Paul Francis Daneo, St. Paul of the Cross, (1694 – 1775), an Italian with military experience gathered companions who would focus their lives on the Crucified Christ. What he started became the Passionist Religious Congregation of men, numerous congregations of women, and confraternities of lay people. Today, Passionists can be found on all the continents.
From Paul of the Cross they have a diagnosis of the ills of society. The problem arises when people in their everyday lives forget about God. In the Bible God is constantly ‘complaining’ that his people are constantly forgetting that He is their God, with the result they ignore their responsibilities. This ‘forgetting’ leads to their downfall as individuals, as communities and as nations.
The remedy according to Paul of the Cross, following scripture, is to ‘remember’ God. Above all it is to remember the Crucified Jesus who in His suffering and death showed how much He loved us. Being aware of the depth of the Love of God for us would bring us to our senses. We would begin to live lives of love, reconciliation and truth. We would be built up into mature individuals, loving communities and just and caring nations.
But it goes deeper. To ‘remember’ in scripture is not just to ‘call to mind’ but to make present here and now who and what we are recalling. The ‘memory’ becomes powerful and dynamic. For Paul of the Cross the ‘Memory of the Passion’ was to make present Christ Crucified in all His power and glory here and now.
Passionists spend time each day at the Foot of the Cross and in communion with Jesus allow the fruits of the Passion to become operative in their lives. They leave the foot of the Cross carrying the presence of Christ Crucified. Wherever they go they ‘plant’ that presence by raising the awareness in people of the Crucified Jesus present here and now.
As people reach out to the Crucified One they become healed, changed, built up into maturity. Consequently the communities to which they belong and the societies they are building are shaped by the power of Christ Crucified. Thus is a world of justice, peace, and love slowly built.
Is God calling you to be a Passionist?