THE UNBROKEN WORD
I have just returned from a trip to Pittsburg, PA prior to the July 4th celebration. The visit was to a Monastery there, which marked the foundation of the Passionist order in the United States, over 150 years ago. Celebrating Mass with the Passionist priests and community there, I saw a church which was built before the Civil War, has a relic of the real Cross and the remnants of what was once a large, joyous and vibrant community.
The community, albeit smaller, is still joyous, although like much of our clergy is considerably older and mourning better days for vocations. Amidst the retreat I was attending the Provincial Superior of the Passionists revisited the reasons the order was formed in the first place. His comments profoundly resonated with me.
As a young priest he found the message of the founder (St. Paul of the Cross) difficult to comprehend and engage at first. By digging deeper into the writings of St. Paul of the Cross, he discovered the reason the order was created. St. Paul could not find a message (from other spiritual sources, such as the Benedictines, Dominicans or even Franciscans) which matched the love he had for Jesus the Christ. Eventually, it dawned on him the love which Jesus had for us, particularly as expressed in the Passion of Christ was the message to communicate. He wanted to get “himself” out of the way and let Christ do the work. We often say the catchphrase, “Let Go and Let God,” but do we really mean it? Do we understand it?
Often when we spread the Word of God, we operate as a mirror. Someone in front of us sees our reflection, not the real Word of God, but what we want to project. In the presentation at the retreat, the image of being a transparent window to allow God to do the work through us came directly to mind. One where I “get out of the way” and let whatever God wants to have happen be between this person and their relationship with God.
At times when we celebrate our history, such as Independence Day, we can be pleased we live in a country which treasures many of the gifts God has given us; particularly the gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, to turn these gifts into fruits requires us, our ministry and vocation in the world, and a willingness to “Let God” shine through. This weekend, I am going to try and remember this message for the whole year. And recall anything I do should be in God, and not about me and my ego.