A Manual Of Catholic Theology, Based On Scheeben's “Dogmatik”
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.
With A Preface By Cardinal Manning

Vol. 1. The Sources Of Theological Knowledge, God, Creation And The Supernatural Order
Third Edition, Revised, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Lt.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Benziger Bros.

[pp. 287-315]


SECT. 96. --The Ante-Nicene Tradition on the Divine Trinity and Unity.

I. Sufficient proof for the primitive profession of the dogma of the Trinity is afforded by the formula of Baptism, by the Doxologies in universal use, and by the confessions of the martyrs. The Doxology, “Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to (or with) the Holy Ghost,” is an act of worship giving Divine honour to all and each of the three Persons. The “Acts of the Martyrs” contain, in very great number, professions of faith either in the Three Persons together or in each one of Them.

II. The Faith of the Church in the mystery of the Trinity manifested itself especially in the conflict with the ante-Nicene heresies. Not only did the Church assert the distinction of the Persons, but she also defended the absolute unity and indivisibility of the Divine Substance, from which the Sabellians and their allies took the chief argument in favour of their heresy. The whole conflict turned on this point: that the unity of God ought not to destroy the distinction of the Persons, and that the distinction of the Persons ought not to destroy the unity of God. The position taken up by the Church sufficiently shows how far she was from admitting a distinction in the Substance of the Persons. Whenever, as in the case of Denis of Alexandria, a writer used expressions that might imply such substantial distinction, protests were heard on all sides, and Denis himself retracted his unguarded expressions by order of Pope Dionysius. The ecclesiastical literature anterior to the Council of Nicaea contains many expositions of the Catholic dogma on the Trinity, sometimes with considerable development. The principal ones are to be found in the writings against the Sabellians and against the Gnostics of various forms, and in the Apologies against the heathen. See Card. Newman, Arians, ch. ii.

III. Although the substance of the dogma was well known to the faithful, and better still to the Catholic Fathers and Doctors, who lived before the Council of Nicaea, it is none the less to be expected that their writings did not treat the subject with the same definiteness and accuracy of expression as later writers. It would, however, be going too far to admit that the Fathers had, in general, an obscure or a wrong conception of the unity of Substance in the Divine Persons; in such a fundamental dogma, such an error in such quarters would be incompatible with the infallibility of the Church. Among schismatic writers it is, of course, quite possible to find wrong conceptions of the dogma. As a matter of fact, from the time of Tatian, who afterwards became a formal heretic, certain writers so misunderstood the dogma that their utterances did prepare the way for the Arian heresy. Nevertheless, if we except the Philosophumena of Hippolytus and several utterances of Origen (which are, however, annulled by opposite utterances of the same author), we have no greater fault to find, even with uncatholic writers, than a superficial knowledge and inadequate exposition of the unity of Essence in the Three Persons. All the expressions which were seized upon by later opponents of the dogma, and were most harshly judged by Catholic theologians, occur in the writings of the most orthodox of the Fathers, and admit of an orthodox interpretation.

The special difficulties met with in the ante-Nicene writings, even the orthodox, lie in the following points: --

1. The authors often lay so much stress upon the character of the Father as source and principle of the other two Persons, that they almost seem to conceive the Father alone as God pure and simple, and God above all (Deus super omnia), and to attribute Divinity to the other Persons in a less perfect degree. Holy Scripture itself, however, generally uses the term God, the God (in Greek, etc.) for the Father alone.

2. Instead of stating the identity of Substance, they often speak merely of a substantial connection, or simply of a community of power and authority, of activity and love, or of the unity of origin. They do so in order to refute Ditheism, a system which admits two Gods, the one independent of the other. But here, also, Holy Scripture had set the example, especially John v. and x.

3. The generation of the Son is sometimes described as voluntary, in order to exclude from it a blind and imperative necessity. This, however, admits of a correct interpretation, and is found likewise in post-Nicene writers.

4. Following up Prov. viii., they represent the generation of the Son as intended in connection with the creation of the world by and through Him. But some (e.g. Tertullian, C. Prax., cc. v.-vii.) speak with more precision of a double generation, or rather of a conception and a generation of the Logos. The conception is explained as the eternal origin from the Father (Greek text); the generation as His temporal mission ad extra, and His manifestation in the creation of the world (in Greek), verbum prolatitium): hence Hippolytus and Tertullian sometimes seem only to apply the name of Son to the Logos after His external manifestation in creating the world, or after the Incarnation, which, as a birth, they oppose to the eternal conception.

5. Lastly, the Fathers point out that the Son and the Holy Ghost are visible, whilst the Father is invisible. This visibility, however, is only intended to prove the distinction of the Persons, and not a difference in the Essence. In fact, the Son and the Holy Ghost both appeared under sensible forms or symbols, whereas the Father never so manifested Himself, it being unbecoming to His character, as principle of the Son and the Spirit, to be sent by another. The personal characters of the Second and Third Persons make it right for Them to be sent as manifesting the Father.

“We need not by an officious piety arbitrarily force the language of separate Fathers into a sense which it cannot bear; nor by an unjust and narrow criticism accuse them of error, nor impose upon an early age a distinction of terms belonging to a later. The words usia and hypostasis were naturally and intelligibly, for three or four centuries, practically synonymous, and were used indiscriminately for two ideas which were afterwards respectively denoted by the one and the other.” Card. Newman, Arians, p. 444; cf. Franzelin, th. xi.

SECT. 97. The Consubstantiality of the Son defined by the Council of Nicea.

I. The term (Greek spelling) “consubstantial,” was used by of the Council of Nicaea to define the identity of substance in God the Father and the Son. When applied to the consubstantiality of a human father and his son, it implies only a specific identity of substance; that is, that father and son are of a like substance, but are not numerically one and the same substance. The Arians, applying the human sense to the term, argued that the Council admitted three Divine Beings or three Gods. Protestant writers, and even some Catholic theologians, have lately repeated the Arian calumny, wherefore we deem it necessary to show briefly, from the post-Nicene tradition, the numerical identity of the one Essence in the Three Persons, in virtue of which the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one and the same God.

II. The simple fact that the dogma of the Trinity admits of no other Christian interpretation than that the Three Persons are one God, suffices to prove that the are one' God. Catholic Church held the dogma in this sense, during the fourth as well as during all other centuries. The same may, however, be gathered also from the following considerations.

I. The Homoousion consequent upon generation, is thus explained by the Fathers against the sophisms of the Generation. Arians. In the Divine generation, the Substance of the Father is communicated to the Son as it is in human generation, with this difference, however, that, on account of the simplicity and indivisibility of the Divine Substance, it is communicated in its entirety, whereas the human father only communicates and parts with a portion of his substance (cf. St. Athan., De Decr. Nic. Syn., nn. 20, 23, 24). In God, as in man, generation implies a communication of life. But in man the communication consists in giving a new life; in God the communication necessarily consists in the giving of the same identical life. For if the life received by the Son were a new life, it would not even be similar to the eternal life of the Father; and, consequently, the generation would not be Divine. The difference, then, in the substance and life of the Father and the substance and life of the Son, is merely in this: the Father possesses them as uncommunicated, the Son possesses the same as communicated or received (St. Basil, C. Eunom., 1. ii., at the end). These two arguments show also that, in the mind of the Fathers, no specific unity is possible in God, but only numerical identity of substance and life.

2. The attributes which the Fathers give to the unity of the Divine Persons are such as to mark it as identity of Persons is as identity of Essence and not merely as specific unity. They describe it as substantial and indivisible coherence and inseparability, far above the unity which similarity or relationship establishes between human persons, and more like the organic unity of parts of the same whole, such as the unity of root, stem, and branch; or of body, arm, and finger. But, considering the simplicity of the Divine Substance, a coherence such as described can only be conceived as the simultaneous possession of the same Substance by the Three Persons. The Fathers further compare the unity of the Divine Persons to the inherence and immanence of the qualities and faculties of created minds in the substance of the mind; pointing out, at the same time, this difference, that the Son and the Holy Ghost are not accidents of the Father, but are His own Substance, as inseparable from the Father as His own Wisdom and Holiness (cf. St. Athanasius, Or. Contra Arianos, iv., n. I sqq.; and St. Gregory of Nazianzum, Or., 31 (al. 37), n. 4). They describe the mutual co-inherence of the Persons as consequent upon their consubstantiality, and as being the principle of the unity of Divine actions (see Petav., De Trin. 1. iv., c. 16). They oppose the unity of essence as it exists in God to that which exists between human persons--that is, to a specific or mental unity (see St. Greg, of Naz., l.e., n. 14, 16). Lastly, they use the strongest terms at their disposal to describe the unity of the three Divine Persons as the most perfect possible identity of substance (Kilber, De Deo, disp. v.).

3. That the Fathers taught the absolute unity of the Divine Essence appears also from the way in which they the Fathers spoke of the mystery of the Trinity. Far from being the greatest of all mysteries, it would not be a mystery at all if the unity of the Persons were not more than a specific unity (St. Basil, De Sp. S., c. 18; St. Greg, of Nyssa, Or. Cat., n. 3). The doctrine of the Fathers holds the right mean between the errors of the Jews and the Sabellians on the one hand, and those of the Arians and pagans on the other. For with the former it denies the multiplication of the Divine Nature, yet without denying the distinction of Persons; with the latter it admits the distinction of Persons, yet without limiting their unity to a similarity or likeness of essence (St. Greg, of Nyssa., l.e. The Fathers represent the unity of Essence as admitting of no other distinction than that based upon the divers relations of origin; so that there would be no difference whatsoever, except for this relation of origin and the consequent manner of possessing the Divine Essence. But, if the Essence itself were multiplied, the Persons would be three distinct Persons of the same species, independently of their origin (St. Greg. Naz., Or., 31 (al. 37), n. 3).

4. Finally, the two great controversies in connection with the Council of Nicaea throw much light on the present question. They are the controversy with the Semi-Arians, against whose (Greek text) (similarity of Substance) the Catholics successfully defended the (Greek); and the controversy among the Catholics themselves on the question “whether not only one (Greek “ovaia”), but also one (Greek for substantia), ought to be affirmed of the Trinity.” The Latin doctors, who translated (this Greek phrase) by substantia (and some Greeks who understood it in the same sense) objected to the expression “three hypostases,” because it seemed to imply a trinity of Substances, and consequently a triplication of the Essence. The Greeks, however, explained that such was not the meaning they wished to convey by the expression used, but that they agreed with their Latin opponents on the point of doctrine. They had used the words, “three hypostases,” only because the Greek word (for three persons) (which corresponds with the Latin tres persona) had been misused by the Sabellians to confuse the real distinction of the Divine Persons. (See Kuhn, 29; Franzelin, th. ix., n. ii.; Card. Newman, Arians, 365, 432.)

This question was thoroughly debated in the seventh century, when the doctrine of Tritheism was formally brought to the fore, and when the discussions on the two natures of Christ and His twofold operation made a thorough investigation of the unity of the Divine Essence necessary. The opponents of the Monothelites, notably Sophronius, and the Councils held against them, leave no doubt as to what was the doctrine of the Church.

III. The absolute numerical and substantial unity of the unity of Divine Essence is essentially connected with the received expression that the Three Persons are one God and not three gods. If the Essence was divided or distributed among three persons, there would be three gods. Nor could any other form of unity, added to such merely specific unity, prevent the division of essence. No community of origin, of love, of operation, of compenetration, will prevent separate substances from being separate substances. Besides, a perfect unity of operation cannot be conceived in separate substances, any more than perfect compenetration or inexistence: hence, where these are, there is unity of substance. If, therefore, the Fathers sometimes give the community of origin, of love, and operation, etc., as a reason why the Three Persons are one God, they do not intend to give the adequate and formal reason, which is, according to the teaching of the Fathers themselves, the absolute unity and identity of the Divine Essence, expressed in the (Greek 'similarity of Substance' ).

IV. In consequence of the absolute identity of Essence Three Per or Substance, the Three Persons, although each of Them is three God* God, are not three Gods, but one God. “We are forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say that there are three Gods or three Lords” (Athanasian Creed). According to a rule common to all languages, the plural of substantive nouns and predicates signifies not only a plurality of subjects designated by the nouns, but also a multiplication of the substance named, in each of the many subjects. This is because in all languages substantive nouns designate the substance and the subject in which it is. But in God, the Substance expressed by the noun God is not multiplied or distributed among the subjects who hold it; therefore the Three Persons are one God, net three Gods. (Cf. St. Thomas, I. q. 39.) The same law of language applies to verbal nouns like Creator, Judge, but not to adjective and verbal predicates like living, saving. (See Card. Newman, Arians, p. 185; St. Athan. ii. 438.)

SECT. 98. The Tradition of East and West on the Consubstantiality of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son.

I. Just as the Arians misused the Homoousios of Nicea against the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, so did the Greek schismatics misuse the words “Who proceedeth from the Father,” used by the Council of Constantinople to define the consubstantiality of the Holy Ghost with the other two Persons. They read the definition as if it excluded the Son from all participation in the communication of the Divine Essence to the Holy Ghost. It is, however, easy to show that the Greek Fathers of the fourth century, to whom the schismatics especially appeal, founded all their argument in favour of the origin of the Holy Ghost from the Father and His consubstantiality with the Father, on the assumption that the Third Person proceeds from the Son. Thus the schismatics, who reproach the Latin Church with making a change in the symbol, are themselves guilty of distorting the true sense of the symbol, of forsaking the guidance of their orthodox Fathers, and of embracing the cause of the Macedonians.

II. We shall here reproduce the doctrine of the Greek Fathers of the fourth century on the procession of the Holy Ghost. This will afford us a twofold advantage. (1) The difference of conception and expression which exists between the Latin and Greek Fathers on this subject will be made clear, and possible misunderstandings will be obviated; (2) the proper value of the Greek mode of conceiving and expressing the procession of the Holy Ghost will be rightly understood.

We shall divide this section into three parts: (A) The doctrine of the Greek Church on the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (B) The Greek manner of conceiving and expressing the procession, compared with the Latin conception and expression. (C) The origin and tendency of the negation of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son, which is properly the “heresy of the schism.”

A.--The Doctrine of the Eastern Church of the Fourth Century on the Origin of the Holy Ghost as the Foundation of His Consubstantiality with the Father and the Son.

III. In order to get at a right understanding of this doctrine, it is necessary to bear in mind the question at issue between the Church and the “Pneumatomachi” (or Macedonians), viz. whether the Holy Ghost had such an origin from God that, by reason of His origin, He received, not a new essence, but the Essence of God. The Pneumatomachi, most of whom were Semi-Arians, conceded more or less the consubstantiality consequent upon generation (at least the Homoiousios); but they thought that in God, as also in man, no other consubstantiality was possible but that founded upon generation. Hence they argued that the Holy Ghost, in order to be consubstantial with the Father and the Son, ought to be generated by either of Them, which would cause the Holy Ghost to be either the son of the Father and the brother of the Son, or the son of the Son and grandson of the Father (St Athan., Ad. Serap., i., n. 15 sqq.; iii., n. I. sqq.). As, however, both suppositions are absurd, it follows that the Holy Ghost must have an origin similar to that of the other things which are made through (Greek) the Son; and therefore no consubstantiality with the Father, no Divine Nature can be claimed for the Holy Ghost (cf. Franzelin, th. xxxviii.).

Against this heretical opinion the Divinity of the Holy Ghost could be defended in two ways.

IV. The first way, more suited to a dogmatic definition, was to affirm directly what the opponents denied, namely, the origin of the Holy Ghost from the Substance of the Father, and then to show that, though not generated, the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father as really as the Son proceeds from Him. This way was chosen by the Council of Constantinople, which--combining the texts (John xv. 26), “Who proceeded from the Father,” (Greek text), and (i Cor. ii. 12) “the Spirit Who is of God,” (Greek text) --defined that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father.

It was not necessary to assert here the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, because the adversaries did not deny it, but, on the contrary, maintained it, and because the assertion of the origin of the Holy Ghost from the Father determined at once the relation of principle which the Son bears to the Holy Ghost. Moreover, according to the Pneumatomachi, the procession of another Person from the Father was, as a matter of course, effected through that Person Who proceeds from Him as Son. It was not even fitting or advisable for the Council to mention the procession from the Son. The object of the Council was to put the origin of the Holy Ghost on a footing with the origin of the Son with respect to consubstantiality with the Father; the opponents were imbued with Arian ideas, and denied the Divinity of the Son; hence they could not be refuted by affirming the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son. Besides, the Council wished to found its definition upon Holy Scripture, but the texts which formally teach the procession from the Father do not mention the procession from the Son. If it had wished to mention the Son, the Council ought to have appealed to The Symbol other texts, e.g. in which the Holy Ghost is said to receive (take) from the Son. This is really done in the more explicit symbol given by St. Epiphanius in the Ancoratus (n. 121), a symbol much used in the East, and perhaps adopted by the Council as the basis of its definition. The Ancoratus was written A.D. 374; that is, seven years before the Council. It is not impossible, however, that, after the Council, Epiphanius made some additions to the Symbol in harmony with the definition. The text is, “And we believe in the Holy Ghost, Who spake in the Law and preached in the Prophets and descended on the Jordan, Who speaketh in the Apostles and dwelleth in the Saints. And this is how we believe in Him: He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the perfect Spirit, the Paraclete, uncreated, Who proceedeth from the Father and receiveth [or taketh, (in Greek text)(middle voice)] from the Son, and is believed to be from the Son (as explained in this Greek text).

In the West, where the position taken up by the Pneumatomachi was not so well understood or borne in mind as in the East, the definition of the Council of 381 was soon found fault with; and whenever the Eastern doctors were asked for fuller explanations, they gave it in the terms of the Symbol of St. Epiphanius. Several Eastern Churches have adopted the same symbol in their Liturgy (cf. Van der Moeren, pp. 175 and 178).

V. The second way to oppose the Pneumatomachi was to argue from their own affirmation, viz. “that the Holy or the Ghost has His origin from and through the Son,” and to show how this origin from the Son is such that it implies consubstantiality with the Son and with the Father. This method was adopted by most of the Fathers. If they had denied or had not acknowledged the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son, they could have reproved the Macedonians for admitting it. At any rate, they would have had an easy answer to the objection that the third Person, owing His origin to the Son, is grandson to the Father; viz. by stating that the Holy Ghost in no wise proceeds from the Son, but only from the Father. But the Fathers do neither; on the contrary, they accept the procession from the Son as a matter of course, and make a true conception of this procession from the Son the central point of the whole controversy with the Pneumatomachi. The line of defence taken by the Fathers is invariably to correctly determine the nature of the origin of the Holy Ghost from the Son. We shall consider it (1) in its positive aspect; (2) in its apologetic or defensive aspect

I. The thesis of the Fathers.

(a) The Fathers first show negatively that the origin of the Holy Ghost through the Son is not like the origin of creatures through the Son, but should be conceived as an origin front the Son, or as the production of a hypostasis of the same kind as its principle, proceeding from the Substance of the Son, and therefore inseparably united with Him. They state that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son as the Son proceeds from the Father, viz. as principle of creation, and especially as principle of the supernatural sanctification of creatures, and of the conformation with the Son and the union with the Father implied in the process of sanctification. Hence it is in and through the Holy Ghost that the Son creates, sanctifies, and elevates creatures to conformity and union with Himself. But this would be impossible if the Substance and power of the Son were not communicated to the Holy Ghost that is, --if the Holy Ghost were not of and in the Substance of the Son (cf. St. Athan., Ad Serap., 1. i.; St. Basil, Ep., 38 (al. 43), n. 4, etc.). The Fathers call the Holy Ghost, in opposition to the external works, the power and activity (virtus et operatio,--Greek text), and sometimes also the quality (Greek text) of the Son. These expressions are used of the Son in relation to the Father; but when applied to the Holy Ghost in relation to the Son, the Fathers illustrate their signification by comparing the Son to a flower, of which the Holy Ghost is the perfume, or to a mouth, an arm, a branch, of which the Holy Ghost is the breath, the finger, the flower. They further convey the notions of consubstantiality by comparing the relations of the two Persons to honey and its sweetness, to a spring and its waters, to water and its steam, to a ray of light and its radiance, to fire and its heat (cf. Petav., 1. vii., c. 5 and 7).

(b) The Fathers declare positively that the origin of the Holy Ghost from the substance of the Son must be put on the same level as the origin of the Son from the Father, and that the precedence of the Son as principle of the Holy Ghost does not destroy the equality and real unity between these two Persons any more than the precedence of the Father as principle of the Son causes any real inequality between Father and Son. They lay so much stress on this parallel that they apply to the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son all the expressions used to describe the generation of the Son from the Father (except “begotten” and “Son”), although they are aware that this makes it more difficult to answer the question why the Holy Ghost is not the son of the Son. (See St. Basil, C. Eun., 1. v.) In countless places they call the Holy Ghost the Word (verbum = Greek not “Greek”), the Effulgence, the Image (Greek), the Countenance, the Seal, the Figure, and the Form (Greek text) of the Son; all of which expressions convey the idea of consubstantiality between the Holy Ghost and the Son, as much as when they are used of the Son in relation to the Father. (See Petav., 1. vii., c. 7; Franzelin, th. xxxvii.)

(c.) In the third place the Fathers show that, since the Procession Holy Ghost stands to the Son as the Son to the Father, He must also proceed from the Father through the Son, the So^ and that, though not generated like the Son, He none the less receives through the Son, as really as the Son Himself, the Substance of the Father. The substantial connection of the Holy Ghost with the Father through the Son, and vice versa, is illustrated by the comparisons given above (a), the three Persons standing in the relation of root, flower, and odour, --light, ray, and radiance, etc.; the Son and the Holy Ghost are to the Father as His mouth and the breath proceeding from it, or as His arm and finger. The Son is the Truth and Wisdom of the Father; the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Wisdom and of Truth. Cf. St. Athan., Ad. Serap., i., n. 19-21; and the chapter of St. Basil, C. Eunom., 1. v., inscribed, “That, as the Son stands to the Father, so the Holy Ghost stands to the Son.”

2. The defence of the Fathers against the Pneumatomachi is founded upon the above principles.

(a.) The first objection, urged principally by Eunomius, was that the order of origin in the Trinity involved a descending order in the excellence and nature of the Three Persons, and an essential difference between the substances. To this the Fathers had but one answer: that the Holy Ghost was no more inferior to the Son for proceeding from Him than the Son was inferior to the Father for being generated by Him; and that the difference of origin implied no other difference whatsoever, except the difference of origin itself. St. Basil treats this point expressly in the beginning of his third book against Eunomius. See Franzelin, th. xxxv.

(b) The second objection was that, if the Holy Ghost stood to the Son as the Son to the Father, the Holy Ghost ought to be the son of the Son, and the grandson of the Father. The Fathers do not evade this difficulty by stating that the Holy Ghost is only related to the Son inasmuch as He possesses the same Substance, and not by any relation of origin; on the contrary, they expressly affirm that the Holy Ghost is really from the Father through the Son. (St. Basil, C. Eunom., 1. v.: “Why is the Holy Ghost not called the Son of the Son? Not because He is not of God through the Son.”) They only point out that human relations cannot be unreservedly applied to God; that the expression “Son of the Son” leads to absurd consequences, e.g. to the supposition that in God, as in man, an indefinite series of generations is possible; that each Person in the Trinity must be as unique and individual in His personality as the Divine Substance; that, lastly, generation is not the only kind of origin, wherefore also Holy Scripture compares the origin of the Holy Ghost to the origin of the breath from the mouth. The essential difference between Divine and human generation lies in this: that man generates as an isolated substance independent of his own progenitor, whereas the Son of God can only work in unity with His Father, and so communicate the Divine Substance common to Father and Son. (St. Athan., Ad. Serap., i. 16.) Hence the expression, “through the Son,” when applied to the origin of the Holy Ghost, does not mean quite the same as when applied to human relations.

(c.) The third objection ran thus: If the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father as really and truly as from the Son, He ought to be the son of the Father and the brother of the Son. To this the Fathers answered that the Holy Ghost does not proceed from the Father in the same way as the Son does; and that He does not proceed from the Father alone and in every respect directly, but through the Son; the Holy Ghost being not only the Spirit of the Father, but also the Spirit of the Son. (Cf. St. Basil, Ep., 38.)

VI. From the line of argument followed by the Fathers who lived at the time of the Second Council (A.D. 381), it is evident that the words of the Symbol, “Who proceedeth from the Father,” are not intended to mean from the Father alone, but through the Son from the Father and from the Father through the Son; which formula is, with the older Greeks, the standing and self-evident commentary on the words of the Symbolum. The interpretation, “from the Father alone” is a falsification as bad as and akin to the Protestant interpretation of the words, “Man is justified by faith without the works of the law,” leaving unheeded the other words, “Charity which worketh through faith.” Nay, by suppressing “through the Son,” the formula” proceedeth from the Father” would be deprived of its natural sense as it presented itself to the mind of the Fathers. For, in that case, the Father, as Father, would have no relation to the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost ought either to be a son of the Father, or the Father ought to have another personal character besides that of Fathership. (Franzelin, th. xxxvi.)

B. --The Eastern manner of conceiving and expressing the Procession of the Holy Ghost compared with the Western.

II. It is well known that the Eastern Fathers differ The two formulas, from the Western in their way of expressing the Procession of the Holy Ghost. The former commonly use the formula, (Greek text), “from the Father through the Son;” the latter, ex Patre Filioque, “from the Father and the Son.” No real difference of meaning, however, underlies these different expressions, as is sufficiently proved by the fact that Greek Fathers, who had most occasion to express the dogma in short formulas, especially St. Epiphanius and St. Cyril of Alexandria, use the Latin formula times out of number; and Latin doctors, like Tertullian and St. Hilary, frequently use the Greek expression. Besides, the Western Church never objected to the formula used in the East, but attributed a correct sense to it, although it might lead Latin scholars to a misunderstanding far from the mind of the Greeks.

VIII. As a matter of fact, the Greek formula has a sound sense and a natural origin, and has even a certain advantage over the Latin formula. It owes its origin to the fact that Holy Scripture, whenever it mentions the Divine operations, represents the Father as the principle out of which (ex quo, and -----, Greek) all things come, and the Son as the principle through or by means of which (per quod, and ----, Greek) all things are made, or as the way by which all things come from and return to the Father. Moreover, the course which the controversy with the Pneumatomachi took, rendered the frequent use of this exposition natural. The sound meaning of the formula is that it represents the Father and the Son, not as two principles acting separately, but as two principles operating one in the other, or as one principle; and that it sets forth the particular position of the Father and the Son as principles of the Holy Ghost, viz. that the Son produces the Holy Ghost only as “principle from a principle“ (principitium de principle), whereas the Father is “principle without a principle” (principium sine principle) and “principle of a principle” (principium principii) of the Holy Ghost. From this appears the relative advantage of the Greek formula. It clearly unfolds the meaning which lies hidden in the “ex Patre et Filio,” and which has to be expounded by the addition of “tanquam ab uno principio,” and “licet pariter ab utroque, a Patre principaliter“ or “originaliter.” Its sole disadvantage is that it does not point out as clearly as the Latin formula the parity of the participation of Father and Son in the Spiration of the Holy Ghost.

IX. The special stress which the Greek Fathers laid on the formula (Greek) has a deeper reason in their manner of conceiving the dogma of the Trinity, --a conception which might be described as organic. To the Greek Fathers the two productions in God, Generation and Spiration, appear as a motion proceeding in a straight line, the Spiration originating in the Generation, and being intimately and essentially connected with it, so that not only does the Spiration essentially presuppose the Generation, but the Generation virtually contains the Spiration, tends towards it, and has its complement in it. They consider the productions in the Trinity as a motion of the Divinity, by which the Divinity passes first from the Father to the Son and then to the Holy Ghost, and so passes, as it were, through the Son. In harmony with this view, they chose their illustrations of the mystery from analogies in organic nature, in which one production leads to another, e.g. root, stem, and flower. The deeper reason for this conception is, however, to be found in this, that the Greek Fathers considered the production of the Son as a manifestation of the wisdom of the Father, and the production of the Holy Ghost as a manifestation of the sanctity of God which is founded upon His wisdom. In other words: they considered the Holy Ghost (according to John xv.) as the Spirit of Truth Who proceedeth from the Father.

From this point of view, the production of the Holy Ghost, in as far as it was attributed to the Father, appeared as carried on by means of the generation of the Son, but going beyond this generation. Hence it was termed, as distinguished from the generation, (Greek) or (Greek) (a sending forth). All the terms used exclusively to characterize either the generation of the Son or the spiration of the Holy Ghost, are explained and accounted for by the above remarks on the organic conception of the productions in the Trinity. It was the more necessary for the Greek Fathers to hold fast to a terminology based upon their “organic” conception, because any deviation from it (coupled with their formula that “the Holy Ghost stands to the Son as the Son stands to Father,” viz. as Word and Image) would easily have led to a misconception of the organic coherence of both productions, and would have made the Holy Ghost the grandson of the Father. For if, conjointly with the expression (Greek) (through), they had used the expression tic (from the Son), this might have conveyed the meaning that the Holy Ghost is of the Son exactly as the Son is of the Father, viz. by generation, and consequently that He is not directly, but only indirectly, produced by the Father. The “from” seemed to separate the Son from the Father in the production of the Holy Ghost, and was looked upon as inconvenient because it does not represent the Holy Ghost as the Spirit which is equally the Spirit of the Father and the Son. For the same reason it was deemed incorrect to call the Son the principle (Greek), pure and simple, of the Holy Ghost, because this seemed to imply that the Son, in the production of the Holy Ghost, acted as a principle separate from the Father, as a human son does. Therefore the Son was usually represented as only an intermediate principle, through which the Holy Ghost received His personality, whereas the Father was designated as the only principle pure and simple, from which the Holy Ghost proceeded as well as the Son. This mode of expression, however, meant only that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son inasmuch as the Son Himself, in virtue of His Sonship, is and remains in the Father, which the Latin Fathers express when they say, “Son and Father are but one principle of the Holy Ghost”

X. The Latin conception, as developed after St. Ambrose and St. Jerome, may be termed the “personal” conception of the productions in the Trinity. It does not, like the Greek, consider the production of the Holy Ghost as a continuation of the production of the Son, but as an act in which the Person produced by generation, by reason of His unity and equality with His principle, brings into play His personal union with His principle: both, acting side by side as equals, communicate what is common to Them to the Holy Ghost. Here the Holy Ghost is the bond and the pledge of mutual love between Father and Son, or between the original model and its copy. From this point of view, nothing was more natural than to say that the Holy Ghost proceeds from Father and Son, and to find fault with a formula which made no mention of the Son. It would seem equally strange to see the Greeks put the Holy Ghost in immediate relation with the Son alone as “image of the Son;” but nobody would think of finding in the expression, “ex Patre et Filio,” a separation of the Two Persons in the act of producing the Third. The only objection of the Latin Church to the formula, “through the Son,” was that it might lead to the notion of the Son as the mother of the Holy Ghost (cf. St. Augustine, In Joan., tract. 99). The Latin Fathers, therefore, avoided the formula “through the Son,” lest the Holy Ghost should appear to be the Son of the Father and of the Son; whereas the Greeks avoided the formula, “from the Son,” lest He should be thought the grandson of the Father.

For the history of the introduction of the word Filioque into the Symbol, see Hergenrother, Photius, i., p. 692 sqq.; Franzelin, thes. xli.

XI. From what has been said, it is evident that there was no contradiction between the older Eastern and the Western Church as regards the Procession of the Holy Ghost. The former taught the Catholic doctrine as decidedly as the latter. The difference of expression was, indeed, likely to lead to misunderstandings; but, like the former misunderstandings concerning the terms “hypostasis” and “persona,” they could easily have been brought to a satisfactory issue, had it not been for the schismatic jealousy of the Greeks, who by degrees advanced from a mutilation of the Latin formula to the negation of the Eastern doctrine.

C. The Heresy of the Schism.

XII. A formal and absolute denial of the Procession of the Holy Ghost from God the Son is to be found nowhere among the older orthodox Fathers of the Greek Church. If Photius had any forerunners, they certainly were Greek heretics, Nestorians and Monothelites, who dragged this point into the controversy in order to cast suspicion on their opponents. As to the Nestorians (especially Nestorius himself, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and even Theodoret), it is most probable that they rejected the “through the Son” in the same sense as the Fathers had rejected it in the Macedonian controversy, viz. created or generated through the Son. In fact, the Nestorians accused St. Cyril of holding the views of the Macedonians. The Monothelites, on the contrary, attempted by their criticisms of the Latin formula, to show that the Western Church favoured Macedonianism --perhaps they also misinterpreted the Greek formula --but St. Maximus refuted them. Certain monks of Jerusalem, jealous of the Franks, were the first to openly deny the ancient doctrine (A.D. 808). Photius, by the proclamation of his schism, disregarding the tradition of the Greek not less than of the Latin Church, made the negation of the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son his fundamental dogma. On the Nestorians and Theodoret, see Card. Newman, Historical Sketches, vol. ii.; Kuhn, 32; and Franzelin, th. xxxviii. On the audacious sophisms of Photius, see Hergenrother, Photius, iii., p. 400 sqq.

XIII. As the Photian schism has been the greatest and most enduring of all the schisms that have rent the Church, we are not surprised to find that the heresy which it invented should carry schism and division even into God Himself. All schisms, in the pretended interest of the monarchy of Christ, have rejected His visible representative on earth, and have thus destroyed the economy (Greek) of the Church. The Photian heresy, in the pretended interest of the monarchy of God the Father, rejects the character of the Son as principle; but in so doing it tears, rends, and destroys the living unity (economy) which, according to the Greek and Latin Fathers, exists in the Trinity. The divisions and rents which the heresy of the schism introduces into the Trinity are the following: (a) It destroys the immediate and direct union of the Holy Ghost with the Son, for this union can only consist in the relation of origin; at the same time it deprives the Holy Ghost of His attribute of “own Spirit of the Son.” (b) It destroys the perfect unity of Father and Son, in virtue of which the Son possesses everything in common with the Father, except Paternity, (c) It tears asunder the indivisible unity of the Father, by dividing the character of Paternity from the character of Spirator, or (Greek) and so giving Him a double Personality, (d) It annihilates the fixed order and succession, in virtue of which the Three Persons form one continuous golden chain, (e) It destroys the organic coherence of the two productions in the Trinity so much insisted upon by the Greek Fathers themselves. (f) Above all, it destroys the perfect concatenation of the Divine Persons, in virtue of which each of Them stands in the closest relation to the other two and forms a connecting link between them (cf. St. Basil, Ep., 38, n. 4). Thus the Greek Fathers point out the intermediate position of the Son between the Father and the Holy Ghost: the Son goes forth from the Father, and sends forth from Himself the Holy Ghost, so that, through the Son, the Father is in relation with the Holy Ghost and vice versa. The Latin Fathers, on the other hand, describe the Holy Ghost as the exhalation of the mutual love of Father and Son, which binds Them together like a band, “vinculum,” “osculum amplexus.” (g) Lastly, the heresy of the schism curtails and mutilates the Trinity in its very Essence. For the Father is Father only inasmuch as He gives the Son whatever He Himself possesses and can give by generation, including His entire fecundity, with the exception of the special character of Paternity. The Son is perfect Son only if He is equal and like to the Father in the Spiration of the Holy Ghost, and if, in particular, the Spirit of the Father is communicated to Him by the very act of generation and not by a new act of the Father. The Holy Ghost, too, is only conceivable as perfect Spirit and as a distinct Person if the Son is His principle. For it is an axiom accepted by the Fathers, that all personal differences in God, being founded upon the relations of origin, exist only between the principle and its product. No distinction is conceivable in God which does not include the most intimate union of those that are distinct. And as, according to the Greek Fathers, the Father produces the Holy Ghost only through the Son and not side by side with the Son, the Holy Ghost would remain in the Son and be identical with Him if He did not proceed from the Son.

SECT. 99. --The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Divine Hypostases and Persons --Definition of Hypostasis and Person as applied to God.

I. Tradition, like Holy Scripture itself, had at first no common name for the three Subjects which are distinguished in the Deity. Even the dogmatic definitions of the third and fourth centuries repeat the names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and when the collective noun (Greek) (the Three) is used, no name is added to designate the Three generally. In the course of time, however, when heresy had made it necessary to assert the unity of God as a unity of essence (Greek), used almost exclusively by the Greek Fathers) and of nature (natura, the favourite term of Latin writers), or, in a word, as a unity of substance, it also became necessary to determine for the three Subjects (Whose unity of essence was asserted) a name which should express in a convenient manner Their relation to the Substance, viz. that They are distinct bearers and holders of one Essence and Nature.

Even in the third century, Origen used for this purpose the term (Greek), and Tertullian, Persona. This usage, however, became general only with the Fathers of the fourth century, and by slow degrees. St. Gregory of Nazianzum often uses circumlocutions, e.g. “They in whom is the divinity, etc.” Many controversies preceded the universal acceptance of the two terms; their full etymological sense and the relation they bear to each other were only fully understood after they had come into general use. Harmony of expression and thought was obtained by translating the Greek (-----) by subsistentia (used by the Fathers in the concrete sense of subsistent, by the Schoolmen in the abstract sense of subsistence) and by suppositum. Both forms are found in St. Ambrose; but the second only became general in the schools of the Middle Ages. On the controversy concerning the terms Hypostasis and Substantia, see Petav. 1. iv., c. 4; Kuhn, 29; Card. Newman, Arians, p. 432.

II. (Greek term), when used concretely, designates in general something existing in and for itself, and consequently having and supporting in itself other things, of which it is the substratum or suppositum. Hence, an hypostasis is a substance and not a mere accident. But not every substance is an hypostasis. Substances which are parts of a whole, as, for instance, the arm of the body, are not so designated, but only substances which constitute a total or a whole in themselves. Nor is the hypostasis the substantial essence in as far as this is common to the several individuals of the same kind or species (substantia secunda), for the substantial essence does not exist in itself, but in the individuals of which it is predicated. Hence the concept of hypostasis implies an individual substance separate and distinct from all other substances of the same kind, possessing itself and all the parts, attributes, and energies which are in it (substantia prima integra in se tota). The relations between an hypostasis and its essence and nature are that the essence and nature, when and because possessed by the hypostasis, are individualized and incommunicable; the hypostasis is always the bearer (subject or suppositum) of the nature; in other words, the hypostasis has the nature. If we consider a substance formally as possessing itself, it is identical with the hypostasis; if we consider it as possessed, it is, like essence and nature, in the hypostasis.

Person is defined “an individual rational substance, --that is, the hypostasis of an intellectual nature and essence. The note “intellectual” or “rational,” restricts the concept of hypostasis to one kind of hypostasis, the most perfect of all, viz. that of substances wholly or partially spiritual. The perfection which distinguishes a personal hypostasis from a material one consists not only in the perfection of the substance itself but also in the manner of possessing it: a person is more than the bearer, he is the holder of his substance and is “sui juris,” --that is, in his own right and power.

Impersonal hypostases have no proper right over their parts, no free use of them. They are but “things” without a “self.” Persons, on the contrary, have, in virtue of their spiritual nature, a higher dignity which commands respect, and thus gives them a right over what they possess; they are conscious beings and are thus able to enjoy their various properties and to dispose of them for their own purposes. Besides, persons have a greater independence or self-sufficiency than impersonal hypostases. Their spiritual substance is imperishable and cannot be absorbed by another hypostasis; although they can be made subordinate to other persons, still they never can be treated as mere things and means; lastly, on account of the respect which one person owes to another, they are kept more apart than other hypostases of the same kind, and are not liable to be absorbed by others.

III. As to the applicability of the terms “Hypostasis” and “Person” to God, it is clear that they can only be applied analogically: whatever perfection they express is eminently present in God; whatever imperfection they imply, must be excluded from Him.

1. The perfection of a hypostasis consists in its not must be forming part of a whole or being an attribute of a substance, but rather the bearer and holder of a complete substance, essence, and nature. A person is an hypostasis endowed with dignity and conscious power, possessing his property immutably, and making it the end and object of his actions; equal to and not absorbable by the other holders of the same nature, and entitled to be respected by them in the same measure as he is bound to respect himself. All this is eminently applicable to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

2. The imperfections of created hypostases are (a) that excluded, they are not absolutely independent, their principle and last end being outside of and above them; (b) persons who possess the same nature, do not possess numerically one nature, but only similar natures; so that the distinction of created persons implies a distinction and separation of their substances; (c) hence the distinction between created persons is independent of their origin one from the other, and does not of necessity imply a connection based upon mutual esteem and love. In opposition to this, the Divine Persons are (a) absolutely independent, Their perfection and dignity being absolutely the highest; (b) the unity of substance in the Trinity is perfectly undivided, excluding the possibility of multiplication, so that the difference of Persons is merely a distinction of the Persons themselves and not of Their substance; (c) the distinction between the Divine Persons is essentially and exclusively founded upon Their relations of origin, and causes Them to be essentially bound together, and necessitates the most intimate mutual esteem and love.

IV. In consequence of these differences, the concepts of Hypostasis and Person must be modified when applied to the Deity. The notion that a person is the bearer and holder, distinct from other bearers and holders, of a rational nature, is applicable to the uncreated as well as to the created person; but not so the definition of a hypostasis as a subsisting and individual substance.

In a certain sense, it must be said of God that His Substance subsists and is individual, even apart from the distinctions between the Three Persons. Without supposing this, we cannot understand the subsistence and individuality of the several Divine Hypostases. Not only does the Divine Substance exist essentially, but it also essentially exists in itself and for itself, so that it can be in no manner part of another substance, but only be possessed by itself. Further, being unique in its kind and excluding multiplication, it also is, by reason of its unicity, eminently individual. Hence, if the notion of “subsistent and individual substance“ be used to characterize the Divine Hypostases, the subsistence (that is, the independence and self-possession) must be conceived, not in opposition to the dependence of partial substances, but in that peculiar form in which it exists in the individual holders of the Divine Substance; and the individuality must not be conceived, as in creatures, only in opposition to the notion of a common genus, but in opposition to the communicability of a single indivisible object to distinct holders. In other words: the notions of subsistence and individuality must be so modified as to agree with the form or manner in which the one Divine Substance is possessed by the three Divine Persons.

V. Although the Divine Persons are Persons in the highest sense of the term, they are essentially related to each other; that is, each of them separately possesses the Divine Nature only inasmuch as He stands to another in the relation of principle to product or vice versa, and consequently each single Person possesses the Divine Nature for Himself only in as far as He possesses it at the same time for and from the other two Persons. Otherwise there would be no distinction of the Persons, nor would the Persons have that intimate union among Themselves which is required by their absolutely perfect personality. Moreover, because the relations of the Persons to each other are the one thing which determines the difference in the possession of the same Divine Nature, these mutual relations in God are not only, as in created persons, a distinctive attribute of each Person, but they constitute the fundamental character of the personality of each Person.

From what has been said, the specific notion of the Divine Persons may be completely determined as follows. The Divine Persons are more than simply related to each other; They are nothing else but “subsisting relations,” --that is, relations identical with the Divine Substance, and representing it as subsisting or appertaining to itself in a distinct manner. Conversely, it may be said that the Persons are the one Divine Substance under a determined relation that is, as having, through the relation of origin, three particular forms of possessing Itself. This essential relativity of the Divine Persons is not indeed expressed by the term person, but the thing signified by the term is in fact a subsisting relation or the substance under a determined relation; the proper names of the Persons Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (i.e. Spirit of the Father and the Son) clearly express their relations. (Cf. St. Thomas, I., q. 29, a. 3.)

SECT. 100. --The Distinction of the Divine Persons in particular, and their Distinctive Marks.

I. According to Tertullian, the differentiation (Greek) of the Divine Persons presupposes the Monarchy, that is the unity and unicity of the Divine Essence and particularly the unity and unicity of one Person, in whom the Divine Essence is present originally, not as communicated or received. The differentiation is brought about by the First Person being essentially a producing and communicating Person, producing the other Persons from Himself, and communicating His essence to Them.

II. The active production and communication of the First Person is twofold, and consequently the corresponding procession (Greek spelling) is also twofold, namely, the generation (Greek spelling) which has its foundation in the First Person alone; and the procession in a narrower sense (spiratio, --Greek, or --Greek when expressing the action; processio, (Greek spelling), when considered passively), which has its common foundation in the First and Second Persons.

III. Hence a threefold positive fundamental form of possessing the Divine Nature (Greek); viz. (1) communicating possession, or possession for self and for others; (2) two forms of receiving possession, or possession for self and from others. Of these latter the one is distinguished from the other inasmuch as it partakes of the communicating form. These three fundamental forms are the three distinguishing personal characters of the three Persons (Greek, characteres personates et constituentes) from which they also take their names--the Father from the Fathership (Greek, paternitas), the Son from the Sonship (Greek, filiatio), and the Holy Ghost from the Spiration (Greek, spiratio).

The Active Spiration is not a personal, constituent character like Paternity and Filiation, because it is not a fundamental form of possession, existing side by side with Paternity and Filiation, but is only an attribute of these. But Active Spiration is an attribute in such a manner that it is contained in the complete concept of Paternity and Filiation, and unfolds the full signification of these two characters. The Father, as principle of the first production in the Deity, is also principle of the second production; and the Son, as product of the first production, is also principle of the second. The Father generates the Son as Spirator (Pater general Filium Spiratorem), and the Son is one with the Father in Spiration as in all other things The Father as Father being also Spirator, and the Son as Son being likewise Spirator, it follows that the Father is principle of all communications, and is a communicating principle only; that the Son is principle of only one communication, and is at the same time a receiving and communicating principle.

IV. As from the twofold production in God results a threefold form of possession, so from the same there result four real relations (relationes, Greek), or two mutual relations. Each production gives rise to two relations, viz. of principle to product and vice versa: generation is the foundation of the relation of Father to Son and of Son to Father; spiration is the foundation of the relation of Father and Son to the Holy Ghost, and of the relation of the Holy Ghost to Father and Son. And of these real relations there are only four, because the spiration proceeds from Father and Son as from one principle, so that Father and Son bear to the Holy Ghost one indivisible relation. The relations are real, not merely logical, because they are founded upon a real production, and are the condition of the real being of the principle and of the product. Whence they have essentially a twofold function: the differentiation of the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quern, and the connecting of both terms; or rather, they only distinguish, in as far as at the same time they represent, the Persons distinguished as appertaining one to another, and so bind Them together, that if one ceased to be, the corresponding one would likewise cease. This also applies to the relation of Father and Son to the Holy Ghost; for although They are not Father and Son on account of the Spiration, still without the Spiration They would not be all that They are by essence.

V. The special marks or characters which distinguish each of the three Persons from the other two, are called in theology proprietates, (Greek), or (Greek); and considered as objects of our knowledge, “Distinguishing and Personal Notions” (notiones distinguentes and personales (Greek), and (Greek); in the language of the schools they are termed simply notiones divinae or notiones.

These notions are five in number, viz. the four relations as positive notions, to which is added the “Ingenerateness,” or “Innascibility” of the Father as a negative notion. This last characterizes the peculiar position of the Father more distinctly as First Principle in the Deity, and thus completes the notion of paternity. The negative notions that might be predicated of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (viz. that the Son is not Father, and the Holy Ghost is not Spirator) are not taken into account, because they do not complete the notions of Filiation and Spiration, but result at once from these notions. The positive notions may be conceived and expressed in a variety of ways, e.g. the Sonship as “being spoken as a Word,” or as generation in its active or passive sense. These differences of expression, however, do not alter the number of notions.

Three of the five notions appertain to the Father --Ingenerateness, Paternity, and Active Spiration; two to the Son--Filiation and Active Spiration; one to the Holy Ghost--Passive Spiration.

VI. Thus there are in God:--
1. One Nature;
2. Two Productions;
3. Three Persons;
4. Four Relations; and
5. Five Notions.