The Divine Symphony
By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 03, 2022
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) The sacred writer’s use of “man” is inherently communal because it includes both male and female. Indeed, the communal nature of man images God: three Persons in one God. The unity of a man and a woman—and that of every healthy social unit—reflects the unity and complementarity of the Blessed Trinity.
We see the imprint of the Blessed Trinity in the Church. The Church is one: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) The Church has many members with essential and complementary roles in the Body of Christ: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’… there are many parts, yet one body.” (1 Cor. 12:12-27)
God is good, true, and beautiful—in perfect unity.
God is Three Persons in One, perfectly indivisible. Jesus is the “the way, and the truth, and the life” and directs our return to the Father. (Jn. 14:6) The testimony of Jesus reveals that only God is good: “No one is good but God alone.” (Mk. 10:18). We participate in the Father’s goodness by following Jesus: “No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6) The Holy Spirit is the architect of beauty. He renews the face of the earth (Psalm 104) and transforms our souls with His gifts.
Complementarity accents—but does not exclude, much less oppose—the predominant attributes of each Person. The Triune unity of God is a Divine symphony of the complementarity of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
The Father and the Son reveal the objective content of the faith.
As Isaiah prophesized, the Word of God, Jesus, issues forth from the mouth of the Father. The Word reveals the objective truths of faith and morality: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15)
Jesus carefully avoids the entanglements that come with tribal bonds and human affection that would disrupt His saving mission. “While he was still speaking to the people, His mother and his brethren stood outside, asking to speak to him.” “Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.’” (Mt. 12:49-50)
After the Resurrection, He gently deflects Mary Magdalene’s holy gesture of affection: “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (Jn. 20:17) After the Ascension, Jesus is accessible more by the firm certainties of faith than the subjective vicissitudes of human affection.
The Father and the Son accentuate the content of faith, morality, and the path to heaven. The Father is good. His Word is the way, the truth, the life.
The Holy Spirit sustains and fortifies our individual or subjective response.
When we ask for wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord—the beautiful Gifts of the Holy Spirit—Jesus guarantees we will receive them with faith. Jesus promises, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7) The Gifts of the Holy Spirit help us apply the holy challenges of truth and goodness to our unique and subjective life circumstances.
The Father and the Son reveal the firm certainties of our duties and destiny in faith through the Church. The Holy Spirit provides us with the graces to carry them out according to our state of life.
Our knowledge of the truth usually exceeds our confidence in our ability to choose wisely. For example, we know we must obtain gainful employment to support ourselves and our families. We need the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and understanding to secure and maintain the right job. We need the help of the Holy Spirit as we apply God’s truth and laws to our everyday activities.
The complementarity within the Blessed Trinity guides priests in Confession. Acting in the Person of Jesus, an adequately trained confessor grasps the Ten Commandments, the nature of sin, and recognizes sufficient evidence of repentance. The details of the amendment (and beyond) belong to the penitent and the Holy Spirit. Wise confessional guidance includes restraint that avoids the clericalism of encroaching on the turf of the Holy Spirit. A good confessor knows when to shut up.
In recent years, we have seen authorities at the highest levels of the Church proposing changes to Catholic doctrine that would pit the Holy Spirit against the Father and the Son. The proposals violate the boundaries of their authority. “Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.” (Mt. 23:10) It is blasphemous to invoke the Holy Spirit to justify dissident and unorthodox teaching. Clericalism within the Church distorts the proper understanding of the complementarity of the Trinity.
Modern ideologies also assault God’s revelation of the complementarity within the Trinity, the Church, and our humanity. Socialism promises illusory and tyrannical forms of human equality. The LGBTQ+ ideology violates our God-given sexual identities. God impresses His image upon us, and it is self-destructive to resist Him. God will not be mocked. (Gal. 6:7) Cultural disunity and degradation manifest the consequences of resistance.
The Blessed Trinity is the eternal symphony of the One, Good, True, and Beautiful: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. Amen.”
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