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Pope Francis' Letter On the Occasion of the 8th Centenary of Trinitarian Founder, St. John of Mata
VATICAN CITY, December 17, 2013 (Zenit.org) - Here is a translation of the Holy Father's Letter to the Minister General of the Order of the Trinitarians, on the occasion of the 8th centenary of the death of the Founder, Saint John of Mata.
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To the Very Reverend Father
Friar Joseph Narlaly
Minister General of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives
In this year in which the Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of Captives, and all those united to it with spiritual bonds, observe the eighth centenary of the death of their Holy Founder, John of Matha, and the four hundred years of the happy passing of Saint John Baptist of the Conception, Reformer of the same Order, I wish to unite myself to you in your thanksgiving to God Trinity for these outstanding figures for the Church, sending you this simple message of encouragement and spiritual closeness, with the hope that it will serve as stimulation and support to go forward with enthusiasm and decision on the spiritual path that they traced, for the glory of the thrice Holy One and the good of those going through different trials.
The old motto: Hicest Ordo adprobatus, non a sanctis fabricates, sed a solo summo Deo (Saint John Baptist of the Conception, Works III, 45) which the Trinitarian Religious have always proclaimed, begins from a profoundly rooted awareness in you that this charism is a gift of God, accepted by the Church from its beginning through pontifical approval. God has gone before us, , choosing these servants of his to manifest his mercies in them. They were able to accept the challenge, in docility to the Church that discerns the charisms. Thus, if today we celebrate the dies natales of its Founder and Reformer, we do so precisely because they were able to deny themselves, to take up with simplicity and docility the cross of Christ and put themselves entirely and unconditionally in God's hands, so that He would build their Work.
We are all called to experience the joy that springs from the encounter with Jesus, to conquer our egoism, to come out of our own comfort and to dare to reach all the fringes that need the light of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 20). This is what Saint John of Matha and Saint John Baptist of the Conception did with their life and apostolic courage. They, who were leading religious lives that were respectable, although perhaps somewhat comfortable and safe, received a call from God, which turned them around and pushed them to spend and exhaust themselves in favor of the neediest, of those who were suffering for proclaiming their faith in the Gospel, of those whose joy was in danger of being robbed from them. In the course of the centuries, in perfect attunement with that foundational spirit, the House of the Holy Trinity has been the home of the poor and the disregarded, a place where wounds of the body and the soul are healed, and this is done with prayer, which, as the Holy Reformer well said, is a better medicine than many remedies, and also with unconditional dedication and with disinterested and loving service. The work, the effort and gratitude are condensed in the Rule of Saint John of Matha with the words Ministro and sine proprio (Trinitarian Rule, n. 1).In fact the Trinitarians have clear, and we must all learn from them, that in the Church all responsibility or authority must be lived as service. From this it follows that our action must be stripped of all desire for profit or personal promotion, and must always seek to put in common all the talents received from God to direct them, as good administrators, to the end for which they were given, namely, to alleviate the most underprivileged. This is Christ's concern and that is why the Houses of your Family "always have the door open" for fraternal welcome (Original Directory of the Trinitarian Sisters 2. Cf. Evangelii gaudium, 46).
Now, on uniting myself with your song of praise to the Most Holy Trinity, through these great Saints I wish to implore you that, following their example, you will never cease to look at Christ and, with the strength of his Spirit, give yourselves with humility to serve the poor and captives. There are many of these today. We see them each day and we cannot ignore them, contenting ourselves with a good word. Christ was not like that. It is a condition of life to acquire Christ's sentiments, in order to see his face in those who suffer and give them consolation and the light that springs from his pierced Heart. You must also dare to be the first (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 24), exactly as Saint John Baptism of the Conception proposed it to his friars with the attractive image of a game of cards, trying to make them understand that it is in this stake for the poor that we gain an authentic and happy life. For the Saint, this is the challenge God gives us: his poor, and if we lose this hand, he tells us, we are totally lost (Works III, 79). Therefore, for your apostolic works and initiatives do not look for a foundation other than "the roots of charity" and "the interest of Christ," whom my Predecessor, Innocent III, considered as the essential jambs of this new way of life that he approved with his apostolic authority (Operante divinae dispositionis clementia, Bull 17.12.1198).
In bidding you farewell, while imparting the Apostolic Blessing upon all the members of the Order and of the entire Trinitarian Family, I beg that, as it is an immemorial tradition among you, you not fail to pray for the Pope. I know that this intention is constant, together with that of the poor, and that you present them to the Lord every night. It pleases me very much to think that you put the Bishop of Rome in prayer together with the poorest, as this reminds me that I cannot forget them, as Jesus did not forget them, who felt in the depth of his Heart that he was sent to give them the Good News and that, with his poverty, he enriched us all (cf. Luke 4:18; 2 Corinthians 8:9). May He bless you and the Holy Virgin take care of you.
Vatican, December 17, Solemnity of Saint John of Mata of the year 2013, the first of my Pontificate.
[Original text: Spanish]
[Translation by ZENIT]
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