This famous icon, ‘written’ by Andrei Rublev, the great Russian painter, is ostensibly a depiction of the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Mamre, which you can read about in the Book of Genesis. But it is understood that Rublev was really describing the three persons of the Holy Trinity in this inspirational and great spiritual work. Among many other aspects of this icon, you can see the oak tree in the background as well as the heavenly city.
You will notice that the central figure represents the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, who is the Lord Jesus, celebrating Mass on an altar containing a saint’s relic, with a chalice enclosing the sacrificed Lamb of God. You can confirm that this figure is Jesus by noticing his two fingers on the altar, representing His two natures, human and divine. All three figures carry an identical staff, symbolising the equality of authority of the three who are one God, the other two figures representing God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
In our church, kept in the sacristy, we are privileged to have an amazing wood carving replica of this icon. When we are once again able to congregate at Christ the King church please do ask to see this wonderful piece of art, which would help to strengthen our faith in, and our understanding of, the Holy and Undivided Trinity, One God in Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
St Athanasius was a wise exponent of the ancient tradition, doctrine and faith of the Catholic Church, handed down to us by our Lord, preached by the apostles, and preserved by the fathers. He taught that the Trinity is recognised in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and anyone who abandons this tradition cannot be a Christian. In the Church, he says, one God is preached, who is ‘above all things and through all things and in all things’. He explains: Above: as the Father, the first principle and origin.
Through: that is through the Word, Jesus.
In: in the Holy Spirit.
Athanasius is keen for us to understand the unity of the three Persons of the Trinity, so he speaks of the gifts which the Spirit distributes to individuals as given by the Father through Jesus, the Word. So, those things which are given by the Son in the Spirit, are true gifts of the Father. Finally he quotes the words of St Paul: ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’
Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so within us the communion in the gift cannot be brought about except in the Holy Spirit. He concludes by referring to our own experience of receiving the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, saying: ‘If we have received the Spirit, then we have the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the communion of the Spirit Himself.
God Bless Father Patrick