Year of Faith Retreat – Week 1, Day 3: A Family Resemblance to God (The Trinity)


WEEK ONE: The Creed

DAY 3: A Family Resemblance to God (The Trinity)

To whom do you bear a family resemblance? It can be a physical resemblance or a personality trait that you share.  As baptized Catholics, we are members of God’s family, made in his image and likeness. The question for us today is, “do we bear a family resemblance to our God?” Of course, we are not talking about a physical resemblance, because God is invisible. However, if we are indeed to bear a resemblance to God, it is important for us to know something about him! As Christians, the single most important thing that we know about God is that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Trinity.

The Trinity, of course, is a mystery. We may not fully understand a mystery, but we can know a mystery. What we know best about the Trinity is that it is a community of Persons in loving relationship with one another, so intimate and so self-giving, that God is One. As God’s children, we are called to live in loving relationship with one another. Our truest identity is to be in communion with one another and with God.

Our belief in the Trinity is not an intellectual exercise—it is a relationship. To say that we believe in the Trinity is not to try to explain some complex theological concept, but is to say that we are loved by God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – whose very essence is self-giving love. Whenever you and I experience self-giving love, we experience the love of the Trinity. This means that the following moments in life are profoundly Trinitarian:

  • When you wake up in the middle of the night to change your baby’s diaper.
  • When you take some time at work to help a fellow employee get a better grasp of his or her responsibilities.
  • When you check up on a neighbor who has been having a difficult time.
  • When you interrupt your favorite TV show to take a phone call from a friend or relative who is lonely.
  • When you spend time helping your child with homework after a long day at work.
  • When you buy a cup of hot coffee for a homeless person you encounter on your way to work.

So, today, experience the Trinity by sharing (and receiving) self-giving love.  And, if you do not do so already, begin your day each morning by prayerfully making the Sign of the Cross as a reminder to let your resemblance to God – self-giving love – show!

Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.

  • What does it mean for us to bear a family resemblance to our God?
  • Who in your life most resembles God (exemplifies self-giving love)?
  • What are 3 Trinitarian moments you’ve experienced in the last 48 hours (experiences of self-giving love)?
  • What would you say to someone who claims that they can be spiritual but not religious (meaning that they feel they do not need to have a relationship with a congregation)?
  • What does it mean to live as a people “in communion with” one another?
  • Explain the following statement: “Our belief in the Trinity is not an intellectual exercise—it is a relationship.”


Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Additional Reading

CCC References: 232- 267

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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Learn more about the Year of Faith. Watch a brief video explaining what this online retreat is all about.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. In my daily experiences, I sense that God, the Father, is the author of all ideas or challenges, Jesus has given the concrete examples by which I can put these ideas into practice in my life and the Spirit is the energy force that gives me what I need to act upon the challenge set before me. So I must be open to hear what God has is mind for me on any given day or moment, reflect on how Jesus handled similar situations and then hope that the Spirit will motivate me to take the necessary action. When I allow all three persons of the Trinity to work in me,experiencing the unique relationship with each, there is the greatest chance for doing good in that moment.

  2. I like to tell my students that they have God’s DNA running through their veins, meaning that they are in the image and likeness of God. To bring that image and likeness of God forward, we need to practice being like God. When we really like someone and look up to him or her, we try to emulate his or her actions. In the same way, we should practice acting like God. And since God is a relationship, it means making connections with other people through listening, sharing, and forgiving. We can’t be like God on our own. Since God IS a relationship – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – we, too, are relationships. We cannot exist without others.

  3. The person in my life who most exemplifies self-giving love is the DRE of my Parish. She is someone who is always there giving up her time for anyone. She never puts herself first. Whether it’s helping to feed the poor or the numerous hours she dedicates to Religious Education. She makes sure that he Catechists know how much they are appreciated. She goes above and beyond what is required from her.
    You can truly see the resemblance of God in her.

  4. Our DRE exemplifies self-giving love. She is in her 70’s and runs one program, but we are a merged parish so we have CCD at two sites. She’s in early and stays late, she makes time for everyone. She just ran a well attended Vacation Bible School and was right in the middle of things with the campers. The light in the children’s faces when they see her is wonderful to see. She collects gently used clothing for a parish in Alaska where she did Mission work earlier in her ministry. She gives so much of herself without looking for any acclaim or accolade. She is an example of self-giving love for all to emulate.

  5. Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches. We are connected to him as members of the church and we need to take our spiritual food by takiing part in the sacraments in order to strengthen our relationship with God. We visit our friends in their homes. Why not visit God in his house and dwell in his presence in front of the tabernacle. We can just feel close to him or join others in worship and praise being in communion with other Christians is an essential part of our spirituality. These are some of the things I would say to someone who says they can be spiritual without being religious.

  6. It’s difficult to pick people in my life and say they resemble God because to me God is perfect, without fault, without blemish. When i think about self giving love i can say that i am blessed with wonderful people in my life who are always there for me without hesitation. My mom and my aunt are those people who have given selflessly their whole lives to me and many others. I don’t believe i could ever achieve their level of selflessness but their caring and loving ways give me the strength to always try to be a better person.

  7. “Spiritual but not religious” is such a common way for people to describe themselves these days. It isn’t always clear what folks mean by “spiritual.” An old and dear friend who is a long-time member says that he means “committed to the best relationship with God, self, and others.” He never goes to church, but he goes to AA meetings several times a week – seems like he does need community! Other people,have said that they can pray alone, so theyndon’t need to go to Church.

    My response is this: first of all, God is a community. If we are to be like God, we need community as well (and non-religious evidence formthismismthat we have always been gregarious animals). I believe that God,is with me all the time, but Jesus said that He’d be with “two or more gathered in His name.”

    For me, being religious, Catholic in particular, deeply enriches my life. Worship is different from private prayer, and a necessary and comforting part of my life. I can’t imagine my life without thenEucharist and the Sacraments. The practices that go with belonging to a Church make life’s big events fall into place. (Once, I was involved with a funeral for someone who had no religious affiliation. Her family was so at loose ends. They put her hard drive into her coffin, drove her body past the cemetery where her brother is buried, and tried other things, but the whole event was really depressing.)
    It is a blessing to me to be able to talk to people who share my beliefs, to read what other Catholics have written, and to have opportunities like this retreat. I love being able to grow in my relationship with God and the Church by learning more through the teachings of that Church. The Communion of Saints is such a precious gift as well.
    Private prayer is great, but my spirituality is founded on and grows through my religion.

  8. My life has been blessed with selfless individuals both in my family and in my circle of friends. But the one who exuded selflessness more than anyone I’ve ever known was a priest who was a friend of our family for 61 years before he died a few years ago. He gave a brand new wool coat (given to him by a parishoner) to a homeless man who came to the rectory for food one very cold wintery night. Fr. Patterson’s quiet, humble, saintly existence touched many lives in the parishes he served during his priestly life.

  9. All of our Catholic beliefs can be intellectual exercises. But, it is not until we truly feel those beliefs within our hearts, and live them, that they become a part of who we are.

  10. I’ve experience in the past 48 hrs moments of trinitarian , one where a good friend invited my 3 children along with myself to come and enjoy her pool because it was extremely hot, not for just one day but two days! Another would be in a store I had someone say hello to me that I hadn’t seen in a very long time and she was very kind and sweet I enjoyed talking with her, when we finished talking I felt a warm happy feeling. Today I experienced it while texting with someone whom I work with. In our conversation I smiled and laughed and by the end of our texting I had a great feeling of being appreciated. I believe that there are many moments that we experience this but for some reason we let it go by without being aware of it or accepting that it is God who is there within those moments.

  11. Today I can think of 3 Trinitarian experiences that I faced. First, I began my day with changing diapers of 2 and 3 year old children who attend a class for children who are newly separated from their parents ( A separation anxiety class). As a mother, I care for these children as if they are my own comforting their tears and changing diapers not just because it is my job, but because I truly care for their well being. They bring so many smiles to me. Another moment was taking the time to shake the hand of an aging man who has a very special talent of reupholstering furniture. He brought new “life” to a few swivel chairs that I just couldn’t part with. Of course, I paid him for his time but it was the simple sincerity in our handshake that I felt God was with me or before me. Finally, God was with me in Spirit as I avoided a very close potential car accident. I thanked God after swerving to miss the car pulling into my lane that I didn’t cause an accident & everyone was o.k. Just moments before this happened, I read a bumper sticker that said “Give Glory to God.” I thought, how cool. How Trinitarian!! Nowadays, many people don’t truly express their religious beliefs. I just think that if someone can make a difference in letting people know how they truly feel about God then many people will be effected and long for a relationship and a community of believers.

  12. What does it mean to bear a family resemblance to God?

    To love unconditionally. To be compassionate. To look for that resemblance in every other person.

  13. Three Trinitarian moments that I experienced are:

    1. My husband prepping the coffee maker for my morning coffee.

    2. Wrapping my husband’s leg daily with an ace bandage.

    3. I’m preparing to do this one. Stopping what I’m doing and playing with our dog. She’s been nudging me with her chew toy, this after she chewed up my shoe.

  14. Being in communion with one another is living together and sharing ones experiences, the ups and the downs. Being in communion with one another is accepting the faults as well and the positives of others and not being judgemental but supportive, caring, understanding, patient and loving.

    There are many people in my life who resemble God, if I had to choose then I would say quite a few people in my parish resemble God to me because of their good advice, their mannerism, when I observe them I see that inner peace even when I see that they are annoyed. I comtemplate these people and I see their beauty and I can feel God’s presence.

  15. Who resembles God?…That’s an easy one…MOM!

    I’m thankful for the tremendous insights shared by so many here on this blog. It lifts me up at the end of a long day. Praise God!

  16. Trinitarian moments – experiencing self-giving love – I am working with a team of volunteers pulling off a new parish facebook page. They give their time and talent so generously not only in meetings, monitoring and posting, but also in their emails between each other. Face-to-face is great, but emails, blogs are also wonderful forums for sharing self-giving love.

  17. I try to lovingly talk with friends who feel they don’t need others or a church, their relationship with God is just between them and God. Obviously they don’t understand God as a relationship of love, or believe we are called to become like God through our love of him AND others. Many of them have very simple notions of God. Helping them to understand otherwise needs to be done with much love, compassion and understanding.

  18. Our belief in the Trinity MUST be a relationship…it can’t be intellectual. The minute you try to intellectualize the Trinity, you get caught up in confusion – the mystery is not one that can be intellectualized. At different moments, we may pray to the Father and others to Jesus Christ the son and yet others to the Holy Spirit. The relationship we create with the Trinity allows us to know which way our needs can be met in any given situation.

    Once we understand our relationship with the Trinity, we can then speak to the issue of our faith being in relationship with one another. Even our holy God is in this trinitarian relationship. Every story of Jesus involves Him and a crowd of people. Jesus was never alone. If we are to live like Jesus, we need to welcome all the people who come in to our lives. We must make time for them. And most of all, we must make time for God – in His home…on AT LEAST a weekly basis. We are not meant to figure out our faith on our own. We need our weekly homilies and guidance from the Catholic Church. (As someone stated yesterday, we have humans who err and we need to understand that HUMANS err, not the Catholic Church itself.) In our “drive through” world, we need to still enjoy the sit-down meal and create community with those who share it with us.

  19. I would have to say that my mother shows self giving love bcaus there is not a thing she wouldn’t do for someone else. She works hard or her family, friends, and her church/ God giving herself going ou of her way for others no matter how sh is feelin what Che has planned! She is amazing and a perfect example of what it means to love and be an amazing person

  20. Explain the following statement: “Our belief in the Trinity is not an intellectual exercise—it is a relationship.”
    This means that you do not have to study and learn about the Trinity in order to “know” it. It is more important to build a relationship with the Trinity in many ways. One way is by praying.

  21. I praise and thank God for your efforts to conduct this online retreat. Through this I am truly experiencing God’s self giving love.

  22. Wow, I love and eat all the comments that were shared above. They are each characteristically unique yet unified in the Personhood of the One Triune God. Thank God St. Thomas Aquinas did not burn up all his straw work of the Trinity Mystery after the beatific vision of God, otherwise we would not have any straw to start up a fire of love in our hearts for this awesome God.

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