MESSAGE FROM THE MINISTER GENERAL
TO THE TRINITARIAN FAMILY
ON THE OCCASION OF THE SOLEMNITY
OF SAINT JOHN DE MATHA
AND NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
Lit. Circ. 11/2023
Dear brothers and sisters,
My cordial and fraternal greetings to all the members of the Trinitarian Family.
A few weeks ago, the first session of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops concluded. The synodal assembly recognized the positive contribution that consecrated life continues to offer to the Church and the world. Indeed, the synthesis document stated that “the charismatic dimension of the Church has a particular manifestation in consecrated life, with the richness and variety of its forms. Its witness has contributed in every age to renewing the life of the ecclesial community, proving to be an antidote with respect to the recurring temptation of worldliness. Different religious families show the beauty of following the Lord, on the prayer on the mountain and on the roads of the world, in forms of community life, in the solitude of the desert and on the frontier of cultural challenges. Consecrated life more than once has been the first to sense the changes in history and to grasp the calls of the Spirit: today, too, the Church needs its prophecy.”
These words are a real booster of confidence and hope that commits us to a path of continuous conversion and profound renewal in order to continue to give the Church and the world the style, passion and boldness of prophecy. This is not an easy task, as we grapple with numerous challenges and difficulties, such as the numerical decline of vocations in the West, the reorganization of works, the aggressive advance of secularization, new forms of poverty, slavery, and oppression, the spread of persecution against Christians, immigration, wars, etc.
In a few weeks we will celebrate the solemnity of our Founder, which this year falls on the 825th anniversary of the approval of the Trinitarian Rule. In the new year we will also commemorate the 4th centenary of the death of St. Simon de Rojas and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of SIT. All these anniversaries are occasions to express our gratitude to the Most Holy Trinity for all its gifts but also to be able to verify the creative quality of our fidelity to the primitive Rule, lived in its fullness by saints like St. Simon de Rojas, and actualized in the commitment on behalf of persecuted Christians, which in recent decades has been animated and coordinated by Trinitarian International Solidarity.
The Rule that our founder left us is a shining beacon for all of us, guiding the centuries-long journey of our religious family. It continues to be a significant point of reference for both the present and the future. Encapsulated in this historical document are our origins — historical, spiritual, biblical, and theological. Within these origins, we find the inspirational spark that continues to animate our life and mission.
The Rule approved by Pope Innocent III gives us the certainty that the Trinitarian Family is the work of God. In fact, St. John de Matha did not transmit to us a human project or a humanitarian program, but a way of living the Gospel, of giving concreteness to the profession of faith in the great mystery of God-Trinity. The Trinitarian charism expresses the fruitfulness of the Gospel and the creativity of the Spirit, which, in every age, gives rise to particular gifts as a response to the problems of humanity.
To consolidate the spirit of family and recover the creative imagination of the Holy Spirit, in order to respond to the new needs and challenges of the present time, we too need today the freshness of the origins and their aggregating and prophetic power.
The Trinitarian Rule has borne many fruits of charity and liberation over the centuries, but the most beautiful fruits are our saints, including St. Simon de Rojas, whose fourth centenary of his death on September 29, 1624, we will celebrate in 2024.
As a tree is recognized by its fruits, so the charism receives confirmation as a divine gift, demonstrated by its ability to produce saints. The life of St. Simon represents the incarnation of the Trinitarian charism in the concreteness of daily life and in the extraordinary circumstances that marked his existence. St. Simón de Rojas shines for his intense Marian devotion and his great love for the poor and those afflicted by various forms of suffering. In fact, his charity knew no bounds: the poor, prostitutes, abandoned children, the sick, beggars, Christian slaves in Algeria, mutilated soldiers, elderly priests living miserably… his heart had room for everyone. As John Paul II said in the homily at his canonization, “The poor, for their part, saw in him their protector, defender, and father. They considered him such a visible and concrete witness of poverty that they saw him as one of them, totally assimilated to their sufferings and needs.”
He devoted himself to prayer and Marian devotion with the same intensity with which he dedicated himself to the poor. The more he was united with the Lord and the Virgin Mary in prayer, the more he shared in the suffering of the poor, the excluded, and the persecuted. Our saint teaches us that prayer and service can never be separated. His witness is more relevant than ever in our world, which has not only lost reference to God but also the sense of true humanity. The celebration of the fourth centenary of his death will certainly be a valuable opportunity to rediscover the human and spiritual greatness of St. Simon de Rojas and follow his example.
Next year we will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of SIT as a body to promote and coordinate the Trinitarian Family’s commitment to persecuted Christians. The Extraordinary General Chapter of 1999, celebrated in Ariccia, approved the establishment of a body that was to coordinate and promote more effective and incisive action on behalf of persecuted Christians, in a time painfully marked by striking hatred and violence against Christians, especially in regions where they constitute a religious minority. John Paul II praised this important initiative: “In the light of this heroic witness, you wish to prepare concrete projects with which to introduce yourselves into the new millennium. In particular, you have thought of establishing an international body of the Trinitarian
Family, through which you could intervene more effectively in defence of those persecuted or discriminated against because of their religious faith and fidelity to Gospel values or their conscience. You gave the new body the name “International Trinitarian Solidarity,” intending to involve the entire Family in the service of many suffering and unfortunate people, who in their misery sigh toward an ‘epiphan’ of Christ the Redeemer”.
SIT, indeed, stands as the sole entity that engages the entire Trinitarian Family, united in this specific mission. This anniversary is a precious opportunity to express gratitude to the Holy Trinity for the journey we have undertaken, for the considerable work and passion dedicated to serving our many brothers and sisters who suffer simply because they are Christians. Through this commitment, we have become a significant point of reference for bishops and apostolic nuncios who seek our assistance on behalf of their communities enduring persecution. In his address to the participants of the International Congress on Religious Freedom held in Rome in April 2022, Pope Francis encouraged us to continue in this direction, congratulating us on how we have ‘been able to actualize the charism of the Order by giving life to this organization.’ This organization defends religious freedom not merely in a theoretical manner but by caring for people persecuted and imprisoned because of their faith.”
The phenomenon of religious persecution in recent decades has assumed frightening proportions, unprecedented in the entire history of Christianity. This fact serves as a call for an even more generous commitment from us. While much has been accomplished in recent decades, we must acknowledge that much more needs to be done. This involves fostering greater attention and sensitivity throughout the Trinitarian Family, which is also present today in countries where religious freedom is severely restricted, and Christians endure violent persecution. Our presence in the Muslim world, though small in numbers, holds particular significance for its witness. It also encourages us to address an urgent need for the entire Church: interreligious dialogue to promote justice and peace collaboratively. However, this mission requires adequate formation and preparation.
We are preparing to live and celebrate Holy Christmas in a particularly delicate and difficult climate. The silence of the grotto of Bethlehem is shattered by the sound of weapons and the cries of suffering and pain from those who have lost everything—their homes and loved ones—due to war. Conflicts multiply worldwide, and a climate of fear and tension prevails everywhere. May peace, then, be our common goal, communion our way of life, and solidarity and justice our concrete commitment. My wish for the entire Trinitarian Family is that Christmas may bring true light and joy to our communities, fraternities, and to all of humanity. May it unlock the hope of a united world, where all are welcomed and loved as brothers.
Rome, December 3, 2023
I Sunday of Advent
Fr. Luigi Buccarello O.SS.T.
 Summary Report of the First Session of the Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 4-29, 2023), no. 10.
 JOHN PAUL II, Homily on the occasion of the canonization of Simon de Rojas (July 3, 1988).
 ID., Address to participants at the International Assembly of the Trinitarian Family (August 26, 1999).
 FRANCIS, Address to participants at the “International Trinitarian Solidarity” Conference (April 25, 2022).