A failed distraction attempt.

The Trinity is incomprehensible, and this remains true whether Augustine walked on the beach.

A failed attempt to distract
Illustration photo

Help us protect the church from attacks

We live in a time when the church finds itself between the millstones of progressivism, fruitless traditionalism, and misinformation. Today, therefore, we are even more aware of the important mission of the World of Christianity and our responsibility.

The Christian world always stands firmly on the side of the church. We openly name challenges, respond to nonsense and half-truths, and at the same time do not avoid criticism of the internal church environment when it turns out to be necessary.

Today is the day. The day when St. Augustine will be immersed in walking on the beach at Civitavecchia or Ostia and will see an angel or a child pouring the sea into a hole in the sand with a bucket or a shell. 

Today, with great probability, in many places around the world, different versions of the story will be heard from the pulpits about how Augustine, trying to understand the mystery of the divine Trinity, was chilled by a heavenly revelation on the shore of the sea.

Attempts to explain the Trinity are doomed to failure in advance, but since at least something needs to be said, many a preacher at the feast of the Holy Trinity reaches out in embarrassment for a story, the point of which is that we will not understand the Trinity anyway.

And although this notorious narrative is usually presented as a guaranteed event from the biography of St. Augustine, it never actually happened. The episode with a slightly sarcastic tone was created in the Middle Ages and did not even talk about Augustine. Beginning medieval preachers could find it in collections of stories that were supposed to help with the preparation of sermons, and even then the story wanted to express the same message as it is expressed today: We cannot understand the Trinity with reason.

In our story, Augustine started walking by the sea only in the 13th century, and that’s because when you want to express rhetorically interestingly that no one will understand the Trinity, replace an anonymous theologian and let Augustine, the understanding of an important text about the Trinity, stand with his mouth open. , that is even more effective and will fulfill your purpose even better.

From this we can see that not everything has to be exactly as it has been repeated for centuries: the story is not a real event from the life of St. Augustine but remains true. Yes, the narrative does not describe historical facts, nor is it intended to, but it conveys another piece of information: the divine Trinity is incomprehensible. And that remains true, regardless of whether Augustine walked the beach and saw or did not see a child engaged in strange leisure activities.

Otherwise, when we are with Augustin, there is more that has been attributed to him for a long time, and it is not about true things.

Let’s mention, for example, the famous quote “Whoever sings, prays twice” or “Whoever sings in church, prays twice”. You won’t find it in the texts that Augustin wrote (and indeed there are places to look for it). On the other hand, you can register the statement with the name of the “author” placed in various parish hymnals, where it fulfills a motivational function, so that you open your mouth nicely and join in the singing.

“God, you are quite unlike any of us, and yet one of you became one of us and called me brother.”

At this point, my doomed attempt to avoid explaining anything about the Trinity comes to an end, and I am left embarrassed after all the twists and turns with Augustine. I don’t know what to say about the Trinity, but I know that at least something needs to be said. And since we know other than through factual information, we know through relationships, I will turn directly to the Trinity:

My God, I believe that you are three, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, but one God. I believe that each of you has the whole divinity, but together you do not have more of it, I believe that you have everything in common, but that you are different in your relationships to each other, because the Father is not the Son or the Spirit, and I know that I speak in human categories and that my speech does not capture the divine.

God, from eternity you are still the same and yet you are not lifeless, you do not change and yet no one is more creative than you. Ah, I say you are unchanging from eternity, but I don’t even know what eternity is. I can’t imagine her. I am human, and I only know my earthly days, the rhythm of which is determined by a gelid moving around a single star, and my days pass quickly.

It still amazes me that you, Lord, still know the answer to the question that we puzzle over, asking why a photon behaves like a wave, but we observe it as a particle.

I am glad that you know the secret of black holes, the nature of matter and the theory of everything, because that is also why I firmly believe that you are not small, but that you are bigger than everything, you understand and have compassion. And I’m glad that despite this, you are not indifferent when I pray;

God, you are quite different from any of us, and yet one of you became one of us and called me brother.

Give me your grace, though I don’t even understand it – I can’t say what grace is, or what I’m supposed to imagine – but, please, make me be like you: give, let me be constant, but full of life at the same time, let I understand a lot and see further, but may I have understanding with those who cannot see beyond narrow horizons now or later, and let me have compassion for myself, because you have it with me.

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