Passionist 300th Jubilee:
22 November 2020 - 1 January 2022
The Passionist Congregation was born during the 40-day retreat of St. Paul of the Cross, in the church of San Carlo in Castellazzo, Italy. The retreat was preceded by Paul's leaving his family and being clothed as a hermit in a black habit. The vestition ceremony was to have taken place in Alessandria on November 21, 1720, the feast of the Presentation of Mary, but the rite was postponed to Friday, November 22, 1720.
Returning to Castellazzo, where he lived, Paul began his forty-day retreat in the cell of the church of San Carlo on 23 November, in a storeroom off the sacristy. In this period, between December 2nd - 7th 1720, Paul wrote the Rule for the "Poor of Jesus", the first name he thought he would give to the Congregation he intended to found and which later became the Congregation of the Passionists. In his Diary he wrote: "I was writing as if there was someone dictating to me." Paul ended his retreat on January 1, 1721. This is why the dates of the Jubilee Year are: November 22, 2020 - January 1, 2022.
Passionist spirituality: Paul of the Cross – His personality
Paul was frequently described as an extremely robust and impressive person. His biographer, Passionist (and now Saint) Vincent Strambi described Paul as being of imposing stature, considered, charming and eloquent. “His gaze was keen and clear, his forehead high and open, his voice clear, serious and penetrating, his manner affable and respectful, devoid of affectation. He was of sanguine temperament and truly sensible.”
Twice there have been graphological analyses of Paul’s handwriting with very similar results. These descriptions suggest, “The writer thinks with his emotions, more than reason. He was anxious, distressed or under physical or emotional strain at the time of writing. Determined; expressive and responsive personality; marked social concerns, compassionate, intelligent, inventive and imaginative. Difficult to understand at times because logic is disregarded and the heart of the matter taken out of sequence. Very introspective, abrupt and decisive in action, intolerant of some things. Analytical, psychic, sensitive, reserves facts and keeps confidences. A man you could depend upon.”
Lucy Burlini….and Passionist community friends
Holy Cross community has benefited from the long-standing love and generosity of many people. We are tremendously grateful, and we feel humbled that we can give so little in return. This generosity comes in every possible form and our other communities experience the same loyal commitment and kindness from many wonderful people. We now have formal Companions who identify with our spirituality and try to live and express the same charism in their daily life. Others are informal companions who share the Passionist spirit or are drawn to it. This makes us feel both blessed and grateful.
Sometimes the association of benefactors begins with a meeting of one individual Passionist with another individual; a couple or a family, and it develops into a friendship with the community This has been the case since the times of Paul of the Cross. In the middle of an intensive time of growth in the early days of the Congregation, Paul was struck down with sciatica. He attempted to return to Monte Argentario, but the steep climb was impossible for him and he was forced to stay with the Grazzi family in Orbetello for five months. The family became regular hosts for Passionists travelling to or from Monte Argentario for mission.
Paul and Sickness
Given the age and state of health of many Holy Cross Companions and others of professed and lay members throughout the Province, it may be of value to reflect on the place of sickness in Paul’s life and spirituality. Paul ‘saw’ sickness and death first-hand in his family. Nine of his siblings died in infancy. He cared for the sick, dying and deceased as a young adult with the Confraternity of St. Anthony in Castellazzo. He stayed by the bedside of many who were sick or dying, and assisted them with prayers. He prepared many who died for burial and often led the funeral prayers because there was no priest to do it.
He never fully recovered from an attack of rheumatic fever in 1719, when he was twenty-five years of age, nor from a severe attack of malaria in 1727. Paul’s constant travels in frosty weather and cold winds weakened him and for more than forty years, he was regularly incapacitated by sickness. He suffered from malaria, rheumatism, sciatica, debilitating headaches, deafness and frequent heart palpitations. From 1745, at the age of fifty-one, he was forced to use a walking stick to get about. In later life, he was often bed-ridden sometimes for many months, and he was a permanent invalid for most of the last ten years of his life. His letters and writings reflect that in all his sufferings, his deepest desire was to be conformed to Jesus crucified.
Creation 7: RESONANCE….Part 3
As a species, horses have learned to be corralled by barb-wire without injuring themselves, though injuries did occur to most horses when this practice was first introduced. There have been successful experiments carried out with fake (painted) cattle grids. Some wondered what would happen if one animal overcame this ‘trick’. Would others also learn to do the same?
In 1985, some sheep in Wales overcame the fake cattle grid by rolling over them. This rolling over technique occurred in the same year in Sweden. Twelve years later, sheep in Hampshire began to use this technique and in 2004, some sheep in Yorkshire also adopted this technique.
When the European Cuckoo is hatched, it never sees it parents. It is reared by birds of other species. The adult birds migrate to their other home in Southern Africa.
One month later, the young cuckoos get together and without the aids humans would use, migrate across the Sahara Desert to Southern Africa, 5,350 kilometres away, where they join their elders!
Creation 6: RESONANCE….Part 2
Nearly twenty years ago, I spent a few hours with a friend at the national museum in Canberra Among the many things at the museum that impressed me was a satellite pictorial image of some parts of Australia that were captured by aboriginal painters almost a century earlier. There is an aboriginal belief that a painter may only capture a part of the landscape that he/she has experienced, because it has become a part of them. This display revealed that some of the images of the scenery taken from satellites that were painted a hundred years ago, are almost identical. This was long before helicopters or drones. It is as if (as one expert said) “the artist had a birds-eye view of the landscape before that was possible”.
A strange comment
I do not express my opinions on any public social media platforms, but I wanted at least to express my surprise at two comments made by an Australian Cardinal that were reported by National Catholic reporter, Christopher White. The first is that the Cardinal “has never approved of Pope Benedict’s resignation”. The choice of the word ‘approved’ is interesting. It is different from ‘not agreeing’. It seems strange also to not respect an individual’s brave decision, when the person (Pope Benedict) came to the recognition that he could no longer exercise the role adequately. Would that more people could be as responsible and ‘let go’ after coming to this recognition!
World Migrant and Refugee Sunday
Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ has written most of what appears below
This Sunday we give thanks for the gift that people from different nations have been for both our church and our nation. We remember the Irish immigrants who were the heart of so many communities, whose churches and schools were built with the contributions of the poor. We remember the Chinese who came in the goldrush days and created a strong Asian presence.
We remember the European and Middle Eastern immigrants of early days and so many from European nations who came from a war-devastated Europe after WW2 - English, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Polish, and others, and the later refugees and migrants from Vietnam and other South-East Asian countries, Latin America, Lebanon, the Baltic nations, India and Africa. Both the Australian community and the Church have been blessed by the contribution they have made. Migration has shaped and reshaped the face of Australia, and has reminded us that we all have trespassed on a land first cared for by Indigenous people.
Creation Season – Part 3…..Attraction and Calling
One of the critical things many of us still have to learn is that the earth is not a resource for humans! We are kidding ourselves if we cannot see that the planet’s resources are finite. We need a new way of relating to earth and we need a new understanding of what it means to be human. Such an understanding must recognise that we are part of, not separate from, or superior to the earth community. At this time in our history, there is a strong call for this resonating around the globe.
Sr Karen Englebretsen CP - (a note from Sr Brigid CP)
Karen, from New Zealand joined the Sisters of the Cross and Passion in May 2015 and took her first vows in 2018. Karen accompanied Sr Joan to Dublin in March 2020 and stayed on to pursue some further studies which she completed in August 2021.
Karen has a serious eye condition which has worsened during the time in Dublin. The eye specialist and eye surgeon, in whom she has confidence, are both in Melbourne. It was felt that she should return to the specialists who know her and have treated her during her time in Melbourne. She is returning to Melbourne this week and will, after two weeks in hotel quarantine, come to stay at Holy Cross in the dry Tavern with Sr Brigid!