Reflection by Aidan Troy, C.P.
This weekend, the parishioners of St Joseph’s will get a break from me! After all, you have had me a lot since last Summer. I have enjoyed the time spent with you at Mass, Sacraments chats, coffee, CCD, Marriage Course, RCIA, and all that makes this a specially blessed place. People online regularly making contact give encouragement. Celebrating our 150th year, we offer thanks for the past and look forward with hope.
This weekend it is my privilege to begin a parish retreat in Derry, Ireland. Passionists were founded by St Paul of the Cross in 1720, 300 years ago next year. He “entrusted us with a mission: to preach the Gospel of the Passion by our life and apostolate.” He wished that we would, “come together therefore in apostolic communities so that we can fulfil this mission of ours by working for the coming of God’s Kingdom”. [Constitutions No. 2]
St Joseph’s is known in the Church as the ‘Mission Anglophone’ in France. As a Passionist mission, it still retains all its force and authenticity. The genius of Saint Paul of the Cross was his unwavering conviction that, “the Passion of Christ continues in this world until He comes in glory.’ A glance at the daily news leaves us in no doubt that this is true.
Because of this conviction, he wished that his Passionist communities would, “share in the joys and sorrows of our contemporaries as we journey through life toward our Father.” To do this, St Paul of the Cross wished that, “our mission aim at evangelizing others by means of the Word of the Cross”. [No. 3] Whether it is in Paris or in Derry, the call is the same and the mission demands a humility to know that it is God’s work of love for all his people.
Today’s Gospel is graphic in revealing to us the tender mercy of our Lord and Saviour. To this day, people can be both shocked and surprised at how Jesus reacts. His advice is, “go away, and don’t sin any more’. He says this in the same breath as, ‘Neither do I condemn you’.
St Joseph’s has a long and hallowed tradition as a parish with people from diverse nations and cultures who find here a ‘home from home’. Nobody “owns” St Joseph’s. The mission is entrusted to Passionists to be with, “people of good will in pursuing all that is true, noble and just, bearing in mind the present needs of the Church and the World, our special mission in the Church, and the particular gifts of our religious.” [No. 69] I’ll let you, dear reader, discover what this last phrase might mean at this time!
Life of people at St Joseph’s is so diverse. Some are at home a lot of the time; others are travelling around the world between weekends and many of our great children and young people are engaged in full time education. But our life style or status is not what brings us together as a Passionist community of Mission in Paris.
Saint Paul of the Cross had an insight that, “we seek the unity of our lives and our apostolate in the Passion of Jesus. His Passion reveals the power of God which penetrates the world, destroying the power of evil and building up the Kingdom of God.” [No.6] This I find very powerful and challenging. We are not two groups or communities – Passionists and laity. We share our life together to live the dream of St Paul of the Cross at this time of enormous challenge for the Catholic Church and for our World.
This vision of St Paul of the Cross sustains keeps us focused on what matters. My prayer is that we grow in holiness and be strengthened by our being this Passionist Community in Paris, but with a mission to all nations. Of course, there are blocked toilets, a grille that refuses to work properly, lack of storage and many other such matters. These are just background to the main task in hand – to live, pray and witness to the Passion of Jesus, “the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love”. [St Paul of Cross]
Please pray for the people of Derry, sharing these days in their own Passionist Mission. May God bless them powerfully.