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The Sunday after Pentecost is celebrated as the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Sunday following that as the Body and Blood of Christ. The practice of observing a separate feast in honour of the Holy Trinity began in the Middle Ages and was made a universal celebration by Pope John XXII in 1334. Its placement in the calendar is deliberate – after the commemorations of the life, passion and resurrection of Christ at Easter and of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
In every liturgy, we reaffirm our belief in and worship of the Trinity in the concluding words of collect prayers:
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
and of Blessings:
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever.
The Mass prayers set down for the feast strongly affirm Christian belief in the mystery of the Holy Trinity and emphasise that it is God who is three-in-one whom we adore, especially the Collect (Opening Prayer):
God our Father,who by sending into the world
the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification
made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,
grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith,
we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.
and the Preface:
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty.
This revised Preface which will be used at Masses for the first time today is much longer than the previous version. Careful preparation and practice by the presider will be necessary for it to be proclaimed with conviction and intelligibly.
The second reading for today from Romans 8 spells out Paul’s understanding of the working of Father, Son and Spirit in the life of the Christian:
When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
The baptism formula, which we hear in today’s gospel from Matthew, proclaims the names of the persons of the Trinity into whom we are incorporated at baptism.