Feast of St. Paul of the Cross (USA),
Founder of the Passionist Congregation
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, the Founder of the Passionists. Paul was born in Ovada in Northern Italy in 1694 and lived a remarkable life as a preacher, mystic, spiritual director and founder of the Congregation of the Passion of Religious Priests and Brothers and a contemplative Congregation of the Passionist Nuns.
Paul had many gifts but it was his love of the Passion of Jesus that was the core of his life. Whenever he looked at the cross of Jesus, he was overwhelmed by God’s great love for him and for humanity. He spent his life trying to share that message of love with all who would listen.
Paul’s secret for accepting the crosses in his own personal life was to accept them directly from God not from other people. He wrote to one of his friends, Thomas Fossi, "Don’t take your trials from creatures, but take them directly from the hand of God. He uses creatures as his instruments. Love the divine will in the midst of naked suffering." This attitude was important to Paul because he saw God’s love behind every cross. As Paul told Thomas Fossi, "Adore the most holy will of God in every happening. The love of God is as strong as death."
Most of us tend to look only at the human source of our sufferings. Paul invites us to look beyond the human source and recognize that all our experiences, even the painful and difficult ones, come from the hand of God. And, as we struggle to deal with our crosses, he invites us to trust in God, a God who gave His Son so that we could have eternal life.
Paul is indeed a challenging saint and one who shows us how to trust totally in God’s love. May we grow into the insight of St. Paul of the Cross, his insight into the meaning of our sufferings but more importantly his conviction of God’s love for each of us.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director the Development Office for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago.