"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)
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!
The Contemplative Passionist Life
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