Light, Radiance and Grace are in the Trinity and from the Trinity

Holy Trinity stained glass window

From the first letter to Serapion, Patriarch of Antioch (191–211), by Saint Athanasius, bishop

The grace and the gift of the Trinity

It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name.

We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being. It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved. Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts,
but the same Spirit; and varieties
of service, but the same Lord...”

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone [1 Corinthians 12:4-6].

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him [John 14:23]. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all [2 Corinthians 13:13]. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

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The Mystery of the Trinity

The great Doctor of the Church St. Augustine of Hippo spent over 30 years working on his treatise De Trinitate [about the Holy Trinity], endeavoring to conceive an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity. Read details of the vision St. Augustine had about the Trinity.

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About the author

The Fathers of the Church are so called because of their leadership in the early Church, especially in defending, expounding, and developing Catholic doctrines. For the first two centuries, most of these men were bishops.

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About St. Athanasius

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church.