Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier

By | May 26, 2010

Dominican theologian Yves Congar gave us a framework for reflecting upon the mystery of the Holy Trinity in his three volumes “I Believe in the Holy Spirit.” Congar wrote: “…creation is attributed to the Father, then the redemption is the work of the Word made flesh and sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit” (Vol. II, p. 5).


Bishop Robert Morneau

Our one God is a creator God. This life-giving activity brings all of us into existence. God is the origin and source of all life and we are challenged to recognize and respond to this fact with praise and gratitude.

Our one God is a redeeming God. In Jesus, the Word made flesh, we have been given a redeemer, a savior. Through faith in Christ we are justified; through faith in Jesus, we have the possibility of experiencing God’s peace and glory. Redemption has to do with the realities of sin and death. We have in Jesus a hope that will not disappoint.

Our one God is a sanctifier. Sanctification, this life of holiness or the perfection of love, is the work of the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul so clearly states: “…the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” God’s creative and redeeming love has a third ingredient: one of growth and full maturity. As we journey through life, it is the indwelling Spirit who is our wisdom and power. It is an ancient wisdom; it is an everlasting power.

C.S. Lewis comments in his autobiography “Surprised by Joy”: “I had approached God, or my idea of God, without love, without awe, even without fear” (21). This was the young and foolish Lewis. Later, after his conversion, his approach to God was filled with love, awe and a holy trepidation. One senses the same tonality in the writing of Congar and all the great theologians.

The Holy Trinity is a great mystery, but through the grace of revelation, we can wrap some words around the mystery of God, words like Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier; words like Father, Son and Spirit; words like Light, Love and Water; words like Lover, Beloved, Loving.

As we make the sign of the cross and as we pray the “Glory Be…,” let us do so with love, awe and fear. Maybe our minds might be illuminated and hearts set on fire because we participate, through grace, in the very life of our triune God.

Questions for reflection

1. What does the making of the sign of the cross tell you about the Trinity?

2. How has your concept and knowledge of God grown over the years?

3. In what sense does the Trinity dwell within you?


Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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