Our readings today remind me of someone very important in the life of all Passionists, namely our “holy Founder”, St. Paul of the Cross. In the last hours of his life he prayed for several very important things. First, he prayed that all of the brethren in the community would love one another like real brothers. Then he prayed that we would be faithful to the charism and way of life indicated by our “holy rule.” And finally he prayed that we would never be powerful in the Church. Paul prayed that we would live our vowed life as Passionists just as the early Church was inspired to do and is recounted for us in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
In the 4th Chapter of Acts we see that, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they had everything in common… There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to their need.”
Wouldn’t it have been exciting to live in such a selfless and inspired time of the early Church? And yet, today, the very same selflessness exists in so many ways in our Church and it is good to remember how true this is. While we regret the paucity of vocations to priesthood and religious life worldwide there are thousands of men and women who valiantly continue to live out their vows and promises, living lives of selfless service, ministry filled with acts of kindness and charity, and a joy that is so representative of this Easter season. And who can forget those countless people who are the very backbone of our parish communities, lay men and women who are there serving the poor, caring for the sick and elderly, visiting the imprisoned, and keeping the faith alive and vibrant day after day?
While we may at times be discouraged by events unfolding globally at the present time isn’t it refreshing and encouraging to remember how even today, as in those early days of the Church, we belong to a community of believers who are of one heart and one mind, who quietly live out lives of charity and walk humbly in the footsteps of the Master?
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.