Updated: Jun 18
A boy was on the seashore playing in the sand. He dug out a pit and began filling it with water from the ocean, but the water would drain away almost as soon as he turned his back for more. A man observed this boy at play as he walked along the shore. This man would later be known as one of the greatest saints and brightest minds in the Church. After watching the boy for a time he asked the boy, “What are you trying to do?” The boy replied, “I am trying to empty the ocean into the pit I have dug.” The man was amused and said, “You will never be able to do that because the sea is too vast.” The boy was undaunted, “Well, some men think they can know God, is this as difficult as that?”
St. Augustine might have been awestruck by the reply given by this boy at play. The story may only be a legend, but it does point out the infinite mystery of God and our thirst for him. And like the boy at play, undaunted by the seeming impossibility of the task, St. Augustine gave his capacious mind to the task of meditating upon the Holy Trinity, the infinite God who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Trinity is the central mystery of our Christian faith. God is infinitely powerful and mysterious, and although incomprehensible, God is not unintelligible.
In other words, we can grow in our understanding of God, but never fully comprehend him, because our minds are finite and God is infinite.
Like thirsty ground, we care called to drink in God continually. Although we will never be filled on earth, if we persevere in our quest for the truth of God, in heaven we will be supremely happy to know that our minds will never be without the refreshing water of glory and knowledge of God and all his creation.
How are we able to receive this great gift of divine knowledge? By the grace and truth that comes to us through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. For we do not naturally possess the power to comprehend the inner life of God, nor can we live out his call to holiness without Christ. Rather, we need Christ’s divine grace given to us in his sacraments to maintain a living faith. God’s divine grace transforms our natural powers to receive the supernatural revelation of God’s life and light.
This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Holy Trinity: #234 (paragraph 234): The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of the faith.” The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin.” Before his conversion, Augustine seemed to be a lonely figure, brilliant, but unable to quench his thirst for truth. His early, sinful life is evidence of his drinking from many wells that filled his mind with worldly wisdom, but nothing was good enough, nor was he at peace with himself.
Finally, Augustine converted to Jesus Christ and his Church. He found the ancient fountain of Eternal Truth in the Catholic Church, and the everlasting source of grace in the divine person of Jesus Christ. Instead of isolating himself further by drinking from shallow or poisonous wells, St. Augustine dove into the church and entered into Holy Communion by communicating with Christ and his Apostles, Saints and faithful disciples. He realized that God was not isolated, but revealed himself through his Son as God living in community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May the good Lord satisfy our thirst for divine love and truth now and forevermore through our Catholic church community. May God continue to call men and women to serve him and his people as priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay leaders.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe