Vocation Discernment Retreat Weekend

Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Today, Passionists around the world celebrate the Titular Feast of the Passionist Congregation!

We are commemorating the infinite love of the Father Who gave us his only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  "He loved us to the end, even to death on a cross . . . [and] gave us his own Mother to be our Mother also . . . . He revealed to us [the Father's] infinite love for us and, in the power of his resurrection, gave us the gift of everlasting life" (From the Preface for the Mass during the day).

"I beg you, . . . , to profit by that divine knowledge which the sovereign teacher Jesus Christ teaches you in the school of his holy passion while you meditate on it with faith and charity. . . . You will be a good disciple if you put on the virtues of Jesus Christ.  He will surely clothe you with them if you will be very humble, detached from whatever is not God and so hidden from  creatures that no one can steal the treasure from you.  I recommend interior recollection.  Recall that you are a living temple of the Most High; remain within yourself; close the door to all creatures.  Remain in interior solitude, clothed with the most holy sufferings of Jesus, and rest in his divine side which is the furnace of holy love" (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross).

St. Paul of the Cross and the Word of God

"I must first tell you that to draw greater fruit from our Lord's teaching, you must listen to the Word of God, either oral or written, as if Jesus Christ Himself were speaking to you.  He Himself left this record for us in the holy Gospel" (St. Paul of the Cross, a letter to Marchioness Donna Marianna Della Scala Del Pozzo, January 3, 1729).

"Read not through curiosity, nor for mere gratification, nor in haste, but quietly and slowly, imitating the bee which lights on a flower and gently draws sweet nourishment from it" (St. Paul of the Cross, Primitive Regulations)

Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God

"Humble yourself, but gently, for if Mary Most Holy sees that your heart is tiny and infant-like in humility, she will allow you to embrace the dear Divine Infant" (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Agnes Grazi, December 20, 1737).
"For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
(Luke 2:11)

Advent is:

. . . the silent slumber of the Infant
         within the Virgin Mother's womb
. . . the silent Heartbeat
         within every Consecrated Host

. . . the mystery of the Treasure
         revealed in Time . . .
       yet Hidden until
            the End Times . . .

. . . the Magnificent cry of the Church:
         "Come Lord Jesus!"
       to be fulfilled and completed
           His Second Coming

Advent is . . .

      His Infant slumber in Her womb . . .
      His Eucharistic Heartbeat . . .

  The Mystery and Magnificence
      of:    Emmanuel . . . God with us!

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)


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


"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.

The Contemplative Passionist Life