Alive with the Spirit of Collaboration:
Vowed Passionists and Lay People Serving the Charism Together
Since the advent of Vatican II, lay men and women in the Church have joyfully embraced new opportunities for liturgical and pastoral support, bringing with them a variety of talents and skills in service to God and community.
And for some time now, we Passionists have recognized that the charism, the spirituality, of St. Paul of the Cross, which is the spirituality of the Passion of Jesus, is not something we “own” or control. It is a gift from God that is open to all of God’s people, whether they are lay, vowed, or ordained. This was explicitly stated in the Passionist General Chapter of 1994: “Our charism is a great gift. Our vocation to keep alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus does not only belong to our Congregation or to our communities; it is open to all those human beings who are moved by the action of the Holy Spirit. We accept the call to live in communion with so many men and women who witness to its relevance and vitality.”
And out of the General Chapter of 2000, held in Brazil, came the following statement: “The Passionist charism, like life itself, is a gift for which we are eternally grateful; and one that we may not dispose of as though it were our own personal property. Those who wish to stand with us at the foot of the Cross, to contemplate the love of God and then proclaim its saving power, can rightly be called ‘Passionist’, whether they be men, women or children.”
As you can see, these statements are relatively recent in the history of our congregation (The Passionists began in 1720). But what they indicate has been our experience from the beginning of our existence. Our founder, St. Paul of the Cross, would often rely on laity in various locations to follow up on his parish missions. In our ministry we Passionists have encountered numerous people who have a deep understanding of the Passion of Jesus. Like St. Paul of the Cross, they have realized the extent of God’s love shown in Jesus’ Passion. And they know that Jesus’ exhortation in the Gospels for His disciples to take up their cross is not a command to resign oneself to the punishment of God, but an invitation to come closer to Jesus and know His love for us more deeply. And they have known this without knowing much about St. Paul of the Cross or the Passionists!
In 2002, when we Passionists celebrated the 150th anniversary of our presence in the U.S., our General Superior at the time, Fr. Ottaviano D’Egidio, C.P., stated that all of us present were Passionists.
For the Passionist Community of Holy Cross Province, the call from vowed religious for increased lay participation, and their warm welcome to those who are answering that call, has resulted in an evolving bond of spirit and friendship that is energizing, hopeful and transformative to lay and vowed Passionists alike.
Perhaps there are some of you reading this now who may have been searching for a spirituality that speaks to your experience. We invite you to learn more about us and perhaps discover something about yourself.
To read more about lay Passionists in ministry, visit Ministry.