Thrice holy, one Lord; Angels: Day 054

Thrice holy, one Lord; Angels: Day 054 September 13, 2016

angels_ambrose_1Thrice holy, one Lord

Making an argument we hear more than once from the Fathers, St. Ambrose tells us that the “Holy, holy, holy” sung by the Seraphim (Isa. 6:3) indicates the Trinity: thrice holy, one Lord. If  that is the way the powers of Heaven worship, he says, then that is the way he will worship.

The Seraphim say “Holy, holy, holy.”

What does it mean, speaking the same name “Holy” three times? And if it’s repeated three times, why is it only one act of praise? If it’s one act of praise, why repeat it three times?

Why repeat it three times, unless because the Father, the Son, and the Holy

Spirit are one in holiness?

The Seraph did not speak the name once, because that might exclude the Son. He did not speak it twice, because that might leave out the Holy Spirit. He did not speak it four times, because that might add in some created beings.

Then to show that the Godhead of the Trinity is one, he added “the Lord”— singular—“of hosts” (Isa. 6:3).

Holy is the Father; holy is the Son; and likewise holy is the Spirit of God. Therefore the Trinity is worshiped, but does not worship—is praised, but does not praise.

As for me, I prefer to believe as the Seraphim do, and worship the way all the Principalities and Powers of Heaven worship.

–St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Christian Faith, 2.12


What does it mean to worship as the angels and heavenly powers worship? Is it just saying the words, or is it being—as an angel is—a minister and messenger of God?


Thousands of thousands of heavenly spirits, and ten thousand myriads of holy angels, hosts of spirits, ministers of fire and spirit, bless and adore your majesty, O Lord. Let me, with the holy Cherubim and the spiritual Seraphim, sanctify and celebrate your name, crying and praising without ceasing, “Holy,  holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.”

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