Feast of St.Paul of the Cross
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The other day I read a description of Paul of the Cross as a devoted priest who “inflicted harsh penances on himself.” It took me by surprise that of the many things that could be said about him, that’s what the author chose to focus on. It’s certainly true that he chose an ascetical style of life for himself and his first Passionist companions. The underlying reasons for those penances were twofold. First, to be like Jesus who gave his life for us on the cross out of love, and second, as a powerful means of breaking through people’s resistance to a church that did not seem to care for them in their sufferings. It was a means he used to show just how serious he was about the message of the cross as the greatest sign of God’s love.
In one of his letters, he wrote: “When you place yourself peacefully at the feet of Jesus, be one with him as he hangs there, naked on the cross. In this way you are sure of being on the right path. Let yourself remain there, within God’s heart, in a sacred silence of faith and love.” He wanted all of us to be there “within God’s heart” and share in the joy and hope that extraordinary love brings. In 1769 he wrote to Passionist religious that he wanted them to “act in such a way that anyone who sees you sees the living portrait of Jesus Christ resplendent in you and in your countenance.” On this Feast Day of Paul of the Cross we know that challenge continues for each member of the Passionist family as we strive to keep alive the memory of the Passion reaching out in compassion and support for the crucified of today as we try seek to show them that they too are “within God’s heart.”
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.