Memory, Understanding, and Will

“Now this trinity* of the mind is God’s image, not because the mind remembers, understands and loves itself; but because it has the power also to remember, understand and love its Maker.  And it is in so doing that it attains wisdom.  If it does so, the memory, understanding and love of itself is no more than an act of folly.  Let the mind then remember its God, in whose image it was made, let it understand him and love him.  In a word, let it worship the uncreated God who created it with the capacity for himself, and in whom it is able to be a partaker.” Augustine, On the Trinity XIV. 15. xii. trans. John Burnaby in Augustine: Later Works (Philadelphia, 1955), p. 115.

*Augustine identifies this trinity of the human mind as memory, understanding, and the will.  Medieval theologians, for example, Bernard of Clairvaux and the Cistercians adopted this idea and applied to their understanding of the human soul and religious devotion.

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