Welcome this week to our new online chapel. Fundamental to the Passionists’ way of life is prayer and meditation, especially on the cross of Jesus. In this virtual chapel, we invite you to voice your personal needs and concerns as well as to share the fruits of your meditation on the Cross. You enter the Chapel by clicking on “Chapel” above. Once there, you can enter any and all your prayer requests by clicking on “Leave a comment”. You also might want to share a reflection on the Cross, especially as you see it being experienced in our world today by again clicking on “Leave a comment” or by commenting on someone else’s share. Finally, this would also be a good place to share how your community prays when you come together. You can share this by again, clicking on “Leave a comment”.
by James Paulin
All hail the mighty champion! So often we see a sports figure pictured embracing a prized golden or silver trophy, holding it on high, even endearing it with a kiss. Often times, the object is represented in the form of an elaborate cup. The Wimbledon cup in tennis, the Stanley cup in hockey, the Ryder cup in golf, the Americas cup in sailing are but a few examples. The investment of effort, talent, teamwork and commitment are undeniably essential to becoming the one who successfully overwhelms all opposition both from competition and inner struggles.
What are the ingredients that combine to separate the extraordinary from the mediocre, the elite from the extraordinary and a champion from the runner up? Some would argue that it is just luck but that doesn’t hold up with consistency. Work ethic, intelligence, preparation, determination, and sacrifice are required to meet ones full potential. Isaiah Thomas, maybe the best point guard ever, was asked once if he would still play in the National Basketball Finals with what turned out to be a fractured ankle. His response was adamantly yes. He said, “ I am playing. I am not dead yet.” Leadership, responsibility and courage dominated his attitude. There is always a steep price to pay to gain a cherished prize, to be the final victor, to kiss the cup.
If everyone knew the cost in terms of preparation and pain they would have to endure to even have a chance to become the one to take it all, they might agonize over their ability to persist and succeed. Putting their long term health at risk and doubts of how the odds are greatly against them would deter most of us. Spirits soar when the winner claims the prize but tears often come to the eyes of the defeated. There was a time when full knowledge of what was required to gain the most precious prize in history tortured the mind and human instincts of the only one able to complete the task.
“If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” These were the words of Jesus as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. He even sweated blood with his doubts. Of the betrayal, arrest and injustice, he knew. Of the mockery, crown of thorns and severe lashing, he knew. Of the weight of the cross he carried, the nerve searing pain of the nails and the hours writhing on the cross, he knew. Of the sorrow in his mother’s heart, the lance in his side and the bitterness of those who were against him, he knew. All his life he knew what was coming and he not only accepted it, he embraced it. His sacrifice won our victory over sin and death. God’s love was outpoured in the person of Jesus. He was the Lamb of God, the only offering necessary. It was and is God’s plan. Jesus kissed the cup.
One old timer Passionist shared this reflection on living in community:
“Reviewing and reflecting upon my own experience of life in my community of brother Passionists, I see it now, from the vantage point of both my age and experience, as a place of blessing in so many and various ways…A blessing of brother Passionists,–old and young and in-between,–who have tested and tried me, who have supported and endure me, enjoyed and encouraged me, loved me deeply and hated me mildly, corrected and challenged me, noticed and ignored me, told me off and turned me on, inspired and discouraged me. And yet, through it all, they have been and are and always will be brothers in Christ, who have always been there, –a constant presence that is occasionally frustrating, but generally supportive, and always blessedly unavoidable.” Fr. Thomas More Newbold, C.P.
Father Thomas More was the Rector of Mother of Good Counsel Passionist Minor Seminary when I started my freshman year of high school in 1959. He walked with dignity and presence, had bushy red hair and freckles and while mostly serious, had a smile that somehow told me I was ok. He was one of many such men that continue to attract me to the Passionist Community make me want to be like them and to share in the great work they do, i.e. help keep alive the memory of Jesus’ Cross.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to our first of what I’m hoping becomes a weekly blog. Not everyone agreed with the post or the information on the “About us” page. I’m hoping you’ll agree with me though, and see this as a good sign. I believe we can agree to continue our community life even if we disagree on such fundamental questions such as who we are.
In this post I would like to continue the conversation by defending:
“The only requirement for membership is a continued commitment to becoming a more compassionate person through ongoing prayer, study and meditation on and identification with the Passion of the Jesus of history as well as with the poor, oppressed and suffering in our world today”
Why would we as partners want to adopt such an inclusive identity? First and foremost, I believe this statement does address the basic charism of the Passionists, i.e. identification with the Passion of Jesus… It goes further in admission that Passionists aren’t the only people in the world who believe in compassion. In fact as Karen Armstrong in her book “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” says:
“All faiths insist that compassion is the test of true spirituality and that it brings us into relation with the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana, or Dao. Each has formulated its own version of what is sometimes called the Golden Rule, ‘Do not treat others as you would not like them to treat you’…Further, they all insist that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group; you must have concern for everybody–even your enemies.” (Armstrong, 2011)
Making compassion basic to our association or partnership focuses us, professed, lay and all new potential partners on what we do. Further, it relates us to all people of faith, at least if we’re to believe Karen Armstrong.
The advantage of this relationship is growth, both for ourselves and for the world. We will grow spiritually by acts of compassion. Our partnership will grow exponentially in numbers because we stress how we are alike, rather than how we are different. In a world that likes to accent differences, we will stand out loud and clear proclaiming what we have in common with all people of faith. That might be considered revolutionary, not too different though, and maybe even the same as Jesus preached in his supreme act of compassion, the Cross.
Welcome to the Passionist Partners Blog
Communities of Passionist Partners exist in a number of U.S. cities across the Midwest and West. As coordinator of these very different communities, I am setting up this Blog in hopes that we will all share what’s happening in our particular communities and develop significant discussions about topics of interest to us all. Realizing that this is new, I am asking for your input. You can share that input by simply posting a comment in “Leave a Reply” which is found on “About Us”.
In particular, I’m interested in bringing your concerns and suggestions to the Province Assembly this June 18 – 20. If this works, and we get a good representation of all the communities, maybe we can continue this blog in the future helping each other grow and sharing our resources.
Thanks for joining in and Happy blogging!