Vocation Discernment Retreat Weekend

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.


St. Paul of the Cross: Interior Solitude and Prayer


"Never cease staying in the Holy of Holies in the Heart of Jesus; love him with his own Heart.  Allow yourself to be penetrated with lively sorrow for the outrages of others done him in the most adorable Sacrament and make reparation with humiliations, adoration, affections, praise, and thanksgiving.  Make yourself always smaller with knowledge of your nothingness and then allow yourself to be carried by that loving breeze wherever it pleases the Divine Majesty." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Agnes Grazi, July 22, 1741)

"Accustom yourself to making your meditation in the interior church of your soul.  It is of faith that our soul is the temple of the living God; it is of faith that God dwells within us.  Therefore, enter within yourself, and there adore that Most High in spirit and in truth, there speak to him of his pains, of his love for us, having given you so many graces.  That great God, who for love of us made himself human and wished to suffer so much for us, you have closer than the skin of your flesh, closer than you are to yourself.  Therefore, my blessed daughter, speak to him heart to heart." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Teresa Palozzi, June 19, 1757)



August 10th Vocation Retreat: Solitude and Silence Were Much Appreciated!


We were blessed with six prayerful young retreatants for our most recent Vocation Discernment Retreat day on Saturday, August 10th.  The day included discussions on religious life with a focus on our cloistered contemplative Passionist vocation, personal time in solitude, prayer with the community (Mass, Rosary, Divine Office, and Holy Hour), and three meals together with sharing.  The retreatants especially appreciated the time in silence and solitude.  They also valued the opportunity to share as a group.

An early divine inspiration that St. Paul of the Cross received was the call to solitude.  He wrote in the preface of the Primitive Rule for the Passionists, "I, Paul Francis, . . . was traveling west along the Genoa Riviera, when I noticed, on a hill above Sestri, a small church dedicated to our Lady of Gazzo.  As soon as I saw it, my heart longed for it because of its solitude.  For some time after that I continued living as I had been, but with a growing inspiration to retire into solitude . . . ."  After the Congregation was established, St. Paul of the Cross continued to encouraged all members, especially the superiors "to preserve and foster in the Congregation, the spirit of prayer, the spirit of solitude and the spirit of poverty.  You can be confident that, if these values are maintained, the Congregation shall shine like the sun before God and men" (St. Paul of the Cross).

A major theme in St. Paul of the Cross' life was the presence of God in the soul.  He repeatedly advised recollection which allows us to hear God speaking in the depths of our hearts.  Therefore, silence is necessary for conversing with God in prayer.  True religious silence, a healthy and calm interior, allows us to meet all reality, natural and supernatural, just the way we are. There is room for Christ to grow and reveal himself to us (From a conference on the Theology of Silence, presented by Father Silvan Rouse, CP, 2000).

Our next Vocation Discernment Retreat Day will be Saturday, November 9, 2019!

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

                      and

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

    your

    ever-vigilant

      bride.

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
         into
    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"


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
                the 
            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.


                   


Gethsemane

"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 . . .
                           everywhere!
  

The Contemplative Passionist Life