Sermon for the Baccalaureate Mass

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity

University of Dallas

May 24, 1970

Nothing could be more appropriate than the University of Dallas baccalaureate should be celebrated on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. For the One and Triune God is both the fundament and the summation of every civilized value, of whatever is good, of whatever true, of whatever beautiful. The ambitions of this University are, for its faculty and students, the reasonable exploration of the ennobling values which grace and time have unfolded. Wherefore, our founders inscribed upon the University crest a symbol of the Trinity; not only because this campus is bordered by the Trinity River, but also because its efforts ought to be directed by and toward the one subsisting value--the Alpha and Omega, God, One and Trinal.

How beautiful, then, the thoughts contained in the text of the mass which we today celebrate. Consider the words of Moses: "This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today . . ." The words of Moses to the newly formed nation of Israel are a kind of valedictory as the nation took its leave of Egypt to set off on its own. The revelation to Moses and the Israelites of the existence of the one and only God is fulfilled in the Christian revelation: "Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The men and women of the Christian faith are called to be worshipers of God, as were the Israelites of old; but it is to the Christians that God reveals himself, not only as the one God, but as a Trinity. This revelation is given to us that we might know the ultimate Truth. Thus knowing, we can set all of the values which we explore with mind and heart in proper perspective; thus knowing, we can achieve a better knowledge of the true scheme of things.

Perhaps we reflect on the matter insufficiently; but we should be truly remiss if we failed to do so on this important occasion. Let us consider, then, three important aspects of this ineffable mystery of the Christian faith--that God is a Trinity, three divine persons who are one God.

The first aspect is that the revelation to us of this great mystery is the loveliest gesture which divinity has wrought. By this gracious gesture, we know of God something which would otherwise be totally veiled from the most brilliant mind. Human comprehension of the mystery is, of course, out of the question. We cannot wrap our minds about the mystery so that it ceases to be mysterious. Nevertheless, through Christian revelation God has told us something of himself, of which we would otherwise be oblivious.

This is not unimportant. For the ultimate goal of immortal life is to know God as he is in himself. To comprehend God with created mind is to achieve the purpose of immortal life. We have vague indications of this in our daily experience. For we are forever seeking to know ourselves better, and to know others better, particularly those whom we love. In the end, we can know others, and they can know us, only through our revelations--our words and our gestures. Even so, men must accept one another with a kind of human faith. We cannot know the secrets of hearts. So, too, we do not know God except as he reveals himself to us. Largely we accept him by faith. But his kindness has made it possible for the men and women of Christian faith to know of him truths which would otherwise remain in eternal silence.

The second aspect of this mystery is that there is vitality in God, and our knowledge of this offsets easy mistakes about Him of which we would be readily capable. Vitality there is because in God there are three distinct persons, each one truly God: God the Father, the eternal Knower, from sempiternal knowledge of himself; God the Son, the eternally known is begotten; out of their mutual love there proceeds everlastingly God, the Holy Spirit, the uncreated love of Knower and Known, who is a divine person. God then, is not a lonely being, aloof from everything for lack of equals, a solitary who creates a world to dispel idleness. Within the eternal now of his existence, there is a trinity of persons who thus capitulate the active perfections which our human minds esteem most highly and for which our human hearts most long.

The third aspect of this great mystery is that it places in perspective all of the realities of this world. The trinitarian mystery tells us that there is great nobility in the activities of the mind and heart--with which you graduates have been especially concerned during your years on this campus. For God is subsistent knowledge and personified love. We would err, then, if we presumed that the activities of mind and heart are sufficient unto themselves; and we would certainly err if we thought of these as limited in time and space. Only those who understand something of the mystery of the Trinity can see that the works of our minds and hearts are transient in this life, leading on to an eternal vitality. The mystery assures us that falsehood and hate are deadly because they are the contradictories of Him who was, and who is, and who shall ever be. It brings conviction that we must be humble and selfless in our pursuits of knowledge and love, for when these are turned inward upon ourselves, we become most unlike that Trinity wherein each divine person differs from the others only by turning outward from himself.

Those who have enjoyed the privileged opportunity of a genuine college education should have a special hold upon this mystery, else they will be easily tempted to intellectual conceit. It is an unfortunately easy step from disciplined knowledge to prideful posturing in which a person makes himself the self -sufficient judge of the true and the good and the beautiful. But those who are humble trinitarians have a sense of proportion. Their very knowing of the Trinity can perfect their love of God, their honor and respect for men who will share the divine vitality for eternity, their awe in confronting the structures of this world.

To those of you who take your leave this day, we pray that God the Blessed Trinity will fill your minds with a knowledge of himself and your hearts with a dedication to him. May your lives, your careers, your knowledge and your love be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Sermons and Lectures by Damian Fandal, O.P.