Monday, October 20, 2014

Saint Paul of the Cross

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ, 

His Legacy : The Mystery of the Passion of Jesus

 Born in critical times, in a poor country and in a weakened church, Paul of the Cross was among the saints of the 18th century, like St. Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Lucy Filippini and St. Leonard of Port Maurice, whom God raised up to bless the Italian Church and eventually the Church throughout the world.

From small beginnings, Paul’s community–the Passionists– spread to continents throughout the world, where they’re found today.  Besides men, different groups of women, some cloistered, some dedicated to active ministry, became part of the Passionist family. Increasingly, lay people have been drawn to the Passionist charism.

Paul’s own life is a lesson in perseverance and courageous patience. He was at home in an imperfect church. With little formal education or resources, he became a spiritual guide to popes and high church officials, as well as countless ordinary men and women who listened to his words and sought his advice.

He reminded those bewildered by a changing world of the unchanging presence of God, signified in the Passion of Jesus Christ, God’s Only Son. For him the Passion was a wise and tender book to keep always in mind. Anyone who reads it knows how to think about life, how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, and what to hope for.

Above all, one finds courageous patience in the One who promised: “Come to me, you who are heavily burdened and I will refresh you.” As Paul knew from his own experience, life has its burdens, but God refreshes.

Remedy for the Evils of Our Age

Paul saw the mystery of the Passion shedding its light beyond Calvary. It’s “a remedy for the evils of our age,” he said. Surely he would see it reaching to the crucified of a future age, lifting up men and women, especially the poor, caught in society’s unjust structures and selfishness. “I saw the name of Jesus written on the foreheads of the poor,” Paul once said.

The mystery of the Passion also falls upon the natural world threatened today by human neglect. Was it by chance that Paul Danei chose to live on a mountain close to the sea where the hills, the sky and the sea showed him an Infinite Goodness behind everything? In his day, some already saw the shadow of the cross falling on the natural world as a new industrial age dawned. Did he faintly recognize that cross too?

Keeping the Passion of Jesus in mind is not for our personal spiritual growth alone. It’s not simply an exercise of historical imagination. It helps us see a suffering world  and all that’s in it, and then do what we can to bring it peace and justice. For Paul Danei’s followers today, his charism is a grace for the present, not a memory of the past:

“We are aware that the passion of Christ continues in this world until he comes in glory; therefore, we share in the joys and sorrows of our contemporaries as we journey through life towards our Father. We wish to share in the distress of all, especially the poor and neglected; we seek to offer them comfort and to relieve the burden of their sorrow.

The power of the cross, which is the wisdom of God, gives us strength to discern and remove the causes of human suffering.”

Father Ed Bakker 
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province 
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne 
Bendigo Australia