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Feast of St. Andrew

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

If somebody closes his eyes and for a moment thinks in a Spanish soldier the resultant image would depict under a characteristic white flag with the cross of St. Andrew, a dark-haired man with a long and twisted moustache, silver plate armour and the typical helmet of the conquistador, a long sword or and arquebus, killing Indians or burning protestant churches (or in the English version, sunk in the English channel after the defeat of the Armada). 

Cinematographically, this image speaks off ferociousness, stubborn loyalty, romantic heroism and so on. However, among the tactics used by this singular Spanish unit was the so called encamisada or camisade in English, a tactic that probably would make a strong contrast with the popular idea. During the darkest hours of the night a reduced group of no more than fifty soldiers without armour (only with a shirt, in Spanish camisa from where the tactic’s name is taken) and only with daggers or small swords enters in the enemy fortress and performs any sort of sabotage.  The human requisites for that kind of job, as we can easily imagine, must be an antithetic mix of valor and cynism in due proportion, honor towards their own army and treacherous contempt towards the sleeping enemy. Moreover there is a special condition in the men of arms, they must be in some way “brothers”, real trustworthy people whose competent work is the only condition for victory. If only one of them behaved with negligence the whole group would perish in a terrible trap.

In some way it is the same attitude that servants of the Kingdom of God should manifest… mutatis mutandis.  The Christian life is similar to the situation of this group of soldiers that have rejected the use of any armour, surrounded by the enemy and without any light. The calling of Christ to follow him is not the sound of a trumpet calling to a glorious cavalry charge or the speech of a flamboyant general before battle in an open field. Christ chooses the people needed for the job among those who are able to pursue victory but not glory. Christ chooses brothers: Andrew and Peter, the sons of Zebedee etc. People who trust each other are what is needed to fulfil the Lord’s command. To be willing to undertake this action is something that requires immediacy because the day is coming  soon; it needs detachment from   comfort and security.

God is calling us to a camisade. He enjoys doing that. Isn’t he coming like a thief in the night? Isn’t it during the night when the husband arrives? Then in this very first step of Advent let us prepare our equipment leaving behind everything useless for the Kingdom, let us follow Christ in the silence and the darkness of our contemplation and let us be loyal towards our comrades that depend on our competence, on our loyalty to the mission, to survive and come back safely to our heavenly land.          

Br Rafael Jiménez O.P.

Br Rafael is a student brother in simple vows from the Province of the Holy Rosary.


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