Always ready for fun, five Chicago Partners came together at the last minute to enjoy an evening of music at Chicago’s Grant Park Musical Festival in Millennium Park on Wednesday August 7. The evening featured James Carter in a Concerto for Saxophones created for James by the Detroit Symphony. Also on the program were: Gabriel Castagna’s Milongón Festivo; Alberto Ginastera’s Pampeana No.3 Pastoral Symphony; and Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7.
Irene, Gail, Dave and Dan are all charter members of the Chicago Partners and Mary Lou has been involved with the Passionist at Immaculate Conception Parish since 1965. Irene served as the Chicago Monastery Librarian from 1980 to its closing this past Fall.
Gail’s husband Pat, also a charter member of the Chicago Partners was not able to attend. It is the terminal illness of his younger brother that brought Gail and Pat back from Oahu, Hawaii where they moved this past December, and occasioned the impromptu gathering. Prayers for Pat’s brother will be greatly appreciated.
We continue this week with Sr. Maureen Fiedler’s, article in the National Catholic Reporter about the committed life, concentrating on the vows. Sister gives us the history of vows and a good description of what they have traditionally meant. Then she asks the question: “So what might a 21st-century vow look like?”
My answer and I suspect other Partner’s answers as well would be it might look like a Partners’ covenant. Passionists take the three vows mentioned in the article: poverty, chastity, and obedience. They also take a fourth vow to remember the Passion of Christ. Some would call this the first vow, the vow that informs the three others. Passionist Partners don’t take vows; they each formulate their own particular covenant or promise. Hopefully that covenant reflects how they personally will remember the Passion of Christ. Is this important—to remember the Passion of Christ?
Yes, I believe it is. I believe the memory of the Passion of Christ is the connecting thread that binds us all, not just Partners, but all people of all times together. Keeping this memory of Christ’s passion can make us compassionate people, people who can share in the sufferings of others. Sharing how this happened in my life, people showed up when I was suffering: when I lost my mother at the age of ten; when I lost my first job out of college; when I found myself thinking of quitting life altogether. People showed up in my life at these times and stayed with me, they didn’t abandon me—they loved me. Their love, their compassion told me I was worthwhile—that I was not alone. As I grew older, I learned that I could do this for others. I could love them even when they couldn’t love themselves. Thus began a compassionate life for me. I’m not perfect at it, but when I remember the Passion of Christ, I remember what I believe life is all about. It’s about staying connected, not only to the people immediately in my life, but to anyone who suffers and that means all of us and all of creation.
I further believe that if there is a sickness in our world today, it is being disconnected. How else could you explain war, indifference to poverty, and the evident inequities in our world? I wouldn’t behave that way to my brother, especially my brother who I realized was suffering, who was experiencing life just like I am.
Can people do this who don’t know or believe in Jesus Christ? Certainly, I believe they can. But I will have to let them tell their story. How about you? What do you think?
In the following article Sister Maureen Fiedler, SL, host of the Interfaith Voices radio program tells of the tremendous success the Sisters of Loretto have had in developing co-membership in their vowed community. I was struck by their similarities to the Community of Passionist Partners. It seems we have much in common such as lay members sharing in our unique charisms, individual commitments by each member and common gatherings for prayer, discernment and fun. What we don’t have in common is they have many more co-members than we have Partners. I wonder if we could learn from them? What do you think?
Continuing with last week’s post on St. Paul of the Cross first of all thank you to those who took the time to answer the survey. The results follow:
100% of those responding are familiar with the Carmelites and Capuchins.
100% of those responding believe in looking to those who have gone before for guidance with today’s issues.
67% are familiar with the idea of a mystic
50% liked or are attracted to St. Paul of the Cross’s desire for solitude and poverty.
In terms of relevance:
Evenly split between somewhat to very relevant on people’s lives who have lived before us and mysticism.
Collaboration was evenly split between relevant to most relevant
75% thought compassion for each other was most relevant.
Secondly, the reason for posting the video was to familiarize newcomers with the founder of the Passionists as well as to remind current partners who this Paul Daneii (St. Paul of the Cross) was. The video tells us that he was one of the greatest mystics of the 18th Century who was influenced by John Tauler, a 14th century Dominican and mystic.
What defines a person as a mystic? Arthur Wollaston Hutton (1901) in his book The Inner Way… tells us first what a mystic is not. “Mystics are not dreamers; they are not fanatics; they are not fools; they are not a sect; and mysticism is not a religion.” Then he gives us an idea of who they are: “The mystic, who sees God in all things and all things in God, recognizes more in nature than mere natural phenomena, and more in the Word of God than its first literal significance. To him every thing, every event, every person, is a vision from the Unseen, a voice from the Inaudible.” 
Why would anyone want to follow a mystic and do we need mystics in our lives, our Church or our world? Arthur Wollaston Hutton suggests: “…the Church can never get rid of the mystic spirit; nor should she attempt to do so, for it is, in fact, her life. It is another name for conscience, for freedom, for the rights of the individual soul, for the grace and privilege of direct access to the Divine Spirit in the heart.”
Wayne Teasdale in his book The Mystic Heart (1999) says: “Many religious people depend on institutions—the church, synagogue, temple, or mosque—to make their decisions. Rather than looking for inner direction they shape their spiritual lives through conformity to external piety. They seem to lack the ability and desire to stand on their own two feet. Spirituality draws us into the depths of our being where we come face to face with ourselves, our weaknesses, and with ultimate mystery. Many understandably prefer to avoid this frightening prospect by sinking into external religiosity and the safe routines of liturgy or ritual. A genuinely spiritual person passionately commits to this inner development. He or she knows that life is a spiritual journey, and that each one of us must take this journey alone, even while surrounded by love ones. 
What do you think? Do we need mystics in our world today?
 Wollaston Hutton, Arthur.(1901) The Inner Way… London: Methuen & Company p 55  Ibid p 61  Ibid p 59  Teasdale, Wayne (1999) The Mystic Heart. Novato, CA: New World Library
Before leaving, Father Clemente Barron celebrated the 44th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood with the San Antonio community this June 13th. Clemente has been a faithful member of the this community for many years. We will miss Father and wish him well in his new assignment.
Willy Santiago joined the Partners making his first covenant on June 30. Along with Willy, Manolo and Lucy Razuri, Tom and Gloria Uribe, Carlos and Aurora Lopez, Raul and Dora Flores, Deacon Richard Salazar, Greg Garza and Ricardo and Beatriz Riojas renewed their covenants with the Partners.
In order to make clearer the goals and publishing guidelines for contributions to the blog we will spend the next couple of blogs looking at its organization and structure. Please look at the following suggested goals and let us know what you think.
To provide a forum where partners can share Partners’ news, their thoughts, opinions and ideas especially as related to keeping alive the memory of the passion of Jesus Christ
To provide collaborative online education
To become a leading resourse of information on compassion