By Rubén de la Trinidad, CM
Master Knight, Cuba.
A greeting of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ, our King and Savior, to all the Knights and Ladies of the Most Holy Trinity, and all those who with good will approach our Brotherhood with simplicity of heart. Receive all strength in this Lenten journey.
Each year, the Lord, who is rich in mercy, gives us the opportunity to walk the path of returning to friendship with Him. This is what Lent is about, to realize that «this is the Lord’s day, it is the time of mercy.» It is about conversion and returning with new strength and enthusiasm to friendship with Him who loves us and awaits us with open arms at the end of this path. Lent, the path of purification, will give its best fruits to those who, with audacity, face it as a spiritual desert and battlefield. As «desert», because it has to purify us of everything that does not lead us to union with God. As a «battlefield», because we know that there will be opposition from those wage war with the soul, namely, the devil, the world, and the flesh.
The Church offers us three Lenten practices which serve as strategies by which we may deal with evil in this combat: giving alms, fasting and prayer. In essence, these practices seek the conversion of senses, of how we perceive our living environment. And, through this conversion of the senses, we are able to move on to the purpose of this time of grace: the conversion of the heart.
Almsgiving puts us face to face with the poverty of our neighbor. Our dealings with the needy must be horizontal, like a brother is treated, and never from above like someone who drops a favor.
The charity of the one who gives what is left over does not redeem or raise up the violated souls. Almsgiving is worth nothing if the alms do not first pass through the compassion of the heart. This is what we call «mercy», which is nothing other than the empathy of our heart with the misery of others. Only with mercy may that what comes out of our hands be effective in alleviating those poverties that we also recognize as ours. The one who has understood this, will no longer seek to conquer the glory of the world on the basis of merit in order to reign in it. His reign will be the service to the most humble, to those who in the world are held for little or nothing (Cf. 1 Cor. 1: 27-28).
Fasting brings us one step further. The gaze goes from the outer sphere to the one in our heart. It leads to the self-control of the «ego,» who is greedy for pleasure, sometimes blindly unbridled, and only seeks to satisfy its own whim and desire. Fasting becomes a hedge of moderation and sobriety that the miles Christi impose upon themselves as a disciple to adjust the reins of the «flesh,» whose tendency leads to the rejection of God (see Rom 8, 6-8). This steed so close to the ego is tamed with temperance. And this temperance will have to be renewed by the will every week, every day, on every occasion. With well-understood abstinence, the sober severity of the prophets, who live by every word that comes from the mouth of God and not only from bread. A good fast for our days will be to abandon the compulsion of consumerism to open our pockets to the needy, by force of generosity.
During the forty days and forty nights that Our Savior wanted to spend in the desert (see Mt 4, 1-11; Mk 1, 12-13; Lk 4, 1-13) to exercise his love for the Father, he was sustained by prayer, by the combat which meant returning again and again, after each trial, to the gaze of his Father, to union with his God. In the depths of Jesus, only one thing became the foundation of his purity and rectitude of intention: serene and unwavering trust in the love of the One who sent him and summoned his Mission, his Father God. The end of our prayer in this Lent must be the same: to remain with a serene confidence under the gaze of our Father.
Let us throw ourselves without fear, during this Lent, in search of filial intimacy with our «Abba». Let us not be afraid of struggling on the high seas until arriving at the port of contemplation, knowing that in every good work God sends his grace to help us. And there is no contemplation without abandonment, nor abandonment without confidence. Contemplation is never achieved with the help of ingenuity or effort. The fruits of good prayer are reaped in the field of abandonment entrusted to the tenderness of God. The only weapon, then, to reach good prayer will be that of obstinate passion for the Beloved and the thirst of God: «As the doe seeks streams of water, so my soul seeks you, my God; my soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when I will go in to see the face of God?” (Ps 42, 2-3)
Failure to attend to prayer is usually a sign of pride and spiritual self-sufficiency. And it is what chases the Opponent away, so that each of us is constituted in a private bastion, exalted in its self-referentiality. These hollow glories that the ego has built may look dazzling, but in the end they are nothing more than a straw castle away from God. The Pelagianism that claims the applause of Men despairs at the humility of those who always trust God. However, the one who loves to stay in union with God, becomes priest of all life and pontiff of creation.
By alms, fasting and prayer; mercy, temperance and thirst for God, each of the Knights and Ladies of the Most Holy Trinity will know how to join Christ in this Lenten battle.
May our alms be concrete and the mercy that is expected from our hands reach men and women of flesh and blood, who interpellate our charity. An anonymous hand that screams at our step is easy to be silent, but the poor neighbor who is always by our side is Christ silent, ignored, patient. May our fasting not conform to sterile asceticism, that can also become vain pity. May the fast of this temporary «quarantine» extinguish a little the fire of those who fast throughout the year.
Let our fasting and abstinence become gifts: a «no» for our whims and a «yes» for the clamor of the little ones of the Kingdom. May our prayer not be content with a routine piety, mediocre, without fervor or passion. May our daily encounter with the Lord take place in the intimacy of silence. Let us try this space with zeal.
I would like to leave a challenge to all the members of the Brotherhood, both the troops and the added, in this Lent. Let everyone pray at least one of the hours of the Liturgy of the Hours. The main hours of the day are Lauds and Vespers. But it would be an immense grace for the whole Brotherhood if all its members prayed at least one of the hours of the Divine Office. With the same desire, I also urge you to approach the prayer of the Holy Rosary, if you have abandoned it, or if you do not pray it habitually.
Remember the three weapons to live the Lent that we have previously discussed: mercy, the temperance and thirst of God. Looking to Jesus, who at all times put his heart in the things of the Father and in the project of his Kingdom, let us live happy and confident in his victory. He awaits us full of life and light in his glorious Easter.
I entrust to all of you in my prayers the Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of our Militia; to St. Michael the Archangel and to St. George. May they grant us the grace of Our Savior to preserve in good works and to desire always the life of holiness. Your humble servant in Christ,
Rubén de la Trinidad
Havana, March 6, 2019.