Feast of St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists
Today we Passionists celebrate the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, our Holy Founder (1694-1775). It is a day for remembering this remarkable man and his profound insight into the mystery of God. Paul Daneo started out as a young man fascinated by the Passion of Jesus Christ. From his earliest years Paul recognized in the human sufferings of Christ a divine commitment to the human family. Paul spent his entire life reflecting on the meaning of the love God has for us. In his early years Paul burned with the desire to participate in the sufferings of Christ in his own person through long hours of prayer, penance, self-discipline, severe poverty and fasting. He gathered companions to share in this life and threw himself into preaching the great love revealed in the passion and death of Jesus Christ. In the mature years of his life we witness a man totally absorbed in God’s love and filled with a desire to share that love with everyone he met. Paul is, indeed, a fascinating man who lives the transforming experience of giving oneself over totally to a God who loves us!
St. Paul of the Cross is clearly a vivid example of the truth of the testimony of St. Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Corinthians. God’s wisdom and power, revealed in the Passion of His Son, Jesus Christ, is truly beyond human understanding.
Paul Daneo spent his entire life embracing the mystery of Christ Crucified. The depth of Paul’s compassion and commitment to the people in his life, from the outcasts of the Tuscan Maremma (marshes), to the families he guided, to the church leaders he advised, to the companions he gathered around him to share in his life, inspired them all to an ever-deeper conviction that God loved them beyond their understanding. The love they experienced in Paul’s reflections on the Crucified Christ enriched their lives and deepened their own commitment to living their lives generously and faithfully.
As we remember the example of this great Saint, we ask God to keep us centered in the love God has for us as revealed in the Passion and Death of His Son.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.