Fr Trevor Nathasingh has described the scourge of criminal activity as evidence of a “spiritual war” taking place in Trinidad and Tobago.
Speaking at the Divine Mercy Conference a day after he led a procession through the Laventille/Morvant/Success Village community, Fr Nathasingh believed that Trinidad and Tobago was in a painful, materialistic state and that many children are being left fatherless every day. In a fiery call, he dared Catholics to live “extraordinary lives as Christians” to be committed to prayer and fasting and to “stand up to the darkness” by sharing the vital truth found in the Church.
He urged parents to challenge their children to be faithful and live rightly so that the darkness does not “swallow them alive”, reminding all that “the Church is not the instrument of the work of man but God’s gift to the world…He will not abandon His Church…Build yourself up in your holy faith.”
Fr Nathasingh said many in the community for which he is parish priest, have been going to other churches and that has “destroyed the purity and the power to work among us,” that Catholics are supposed to have.
He lamented that the work started by former Archbishop Anthony Pantin and the SERVOL attempt to bring spirituality into Laventille had been lost, and many had “fallen victim to cheap and powerless preaching”. He said the Church needed everyone on board to do the work that is required to save persons of depressed and troubled areas, and further, that such work calls for humility.
He said that in his frequent walks in such communities, he frequently encounters persons who have left the Catholic Church to become evangelicals or other religions. “The preaching of evangelicalism has fooled our people…Evangelicalism has not prepared people to carry their cross,” he said, explaining that other faiths lead people to believe that God is a god of blessing and not one who is with us in suffering. He labelled this as “cheap”.
Continuing his presentation, he said Catholics still believe that they can be Catholic and attend other religious gatherings, but this creates the “spiritual war”, and they therefore do not want to hear the truth about true spiritual living.
“The average Catholic is dumb when it comes to the Bible. Catholics do not want to hear the truth…They like 45 minutes on a Sunday and then go home,” he said, calling on the faithful to put aside such things as vulgarity in attire and prejudice in outlook based on skin tone and social class, reminding those at the conference that “humility towards one another must be the garment you all wear constantly…Catholic Christians have to learn how to be Christians in this complex world.”
Any proud leader will lose the battle, explained Fr Nathasingh, and so whatever is done to help must be accompanied by spirituality with fasting and prayer becoming a norm in a community where many families are simply seeking vengeance and justice, rather than taking on a heart of mercy and forgiveness after loved ones are brutally murdered and human life is treated as “worthless”.
The people of high-crime communities, he further suggested, need to encounter the living Jesus in the Catholic Church. “If they say we serve a living God, then He must be encountered. Or our people will continue to search for refreshment elsewhere,” he said, recommending that the younger generation that lives on the level of pleasure need to find some kind of “spiritual pleasure” in the Church as well, which is what they are really searching for.
He urged participants to be “sober” as St Peter warns in the gospel, for “the devil does not come stink and evil. The devil comes nice.” He lamented the destruction of the beauty of God’s creation in Trinidad and Tobago, reminding all that the destruction of the beauty of the temple that is the human being is evil.
“The evil that we are fighting today is being manifested in the horror stories we are hearing…all you can do is resort to prayer…embrace fasting and prayer,” he added.
Describing practising Catholics as a people who are “afraid of being still…afraid of what we might hear,” he said most people have become accustomed to “saying prayers” but not praying with listening to God, and therefore missing the great things God could do through them.
He said there is a deception that has taken hold of people in the Church that tells them if the church building looks nice then the faith of the people is strong, but this is not so. “We have to take responsibility for the darkness that has descended upon us and repent.”