spirit. Now, since a person is, intrinsically, individual, there cannot be an analogy or similitude between two persons except in virtue of the spousal or matrimonial bond which unites them: "They are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mt. 19:6) We may thus conclude that the mystical Person of Christ, or the union of Christ and the Church in Eucharistic communion, is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit: that is to say Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, Mediatrix of Life between Christ the Head and Christ the Body.
If we wish to analyze in greater detail the scriptural passage of John 6:57, what is most important to note is that the corporeal aspect of Eucharistic communion, which is essential to this same act when it is considered in itself (see ECHC no. 103), is also fully essential to this act when it is considered in the particular and proper context of the scriptural text of John 6:57.
Thus, a contemporary writer, who translates John 6:57 with these words: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who absorbs me, he too will live because of me", comments on this passage by saying: "We cannot express all the force of what follows, for the Greek verb "trôgeïn" which we have translated as "to absorb" is even clearer; it necessarily denotes eating, and its use here is certainly meant to allow no doubt to remain concerning the materiality of the act of which Jesus speaks.... Jesus thus teaches as indispensable the assimilation of his human person by ours, an assimilation which is mysterious but real, so that it is possible and can be carried out through a concrete physical action (Note: This, in other words, corresponds to the central idea of Paulinism: our incorporation into Christ, the contemporary exegesis of which demonstrates its Eucharistic origins.) By means of what Saint Cyril of Alexandria calls, very precisely, a "physical union", we can remain in him and he in us. Thus there shall be established between us and him a union analogous to that which exists between him and the Father, the effect of which shall be that we will be able to possess, in the Son, the Life he has from the Father. This is the outline of the new theme which Jesus would take up again in his final conversations with his disciples, after the Last Supper: our union with him, the true image of his union with the Father." (Louis Bouyer, Le quatrième évangile ("The Fourth Gospel"), pp. 129-130).
In the same order of ideas, another writer, who translates John 6:57 in the following manner: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will also live because of me", declares, speaking in the name of the Lord: "I live through my Father, from whom comes my subsistence and my personality; and just as a plant lives because of the root which transmits to it nourishing sap, in the same way you will live through me, receiving your life from me, as I receive it from the Father; for if the Father is the root which begets me, I too am the vine-stock from which you come, like living vine-shoots: "Ego sum vitis vera et vos palmites". And thanks to the divine life which comes to me from my Father and which I transmit to you, you shall live in me, and I shall live in you; and we shall be united, as the vine is united to its shoots, and the shoots to the vine." (Augustin Chometon, S.J., Le Christ, Vie et Lumière, Commentaire spirituel de l'Evangile selon Saint Jean ("Christ, Life and Light, Spiritual Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint John"), p. 176-177).
The corporeal aspect of Eucharistic communion supposes, intrinsically, the fact that Christ and the Church are united with each other for their common mediator (see ECHC no. 52), who is Mary Mediatrix, but who is also, by that very fact, Christ, and thus God in person. So let us rediscover this notion expressed in the scriptural passage of John 6:57, as witnessed by the two following analysts.
The first, Father M.-J. Lagrange, asking himself what would be the result of the union of man to the Son of God, replies as follows (after several lines of textual analysis based on a text by Saint Augustine): "The starting point is the mission, thus to do the work of the Father (cf. Jn. 3:34; 17:8). There is moreover less disproportion between the intention of the incarnate Son toward the Father and the intention of he who enters into communion with the Son, than between the divine life received by the Son and that which he gives to man... We shall thus obtain a new idea of great value: in uniting himself to the Son of God, man learns to consecrate his life to him. This is moreover the sense of the ancient translations." (Evangile selon Saint Jean ("The Gospel According to Saint John"), pp. 185-186) Let us note that Father Lagrange translates John 6:57 as follows: "As the living Father sent me, and as I live for the Father, so he who eats me will live for me." (ibid., pp. 185-187)
The second offers us a similar interpretation of the sacred text: "The words we read here: 'As I, sent by the living Father, live because of him; so he who eats me will live because of me' (Jn. 6:57), explicitly invite us to look into the relations which unite the Father and the Son: the model, and more than the model, the very principle of union realized between Jesus and us. The Eucharist produces the union, and the union brings about our transformation in Christ. This transformation in turn makes his love become the principle of our life; we live through him, but living through him is also living 'for' him. From the union comes our consecration to his service, just as the Son who lives because of the Father, also lives for he who sent him. Through the Eucharist is thus realized a "consecration of our life to the very life of God." (Paul-Marie de la Croix, O.C.D., L'Evangile de Jean et son témoignage spirituel ("The Gospel of John and his Spiritual Testimony"), p. 191)
We shall continue this study next time, if God wills it...
Page n.2 about the Most Holy Trinity
In our first page on the Divine Trinity, we have seen that, in a general and global way, the scriptural passage of John 6:57 speaks of the comparison, established by the Lord himself, between the Most Holy Trinity and the three persons mystically and sacramentally united in the act of Eucharistic communion: Christ, Mary Mediatrix, and the Church. Now, in relation to the Most Holy Trinity, Mary Mediatrix, because she is the mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is the Spouse of all of the Holy Trinity. Indeed, although they are different from each other, the three divine persons do however resemble each other due to their own action at the heart of the divinity: the Son resembles the Father, for he is his "image" (Col. 1:15), and the Holy Spirit resembles the Son, the first Paraclete, since the Holy Spirit is "another Paraclete" (Jn. 14:16). So, given that a husband and wife resemble each other in a simple manner, and that the act of life of Mary Mediatrix, as the personal union between Christ the Head and Christ the Body, is nothing other than the sacramental act of Eucharistic communion, we must absolutely think and believe that the act of life of the Divine Trinity and that of the mystical Person of Christ in Eucharistic communion are not only analogous, but also that they simply resemble each other.
The Most Holy Trinity being the ultimate end of all things, and Eucharistic communion, in relation to the mediation of Mary, being a means to an end, it is absolutely clear, in virtue of what has just been said, that the sacramental and mystical act of Eucharistic communion is, in the order of the mediation of Mary, the unique means through which one can perfectly know the Divine Trinity in its own essential act of life, in a way that particularly makes evident the very person of the Holy Spirit, Spouse of Mary in Christ. And this is fully in conformity with what is taught by the Tradition of the Church, upon whom, similarly, lies the entire reality of the mediation of Mary herself. It is sufficient to remind ourselves that "Saint Hilary (of Poitiers) proved, based on the union and the unity, so to speak, which is established between Christ and he who receives his body, the unity which exists between the Son and the Father... (Thus) from the testimony of this doctor, added to the testimony of Jesus Christ himself, the Eucharist reveals the divinity of Jesus Christ and the consubstantiality of the Father with the Son." (Th. M. Thiriet, O.P., L'Evangile médité avec les Pères ("The Gospel Studied with the Fathers"), Tome III, pp. 197-198) An eloquent text of Saint Hilary of Poitiers is found in the Patrologia Latina: 10:248-249.
Taking into account what has just been discussed, namely the similitude, simple and one, between the Trinitarian life and the Eucharistic life, let us first recall that, intrinsically, life is a principle. Also, since we are here considering the life of God, and as God does not depend upon any being other than himself, the principle which gives life to God cannot be anything other than God himself. But, in virtue of the similitude, which we have just referred to, between the Trinitarian life and the Eucharistic life, the life of God cannot be conceived without the notion of change, without a passage from power to act. Thus, in order for God to live, it must be possible for him to be considered both as power and as act. Let us note, in order to be clear and precise, that the notion of power, and thus that of change, in God has been introduced here only as a similitude established by the human mind in order to attempt, insofar as it is allowed and able, to penetrate the unfathomable universe of the divinity. The remainder of this essay will demonstrate to the reader the utility and merits of proceeding along these lines.
The divinity can be considered in two ways: as essence, and as persons. Considered in terms of his essence, God is pure act: life does not concern him in this respect. Considered as persons, God possesses an intimate life which he has revealed to us through the intermediary of his Son made flesh, according to the text we are discussing: "... the living Father ... I live because of the Father..." (Jn. 6:57). This means that the life of God, in terms of the persons, must be understood as follows: the Father is properly the person who gives life to his Son; and the Son is properly the person who receives life from his Father. Now, according to the very revelation of Christ, the Father and the Son are not in power but rather in act of life, each according to the relation proper to him. Thus, life as power concerns neither the Father nor the Son. One can thus conclude that the Life of God necessarily depends on the person of the Holy Spirit: only he who is called "the power of the Most High" (Lk. 1:35) allows us to consider God both as power and as act. Let us note that, within the bounds of this study, the notion of passive power must necessarily be joined, in a manner that is simple and one, with the notion of active power (see ECHC no. 44), a fact which permits us to perfectly apply to our subject the Biblical expression: "the Power of the Most High" (Lk. 1:35).
The notion of God includes in itself the notion of the infinite: God is the being who is without limits. His power, in particular, is thus infinite. Also, the Holy Spirit is the Power of the Most High in plenitude: all of his Person is Power. This therefore brings into the life of God a passage, in fullness, from power to act, an infinite change. It is in this endless change, in this eternal movement, that we fully participate in the sacramental act of Eucharistic communion: "Communion associates us with the intimate life of the Trinity... Led to the Father by Jesus and to Jesus by the Father, brought into their mutual love, I am in the Holy Spirit, the eternal Movement of the love of the Father and of the Son." (M.-V. Bernadot, De l'Eucharistie à la Trinité ("From the Eucharist to the Trinity"), p. 27-28)
As God is pure act, and, consequently, immutable, this infinite change in God cannot be conceived except to the extent that this change is sent back into the infinite, beyond all beginning and all ending. This means that, in the Life of God, this change has never begun, and that, by this very fact, it has never ended. Now, this infinite change cannot be such unless God eternally accomplishes one, and only one, act of life, an act that is absolutely first without there ever being a second. Thus, the notion of the infinite power of God is indissociable from the unique and primary act of the Life of God. As the first act of life is that of generation, we see that the Holy Spirit is the Power of the Most High who permits the Father to eternally beget his beloved Son: "You are my son, today I have begotten you." (Ps. 2:7)
We shall continue this Trinitarian study next time, if it please God...
Page n.3 about the Most Holy Trinity
The Life of God consists in a unique and eternal act of generation. But as we have noted in our second page on the Most Holy Trinity, this unique and eternal act excludes any change in the Life of God. Consequently, in God, power cannot exist in itself, but only in an exclusive and absolute dependence on this unique and eternal act of Life. In other words, in God, power exists totally outside of itself: it exists only insofar as it gives itself fully to this unique act of divine generation. This is why it belongs to the Holy Spirit, or the Power of God, to exist as Person-Gift, or Gift in fullness: "Through the Holy Spirit God exists in the mode of gift. It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving." (H.H. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical on the Holy Spirit "Dominum et Vivificantem", first part, no. 10). So, from the fact that God is infinite - that is, in virtue of his very essence - the power of God is absolutely inseparable from the act of divine generation: the Life of God is eternally both act and power.
If the Holy Spirit, as Person-Gift, is entirely given to Mary Mediatrix, his Spouse in Christ (and this is what we must think and believe in order for them to be each other's spouses), then, given that Eucharistic communion is the act through which and in which Mary Mediatrix mystically gains existence (as we have said in our first page), the Holy Spirit must be considered to be the Power of the Most High who permits, not only the eternal act of the generation of the Son by the Father, but also at the same time the existence in act of his mystical Spouse, Mary, mediator of the corporeal order between Christ-Head and Christ-Body. This allows us to clearly say that the substance of the relation of active spiration consists in the eternal conception of the spiritualized body of Mary Mediatrix, Mother of the whole Christ, both the Head and the Body together, a conception which is the unique act of the "Power of the Most High" (Lk. 1:35), in the perfect and full Gift of self to the Father who begets his Son, the Word, Archetype of all Creation.
We could elaborate on this topic, but that would mean entering into an ecclesiological discussion, which is something beyond the scope of this essay. So, let us return to the Divine Trinity. "God is spirit." (Jn. 4:24) His eternal act of life or act of generation thus consists in producing in him a thought. As God is perfectly simple, the thought which God begets is necessarily a total and full return to himself; his thought is God just as he is: it is his Logos or Word. But since producing a thought is properly an act of the intellect, the Father begets the Word, his Son, by mode of intellect or knowledge. The Life of God, considered as the generation of the Son-Word by the Father, is thus founded on the notion of knowledge.
In virtue of the similitude which exists between the divine Trinitarian Life and Eucharistic communion, what has just been said on the subject of the Life of God remains true with respect to the sacramental and vital act of communion: "What do chapters 1 to 9 of the book of Proverbs signify, if not this: that to everyone is offered the possibility to commune of the very Wisdom of God, provided only that one faithfully observes the maxims of wisdom? Chapter 6 of the Fourth Gospel elaborates on, and goes into the most astounding detail concerning this magnificent intuition: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me." (Jn. 6:57) The incarnate Son of God is the holder of all the riches of the divine life he continually receives from his Father ; by the Eucharistic mystery, this life is transmitted to his disciples who thus truly participate, in Jesus, in the very life of God." (A. Feuillet, Le discours sur le pain de vie ("Discourse on the Bread of Life"), p. 122 )
All knowledge is a good belonging to and possessed by the mind which knows ; in this case, as God fully knows himself, the knowledge of God is nothing but Good in plenitude, or perfect Good. As every good can be given, and as the knowledge of God in plenitude, or the perfect Good he possesses, is the foundation of the generation of the perfect Word of the Father, this generation depends fully on the Person-Gift or the Power of God, and so the Knowledge of God in plenitude necessarily belongs absolutely and exclusively to the Holy Spirit: "No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Co. 2:11) However, to say, as we have just done, that the Knowledge of God belongs absolutely and exclusively to the Holy Spirit presupposes two facts, which we shall establish with the help of the similitude which exists between the act of Trinitarian Life and that of Eucharistic communion: the first fact is that every divine attribute, no matter what it is, can be considered to be intrinsically distinct from the divine essence itself ; and the second is that the Knowledge of God belongs - in a direct manner - to the Holy Spirit, to the exclusion of the Father and the Son.
With regard to the first fact, namely that every divine attribute can be considered to be essentially distinct from the divine essence, we must remember that the vital act of Eucharistic communion is properly that in which coexists the power in virtue of which this same act gains existence, a power which must always be understood both in a passive and active manner. On this subject, it is not unprofitable to cite the following eloquent testimony: "Pious soul, you profoundly contemplate yourself, you formulate in your heart an ardent desire. Touched, pressed by this desire, Jesus goes to his beloved spouse: there he is in your heart! ... It is no longer God who is the sovereign Master ; it is no longer the creature who is the servant. But the creature becomes the sovereign mistress of God ; and God makes himself the most docile and willing servant of the creature. 'I did not come among you,' said Jesus, 'to be served, but to serve.' Spiritual communion is truly an omnipotence given to the creature over the Creator, to the pious soul over Jesus! And Father Faber is right: 'Spiritual communion is one of the greatest powers on earth!' " (Msgr. de Gibergues , La Sainte Communion ("Holy Communion"), pp. 208-209).
So, the notion of knowledge being the very foundation of the divine Trinitarian Life, one must clearly say, in virtue of the simple similitude which exists between the act of divine Life and the sacramental act of communion, that the divine attribute of knowledge, and therefore every divine attribute, on one hand fully relates to the divine Life in act, and on the other hand fully relates to the divine Life in power. By this very fact, all of this allows us to say that, with relation to the divine Life in act, no divine attribute can be distinguished from the divine essence, but that, with relation to the divine Life in power, every divine attribute must be distinguished from the divine essence, in virtue of the mode - that of power - according to which the divine Trinitarian Life is considered.
With regard to the second fact, namely that the Knowledge of God directly belongs, exclusively, to the Holy Spirit, let us begin by noting that it is properly through a vital mode (that of food) that the Knowledge of God is communicated to man in the act of Eucharistic communion. Now, this same act of communion is and must be, intrinsically, the vital act of Mary Mediatrix in person. Consequently, it is absolutely clear that the Knowledge of God communicated in the act of Eucharistic communion essentially possesses a dimension which is properly personal. In virtue of the similitude which exists between the act of Trinitarian Life and that of sacramental communion, the Knowledge of God, in the Trinity, intrinsically possesses a dimension which is truly and fundamentally personal. In other words, in God-Trinity, the fact of knowing completely relates to the subject who knows ; Knowledge is a properly personal act: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son." (Mt. 11:27)
And all of this allows us to say without hesitation that the Knowledge of God necessarily belongs absolutely and exclusively to the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Knowledge of God, which is accomplished by mode of Revelation, and thus in a way that is completely free, belongs to the order of the gift: in the act of Eucharistic communion, the Knowledge of God is a free gift given to man by the Divine Trinity. Additionally, humanly speaking, (and this is necessary in the context of the mediation of Mary, which is governed by the rule of association, simple and one, between divine Revelation and human philosophy, the latter being the basic reference of the rule in question ; see ECHC, nos. 39 and 40), it is solely and uniquely in marriage that a man (the husband) or a woman (the wife) is united to the personal gift of the spouse: the husband freely gives himself in a personal way to his wife, and vice versa. Therefore, since Mary Mediatrix is not the Spouse of all of the Divine Trinity only because She is directly the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, we cannot fail to declare with certainty that the Knowledge of God belongs absolutely and exclusively to the Holy Spirit.
We shall continue this Trinitarian study next time, if it please God...
Page n.4 about the Most Holy Trinity
In the preceding pages, we have seen how the Holy Spirit is entirely given to the Father and the Son-Word in the unique act of divine Life or act of generation, and this by mode of knowledge. Also, the Father and the Son each possess, in an absolute and full manner, the Spirit as Knowledge of God. In other words, by the very fact that they are in the act of living, the Father and the Son are in the act of knowing. This is what Christ himself taught, with these words: "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3) And: "O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me." (Jn. 17:25)
In order to shed light on our subject, let us read a few notes, very deep and strongly spiritual, on the subject of Wisdom and the Knowledge of God: "The eighth fruit of the Eucharist is the treasure of all riches: God enriches the soul with the gift or treasure of Wisdom, and this Wisdom acts in such a way that the soul, no matter what it does, never has anything for which it must repent. Now, the Wisdom in God is the light by which he knows himself, a light that is inaccessible to all creatures. However, insofar as the soul participates in the knowledge and the love of God, it is to this same extent, neither more nor less, that it is united to God and that God unites himself to it. In this union of love, the soul is not only with God, through grace, but it becomes, in a way, God in God, through this same grace. However, let us make sure we understand this properly. Certainly, he in whom Wisdom itself resides is like the temple of God Almighty where He Himself dwells. God loves he in whom Wisdom resides; He satisfies all his desires, since He himself is Wisdom. For God knows himself and loves himself in every way. It is this same Wisdom that he recommends to all, for it is not merely the source of beatitude, it is beatitude itself. No, God cannot give man a more precious gift than Wisdom. Is it not the sovereign joy, the supreme beatitude enjoyed by the Most Holy Trinity?" (Master Eckard, in the Complete Works of John Tauler, Volume VIII, p. 389-390 - Literal translation of the Latin version of the Carthusian Surius).
Let us summarize what had already been developed up to this point. "No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Co. 2:11): the Knowledge of God in fullness belongs absolutely and exclusively to the Holy Spirit. Now, it is necessarily as Spouse of Mary in Christ that the Holy Spirit can be considered thus to possess absolutely and exclusively the Knowledge of God. Consequently, given that Husband and Wife "become one flesh" (Gn. 2:24), the Knowledge of God, in order to belong absolutely and exclusively to the Holy Spirit, cannot fail to possess, intrinsically, a dimension of the properly corporeal order, and this in a completely supernatural and mystical manner: that is, fully in relation to the mediation of Mary.
All this can be fully seen in the sacramental act of Eucharistic communion: the Knowledge of God, and thus the Life of God - since, for God, living and knowing is but one thing - possesses, in the sacramental act of communion, a truly corporeal aspect. Concerning this, it is not unprofitable to cite the following passage, in which the aspect in question is particularly well described, especially with respect to the spousal dimension of the act of Eucharistic communion: "It is written, 'the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does' (1 Co. 7:4); and I have already meditated upon the idea that each soul which has grace in itself is for Jesus Christ a wife. Thus my body, if I have the good fortune of possessing his grace in my heart, belongs to Jesus Christ: it belongs to him through the baptism in which the covenant was sealed in mutual vows; and even more perfectly through the mutual gift which is given in the Eucharist. The wife, once the oaths have been exchanged before the altar, belongs to the husband; but who does not know the strength given to their union through the consummation of their marriage? So communion strengthens and perfects the union of our body to the body of the Lord. This is my body, take it, says Jesus. And the believer who receives it in order to enjoy it responds, in turn, by giving his acceptance to it, as well as by giving the gift of self that accompanies this acceptance: To you also my body with all its members and all that I am. "My beloved is mine and I am his." (Cant. 2:16) The principal union is achieved by the spirit; but as the union of bodies is the principle of this spiritual union, it must also be its consequence." (J.-B. Terrien, S.J., "La grâce et la gloire" ("Grace and Glory"), Volume II, pp. 115-116)
With respect to the Holy Spirit and Mary Mediatrix considered as each other's spouse, the Knowledge of God essentially possesses a dimension of the properly corporeal order. As this concerns the context of the mediation of Mary, we must consider this dimension of the corporeal order both in a natural manner (in the first case) and in a supernatural manner (in the second case). Now, speaking naturally, the Holy Spirit - as his name indicates - is solely spiritual, whereas Mary Mediatrix - who is a human being - is both spiritual and corporeal. In addition, with respect to Mary Mediatrix, it is properly the corporeal faith (that is to say, faith in its relation to the Mystical Body of Christ) of this same human person which allows us to consider the Knowledge of God in its dimension of the properly corporeal order. Finally, given that faith is, intrinsically, a means or an intermediary, one must conclude, from everything said up to this point, that, if one must admit that the Knowledge of God has a properly corporeal dimension, then this same Knowledge of God - that is, the very Life of God - possesses a certain midpoint, and this, by means and through the intermediary of the corporeal faith of Mary Mediatrix.
Supernaturally speaking, given that human philosophy is the basic reference of the association, simple and one, between human philosophy and divine Revelation (an association which intrinsically governs the mediation of Mary), we must necessarily come to the same conclusion that there exists a true mean at the very heart of the Life of God, an intermediary in the act of the generation of the Son by the Father, an act carried out by mode of Knowledge.
Indeed, supernaturally speaking, the corporeal dimension of the Knowledge of God is fully in relation to the Holy Spirit and Mary Mediatrix considered together as "one flesh" (Gn. 2:24), or one body. Now, all of this presupposes that the Knowledge of God is, in God-Trinity, a properly personal act: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son." (Mt. 11:27) Thus, supernaturally speaking, in order to be able to speak of a corporeal dimension of the Knowledge of God, one must admit that, with respect to the act of Trinitarian Life of the generation of the Word, when the Father and the Son are in act of knowledge, the Father knows in relation to his person as Father, and the Son knows in relation to his person as Son. Since the notion of knowledge is the foundation of the generation of the Son by the Father, therefore the Father knows insofar as he is personally he who begets, and the Son knows insofar as he is personally he who is begotten.
God is spirit; by this very fact, his knowledge is absolutely simple and non-composite. Thus, as the Father and the Son are but one God, the knowledge of the Father and the knowledge of the Son are identical. Now, in themselves, the knowledge of the Father, which is the knowledge of he who begets, and the knowledge of the Son, which is the knowledge of he who is begotten, are not identical, but rather different and totally opposite. It is thus necessary that, in the Life of God, a mediating element is interposed between the Father and the Son, one capable of conciliating them and uniting them with respect to the act of generation. Now, since the Holy Spirit, as the Knowledge of God, is fully possessed both by the Father and the Son, the knowledge of the Father and the knowledge of the Son - that is, the knowledge of he who begets and the knowledge of he who is begotten - reside, in a full and complete manner, in the person of the Holy Spirit who, alone, "comprehends the thoughts of God." (1 Co. 2:11) So, we can say that the necessary mediator in the Life of God is none other than the Spirit of God himself: the Holy Spirit is the person who unites the Father and the Son in the intimate Trinitarian life.
We shall continue this Trinitarian study next time, if it please God...
Page n.5 about the Most Holy Trinity
Let us summarize what we have already established. The entire Person of the Holy Spirit or Power of God exists in dependance upon the unique act of divine Life, and the notion of knowledge is the only one which requires a mediator in the generation of the Son by his Father. From this, it follows that the entire person of the Holy Spirit cannot be understood outside this same notion of knowledge: the person of the Holy Spirit is the Knowledge of God in fullness. And so, in the Life of God, there is a mediator or link between the Father and the Son, in the person of the Holy Spirit, who is therefore Person-Knowledge or Person-Life: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life." (Credo).
The above allows us to say, first, that, insofar as they are the extremes of the mediation of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son are perfectly similar and identical with each other with respect to the act of divine Life by mode of Knowledge. In other words, in relation to the mediation of Mary with respect to divine Trinitarian Revelation, the Father begets the Son (because the Father knows the Son), and, similarly, the Son begets the Father (because the Son knows the Father): "No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Mt. 11:27) Secondly, everything that has been said to this point allows us to declare without hesitation that the Holy Spirit is the mediator between the Father and the Son only insofar as he is personally "the Power of the Most High" (Lk. 1:35) who allows the act of the generation of the Word by way of knowledge, since the fact that the Holy Spirit - being alone, as mediator, in the middle of the Divine Trinity - is more perfect than the Father and the Son taken jointly and together, cannot under any circumstance be dissociated from this other fact - the foundation of the preceding one, by mode of equilibrium and harmony - the fact that the Holy Spirit, as the power directed to the act of the generation of the Word, is less perfect than the Father and the Son, who are living in act by way of Knowledge. In other words, the Holy Spirit, the Spouse of Mary and therefore, by this very fact, Mary Mediatrix herself, is, intrinsically, the Almighty Mediator, or the Mediator-Type.
In order to shed light on our subject, we present here a beautiful text, in which the Holy Spirit is portrayed as the way (or the mediator) via whom we can go from the Father to Jesus, and from Jesus to the Father: "It is in the Holy Spirit, o Father, that you lead me to Jesus. It is in the Holy Spirit, o Jesus, that you lead me to the Father: he is your Gift... 'He will teach you all things.' (Jn. 14:26) He delivers all things to me... It is through him that your supreme prayer is realized, o Jesus, beloved Master: 'Father... the glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou ... hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.' ". (Jn. 17:20-23)» (M.-V. Bernadot, De l'Eucharistie à la Trinité ("From the Eucharist to the Trinity"), p. 28)
At the heart of the Most Holy Trinity is Person-Life: the Holy Spirit, the link and mediator between the Father and the Son in the unique and eternal act of divine Life. In other words, the notion of Mediator is fundamental in order for us to intimately understand, according to the Revelation God made of his own life, the very person of the Holy Spirit as Knowledge of God.
And this provides us with three insights concerning the appellations belonging to the third Person of the Divine Trinity. First, we see that the necessity of having a mediator between the Father and the Son is founded upon the spiritual aspect - which is, by this very fact, simple and one - of the divinity: a mediator between the Father and the Son becomes necessary only in virtue of the fact that the divine attribute of Knowledge - like any other divine attribute - can be indistinguishable from the divine essence itself. From this it follows that the Mediator of the Life of God possesses the personal name of Spirit.
Second, we see that the role of mediator belongs to the Holy Spirit because he alone knows all the Life of God, both the aspect of he who begets and that of he who is begotten ; but he does not know these two aspects of generation under the mode of act, since otherwise he would be the Father or the Son, and he could no longer be the mediator between the Father and the Son ; thus, the Holy Spirit knows these two aspects of generation under the mode of power. However, for the Holy Spirit, to know under the mode of power is not at all a complete and total ignorance, but rather a perfect and full knowledge, since the power in question is an infinite power, entirely given over to the eternal act to which it is directed and in which it coexists in fullness. So, for this reason, the Holy Spirit is properly called "the Power of the Most High" (Lk. 1:35) who allows the Father to eternally beget his Son.
Thirdly, as mediator, the Holy Spirit appears to us as Person-Knowledge or the Knowledge of God in fullness, which is in itself the unique and simple knowledge of the divinity. Now, knowledge, being a good possessed by the subject who knows, obtains for this same subject rest and happiness. Thus, the Holy Spirit, as a Good possessed in fullness, obtains perfect rest for all the divinity, that is, for the Father, for the Son, and for himself. Now, on one hand, the Father and the Son are in the act of knowledge ; on the other hand, the Holy Spirit is in the power of knowledge. Thus, the Father and the Son alone possess perfect rest in themselves ; and the Holy Spirit possesses this same perfect rest only insofar as this same Spirit exists totally in the Father and the Son, and not in himself - that is to say, insofar as he is entirely given to the Father and the Son in this unique and eternal act of divine generation by mode of knowledge: "In the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift." (H. H. John Paul II, the Encyclical "Dominum et Vivificantem", first part, n. 10)
On the subject of these appellations of the Holy Spirit, here is a bold and eloquent text: "Perhaps we might judge, in the dim light of our intellect, that it would be an increase in glory, and a perfect achievement of the infinite goodness of the Holy Spirit, if this same goodness were also the principle of a divine Person ; but this is impossible within the Most Holy Trinity. Why do we say this? We are taught this by the faith, and this fact is sufficient to hold us firm in this belief ; but given that we must believe this, if we were to lift up the eyes of our feeble reason and look, we would see that this infinitely fertile goodness, which has its end in the Holy Spirit, is completely exhausted by the Father and by the Son in producing him, used up completely in the production of so noble an end. It is true that he has this same fertile goodness, which belongs to the Father and the Son, but he has exhausted it completely, by being, if we may say it in this way, its complete exhaustion." (Louis-François d'Argentan, Conférences théologiques et spirituelles sur les Grandeurs de la Très Sainte Vierge Marie Mère de Dieu ("Theological and Spiritual Conferences on the Greatness of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God"), page 20 of the Avignon edition, published in 1755)
We shall continue this Trinitarian study next time, if it please God...
Page n.6 about the Most Holy Trinity
The Holy Spirit, as Mediator of Life between the Father and the Son, is the Gift or the Person-Gift of the Father and the Son: he is at once the Good of the Father and the Good of the Son, being he who belongs both to the Father and the Son. But, as Mediator between the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit must be considered both in a corporeal manner on one hand, and in a spiritual manner on the other: the Holy Spirit can only be considered as Mediator-Type insofar as he is the Spouse of Mary, that is to say insofar as he is simply similar to Her: she who, with her Spouse - in Christ - is but one spiritualized mediating body, or rather, a unique corporeal and spiritual mediator. So, understood in this sense, the Holy Spirit proceeds both from the Father and the Son (if we consider the Holy Spirit as a mediator of the corporeal order) while permitting, as power, the act of union of the Father and the Son by way of generation (if we consider the Holy Spirit as a mediator of the spiritual order).
as the Father is he who is "living" (Jn. 6:57), that is, he who
is the source of the divine Life, we can consider the
Person-Gift (the Holy Spirit) as the personal Good belonging to
the Father inasmuch as the latter is he who gives Life.
Similarly, as the Son is he who "lives because of the Father"
(Jn. 6:57), that is to say, he who receives Life from the
Father, we can say that the Son possesses the Person-Gift only
insofar as he is united to the Father by the link of Life. In
other words, the Son communes of the proper and personal Gift of
the Father as a Good in fullness received from him: "All things
have been delivered to me by my Father." (Mt. 11:27) Thus, the
Holy Spirit, as the Mediator of Life between the Father and the
Son, must be considered under a double aspect:
So it is clear that, in the Life of God, there is a link or a Mediator between the Father and the Son: it is the Person of the Holy Spirit, who appears under two joint aspects, which are indissociable and complementary.
By definition, every gift is free: every gift supposes love, which is the motive for which one person gives a gift or gives of himself. So, the relation within which the Holy Spirit, as Person-Gift, is given by the Father and received by the Son-Word - that is to say, the relation of generation, or the eternal and unique act of divine life - supposes a preliminary relation of love between the Father and the Son. As divine power can exist only in dependence to the relation of generation, and not in dependence to another relation, it follows that the aforementioned preliminary relation of love must be understood apart from any notion of power. However, any being deprived of power is reduced to possessing only a single perfection, that of existence. Thus, the preliminary relation of love between the Father and the Son can find its foundation only in the notion of existence.
A relation based solely on the notion of existence cannot take place among creatures. But in God, this is possible; it is even essential to the divinity: the three divine Persons are but one God, the unique divine nature is common to the three Persons. Thus, in the relation of love preliminary to the relation of generation, we must consider the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be identical with respect to their single nature, though different with respect to their persons. In other words, the Father is properly the Being or He who is; the Son is properly identical and similar to the Father, the "Image" of the Father (Col. 1:15); the Holy Spirit is properly the Love-Being. As the Gift of God is perfect and full, the preliminary relation of love between the Father and the Son is nothing other than the perfect Love between the perfect Being and his perfect Image.
In the analysis of the Life of God, we have thus established that there exists a relation of generation which is the unique Act of God: it is God acting; and a preliminary relation of love which is the Existence of God: it is God being. For God, being and acting are one and the same thing, so therefore these two relations are identical, except that the relation of generation is achieved with power, and the preliminary relation of love is achieved without power. Lastly, as God is eternal, these two relations are necessarily co-eternal, and the word "preliminary" is a distinction, made by our mind, but based on the reality. The Life of God must thus be considered solely from the point of view of the relation of generation, which must always be considered under its two aspects, that is, with and without power. Also, the Life of God is presented to us under its two aspects by the divine Revelation transmitted to the Apostles. Indeed, Saint John tells us that "God is Light" (1 Jn. 1:5): this is the Life of God with power, the fundamental aspect of the divine life as the source of life of the Church; and that "God is Love" (1 Jn. 4:16): this is the Life of God without power, the first and preliminary aspect of the life of God and the Church.
In the light of the Eucharistic text of John 6:57, the Holy Spirit, who is our particular subject in this Trinitarian study, has been presented as the Knowledge or the personified Life of God: he is thus the Good in fullness which the Father unceasingly gives to his Son, his sole and absolute heir, he who "always lives." (Hb. 7:25) And this enlightens us further concerning the act of Eucharistic communion: the Life of God manifested and communicated in the Eucharist is, finally, the personal Gift of Christ to his Church. The great Apostle of the divine Life testifies to this, saying: "God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life. I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 Jn. 5:11-13)