Why do we speak of God as Father, Son and Spirit?

The language of three persons points to a mystery of distinction that nevertheless abides in relationship at the heart of the one God. God is not a singleness but a communion—a living fecundity of relational life. For God, to be is to be in relation—this is the primary divine characteristic of God. Yet, even these powerful words are not to be taken literally. As St. Augustine reminds us, "the formula 'three persons' was coined not in order to give a complete explanation by means of it but in order that we might not be obliged to remain silent." Fundamentally, speech about the Trinity needs to go hand in hand with knowing that we do not totally understand. Quite simply, to say that the persons are three is to negate solitariness, thus affirming relationality at the heart of God.

If we pay close attention to the wisdom of the Church, which affirms the radical equality of Father, Son and Spirit, it is clear that it is unorthodox to claim subordination within trinitarian relationships. Instead, each of the three divine "persons" dynamically circles around, pervades and interweaves with the others in what some theologians call a dance of divine life.

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