Malankara World

Faith of the Church: Trinity


The Holy Trinity

by Saint Thomas Aquinas

Part - 3

45 God in Himself as beloved in lover

As the object known is in the knower to the extent that it is known, so the beloved must be in the lover, as loved. The lover is, in some way, moved by the beloved with a certain interior impulse.

Therefore, since a mover is in contact with the object moved the beloved must be intrinsic to the lover. But God, just as He understands Himself, must likewise love Himself; for good, as apprehended, is in itself lovable. Consequently God is in Himself as beloved in lover.

46 Love in God as Spirit

Since the object known is in the knower and the beloved is in the lover, the different ways of existing in something must be considered in the two cases before us. The act of understanding takes place by a certain assimilation of the knower to the object known; and so the object known must be in the knower in the sense that a likeness of it is present in him.

But the act of loving takes place through a sort of impulse engendered in the lover by the beloved: the beloved draws the lover to himself. Accordingly, the act of loving reaches its perfection not in a likeness of the beloved (in the way that the act of understanding reaches perfection in a likeness of the object understood); rather the act of loving reaches its perfection in a drawing of the lover to the beloved in person.

The transferring of the likeness of the original is effected by univocal generation whereby, among living beings, the begetter is called father, and the begotten is called son. Among such beings, moreover, the first motion occurs conformably to the species. Therefore, as within the Godhead the way whereby God is in God as the known in the knower, is expressed by what we call Son, who is the Word of God, so the way by which God is in God as the beloved is in the lover is brought out by acknowledging in God a Spirit, who is the love of God. And so, according to the rule of the Catholic Faith, we are directed to believe in the Spirit.

47 Holiness of the Spirit in God

Another point to consider is this. Since good that is loved has the nature of an end, and since the motion of the will is designated good or evil in terms of the end it pursues, the love whereby the supreme good that is God is loved must possess the supereminent goodness that goes by the name of holiness. This is true whether holy is taken as equivalent to "pure," according to the Greeks (the idea being that in God there is purest goodness free from all defect) or whether holy is taken to mean "firm," in the view of the Latins (on the score that in God there is unchangeable goodness). In either case, everything dedicated to God is called holy, such as a temple and the vessels of the temple and all objects consecrated to divine service. Rightly, then, the Spirit, who represents to us the love whereby God loves Himself, is called the Holy Spirit. For this reason the rule of the Catholic Faith proclaims that the Spirit is holy, in the clause, "I believe in the Holy Spirit."

48 Love in God is not accidental

Just as God's understanding is His existence, so likewise is His love. Accordingly, God does not love Himself by any act that is over and above His essence; He loves Himself by His very essence. Since God loves Himself because He is in Himself as the beloved in the lover, God the beloved is not in God the lover in any accidental fashion (in the way that the objects of our love are in us who love them - that is, accidentally). No, God is substantially in Himself as beloved in lover. Therefore the Holy Spirit, who represents the divine love to us, is not something accidental in God, but subsists in the divine essence just as the Father and the Son do. And so in the rule Of the Catholic Faith He is exhibited as no less worthy of adoration and glorification than the Father and the Son are.

49 Procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father (**1)

We should recall that the act of understanding proceeds from the intellectual power of the mind. When the intellect actually understands, the object it understands is in it. The presence of the object known in the knower results from the intellectual power of the mind, and is its word, as we said above. 47 Likewise, what is loved is in the lover, when it is actually loved. The fact that an object is actually loved, results from the lover's power to love and also from the lovable good as actually known. Accordingly, the presence of the beloved object in the lover is brought about by two factors: the appetitive principle and the intelligible object as apprehended (that is, the word conceived about the lovable object). Therefore, since the Word in God who knows and loves Himself is the Son, and since He to whom the Word belongs is the Father of the Word, as is clear from our exposition, the necessary consequence is that the Holy Spirit, who pertains to the love whereby God is in Himself as beloved in lover, proceeds from the Father (**1). And so we say in the Creed: "who proceeds from the Father (**1)."

**1 - Syriac Orthodox Church believes that Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father. The Catholic church believes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The text has been edited to conform to the Orthodox faith.

Source: The Light of Faith by St. Thomas Aquinas (AD 1200 approx.)

Previous | Next | Table of Contents | Reference Notes | Trinity Infocenter Home

Trinity Home | Faith Home | History | Inspirational Articles | Essays | Sermons | MW Library - Home

Malankara World
A service of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio
Copyright © 2009-2020 - ICBS Group. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer
Website designed, built, and hosted by International Cyber Business Services, Inc., Hudson, Ohio