Vassula's Answers the CDF through Fr. Prospero Grech
Question 3. Confusion of terminology in regards to the persons in the Holy Trinity.
In your earlier writings, as observed in the Notification there was some confusion of terminology regarding the persons of the Holy Trinity. We are sure that you subscribe to the teaching of your church. Do you think you could help us clarify these expressions? When dealing with matters of faith would it not be useful to follow the official terminology of standard catechisms to avoid confusion in the mind of the readers of TLIG?
In view of this I would try my best to explain the dilemma of language, reminding you that I am not a theologian who could express herself in a technical manner or receive words from above in an official terminology. It is clear that our Lord has expressed Himself in the manner that I would understand by adapting Himself to reach me. He does not speak to me either in a scholastic theology, but then neither did He when on earth, when He said: "The Father and I are One," (Jn 10:30) nor that of St. Paul when he wrote: "the Lord is the Spirit." (II Co 3:17) To Bernadette of Lourdes, Mary spoke in the local dialect, which was not good French. Even in the inspired books of Scripture, I have learnt that there is a noticeable difference between the refined Greek of St. Luke, and the simple language of St. Mark. St. Catherine of Siena, in her Dialogue, once explained: "You are my Creator, Eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of Your Son." 14 To call Christ the Son of the Trinity sounds heterodox but we take this part as far as possible in a good sense?
So it is perfectly normal if Christ uses my level of vocabulary in the beginning rather than the language of a theologian. I sometimes expressed words out of my personal experience of God, and uttered what I had felt in the terms that come to me spontaneously without much critical reflection on how this will sound to others, or whether it might be misunderstood. To articulate divine mysteries was hard enough for me, even more of how one should express these divine mysteries that would be fitting with the traditional language. Theologians, on the contrary, use a vocabulary that has been carefully refined by many centuries of discussion.
I do not know exactly which parts of the earlier writings the question is referring to, but I could imagine it deals with Christ being called "Father." Christ is the Son of the Father. In these parts of the revelation the writings do not refer in an ontological or doctrinal way to the person of Christ. Rather, it is affectionate and paternal language, the same language, Jesus used to his disciples: "My children?" (Jn 13:33). Already Isaiah described the Messiah as the "Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father (Is 9:5).
From the very beginning I never mixed up the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Christ's presence (attitude) with me was with fatherly affection. When in a passage I called Jesus "Father" it was because of the fatherly way He spoke to me. It was like those instances when fathers are explaining and teaching certain things to their children with patience and love for their growth and development. Here is one example of Christ's words: "Grow in spirit Vassula, grow, for your task is to deliver all the messages given by Me and My Father. Wisdom will instruct you." I then answer: "Yes Father!" Jesus replies: "How beautiful to hear you call Me "Father"! I longed to hear from your lips this word: 'Father' " (16.02.1987). In the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus it calls Jesus: "Father of the world to come." The Sequence for the Mass of Pentecost names the Holy Spirit, "Father of the poor."
I chose St. Symeon, a theologian and saint very dear and important to my Orthodox tradition, in order to give you some more similarities. This is what he says: "For those who have been weaned, He (Christ) plays the role of a loving Father who watches over His children's growth and development" (Theological Ethical Orations 4. 269-270).
Also, the critique may refer to one particular message in the beginning when the Lord wanted to teach me of the unity of the Holy Trinity. The message that might be questioned was: "I am the Father and the Son. Now do you understand? I am One, I am All in One" (02.03.1987). Here, our Lord wanted me to understand the perfect and ontological unity of the Most Holy Trinity; how the three divine Persons are undivided and so completely one in nature. Like St. Symeon said in his Hymn 45. 7-21: "Three in one and one in three? How could I have known, Lord, that I had such a God, Master and Protector, Father, Brother and King??" Gradually any non-official terminology was being crystallized with time so if anyone might have had any confusion it became clearer later on.
Remember how pope Benedict XIV long ago took note of questionable passages in the writings of the Fathers of the church and the saints, and direct that:
In one of the earliest messages, I tell how Jesus asked me to "design how the Holy Trinity is". I describe having a vision of light. Then one light coming out, then another one, making three. Then I commented: "When the Son is in the Father, then they are one. The Holy Trinity is ONE and the same. They can be 3, but all 3 can be one. Result, One God." This statement employs, I learnt, a metaphor that goes back to the Nicene Creed which declares that the Son came forth from the Father as "light from light". This image has since become classic in Christian thought. For example Symeon the Theologian, writes of "the One who was in the beginning, before all ages, begotten of the Father, and with the Spirit, God and Word, triple in unity, but one light in the three" (Hymn 12, 14-18).
?what these have said should be taken, as far as possible, in a good sense? obscure points in one text are to be explained otherwise by clearer texts? seek the mind of the writer, not from a particular phrase, but from the whole context of the work; benevolence should be joined to severity; judgment about views one does not agree with should be made, not on the basis of one's views but according to the probability of the doctrine (Constitution of introduction of the Index).
Sometimes God the Father speaks and it is obvious to any reader who knows the Scriptures that it is indeed the Father who speaks since He would mention words like, "My Son Jesus" etc. Then, it could happen later in the same day that Christ calls me to continue the message and speaks. Again, the reader who knows Scriptures would understand that it is Christ speaking because He would speak of His Wounds or Cross. As for the messages that would start e.g. with the Father, then later on continue with the Son, it would usually contain a reference saying, "later on". If I did not put any reference to help the one who reads it was because it appeared to me so obvious from the words uttered who was actually speaking that I left them as they were. From the thousands of readers I never received a letter from anyone who asked for clarification on the subject and no-one came to tell me they were confused. Only two clergy in the United States read the message in the wrong way, publishing their views in newsletters over and over again, without ever meeting me.
In one passage in the True Life in God writings, Christ says: "I am the Trinity." Here Christ identifies Himself with the divine nature of the Trinity that is One. Christ is one of the Trinity. Christ speaks as the divinity, since it is one in nature, communicated by each of the three persons.
In one of the passages of True Life in God it was Christ speaking: Be blessed My child, I, Your Holy Father love you. I am the Holy Trinity, then He added, You have discerned well. I discerned while Jesus was saying I am your Holy Father, a "triple" Jesus, like those fancy pictures of one person but made as though they are three, one coming out of the other, all similar and all three the same. "I am the Holy Trinity all in one" (11.04.1988) (Unique, undivided, one essence, one substance.) If one looks just at the initial statement attributed to Jesus, one might wonder if He is not identifying Himself with the Father and then with the entire Trinity. But when one reads on, it is clear He is not.
Christ was trying to teach me the oneness of the Holy Trinity, how the Three Persons are undivided and so completely one. The oneness of the Trinity comes out not primarily from the fact that the three persons are undivided (like inseparable friends!) but from the fact that each one of them possesses the same unique divine nature and are distinguished only by their mutual relations.
In another passage of the True Life in God, Christ teaches me how the Trinity is recognized in each of them as One and the same substance: "?am I not Bountiful? Am I not the highest? So have confidence for you are in your Father's Arms. I, the Holy Trinity am One and the Same (substance)?" (25.07.1989).
In order to express this in the way of thinking of the tradition of the Orthodox Church, it may be useful again to turn to Basil Krivoscheine's book on St Symeon. Here, the words are expressed in a better way than were I to express them. "God is beyond names. He is Trinity, yet the One and its Unity cannot be expressed" (p. 284). And from St. Symeon himself:
And in another passage of TLIG, Christ insists on Their Divine Oneness: "I-Am-He-Who-Saves, I am your Redeemer, I Am the Holy Trinity all in One, I Am the Spirit of Grace?" (28.07.1989).
Whatever multifarious names we call You, You are one being? This one being is a nature in three hypostases, one Godhead, one God is a single Trinity, not three beings. And yet the One is three according to hypostases. They are connatural, the one to the other according to nature, entirely of the same power, the same essence, united without confusion in a manner that surpasses our understanding. In turn, they are distinct, separated without separation, three in one and one in three (Hymn 45. 7-21).
Here Jesus was telling me that He is in the Father with the Spirit, likewise the Father and He are in the Spirit. He, the Son, is and remains co-eternal in the Father, with the Holy Spirit. We may remember Christ's words: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4, 24). Of vital importance are also St. Paul's words: "?Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2. Cor. 3:17).
One will never find the Father separated from the Son or the Spirit, nor the Son separated from the Father and the Spirit, nor the Spirit excluded from the union with the one from whom He proceeds. Thus, the expression of: "I Am the Holy Trinity all in One," and other expressions in the writing that are similar to this one. Likewise in another passage of TLIG, I specify: "The Son is in the Father. They are only one. The Holy Trinity is one and the same: three Person but a single God: one and three" (24.11.1987).
I would like to explain especially these two expressions that came often in the writings of True Life in God. Christ speaks: "?be one as the Holy Trinity is One and the same" (10.10.1989). Or the other expression: "Pray that My Fold be one, as I and the Father are One and the same" (29.03.1989).
There is a very important factor here. When Christ uses the word "the same" it is different if one translates this word in Italian or French because the meaning changes, and I would like to point out that there have been weaknesses in translation, but I cannot be held responsible for this. In English (which is the original language of the writings) it does not mean "the same person" but it means "equal" in the sense of "the unity of essence," "substance".
Then there are passages when in turn the Holy Trinity speaks in one voice. But even so it is very clear. For example here is one passage: "Your terrified cries pierced through the heavens, reaching the Holy Trinity's ears? My child!" The Father's Voice, full of joy resounded through all Heaven. Then the Son said: "Ah? I shall now make her penetrate My Wounds and let her eat My Body and drink My Blood. I shall espouse her to Me and she will be Mine for eternity. I shall show her the Love I have for her and her lips from thereon shall thirst for Me and her heart shall be My Headrest." The Holy Spirit said immediately after: "And I, the Holy Spirit, shall descend upon her to reveal to her the truth and the depths of Us. I shall remind the world through her, that the greatest of all the gifts is love." And then the Holy Trinity spoke in one voice: "Let Us then celebrate! Let all Heaven celebrate!" (22.12.1990).
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, its oneness combined with the distinct traits of each of the three persons and the relationship between them, is one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian Faith. However, the fact that the Trinity is such an infinite mystery should not make us shrink back from praising its marvels and avoid talking of it, although human language never will be able to express the beauty and immensity of the One but Triune. For the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is so central to our faith that it stands above and sheds light upon all the other mysteries of faith. This has been pointed out again most clearly in The Cathechism of the Catholic Church:
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the "hierarchy of the truths of faith." 15
The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin" 16
14 St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogo della Divina Providenza, no. 167. This passage is cited by the Roman Breviary in the second reading for April 29th.
15 General Catechetical Directory 43.
16 General Catechetical Directory 47.