Vocation Discernment Retreat Weekend

Advent: Mary Our Model

"The Virgin Mary pregnant with Jesus, the Redeemer of the world, becomes the model for Christians and especially for contemplatives who devote their entire lives to living hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3).  Being quietly present to this mystery of Christ dwelling and growing within us is a simple yet profound path to living Advent in a deepened spirit of prayer.  No matter what we are doing throughout the day, Christ is living within us . . . We work, we pray, we recreate, we rest, and all the while we are 'Christbearers' who carry hidden deep within us the life of Christ who by grace is growing more and more in our hearts.  Being mindful of this great truth spontaneously draws our scattered minds and hearts into prayers.  'The life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me,'" says the Apostle Paul (Gal 2:20).  
(From the Advent 2019 Circular Letter of Mother Catherine Marie, CP, Mother President of the Congregation of the Nuns of the Passion of Jesus Christ)

Thanksgiving

A most precious gift for which to be thankful . . .



THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST


"the greatest and most overwhelming work of God's love!"

(St. Paul of the Cross)

November 21--Feast of the Presentation of Mary: A blessed day for Passionists




"My heart will no longer be mine, because I am not my own anymore.  My heart will belong only to God: He is my love!" (St. Paul of the Cross)


"Paul used to say that this feast was the blessed anniversary of that day on which he took leave of the world and wore the habit of the Passion for the first time.  It was the day on which, in the flower of his youth, he offered himself to the Divine Majesty.  Thus, he imitated the heavenly Queen who presented herself in the temple as a sacrifice most pleasing to the heart of God."  (From the Life of Venerable Paul of the Cross by Saint Vincent Mary Strambi, bishop)

Make your flights of spirit into the sweet Heart of Jesus

"O my daughter in Jesus Christ! Believe me, the affairs of your spirit have never gone so well as now.  I assure you that in these interior afflictions and external insults are hidden the great treasure of Holy Love; for by these means His Divine Majesty intends to prepare your soul to receive the most sublime gifts of heaven.  Be strong, therefore, and constant.  Bear yourself always with great meekness, patience, humility, and silence, remaining abandoned in God like a little lamb . . . Above all, I recommend to you a holy internal solitude, and I pray that you make your flights of spirit into the sweet Heart of Jesus.  Lock yourself in there with the golden key of Divine Love, placing this precious key in the pure Heart of Mary, Mother of Sorrows." (From a letter by St. Paul of the Cross to Sister Maria Cherubina Bresciani, October 19, 1740)

Saint Paul of the Cross: Becoming Saints



"Let them never neglect mental prayer.  Make it every day, even if you are there like a stone.  Internal and external mortifications are the wings which carry us to God in holy prayer by raising our spirit to him.  Read good books, be a friend of silence, do not mind others' business, . . . , and often raise your heart with holy acts of love toward God.  Fortunate those souls who do this, for they will become saints.  I know poor people in the world who do great things for God.  Let us never leave off prayer, no matter if we are afflicted, poor, and abandoned.  Fortunate those who do this, for they know the truth and flee from the lies of which the world is full." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross)

October 20: Solemnity of Saint Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists

On October 20, Passionists in the United States celebrate the Solemnity of our founder, Saint Paul of the Cross. Respected as one of the greatest mystics and spiritual guides of the 18th century, Saint Paul of the Cross directed souls to great holiness through meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ.  He gathered companions who went forth from their lives of deep prayer in solitude to preach the love of Jesus Crucified, "the greatest and most overwhelming work of God's love."

From a letter of Saint Paul of the Cross to Thomas Fossi, August 31, 1754:
"The balsam to cure every pain is the Passion of Jesus Christ and union and total abandonment to his Holy Will. . . Oh, fortunate is that soul which rests on the bosom of God without any thought of the future but strives to live for the moment in God with no other care beyond doing his Will in every event, faithfully fulfilling the obligations of one's own state!"

Saint Paul of the Cross (Paul Francis Danei) was born, on January 3, 1694, in Ovada, Italy.  His parents provided him with a solid foundation in the Catholic faith.  As a child, he was especially influenced by his pious mother who, pointing to the Crucifix, explained that Jesus loved him so much that He died for him.  This truth of God's love in his heart was a seed that would blossom as he responded with docility to God's call at the various stages in his life.  Initially, Paul felt inspired to live a life of solitude and penance; and on November 22, 1720, Bishop Gattinara vested him with a poor black habit.  Thus, the Passionist Congregation was born.  He made a 40-day retreat and wrote the Rule of the Congregation he felt inspired to found.  In September, 1721, when his first attempt to meet the Pope and request permission to gather companions was met with a refusal by the papal guards, he went to pray at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.  There, before the image of our Blessed Mother, Salus Populi Romani, Paul made a vow to promote devotion to and a grateful remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ.  This was the vow that all future Passionists would make and is the charism of the Passionists.  In May, 1725, Pope Benedict XIII verbally granted him permission to gather companions.  The first retreat on Monte Argentario was blessed in 1735.  From the solitude of this beautiful mountain where Paul and his companions lived and prayed, he walked down to the towns below to preach the love of Jesus Crucified.  Saint Paul of the Cross also directed numerous souls with great wisdom, including the laity, religious, and priests, many of these by letter.  Over 2000 of his letters have been preserved and published.  As companions joined him and the community grew, he opened new retreats.  At the end of his life, the Congregation had a total of ten retreats.

In 1771, Saint Paul of the Cross and Mother Mary Crucified opened the first monastery of Passionist Nuns in Corneto, Italy.  The nuns share the same charism as their brothers, to proclaim the gospel of the Passion.  However, they live intensely the contemplative aspect of the charism in solitude, prayer, poverty, and penance, dedicating their lives to the "holiness hidden in the cross of Jesus Christ for the sole and pure glory of God" (Letter of St. Paul of the Cross).  Saint Paul of the Cross died on October 18, 1775.  He was canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 29, 1867.



Blessed Isidore DeLoor, Passionist Brother

Blessed Isidore DeLoor was a true "son of the Passion," who was born on April 13, 1881 in a small farming town in Eastern Flanders.  At the age of 26, he left home to enter the Passionist novitiate as a lay brother.  He exemplified the Passionist spirit of charity, humility, simplicity, and recollection in his daily service to his religious community.  Much loved by his fellow religious and the laity, many called him "the good brother" or "the brother of the Will of God."  He was only 35 years old when he died from cancer.  Pope John Paull II beatified him on September 30, 1984.  We celebrate his Feast Day on October 6.

From a letter he wrote to his family:

"I cannot begin to describe for you the treasure which the Lord has given me by calling me to this state of life. . . It is my total submission to obedience--whether I am praying or working or sleeping--that is most meritorious before God, who never abandons his own who want to love him fully. . . Although it is true, my dear parents, my brother and sister, that you have not been called to my state of life, you may nevertheless, still sanctify yourselves and serve God faithfully by fulfilling completely what the Lord asks of you.  Do not become attached to the vanities of this world, since all will pass quickly." (From the Proper Offices of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, 1985).

St. Vincent Mary Strambi, Passionist Bishop

On September 24, we celebrated the memorial of our Passionist Saint Vincent Mary Strambi.  He was born on January 1, 1745 in Civitavecchia, Italy.  Greatly impressed by the holiness of Saint Paul of the Cross, he decided to enter the Passionists shortly after his priestly ordination. Saint Vincent was renowned for his eloquent preaching on the Passion and greatly loved by the faithful throughout Italy.  His life was given totally to Christ Crucified.  When Pope Leo XII became seriously ill, he offered his life to God in place of the Pope.  He died on January 1, 1824, but the Pope recovered.

"My brothers and sisters, through the wounds of the Lord, let us plunge into the boundless ocean of God's Love."  (Saint Vincent Mary Strambi)

Keep Mary company at the Foot of the Cross

On September 15th, we celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Patroness of our Congregation and our Monastery.  The original rule states that the Passionist Nuns shall go "to the feet of the immaculate Mother of God, and invoke her in all their wants.  Every day they shall accompany her in spirit to Calvary, and shall compassionate her in the sorrow which pierced her soul during the death-agony of her only Son."

St. Paul of the Cross reflected, "If we go to the crucifix, we find our Mother of Sorrows, for where the Mother is, there also is the Son.  Dear Mother, what sorrow you experienced in receiving your dead Son into your arms!  We beseech you, Holy Mother, grant that the Passion of our Lord may be for us a fountain of sorrow, of pardon, of love, and of life."



Perhaps the greatest love that
I can
Ever give You, Lord Jesus, is
To imitate Your Holy Mother
And hold Your Suffering within my heart.

St. Paul of the Cross: "Humble yourself much"

"Humble yourself much when it seems you receive graces from God.  At times it may seem that we are receiving, and it is because other servants of God are praying. . . . Oh, how many who seemed strong as the cedars of Lebanon and are now fallen!  A grain of pride can ruin a mountain of holiness; therefore, be hidden from all.  Retreat into the strong fortress of the pure Heart of Jesus, and you will be freed from every evil." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Agnes Grazi, March 15, 1736)


"Pray to the gentle Jesus to teach you how to pray."

"Pray to the gentle Jesus to teach you how to pray, and hold it as certain that he will be your guide and master and your every good. . . Have a pure intention to do everything simply to please God.  If you will be humble and obedient, the Holy Spirit will teach you." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Teresa Palozzi, December 7, 1755).

When St. Paul of the Cross wrote this letter, Teresa Palozzi was 18 years old.  Teresa later became one of the founding members of the first foundation of Passionist Nuns in Corneto, Italy.  Also, she became the second superior of this first foundation.  The first superior was Mother Mary Crucified Costantini.


The Contemplative Passionist Life