You Know John of the Cross but What About Paul?
Saint Paul of the Cross is the founder of the Order of Passionists. Saint Paul fervently believed that the key to spiritual union with God is most completely found through meditation on Christ's Passion.
He received his nickname, “Paul of the Cross” because he always traveled with a large crucifix made of wood. Paul became known throughout Italy for his austerity and mortifications, as well the long, devoted hours he spent in prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Such was his skill in oratory, matched with his humble penances, Paul drew crowds of people wherever he went and brought countless conversions to the faith.
Saint Paul was also gifted with spiritual direction. Most of his letters, numbered around two thousand, were retained after his holy death. He wrote abundantly on the Passion of our Lord. Here are five meditations which show the depths of his Holy love for Christ:
- "I enjoy remaining on the Cross. How beautiful it is to suffer for Jesus!"....."I rejoice in the nails that hold me crucified"
- "Oh my Love, what happened to Your heart in the Garden! Oh, what suffering; what shedding of blood! What bitter agony, and all for me!".
- "I felt pain in seeing my dear God so offended. I could faint from seeing so many souls lost for not feeling the fruit of the Passion of Jesus. A desire to convert all sinners will not leave me."
- "We ought to glory in nothing other than the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are blessed and don't know it. You have Jesus Crucified with you."
- "Oh Jesus, my Love, may my heart be consumed in loving Thee; make me humble and holy; give me childlike simplicity; transform me into thy holy love. O Jesus, life of my life, joy of my soul, God of my heart, accept my heart as an altar, on which I will sacrifice to Thee the gold of ardent charity, the incense of continual, humble and fervent prayer, and the myrrh of constant sacrifices! Amen."
Such prayer and devotion to Christ's Passion was seen in the fruits of his labor at his death in 1775. Fifty-five years after the founding of his Passionists Order, Saint Paul could count 180 Passionists living in twelve retreat homes, as well as a companion order of Nuns. May we all strive to practice more fervent love for the Passion of our Lord, in the example of Saint Paul of the Cross.
It is an excellent and holy practice to call to mind and meditate on our Lord's Passion, since it is by this path that we shall arrive at union with God. In this, the holiest of all schools, true wisdom is learned, for it was there that all the saints became wise.