Since the Holy Trinity is a mystery, all these examples below from Saints Patrick, Cyril, and John Maria Vianney are only the shadows of the shadows of the Truth.
The shamrock, a kind of clover, is a leguminous herb that grows in marshy places. St. Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The story goes that one day his friends asked Patrick to explain the Mystery of the Trinity. He looked at the ground and saw shamrocks growing amid the grass at his feet. He picked up one of its trifoliate leaves and asked if it were one leaf or three. Patrick’s friends couldn’t answer – the shamrock leaf looked like one, but it clearly had three parts. Patrick explained to them: “The mystery of the Holy Trinity – one God in Three Persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is like this, but more complex and unintelligible.”
St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity using sun as an example. He said, “God the Father is that blazing sun. God the Son is its light and God the Holy Spirit is its heat — but there is only one sun. So, there are three Persons in the Holy Trinity, but God is One and indivisible.”
St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly, the rose has color, fragrance, and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam, and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”
- Submitted by Fr. Joseph Dovari