The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity

Objective truth series – Reflection #23

Our Lord taught us:

If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not nor knoweth Him; but you shall know Him; because He shall abide with you and shall be in you.  …

In that day you shall know, that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  …

He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me.   And he that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.  …  If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.[1]

How wonderful it is to think about Our dear Lord Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Ghost abiding in our souls!

In our last reflection we considered how God wants us to become self-forgetful as a means to become more united to God.  We also spoke of wanting to spend ourselves in the service of God which includes helping the souls of our neighbor.

God gives Sanctifying Grace, the source of all supernatural virtues.

It is natural that we humans should want to be united to God.  He is our last end and we were created to be with Him.  In our Baptism we were given Sanctifying Grace which is the participation of the soul in the Divine goodness.  We say “participation” because we are not God and can only have this grace as a habitual gift infused by God into our souls.  This gift or quality in our souls does not change our human nature, which is still not divine.  However, Sanctifying Grace, called habitual grace by St. Thomas Aquinas, makes the soul pleasing to God.  He says further that “grace is a certain disposition which is presupposed to the infused virtues as their principle or root.”[2]

We mentioned in the Objective Truth Series’ very first Reflection (about God sculpting our souls) St. Thomas’ teaching that first God chooses a soul, then He loves that soul, and then makes the soul worthy of His Love by giving the soul Sanctifying Grace.  

St. Thomas explains that along with Sanctifying Grace, God infuses the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.  Love involves an act of the will in which we value or esteem something highly.  The highest thing that we can esteem is God as the chief Object of our supernatural happiness.  This makes Charity, then, the certain perfection of love (in the sense that Charity is the highest kind of love). 

St. Thomas also explains that:

There is a communication between man and God, inasmuch as He communicates His happiness to us, some kind of friendship must needs be based on this same communication.[3]

He adds further that, “the love which is based on this communication is charity” and thence, “charity is the friendship of man for God.”  Id.

This friendship with God is so beautiful, and of course it is logical that our supernatural friendship with our neighbor is based on our friendship with God. Thus St. Paul speaks of charity as the “bond of perfection.”

The indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the soul

Friends communicate with each other and our prayer life is our communication with God. Included in prayer life is our focus on God.   However, even though it seems too bold to think about the Holy Trinity dwelling in one’s soul, the fact remains that when one is in the state of grace, the reality is that the Trinity is dwelling in the soul.

What is this dwelling?  Since God is a spirit and the human soul is immaterial, this “dwelling” is of course, not physical.  God must dwell in the soul in some other way.  St. Thomas says that God is indeed present in multiple ways in all things in the universe[4] – even in rocks, plants, animals, and in the souls of those in mortal sin.  But in those with sanctifying grace, His power and presence are incomparably stronger.

The Persons in God

We learn in our catechism that there are three Persons in one God.  Unfortunately, most catechism books do not attempt to explain this truth to us.  The term Person when referring to God is not used in the same way we humans use it when we refer to an individual intellectual creature.  When we think about God, we must realize the Three Divine Persons are special.  The use of the term Person is a special case or application.

First of all, we must consider that God, as the Supreme Being, is above all other existing things.  God is completely simple.  He has only one action [one act], which is, to exist.  His existence is His nature.  God reveals this to us when He calls Himself, “I am Who am” [Ex. 3:14].  By contrast, in us humans, our human nature does not include the very notion of existence or the necessity that we must exist.  A man might exist, or might not.

Second of all, we must understand that God’s only action is to simply exist.  We can describe His action as one continuous action [act]; however, this act includes many aspects which our feeble human minds need to grasp one at a time. 

To understand the term of Divine Person better, we need to take two particular aspects into consideration. The first aspect to consider is the one Divine Intellect.   God thinks about Himself and knows Himself.  His thought about Himself is called His Word or Divine Son.  The fact that God thinks and knows helps us see that the Divine Intellect naturally thinks about Himself.  The Thought/Word is His only Begotten Son.  This Son is the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity Who shares the Divine Nature.  

The second aspect to consider is the one Divine Will.  God naturally wants Himself and loves Himself.  This makes sense because He is the Supreme and most perfect Being.  [Thus, He loves Himself infinitely because He is the Infinite Good and is infinitely worthy of love.] This love proceeds from both the Father and His only Begotten Son.  This proceeding love is called the Holy Ghost, the third Person.

Thus, we see that God’s one continual act involves His Intellect and Will in continual self-reflection and love.  God’s knowledge of all other existing things and His love of all other existing things are also included in His one continual act.

The importance of meditating on the Blessed Trinity, and Its Indwelling in us

Then it is so very important to try to foster the habit of focusing on this beautiful reality.  We ought to strive to focus on the Trinity dwelling in the soul and talk to God; adore Him; thank Him; tell Him we are sorry for having offended Him; and ask His constant aid and protection.

How can we do this? One possible way is to imagine our soul as the monastery of the Holy Trinity and our heart as the chapel of this ‘monastery’.  Or one could imagine the soul as the monastery of the Holy Family and the dwelling–place of the Most Holy Trinity.

If one seeks solitude in his soul and tries to imagine the soul as the monastery of the Holy Family and the dwelling of the Most Holy Trinity—this will foster recollection and conversation with Mary, Joseph and Jesus and speaking with and adoring the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.  One’s heart may say this to Them:

O Wondrous Trinity Divine,

Thou dwellest in this heart of mine,

Unworthy am I to have Thee,

As a Guest, abiding in me.


Oh, Mary help me ‘tis my prayer,

 Please make me daily more aware,

Of the Majesty of the Three,

Divine Persons dwelling in me.


The consoling words of Thy Son,

Remind me that His Heart is won,

By true observance of His Laws,

The Triune God in the soul draws.


“Abide in Me, and I in thee,

There My Father will likewise be,

To make in your soul Our abode,

And keep you on the narrow road.”


“The Spirit of truth comes to dwell,

Makes Divine love in you to swell,

 Divine Friendship within you too,

To assist you, in all you do.”


This is the friendship so sublime,

Which makes a soul to heaven climb,

Helping one to, vigilant, keep,

Desiring truths to ponder deep,


Oh, St. Joseph, I need your aid,

To follow well the path thus made,

To focus on the Triune Guest,

And to see how to serve Him best.


My soul can be like a monk’s home,

I ne’er desire from there to roam,

To use as a place to adore,

To study my Guest, learn of Him more.


To serve Thee well, my Triune Friend,

Please preserve me unto the end,

Please let me ne’er abandon Thee,

Keep me close dearest Trinity!

[1]           St. John’s Gospel, 14:16-17, 20 & 23.

[2]           Summa, Ia IIae, Q.110 a.3, ad 3.

[3]           Summa, IIa IIae, Q.23, a.1, Respondeo.

[4]              Summa, Ia, Q.8, aa. 2 & 3.   In article three, St. Thomas quotes Pope St. Gregory the Great, teaching: “God, by a common mode, is in all things, by His presence, power and substance.  Still, He is said to be present more familiarly in some by grace”.