On October 20th the Church celebrates the feast of St Paul of the Cross, an Italian saint, who founded the Passionists today numbering around 2,200. As our parish continues to grow and develop, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Passionists who started our parish and cared for it for several years. As part of our Parish Transformation process we have been delving into the history of our parish and it is fascinating to discover certain historical details of our past. We owe much to St Paul of the Cross who is not only our patron and protector but also our model of holiness. I invite our entire parish to celebrate this feast remembering our patron and praying to him.
You can find his biography on-line and on our website. In my column I would like to reflect on one aspect of his spirituality. From a young age, Paul Francis Daneii (his given names) was deeply devoted to the Passion of Christ which he viewed as both an expression of God’s love and as a path to holiness. He took great delight in the words of St Paul the apostle who wrote: "When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2, 1-2) In his own sufferings he sought to share in the sufferings of Christ. During one of his serious illnesses he wrote: "I place all of my hope and confidence in the Passion of Jesus. Our Lord knows well that I have labored all of my life to love Him myself, and to make others love Him."
Contrast the attitude of St Paul of the Cross to suffering to that of our own world and our society. Thanks to the dramatic progress we have made in medicine and technology, we make every effort to diminish our pain and increase our pleasure. In fact we would like to think that as Americans it is our birthright not to suffer at all. Yes, we can take a pill to reduce our physical pain but there is no pill to take away emotional pain, the agony of broken relationships and the suffering of loss. As humans it is our lot to suffer. We can try to kick against the goad and then our suffering only increases. Or, we can bear our suffering in union with Jesus and thus make it redemptive.
The example of St Paul of the Cross invites us to follow the example of Jesus Himself who went to the Cross the save humanity. When we make the Stations of the Cross we are constantly reminded of this truth. At every station we pray: “We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You; for by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.” We are called upon to carry our Cross and follow after Him.
We don’t need to look for crosses. They always find us. The inevitable sufferings that we must bear constitute the crosses in our lives. Many individuals try hard to avoid them. Others become angry or bitter under the weight of the cross. Every cross that comes our way is an invitation from the Lord to become more and more like Jesus. Instead of allowing them to make us bitter, we can use our sufferings to make us better. We can make them redemptive. Let us offer them up for our salvation and for the salvation of those we love.
I shall leave you with the words of another saint, Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort:
Do as the storekeeper does with his merchandize; make a profit on every article. Suffer not the loss of the tiniest fragment of the true cross. It may only be the sting of a fly or the point of a pin that annoys you; it may be the little eccentricities of a neighbor, some unintentional slight, the insignificant loss of a penny, some little restlessness of soul, a slight physical weakness, a light pain in your limbs. Make a profit on every article as the grocer does, and you will soon be wealthy in God.
In imitation of our patron, may we touch our lips to the crosses that the Lord sends us! May we glory in nothing but the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Happy feast of St Paul of the Cross! Please pray for our parish. In particular I request you to pray for a particular intention. I have said this before and I will say it again. More than half of our registered members do not engage with their Catholic faith. Let us pray to St Paul of the Cross that they will live out their baptismal promises and that they will become active members of our parish community. I also encourage those of us who make Sunday Mass an occasional commitment to convert it into a weekly commitment.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...