One of the shortest prayers that Catholics have is the “Glory Be.” We sometimes do not give thought to its profoundness. Whenever we get a “religious high,” we are experiencing this glory. This prayer acts as a reminder of those wonderful experiences that keeps us as Catholic believers.
The Holy Trinity is the source of all creation and through it all creation is directed back toward God. God has to be freely acknowledged by man to be glorified. God creates sanctifying grace giving us the personal presence of the Trinity in a unique way. Some saints have described this experience as “possessing God.” Our personal disposition opens or closes our experience of the Trinity. Personal sin reduces this indwelling while mortal sin destroys it.
The three Persons come according to their special characteristics of origin (as we say in the Creeds) and procession (coming forth). The Father begets the Son. The Son is the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the Love that the Father and the Son experience. We can come to understand these three Persons in the one God by looking at our own nature, but we have to be careful to recognize that we are trying to understand the oneness of God by analogy. It is very easy to fall into heresy if we are not careful. The mistake is that people come to believe that God is “just like us.” He isn’t.
The indwelling of God in the soul of the just is common to the three Persons because of consubstantiality (one in being). This is a participation in the Divine Nature (sanctifying grace) in a unique way. Sanctifying grace gives the soul its power to rest joyfully in a Divine Person or Persons. This is what it means to possess God. The soul in turn joins in the procession to sanctify others. Grace makes the soul take on a God-like form with respect to the Person sent to the soul. The soul then exhibits a particular gift of grace. If by the Holy Spirit, then the soul exhibits some form of charity (will). If by the Son, then the soul is enhanced by thoughts that breath forth love (intellection).
In our human experience of God, the procession of one Person (mission) from another reflects the individual characteristics of a Divine Person. The Person sent becomes present in a new manner in us uniting us in a supernatural union with the one God. It is a self-donation of the Person to us which sanctifies us. It is different from the fact that God is everywhere (immensity).
These missions do not change God with the Person sent because God is unchanging (immutable). The new mode of this presence in us is in time. (God is in eternal time.) This new relation is caused by the entire Trinity because the works of God in the world are common to the three Divine Persons (circuminsession or “going round”). The Son and the Spirit are sent because they will to be sent. While the Father is never sent, he is always present with the two other Divine Persons.) They are not commanded or counseled from the sender to the one sent. This new relation can be visible or invisible, but never solely visible.
Well, if you do not understand this, it is not necessary for salvation. When we really look at it, it is a mystery. These ideas are taught by analogy to what we know, but the real reality is far from what we can ever understand. Even the Blessed Virgin in Heaven cannot fully comprehend this great mystery, but I would love to hear her take on it. In the mean time, just be satisfied by the deeper meaning of the “Glory Be.”
Fr. Vincent Euk