Skip to main content

See also:

The Blessed Trinity Present in Us, Uncreated Source of Our Interior Life

"Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch," by Cesare Fracanzano
"Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch," by Cesare Fracanzano

"Presence of Immensity" (1) describes the concept that God is present everywhere and in every creature.

"Adoration of the Trinity," Albrecht Durer, 1511 Photo:
"Adoration of the Trinity," Albrecht Durer, 1511 Photo:

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present. If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me." (2)

Garrigou-Lagrange (3) describes God as "a radiant source from which the life of creation springs, and also the central force that draws everything to itself." (4)

There is, however, another presence of God that exists in the just. The Book of Wisdom states, "For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins." (5)

"Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him." (6)

Garrigou-Lagrange emphasizes the word "we," differentiating the infused graces from the actual presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, nor knoweth Him. But you shall know Him; because He shall abide with you and shall be in you . . . He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.” (7)

This tradition of the Blessed Trinity has been passed down since the first martyrs and the Fathers of the Church.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (8) referred to true Christians as "theophoroi" (God bearers), a doctrine widespread in the primitive Church.

St. Lucy of Syracuse, (9) before she was martyred, was asked by her persecutors if the Holy Ghost was in her. She replied, "Yes, all those who lead a chaste and pious life are the temples of the Holy Ghost.”

St. Basil (10) taught that the presence of the Holy Ghost in us makes us more spiritual, "like to the image of the only Son."

Other Fathers of the Church who spoke of the presence of the Holy Ghost in us were St. Athanasius, (12) St. Cyril of Alexandria, (13) and St. Ambrose. (14)

In Pope Leo XIII's (15) encyclical, "Divinun illud munus," (16) he describes the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the souls of the just:

It is well to recall the explanation given by the Doctors of the Church of the words of Holy Scripture. They say that God is present and exists in all things “by His power in so far as all things are subject to His power; by His presence, inasmuch as all things are naked and open to His eyes; by His essence, inasmuch as He is present to all as the cause of their being.”

But God is in man, not only as in inanimate things, but because He is more fully known and loved by him, since even by nature we spontaneously love, desire, and seek after the good. Moreover, God by grace resides in the just soul as in a temple, in a most intimate and peculiar manner. From this proceeds that union of affection by which the soul adheres most closely to God, more so than the friend is united to his most loving and beloved friend, and enjoys God in all fullness and sweetness. (17)

Among the gifts, Garrigou-Lagrange writes, which are a consequence of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost are "those secret warnings and invitations which from time to time are excited in our minds and hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Without these there is no beginning of a good life, no progress, no arriving at eternal salvation.” (18)

We were always taught in school that the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was just something that the human mind could not wrap its arms around and that we would figure it out when we get to heaven.

"Divinun illud munus," refers to the dogma on the Blessed Trinity as the substance of the New Testament. He cites St. Augustine's warning, "When we speak of the Trinity, we must do so with caution and modesty, for, as St. Augustine saith, nowhere else are more dangerous errors made, or is research more difficult, or discovery more fruitful." (19)

It is necessary, he continues, that none of the three natures of the Divine Persons be separated from the others, ensuring that the Trinity is adored "one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity."
Certain attributes are ascribed to each person in the Blessed Trinity. God the Father is recognized for works of divinity in which power excels, God the Son represents wisdom, and love characteristically emanates from the Holy Ghost.

"Just as we make use of the traces of similarity or likeness which we find in creatures for the manifestation of the Divine Persons, so do we use Their essential attributes; and this manifestation of the Persons by Their essential attributes is called appropriation."(20)

The Feast of the Annunciation (21) commemorates one of the highest of all the external operations of God: the Incarnation of the Word. "She was found with child, of the Holy Ghost . . . for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost." (22)

Before Pentecost, Christ promised to send the Holy Ghost to more or less confirm or finalize his teachings while on Earth. "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now; but when He, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, He will teach you all truth." (23)

For He who is the Spirit of Truth, inasmuch as He proceedeth both from the Father, who is the eternally True, and from the Son, who is the substantial Truth, receiveth from each both His essence and the fullness of all truth. This truth He communicates to His Church, guarding her by His all powerful help from ever falling into error, and aiding her to foster daily more and more the germs of divine doctrine and to make them fruitful for the welfare of the peoples.

And since the welfare of the peoples, for which the Church was established, absolutely requires that this office should be continued for all time, the Holy Ghost perpetually supplies life and strength to preserve and increase the Church. (24)

Christ compared the immense outpouring of the Holy Spirit on just souls to an overflowing river: "He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (25)

Our original sin, however, made us enemies of God. He delivered us from eternal destruction through his only begotten Son, restoring man his dignity and adorning him with abundant graces. These graces are attributed to the Holy Ghost, who fills our hearts with the sweetness of paternal love.

Moreover, God by grace resides in the just soul as in a temple, in a most intimate and peculiar manner. From this proceeds that union of affection by which the soul adheres most closely to God, more so than the friend is united to his most loving and beloved friend, and enjoys God in all fullness and sweetness. (26)

Charity is the special mark of the Holy Ghost. Though traces of divinity and wisdom may be present even in the wicked, only the just receive the gift of charity.

Without sanctifying grace and charity, God does not, in fact, dwell in us. It is not sufficient to know Him by a natural philosophical knowledge, or even by the supernatural knowledge of imperfect faith united to hope, as the believer in the state of mortal sin knows Him.

We must be able to know Him by living faith and the gifts of the Holy Ghost connected with charity. This last knowledge, being quasi-experimental, attains God not as a distant and simply represented reality, but as a present, possessed reality, which we can enjoy even now. (27)

Our knowledge of the indwelling of God in us is generated from faith that is illumined by the gifts of wisdom and understanding. The connection of these gifts to charity proves that this knowledge grows proportionately with the increase of charity of either in a contemplative form or one, which results from works of charity.

St. John of the Cross states that our awareness of the indwelling of God within us develops through infused contemplation, (28) the beginning of the illuminative way, (29) and continues on to the unitive way. This knowledge will ultimately lead us to an understanding of our nothingness and wretchedness.

St. Thomas states further that during the second conversion, the soul's increase in charity causes the divine persons to become more intimately present, increasing levels of intimacy and marking the entrance into the illuminative way.

Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us that God communicates with us in proportion to our dispositions. As we become more purified, the Trinity will become more intimately present and active. It is then that we belong to God and he to us; our greatest desire becomes progressing in his love.

Fr. Marie-Augustin Chardon, O.P, in his book, "Le Croix de Jesus" writes:

This doctrine of the invisible missions of the divine persons in us is one of the most powerful motives for spiritual advancement because it keeps the soul ever on the alert in regard to its progress, awake to produce incessantly ever stronger and more fervent acts of all the virtues, that, growing in grace, this new growth may bring God anew to it . . . for a union . . . which is characterized by greater intimacy, purity, and vigor. (30)

Next: The Influence of Christ the Redeemer on His Mystical Body


(2) Psalms 138:7-10
(4) Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald, O.P., "The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume I," trans. Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P., Illinois: Tan Books, 1989, p97
(5) Wisdom 1:4
(6) John 14:23
(7) John 14: 16
(11) De Spiritu Sancto, chap. 9, nº 21 fl.; chap. 18, nº 47
(17) (St. Thomas, Ia, q. 8, a. 3)
(18) Garrigou-Lagrange, p101
(19) Summ. Th. la., q. xxxi. De Trin. 1 L, c. 3
(20) St. Th. la., q. 39, xxxix., a. 7
(22) Matt. 1: 18, 20
(23) John 26: 12-13
(24) Divinun illud munus
(25) John 7:38
(26) Divinun illud munus
(27) Garrigou-Lagrange, p103
(30) "La croix de Jesus," original edition, p. 457; 3rd conference, chap. 4