SPIRITUAL AND HUMAN PROFILE OF THE FOUNDER OF THE WORK OF THE CHURCH
To define in a few words the life of Mother Trinidad, I would begin by saying that it is a life of immense, tremendous, joyful and consoling contrasts. Everything about her is a combination of greatness and simplicity, of human powerlessness and of overwhelming divine power; of profound personal experience and of the unnoticed natural manner of a young town-woman or of a household woman who communicates with the liveliness, spontaneity and colour of the popular Andalusian language, torrents of wisdom on the deepest mysteries of the catholic faith. That contrast is a living expression of human poverty and limitation and of the limitless horizons that our heart longs for. That is why, when we approach it, it subjugates us with its force of irresistible truth.
Mother Trinidad is like the beating echo of those words of Jesus: “I give You praise, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, for although You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned You have revealed them to the childlike”. It is as if the Lord, through her, would want to tell today to the priest, to the consecrated souls, to the lost worker in the field, to the charwoman, to the young person who takes his first steps in life or to the man stressed by the hustle of the large cities: Look, all my infinite love is for you. I have died on a cross to make you God by participation; and, in my Church, I have left unfathomable treasures to fill you with the happiness which you search for and have not yet found. In your hands I place the depth, the width and length of the whole mystery of my life.
Mother Trinidad was born on the 10th of February 1929 in Dos Hermanas (Seville). At the age of six she has an incident that would have repercussions on a very important facet of her childhood: while playing with some friends, they painted her eyes with some lime not sufficiently slacked; a childish prank that was about to leave her blind. From that day onwards her schoolmates would see her coming every morning with her tiny dark glasses to sit down, almost only as a listener, at the classroom desks. This was basically the only schooling that Madre Trinidad had in her lifetime.
When she was fourteen years old she was already taking care with her father and her brother Antonio of the shoe shop, which was of the family. In the evenings she attended, with a group of young girls of her age, embroidering classes. She continued this until the age of twenty-six when she moved to Madrid.
Nowadays, when priests, professors of Theology, licentiates and doctors graduates of the Pontifical Universities listen to the talks of Mother Trinidad about the intimate life of God, about the mystery of Christ, about Mary, or about the splendorous richness of the Church, their amazement for not having heard something similar makes them ask: In what university did Mother Trinidad study Theology?
When they are told what I have just referred, many find it hard to accept, at first, because this would mean standing before a magnificent living and continual miracle existing in our midst. There is no option other than to refer them to the testimony of teachers and students of the Colegio de la Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family School), and to the testimony of the whole town of Dos Hermanas that saw her working for more than twelve years in her shop “Calzados La Favorita” (Shoe shop “La Favorita”).
And little by little the reflective theologians abandon their untenable incredulity, because they have never heard a professor of Theology speak about the truths of the catholic faith with such depth, nuances, simplicity and liveliness as Mother Trinidad does. They encounter something amazing, incredible, but that is there right in front of their own eyes, and that rises with subjugating force as a call of God to all the members of the Church, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, priests and lay people, so that they may acquire living conscience of what they are by being Church.
When one knows closer the life of this simple woman who is the founder of The Work of the Church he becomes more and more amazed.
For already in 1979 she published her first book entitled “Frutos de oración. Retazos de un diario” (Fruits of prayer. Excerpts from a diary). A volume of 541 pages with 2,217 profound and very beautiful thoughts of such a wide and suggestive range of themes which make of it, at the same time, a treatise of Theology, an appeal to the anguished heart of the man of today, and a sublime song to the most beautiful realities that the spirit may live.
The next book was “Vivencias del alma” (Experiences of the soul), an entire book of poetry, and indeed religious poetry!; 310 poems that, in their crystal-clear beauty, make us cross the threshold of the great mysteries, they introduce us inside, and there they sing to us the ineffable wonders and tell us of the most sublime and full experiences of the soul in contact with the Eternal One.
Later the book “La Iglesia y su misterio” (The Church and her mystery) was published. As the previous writings, it deals in a profound, rich and beautiful manner with those themes that are rooted in the very core of the mystery of the Church. However it is presented in a different literary form. With its agile prose it offers us a wide, detailed and fluid exposition of the realities that beat saturated with life and that are presented to us contemplated in their perennial and full of freshness flowing from the Church’s spring.
Three unique, inimitable books that will take to the soul of him who reads them a torrent of divine wisdom and life and will open to him horizons of richness that he never suspected.
In November of 1999, in the threshold of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, in a way… that I would not be able to explain: unexpected, inflamed with zeal of love for the Church, with no other aim than to present her true face to men and to the many disconcerted members of the Church, Mother Trinidad published one of her writings dated in 1959 in a booklet: “The true face of the Church full and saturated with Divinity”.
The first edition sold out in a very short time; followed by one of 10,000 and another of 25,000 copies were published… and many letters and expressions of admiration reached Mother Trinidad for her booklet, of immense satisfaction and gratitude for her love for the Church; encouraging her to bring out other writings.
Voices of priests, bishops and cardinals joined that choir of the faithful who express their joy at seeing the Church presented in her beauty “as a precious amphora replete and saturated with Divinity”.
It will be enough as a testimony the letter of a priest who writes to a parishioner thanking her for the gift of this “small book”:
«I started reading thinking that it would consist of one of many tracts of popular religiosity that were so much in fashion in past times; but from the beginning that expressed: “My Church, how beautiful you are…! You are all beautiful, Daughter of Jerusalem. ‘Your eyes are like doves’, because your gazing is with the same Father’s gazing…, Oh, my Church!, all beautiful, bedecked with the Divinity itself that penetrates you, saturates you, ennobles you, extolling you with such fruitfulness, that you, my Church, are the same Word Incarnate that comes out from the Father’s bosom breaking into word and burning Himself in the Holy Spirit. That is your royal Head, my Church…!” instinctively I went down on my knees to finish it. It is, I confess, the most lovely, most profound and most beautiful work I have read about the Church, the great unknown and, thus, so little loved!».
Following this writing came: “La Promesa de la Nueva Alianza” (The Promise of the New Covenant), very rich, tight, beautiful, profound and suggestive explanation of God’s plan for man, accomplished by Christ, through Mary, and contained in the bosom of the Holy Mother Church.
And this is how the collection “Light in the night” came about, with titles that as a whole are a call, an appeal to him who wants, in loving wisdom, to go into the very rich dogma of our Christianity.
None of us who are collaborating on this initiative of Mother Trinidad herself were able to imagine at the beginning the width and depth of its reach in fruits of love for the Church, since although we knew that such activity, as all the ones she undertakes, was driven by God Himself, the facts alone are demonstrating that it is the moment determined by God –as she herself has expressed– to begin to manifest from the Church’s bosom something of the gift that, while Mother Trinidad lives, may be made known for the benefit of all those who open themselves up to receive this incalculable present of knowledge in loving wisdom of the transcendent mystery of God in his intimate and familiar intercommunication of trinitarian life;
the unfathomable greatness of Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, Light of Light and Figure of the substance of the Father, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit; and, who became Man for love, gives Himself to us in an explanation of eternal canticles through the mystery of the Incarnation performed in the most pure inner being of the Virgin who, as a result of being so Virgin, by the work of the Holy Spirit broke out into motherhood, and Divine Motherhood!; the Divine Family thereby manifests and gives itself to us, through Christ, with Father’s Heart, Word’s Song and Holy Spirit’s love in the bosom of the Holy Mother Church, replete and saturated with Divinity, and whom one has to present in all her beauty, with her very rich dogma manifested in loving wisdom, so that when looking at her men may see the face of God in her.
However, the deepest and most intimate writings, and without any doubt the best, will not be able to see the light during their authoress’ life.
Those who know well the magnitude and the reach of the literary production of Mother Trinidad, do not hesitate to assert that she will be placed amongst the greatest writers of the universal literature.
And, what a beautiful and attractive contrast! She confesses of herself that she never meant to write a book, but simply to express as she can her soul’s experiences. She would be horrified to think that she would be looked at from a literary point of view, because the thought of being a writer never crossed her mind. She only feels –in her own words– “the Echo of the Church, that reverberates, in her poor expression and in her insignificant repetition, all that the Church is, all she has, all she lives, all she suffers and all she gives”…, “the drowned cry of the Church’s heart which, beating with love and pain, breaks out singing through her to men”.
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A transcendental change took place in her life when she was 17 years old, change that explains this incredible paradox of having reached a very high summit in the world of letters without wanting it, without thinking it, and without having ever read any of the works of the great or the average authors.
It was the morning of December 7th, 1946. The bells of the tower rang announcing to the town of Dos Hermanas the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In a twinkling of an eye, while she was in her shop like every day, something unique, surprising, wonderful and overwhelming was felt in the depths of that open, cheerful and nice young girl’s soul. It was the God of terrible majesty and infinite tenderness who passing knocked at her “door”…!
I have heard more than once Mother Trinidad recall the memory of the change brought about in her life by this silent and powerful passing by: «From my past life –she says– only remains as a sombre memory. I then had what a girl of my age would desire. I spent the week looking forward to the Sunday evenings, and the years went by awaiting the feast of Saint James, and the “romería” (pilgrimage) of Valme. After many preparations, after dreaming so much of the feast, after such hustling, everything was reduced to a swift passing that only left an emptiness in the soul, tiredness in the body, and the task to start again to again collect the same…».
«That 7th of December was like a sudden rise of a booming spring that filled up my life with light and placed a new colouring in all that surrounded me. The Infinite Love placed Himself before me, and as He would say to me: “Do you have the need of loving and of being loved? I am the Infinite Love! Is your heart thirsty for happiness? I am the Happiness, the Beauty, the Power, the eternal Perfection…!” And, from that day onwards, my soul lives in the fullness of all its cravings, infinitely overflowed in its yearning of being and possessing».
MY TOWN’S TABERNACLE
When in my memory I recall that past that I have lived in the silence of oblivion, my inner being is lightened in burnings,
responding, in my own manner, to the blessed God.
Long hours in the Church of my town, resting peacefully in the chest of my Christ, and sweetly listening from his mouth
his complaints in contained laments…
My town’s parish…!
How many lived mysteries without anyone knowing it, only known by God…!
Next to my Virgin of Valme, under her protection, I have known wisdoms of the God of Heaven
and his divine mysteries
that, through that Tabernacle, my spirit has comprehended.
Long hours of romances where my soul was
little by little aftertasting,
in moments that I never forget, mysteries that I kept
in my wounded heart, day after day in silence, because the Infinite Love was little known…
My Tabernacle…! My parish…!
The town I was born in…! next to my Virgin of Valme, being, in the divine plans, Echo of the Mother Church, messenger of a design
with which God marked my soul when in his chest He told me:
Go to tell men
all that from me you have learnt.
The Tabernacle of my town, where while praying I have learnt, next to my Virgin of Valme,
so many divine secrets…!
On the other hand, the temper of the Andalusian people accounts for all of Mother Trinidad’s liveliness, her expressive force, her depth and her colouring, to tell and sing the richness of the Eternal Spring contained in the Church. This is how her poetry and that large literary production came about, praised by those who come to know her through her writings and at this time through her “booklets”, that are like a rain of stars in the night that shrouds the world.
Beloved Andalusia, land I was born in…!
How many days, under your shining sun, to the Infinite Love my loves I gave…!
How many days, in nostalgia that awaits and in a yearning of silent love,
under your serene and starry nights, in prayer I sank,
perceiving the infinite sweetness of the living God, in the blessed communication of his eternal feast…!
Beloved Andalusia…! Land I was born in…!
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Another surprising peculiarity in the life of Madre Trinidad is that, being a woman, she have founded a Work in which are integrated priests, men and women consecrated to God, married couples, youth of both sexes, adults and children.
In 1955 she moves to Spain’s capital with no other duty than to attend to her older brother who has just established himself there. She had experienced and learned much at the feet of the Tabernacle during those years; she knew of the long waits and cruel solitudes of Jesus in the Eucharist, of his ardent loves; and all her life, up to then, had been a love, an effort, a romance to console and to make the Lord smile. But all had remained in the silent and quiet intimacy of the small and lovely chapel that presides Our Lady of Valme in the parish church of Saint Mary Magdalene; where Jesus was her sole teacher; while, during long times of prayer leaning on his Chest, she grasped the most intimate secrets of the heart of the Incarnate Word of Life, and her soul became inebriated –stating almost textually Mother Trinidad’s words– by the loving wisdom of the infinite Springs, that overflow from the Father’s bosom through the open side of Christ by means of Mary’s motherhood in the vast bosom of the Holy Mother Church replete and saturated with Divinity, in pouring out over humanity.
GOD BREATHES IN MY INSIDE
When I go deeply into, with the adoring soul and in the still silence,
in the intimacy
of an open Tabernacle, I listen to the complaint of Jesus in mourning,
I listen to his slight touch and feel his breath…
And entering in the depth of his thought,
what moves me most in my feeling
is when I listen, behind my silence, to that breathing in slow accents,
to that resonating
of his tender chest…
And I bring near my soul to capture
that beating of his feelings;
and I hear the tac…tac… that, in his Heart,
love has opened.
And while the eternal breath breathes,
I breathe in Him in the way I can, to return
with my breathing to his feelings.
When God breathes inside my chest,
I respond in gift in the way I can.
From the 18th of March 1959, while in Madrid, God strongly breaks up the moulds of that hidden life. And He introduces her to the secret of his intimate life in the surprising manner that only He knows; He shows her his mysteries, He gives them to her so that she may live and become sharer of them, sending her to proclaim them with the mandate of: “Go and say it! This is for everyone!”: Torrents of light, waterfalls of wisdom in profound experience, uncontainable impulses to tell and sing the heroic deeds of the Lord at the doors of the Daughter of Zion…
A fire that burns her innermost soul, a strength against which she cannot resist nor fight, drives Mother Trinidad to say that…: “It is urgent to present the true face of the Church, unknown by most of her children”; that “it is necessary to revive and reheat the dogma”; that “it is necessary to grasp the Theology and give it with love to all the children of God”; that “the Father’s bosom is open waiting its fullness with the arrival of all his children”; that “it is necessary to make a Christian revolution in the bosom of the Church…”
She clamoured, almost shouted. She went knocking from door to door seeking those who could help her. She fought indescribably and strained to limits that seemed well beyond her capacities. But her voice was humanly too weak to be listened to; and she proclaimed a renovation so profound, that it seemed strange to some of the mentalities at that time and which many were afraid to face.
On those days Pope John XXIII called on the Church for a Council. And…terrible contrast!, when all began to speak about what had to be done in the Church, Mother Trinidad, with her soul bursting out into word for the Church, had to remain in the silence of a lack of understanding.
The Lord stamped also as fire in her soul: “With all to John XXIII…!” “The Council comes for this”.
And that young woman barely thirty years of age, lost in the solitude of an immense city, helpless, without any resources nor human support, embarks on the great epic of reaching Rome to speak to Saint Peter’s Successor.
She arrived in Rome and the Lord had placed her before the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. But –as she states– “those who are big” prevented her from speaking to the Pope, so standing in front of John XXIII she had to remain silent.
Overcoming the obstacles that seemed invincible she returned to Rome three years later. But too “late”, as the Lord had made her understand beforehand: John XXIII entered into spiritual Retreat and the first Session of the Council was about to start. Those who afterwards may read her personal diary and may know everything, will grasp the reasons of what today remains veiled by the silence of the lack of understanding.
The Lord, however, insisted more and more in his communications, impulses and petitions. And from the clamour of those fires in the soul of Mother Trinidad also emerged “The Work of the Church”: a living group of Church, a legion consisting of people of all ages, sex, state of life and social condition who, profoundly living their being Christians and placed at the side of the Pope and the Bishops, might manifest to the world, through their life and their word, the true face of the Church; who would have to help to take to men the ecclesial life and wisdom of which she felt replete with.
To bring about all that, she found herself practically alone, without any more means than those of a young woman arriving from a town down south to Spain’s capital. If one could express all the difficulties, sufferings, and incomprehensions, which Mother Trinidad encountered in bringing about The Work of the Church, we would know much of her courage and her strength of character. Many have been the barriers that she has had to overcome and the closed doors which she has encountered; very hard the battles she has had to fight. Sometimes, in the face of God’s strength that impelled her, the magnitude of what she had to undertake and the obstacles, like gigantic mountains, which stood in front of her, in her soul surfaced the yearning of that small corner in the chapel of the Tabernacle of her town where so happy she was with the Jesus of her youth. And, wiping away her tears, she turned to the Lord to ask him: “Why me…? Why me, Lord…?”
The only reply she received was, a sweet and caressing interior experience: “Because I have not found any other creature more helpless and poorer than you on earth”.
And day after day, year after year, Mother Trinidad has been shaping her Work of the Church in the diverse Branches and Groups, giving to each one their own physiognomy inside a sole reality that embraces all. Profound, broad and varied task that by itself speaks of the very rich and exceptional personality of this woman who is able to form theologically and spiritually her priests, or to make her lay people be living witnesses of the Church in the midst of the world; who either advices on problems of a married couple, or the vocation of a young person to consecrate his/her life; and who has to regulate the life of her communities or organize a youth camp.
From the year 1963 Mother Trinidad has opened for her Work more than 40 houses in Spain and abroad. She has prepared each one of them. Sometimes, when she designed the drawings or had to struggle with bricklayers, carpenters and heating system workers, or when she returned tired of going as a whip top around the different shops in the capital, we heard her tenderly reproach the Lord with her sevillian humour: “When you asked me to make The Work of the Church what I least imagined was that I had to undertake all these works”.
Up until very recently, she personally tended to the finances of all the Work. Once she stamped her own style, also in carrying out the material tasks, to the men and women who have been helping her, she only took over the helm of the finances again in decisive circumstances or in those moments that call for a tighter readjustment.
She implanted her Work of the Church in 7 Spanish dioceses. Afterwards she took it to Rome, where she has opened 5 houses for apostolic work, and she has been entrusted with the parish of “Nostra Signora di Valme” (Our Lady of Valme). From Rome it is extending to other dioceses of Italy; making her apostolic irradiation reach other countries, mainly those Spanish speaking nations in Hispano-America.
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All this complex reality of persons, activities and things Mother Trinidad has totally opened and launched it in order to spread the authentic ecclesial renovation that has been stamped in her soul from the year 1959. For this she has endeavoured above all to make of her Work the living incarnation of that renovation. And most of the times in a peaceful, silent and unnoticed manner, in relation to the environment that surrounds her, she has already converted in concrete, practical and experimented reality many of the goals pointed out by the II Vatican Council, to which all look towards with hope and yearning, and to which many contemplate as utopias before the confusion and even the disasters that has brought upon the Church the fact of having tried to achieve them by means too little in accordance with the Gospel.
A simple numbering of realities, that are there, at every one’s sight, can sustain this statement that may appear out of proportion:
—Placement of Theology, in all its depth and richness, at the reach of everyone, even those most humble and culturally alienated.
—Training and promotion of the laity so that they may assume their role of living and life giving members of the Mystical Body; filling them, on the one hand, their most profound demands of living in fullness their reality as Christians, and launching them, on the other hand, to assume the apostolic responsibilities in the most varied fields and in the ways so rich that belong to them.
—Renovation of the priest’s life; a solution to the problems of his priestly identity in the midst of a laity which is conscious of their role in the Church and that demand the priest to return to them those activities that are their own; permanent formation, life in family, etc., etc.
—Natural, attracting and simply evangelical style, of those consecrated to God to live their surrender, in the midst of a world which they have to win for Christ.
—Flowering of vocations, both for the priesthood and the consecrated life.
—Achieved channeling of the formation of the aspirants to priesthood, nourishing them and maturing them in their ideal of becoming ministers of Christ and dispensers to men of the divine mysteries, without taking them out of the world in which they have to live, and maintaining them in permanent contact with the apostolic realities that they have to develop and in the same environment in which they must perform them.
—Vitalization of the parishes as a reflection and concretion of the great Home of the Church; exploiting the apostolic strength of means and methods guaranteed in their effectiveness by the experience of years or centuries, and searching for new and necessary ones today to reach all the parishioners and to solve their spiritual and material problems.
—Presentation of the mystery of the Church, in her tight richness and in her vitally renewing strength, to thousands of priests, religious and lay people of all social classes, through the “Plan of God in the Church”, “Days of retreat on the mystery of God in the Church”, “Days of youth orientation”, Retreats, talks, etc.
Why to continue enumerating… All these realities are interdependent to each other; without the ones it is not possible to reach the others. Mother Trinidad was so conscious of this fact, that she already spoke in 1959 about “having to bring about a Christian revolution to the bosom of the Church” to place her in the splendour and fullness of life that Christ gave to her when He founded her.
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Even though it may seem that I have said so much, the truth is that I have not shown more than the external realities. They do reflect profound interior experiences which they spring from; but the most ultimate reason, the strongest reality that has configured the spiritual and human personality of Mother Trinidad, her mission in the Church, her transcendence and the magnificent manner almost unsuspected of what God has performed in the soul of this most simple woman for the fulfilment of an eternal and loving design in his Church, has now to remain necessarily hidden to us until –in her own words– she leaves for the Father’s House.
One of the most revealing manifestations in that respect, I have recently heard from Mother Trinidad herself when speaking to a group of priests. Her love for the Church and her soul’s pain when having to see her so humiliated, betrayed her feelings after hearing, once again, how everywhere doctors of lie are emerging leading to confusion the People of God. And these words escaped from her, as a complaint, as a lament: “The realities of which I have spoken to you, I have not learned them in books, nor have men taught them to me. I am simply a witness. And the veracity of my testimony is proved by its conformity to the teachings of the Church”. And in another occasion: “God made me his witness to make me his prophet”; a prophet who has to speak in the name of God to his People.
A witness who has to bear testimony; an Echo whose mission is to faithfully repeat the uttered word; smallness of whom nothing of its own has to say, and plethoric richness of the voice through which the glorious living and the bleeding sorrow of the Church is expressed: This is the synthesis of the life and the Work of Mother Trinidad.
Offprint of the published book: “MOTHER TRINIDAD DE LA SANTA MADRE IGLESIA AND HER WORK OF THE CHURCH”
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