MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA. TREATISE II. 6. THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE DIVINE PERSONS.
Saint Jerome in Prayer
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA.
6. THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE DIVINE PERSONS.MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.
I. The three supreme perfections of the Divinity are Power, Wisdom and Goodness. To these three may be reduced all the other attributes of God. For instance, under the head of Power may be classed strength, immortality, immutability, universal dominion ; to Wisdom belong omniscience, knowledge, the sight of all things, providence or the guiding of all things ; and Goodness comprises mercy, love, patience, clemency. These perfections are qualities of the Divine Essence, and with it they are equally present in each of the three Persons. Father, Son and Holy Ghost possess in all respects the same power, wisdom, and goodness ; and they operate equally in all external action in the world and in the souls of men. These same perfections are communicated to men in the finite form of qualities or virtues. But no one of us possesses them perfectly, or even simultaneously. One is distinguished by power, but he may be wanting in wisdom : another one may be wise but deficient in goodness. How miserable you are as compared with these infinite perfections in God! Glorify Him on account of them. Ask Him for some participation in each of them, and the grace to use it well.
II. Although these three great perfections are common to all the Divine Persons, yet we attribute them specially, " by appropriation," to the different Persons respectively. According to our ways of thinking, each perfection seems to have a particular appropriateness to the personal characteristics of the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost. Thus, the Father, as the first principle in the Trinity, is spoken of as if He were, more than the other Persons, the first principle and Creator of the universe; and we call Him the Almighty. The Son, as proceeding by an act of the intelligence, is named the Wisdom of the Eternal ; all things are said to have been made through Him ; and to Him are attributed the governing and the judging of the world, as if these functions were exclusively His. The Holy Ghost, as proceeding by an act of the will and being the mutual love of Father and Son, is spoken of as Goodness or Love; and we attribute to Him all holy inspirations and the operations of divine grace, and particularly the mystery of the Incarnation. You have already the special sign of each of the Divine Persons on you. You are immortal henceforth like the Eternal Father, you are adopted into sonship through the Second Person, you are the temple of the Holy Ghost. Ask each Person to bestow on you His own appropriate quality according to the duties on which you are engaged.
III. We are allowed to consider each of the perfections separately, and to glorify each of the Divine Persons separately on account of the perfection specially appropriated to Him. We may worship the Divinity in its Unity, or the Trinity in its completeness, or any one Person alone. God Himself has manifested His three Persons separately. In the early times mankind knew only of one Person, the first principle and Creator. After long centuries God the Son was made known in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and received due homage and adoration. In turn He revealed to us the Holy Ghost, and sent Him upon us to consolidate the work of redemption. We may worship the Father as Creator, the Son as Redeemer, the Holy Ghost as Sanctifier; or we may consider the three Persons as our Father, our Brother, our Beloved. Again, when we feel conscious of our weakness and misery, we may ask the Father to strengthen us ; when we are oppressed by the sense of ignorance and blindness and folly, we may ask the Eternal Wisdom to enlighten us ; when we tremble for our malice and perversity, we may ask the Spirit of Sweetness and Holiness to enkindle in us His heavenly flame.