Protopresbyter Mikhail POMAZANSKY

On the Feast of the Holy Trinity

After the Divine Liturgy on the radiant and fragrant feast of the All-holy Trinity there follows the solemn and compunctionate vespers of the Trinity, with its three inspired kneeling prayers.

The first prayer is to God the Father; the second is to the Lord Jesus Christ in behalf of us sinners living on the earth; and the third is to the Lord Jesus Christ, in behalf of our brethren departed in the Faith.

Only on rare days, special moments of the liturgical cycle, is prayer offered up in church directly to God the Father. In the cycle of daily services such a eucharistic prayer is made before the altar-table at the Divine Liturgy, between the chanting of "I believe..." and "Our Father...," when the bloodless Sacrifice of the Son of God is offered up as a memorial. But on the feast of the Holy Trinity the vivid awareness that all barriers have been destroyed by our Savior fills those who believe in Christ with sacred boldness before God the One Father, for Christ is a Son in His home, of Whose household we are. "O most pure, undefiled, unoriginate, invisible, incomprehensible, inscrutable, immutable, invincible, immeasurable, gentle Lord, Who alone dost possess immortality, Who dwellest in light unapproachable..." Can we find any more exalted words than these initial words of the first Pentecost prayer to God, Who is uncircumscribable in His essence?

God! Only using feeble allusions can one designate what our mind calls this mystic name. Here is a model of such designations from the Exposition of Saint John of Damascus:
God is a Being "[u]ncreated, without beginning, immortal, infinite, eternal, immaterial, good, all-creating, just, enlightening, immutable, passionless, uncircumscribable, incomprehensible, unlimited, undefined, invisible, inconceivable, wanting in nothing, being His own rule and authority, all-ruling, life-giving, omnipotent, of infinite power, sanctifying and filling with knowledge, containing and maintaining all, and making provision for all" (Precise Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. I, Ch. 14).

The transcendent God revealed Himself to the world through the advent into the world and the incarnation of the Son of God, and through the descent of the Holy Spirit into the world, into the Church of Christ. God dwells in light unapproachable. Yet God is also with us in human form, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is likewise in us in the grace of the Holy Spirit. And how close God is to us in the All-holy Trinity! The name of God among Christians--Trinity--bears witness to us that God is over us, that God is with us, that God is within us.

And it is thus not surprising that the concept of the All-holy Trinity imbues and sanctifies our entire Orthodox Church life, every prayer, all the divine services, the whole Church; and, of course, the glorification of the saints of God is accomplished within the Holy Trinity, for the glory of God in three Hypoastases, Who resteth in the saints.

Consider the structure of any church service, even the least important and solemn, how it is wholly imbued with the idea of the Trinity!

The beginning prayers: "Holy God...," "Glory..., Now and ever...," "Most Holy Trinity...," the triple "Lord, have mercy!," "Glory..., Now and ever...," the Lord's Prayer and its exclamation, "For Thine is the kingdom..."--all are directed to God in three Hypostases.

And further on: the many times repeated "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit...," the exclamations of the litanies in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the triple "O come, let us worship...," the three psalms, the triple Alleluias, the triple "Lord, have mercy!'s"; and again and again the group of prayers from "Holy God..." through "For Thine is the kingdom..."--all to the glory of the All-holy Trinity.

Should we enumerate all the symbols of triplicity: the sign of the Cross in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the joining together of three fingers to make it, the making of it three times over oneself and over sacred objects, the three bars of the Cross, the three parts of the services of the Church and the church building itself, and in many other forms of the Church's law and way of life?

Designated for concentrated prayer in the stillness of the night, Sunday Nocturns is one, uninterrupted hymn to the Trinity Who is Lord over the cherubim and is the divine Creator of the seraphim. And how is the Trinity, indivisible in Unity, Who with brilliant flashes of lightning overshadows the hearts of those who pray, hymned in the laudations of Pentecost?

And what can one say about the solemn services‹the all-night vigil, which opens with the exclamation: "Glory to the holy, consubstantial, life-creating and indivisible Trinity...?" Of the Divine Liturgy itself, which leads us into the realm of the kingdom of God beginning with its first exclamation: "Blessed is the kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages?" Which calls us to "love one another" for the sake of the most sublime goal--"that with one might we may confess the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence and indivisible?"

God is love. And the Son of God, before His sufferings on the Cross, prayed to the Father for those who believe in Him: "I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" {Jn. 17: 26]. "As thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us" [v. 21].

Let us ponder with trembling, compunction and gratitude that this, the greatest prayer in the history of the world, is a prayer for us!

The name of the Holy Trinity has been revealed to us so that, entering more and more profoundly into the life of the Church, we ourselves may become bound to one another with love in Christ, in the image of the unity of the Holy Trinity. Every prayerful thought concerning the consubstantial Trinity is not only a glorification of God, but is at the same time a teaching, a reminder for us to love our brother, to see in him the image of God, a member of the one body of the Church of Christ.

The goal set for us is holy, never-ending, eternal: to be one with our brethren just as the Holy Spirit and the Son of God are one with God the Father. Let us bow down our minds and hearts before the magnitude of this calling, this goal, and with oneness of mind let us join our thought to the exclamation of the Church:
"And grant that we one mouth and one heart we may glorify and hymn the all-honored and majestic name of Thee--the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

Translated from the anthology On Life, Faith & the Church, Vol. I (Jordanville, NY: St. Job of Pochaev Press, 1976).

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