Vocation Discernment Retreat Weekend

Saint Gemma Galgani

Saint Gemma was born on March 12, 1878 near the town of Lucca, in Italy.  Even from her earliest childhood, she loved the gospel stories of the Passion that her mother would tell her.  She lost both her parents during her youth and was lovingly welcomed into the Giannini home, a good Christian family, fervent in the Catholic faith.

As a young woman, she consecrated herself by vow of virginity to God.  Saint Gemma was blessed with the visible presence of her guardian angel throughout her life, and she spoke with him as with a dearest friend.  She also had visions of Jesus, Our Lady, and St. Gabriel, CP.  Her intense love for Jesus Crucified prepared her to receive the great grace and gift of the stigmata--she bore the wounds of Jesus in her body.

Saint Gemma died on Holy Saturday, April 11, 1903.  She showed us how to fulfill the call to holiness in the midst of the world.

From Saint Gemma's writings:
"I wish that my heart could beat, that I could live and breathe only for Jesus.  I wish that my tongue could utter no other name than that of Jesus; that my eye could see only Jesus; that my pen could write only about Jesus, and that my thoughts could soar to nothing but Jesus. . . . Let us recall, my dear Sister, that we are disciples of this Jesus who suffered so much.  It is not enough to look at the cross, or wear it, we must carry it in the depth of our heart. . . . May it never be said that we would fail Jesus and leave him alone on the road to Calvary.  Let us stay with him, not only as far as Calvary but to the cross and death. . . . I am the fruit of your passion, Jesus, born of your wounds.  O Jesus, seek me in love; I no longer possess anything; you have stolen my heart."

"Do you love me? . . . Follow me"

In today's gospel, Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?" (Jn 21:16)  He has a mission for Peter, "Tend my sheep" (Jn 21:16).  Peter loves Jesus but is also aware of his weaknesses and previous failures.  Jesus insists, "Feed my sheep" (Jn 21:17).  Jesus knows well our fallen human nature, and He still entrusts each of us with a unique mission to further His Kingdom.  He calls us to a particular vocation not because we are worthy but because He loves us.

Jesus speaks to us today in the depth of our souls.  He loves us more than we love ourselves and has a beautiful plan for our lives.  How do you know His plan? Listen!

On May 18th, we will have a Vocation Discernment Retreat at our monastery from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM.  The purpose of the day is to provide women who are discerning their vocation the opportunity to enter into silence, listen, pray, and learn more about religious life.  The day will begin with Holy Mass.  Participants will follow the monastic schedule, pray the Divine Office with the Sisters, and have the opportunity to hear vocation stories.  There will be discussion about the discernment process and the similarities and differences between the three vocations--married, single, and religious life.  We will also talk specifically about the contemplative Passionist vocation.  Participants will have opportunities for individual questions and guidance.

We entrust to our Blessed Mother all women whom God is calling to a religious vocation.  May she grant them a share of her silent spirit that listens and trustingly surrenders to God's loving plan.

He is Risen! See His wounds?

A recurrent theme in the gospel readings during the Easter Octave is the disciples' inability to recognize Jesus.  Mary Magdalen "did not know it was Jesus" (Jn 20:14).  On the way to Emmaus, the eyes of the disciples "were prevented from recognizing him" (Lk 24:16).  However, when Jesus appeared at the Sea of Tiberias, one disciple did recognize Him.  It was the beloved disciple who pointed Jesus out to the others--"It is the Lord!" (Jn 21:7)

The beloved disciple was the one who rested his head on Jesus' chest at the Last Supper.  He remained close to Jesus.  Could it be that his intimacy with Jesus allowed him to see beyond the surface and recognize Him?  As contemplatives, we too remain close to the Heart of Jesus to listen and receive His love.  As Passionists, we contemplate His wounds, the wounds that the Risen Christ invited Thomas to touch and examine--the Sacred Wounds from which flows His Love and Mercy!

"The Cost of His Redeeming Love"

Contemplate these
    Precious Wounds
        inscribed upon 
His Hands, His Feet, and Side

Here one sees
    the Cost of His Redeeming Love


What return can my heart make
    for such a Gift Sublime?

I put my life and all my love
    within His Wounds

The cost of His Redeeming Love.

Good Friday

"Love speaks little!"
                         (St. Paul of the Cross)

Let us run to meet Jesus--meek, and humble!

In our Divine Office today, the antiphon for morning prayer encourages us to run to meet Jesus!

"With Palms let us welcome the Lord as he comes, with songs and hymns let us run to meet him, as we offer him our joyful worship and sing: Blessed be the Lord!"

We begin Holy Week with confidence and joy, running to meet Jesus who has come to accomplish “the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s Love"--His Passion! (St. Paul of the Cross)

In 1727, St. Paul of the Cross wrote to Marchioness Donna Marianna Della Scala Del Pozzo: “Let us run, let us run, Signora, after this dear Lover of our souls, casting ourselves more and more completely into the bosom of his most holy love!  Let not the difficulties frighten us, our daily faults, our great miseries, for these are but the throne of his mercies” (St. Paul of the Cross, April 15, 1727).

We ask Our Sorrowful Mother for a share in her contemplative spirit that remains close to Jesus even to the Foot of the Cross.

“Walk With Me”

Let me remain

      With you

      O my broken-Hearted God.

Your silent companion,

     walking too,

     towards Jerusalem.

I pray the journey

    will not be so hard

    if I be at Your Side.

Your friend and spouse

    for I am determined

   ever to remain and be




Friday before Palm Sunday: Honoring Our Sorrowful Mother

With gratitude to Our Sorrowful Mother, our community celebrates the Friday before Palm Sunday in her honor.  Our Lady shows us the beauty and fruitfulness of a life totally surrendered to the Father’s will in the service of her Divine Son.  We thank her for her fiat, even to the Foot of the Cross.  What deep sorrows she accepted for love of us!  With what great charity she received us as her children from the Heart of her Crucified Son!

As we approach Holy Week, we ask Our Sorrowful Mother to show us how to love and compassionate Jesus in his Passion.  May she obtain for us the gift of a silent heart that attends to the voice of her Divine Son: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Mt 26:38). 

In today’s collect for the Mass, we rely on Our Blessed Mother's help to draw us closer to Jesus.

O God, who in this season give your Church the grace to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary in contemplating the Passion of Christ, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that we may cling more firmly each day to your Only Begotten Son and come at last to the fullness of his grace.  Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever (The Roman Missal).

A Lenten Journey

"Lent is a time when we relive the Passion of Christ.  Let it not be just a time when our feelings are roused, but let it be a change that comes through cooperation with God's grace in real sacrifices of self" (Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

Portrait of a Lenten Journey

Prayer . . .
  the atmosphere which fills the heart
    with His Presence

Fasting . . .
  the "meal" prepared daily
     for others
  through sacrifice and charity

Almsgiving . . .
  the gifts which reach
    into one's heart
  and are poured out for needy souls

Penance . . .
  the Lenten desert road
    that silently leads one
      to purity of heart
        and union
  with Our Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus.

Into the Desert

"Prayer and converse with God is a supreme good: it is a partnership and union with God. As the eyes of the body are enlightened when they see light, so our spirit, when it is intent on God, is illumined by his infinite light. I do not mean the prayer of outward observance but prayer from the heart, not confined to fixed times or periods but continuous throughout the day and night.

Practice prayer from the beginning. Paint your house with the colors of modesty and humility. Make it radiant with the light of justice. Decorate it with the finest gold leaf of good deeds. Adorn it with the walls and stones of faith and generosity. Crown it with the pinnacle of prayer. In this way you will make it a perfect dwelling place for the Lord. You will be able to receive him as in a splendid palace, and through his grace you will already possess him, his image enthroned in the temple of your spirit" (St. John Chrysostom, Bishop).

Into The Desert

Into the desert . . .
  I keep within my heart
    a Lenten vigil
      of silence and prayer

The contemplation
  of Christ's Suffering Face
become the atmosphere
  for new growth in virtue
    and blossoms into
  His Love, Humility and 
    a charity
      that branches out
    an embrace of all the world
       filling it with 
         the Fragrance of Christ

Behold . . .
    how the Lenten desert
      brings forth new life
    each tender "bud" -- the virtues
      blossoms forth
beneath the Sacred Gaze of Jesus
    from the Wood of His Cross.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday . . . now we enter into the Sacred Season of Lent. A special graced time to prepare our hearts for a greater participation and remembrance of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  During these weeks, we allow His sentiments to shape and renew us as we walk with Him . . . and the Sign of the Cross that we receive on our forehead today marks us as belonging to Jesus Crucified . . . and the Triumph of His Resurrection.

"Sacred Silence"

  is a wondrous thing
    a gift from God's Own Heart.

It's Beauty lies in that
  the language spoken
    is both mystery
      and revelation.

Mystery . . .
  because it's like stepping
     into another world . . .

Revelation . . .
  because in silence
     we can hear
         the Heartbeat of God
            that speaks
            Language of Love.

Jesus Prays in the Garden of Gethsemane

Throughout the world, many are celebrating Mardi Gras . . . while we observe a special Passionist memorial in our Liturgy--Jesus at Prayer in Gethsemane.  Gethsemane . . . the curtain which opens the beginning of Christ's Hour of Suffering.  So . . . we seek to pray beside Him, in spirit, and with the Angel, offer Him our presence of love and compassion.



"My Heart is
  nearly broken with sorrow . . ."

In prayer, I seem to see
  the Lord Jesus

on the ground before me.

. . . "Stay here and
   keep watch with Me."
   Though centuries have past . . .

His request has
  touched my heart,
So I choose to remain

To bring comfort
  to His Broken Heart
    and compassion to His Pain

Solemn Commememoratio of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

On Friday before Ash Wednesday, Passionists through out the World celebrate the Titular Feast of the Congregation, the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion.  The Triumph of Love!  That is what we celebrate on this special feast particular to our Passionist Congregation.  Jesus embraced His Sacred Passion as He allowed His Heart to be opened on the Cross, revealing a Treasury of Grace and Mercy.  

The Solemn Commemoration is the joyful celebration of the truth that "the Passion of Jesus Christ is the greatest and most stupendous work of Divine Love" (St. Paul of the Cross).

"Come lovers of Jesus, with deep reverence and humble confidence enter into the sanctuary of His Heart.  Contemplate the immense and heartfelt charity by which He suffers for all.  In suffering for all, Jesus has each one in particular in sight as if He suffers for that one alone: He loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).  Who would not want to return that love to a God who has anticipated us in love, and with such an excess of love?" (St. Vincent Mary Strambi, CP).

Meet Me At The Cross

I come to gather
  from each Foot
     Your drops of Precious Blood

As You hang
  in Love
on Your Holy Cross
     of wood

I see from Your Hands
  now bejeweled in red

Graces flowing
   for our souls
And I seek
  to gather this Treasure
    of each drop
            You Bled

From Your Wounded Side
  I see Your Heart
    pierced for us

And within
  this Rubied Castle of Love
    I spend my life

Gathering countless graces
   for the souls
entrusted to my care

Seeking blessings
  from Your Heart

Yes, Jesus!
  Through Your Sacred Passion
    Your Merciful Love
       reaches everyone . . .

The Contemplative Passionist Life