by James Paulin
Have you ever ascended to very high places such as the top of a skyscraper or a mountaintop? Such an experience changes our perspective and perhaps our outlook as well. When we think of progressing in our education or career it is often referred to as moving upward to a higher level. Although we all never stop learning as long as we live, some work at knowledge and ability continuously, in earnest. Rising to an opportunity implies effort that exceeds our typical routine. It is always easier to go downhill or level but improvement always seems to require sacrifice.
Excuses are convenient and comfortable. They come in physical, mental and spiritual forms. Excuses work until examples appear, as they usually do, of someone who defies their own obvious disability or weakness and achieves what we did not by sheer determination.
It is not hard to find climbing experiences in scripture. Old Testament leaders such as Abraham and Moses met God upon mountains. In the New Testament, Zacchaeus, a tax collector regarded as a sinner, had to climb a tree to seek out Jesus. In these stories, men arrived at elevated perceptions after they physically sought God with personal effort. It is not so easy to understand how Jesus could surrender to suffering and death when He willingly climbed Calvary and mounted the cross. His perception of us must be precious indeed.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.