Passionists of the Midwest, Southern, Western U.S. gather this week in Detroit for 6 days to discern how the Spirit is leading us to reveal more expansively and boldly, the loving power of God that flows from the cross of Jesus Christ for the world. Is there any more powerful love that can heal, and restore harmony among all living things? To know the meaning of Jesus’ words, "you will weep, and grieve and mourn," we just have to look at the world about which we speak–in turmoil first, because of the huge, scandalous gap between the poorer and the richer, the true root of terrorism, twenty years of military inflicted loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, over control of natural resources by the First World: second, the on-going, frequency of the disappearance of natural species on the earth with air and water quality diminishing; third, the war against the innocents, through the deprivation of water and food, rape and destruction of villages, and genocide as weapons of warfare.
There is less and less common ground upon which to carry on dialogue that brings mutual respect and justice among governments and religions. Cultural wars, conservative/liberal labels taint the meaning of religion among intellectual people, including the young. Pope John Paul II named the deep roots of our modern struggle in Evangelium vitae (1995): "This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the "culture of death" and the "culture of life."
We go into these meetings with a spirit of abandonment to what the Spirit of God and the charism of St. Paul of the Cross are asking of us to make more accessible the message of grace that comes from the cross. Letting go is the only attitude that makes discernment of the Will of God legitimate and doable. And we have St. Paul as our inspiration, enduring hardship, persecution, ridicule, torture and jail time. The question I ask myself, "where, today, through word and deed, may I promote respect, justice, the recovery of harmony in relationships?" What a vision we see in the words of Christ to Paul, "Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent for I am with you. You have nothing to fear."
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.