Clasp the Crucifix and Love Him
It was a dark cold night when Ane Kirstine arrived after a long journey from Washington state. The joy in her heart upon arriving at St. Joseph's monastery is reflected beautifully here. The next day, feast of our Passionist Saint Charles of Saint Andrew, Ane Kirstine officially began her postulancy.
Here Ane Kirstine enters the cloister to begin her formation, which God-willing, will find its fulfillment as a perpetually professed Passionist Nun!
Ane Kirstine kisses the crucifix during her entrance ceremony
Mother Catherine Marie gave the following talk during the entrance ceremony at Vespers of the Feast of St. Charles:
Today, as Passionists throughout the world are celebrating the memorial of our newest Passionist saint— Saint Charles of Mount Argus — we are given a glimpse into the loving providence at work in the life of Ane Kirstine.
Was it only mere chance that Ane Kirstine was present in Rome for the canonization of our St. Charles? Was it only her imagination when she seemed to understand that he was to be her brother in a special way on her spiritual journey? And what were the odds against a young Lutheran convert whose parental home is currently almost 3000 miles away ever even knowing about St. Joseph’s Monastery in rural Whitesville, KY, much less entering it? This is so reminiscent of today’s saint leaving Belgium to spend the rest of his life as a Passionist in Ireland and England.
Our faith tells us, of course, that nothing, nothing happens by mere chance, and so we stand before the mystery of vocation. God who has counted even the hairs of our head, God who knows the inmost heart of every soul, this God has a plan unfolding in Ane Kirstine’s life as well as in the life of each one of us. But for this plan to be accomplished, for us to become all that God wants, for us to do for the Church and the world all that God wants—it is necessary to cultivate a generous heart.
We read in the Vatican document, Vita Consecrata: "In every age, there have been men and women who, obedient to the Father’s call and to the prompting of the Spirit, have chosen this special way of following Christ, in order to devote themselves to Him with an undivided heart" (I Cor 7:34). Like the Apostles, they too have left everything behind in order to be Christ’s closest companions and collaborators, at the service of God, of the Church and of the world.
Before St. Charles and certainly before any of us—there was another young man, a certain Paul Daneo, who turned down an offer of worldly wealth if only he would marry. He, like the apostles, left everything behind to follow Christ’s call. An intervention of Our Mother of Sorrows gave the call in this young man’s heart a specific focus: to live in the loving memory of the Passion of Jesus. He also felt drawn to live in a way of life marked by the spirit of poverty, prayer and solitude.
There was also that special grace given him when he was traveling on a boat near Monte Argentario, off the coast of Italy. As his eyes feasted on the vast solitude and beauty of the mountain island, Paul seemed to hear Mary calling in his heart: "Paul, Paul, I am all alone."When he climbed that solitary mountain, tradition tells us that Our Sorrowful Mother showed him where she wanted the first Passionist monastery to be built. A divine plan was unfolding. He was being led by events.
In one way or another, we have all heard Our Sorrowful Mother’s call to stand with her at the foot of the cross, and to share profoundly in the work of redemption. This call is all the more important in our times when far too many Catholics are leaving Christ and Our Blessed Mother "alone" and running off to satisfy worldly desires of one sort or another.
Today the Church places before us another example of answering the call of Christ and His Mother. We have St. Charles of Mt. Argus. After he decided to enter the Passionists, sorrow struck his family, but he was determined to let nothing hold him back. Charles felt the urgency of Christ’s call, just as St. Paul of the Cross did, and just as Ane Kirstine did.
Significantly, St. Charles had natural musical talent. He loved to sing at community get-togethers, as well as in the Church and in the choir. His favorite piece was the Ave Maria. On Good Friday each year, Charles participated in the solemn singing of the Passion, taking the part of Christ. When the Passion narrative was finished, there would be tears in the eyes of many, caused by his very appearance and general bearing as he entered into the meaning of what was being proclaimed.
Though St. Charles was a very ordinary man with ordinary human weaknesses, he humbly admitted his failings and persevered in overcoming his faults. He urged people to turn to Jesus whose death on the cross gives us the power to overcome our sinful inclinations:
The means to become perfect is to mortify our predominant passion. As a Captain in the time of battle in order to gain the victory, endeavors to arrange the soldiers at that point where he sees the greatest dangers are to be overcome, so we should do the same. As long as we strive to overcome our little passions, we shall not be easily overcome by the strong ones. What is the means to be used to overcome our passions? It is to meditate on the Passion of our Lord. A person who is proud, for instance, if he sees that Jesus Christ is derided, mocked, sent from one place to the other, and yet kept silence, he sees a great motive for humility in Our Lord. Another is impatient. He may look to the Crucifix and find a model of patience.
Loving to clasp a crucifix in his hand, St. Charles found his place of refuge at the foot of the cross where his suffering and the suffering of others could be seen in their true light. He once wrote: "The cross patiently borne for the love of God helps greatly for our eternal salvation....Strive to think every day for a few minutes on the bitter sufferings of Jesus Christ....May Jesus and Mary always reign in our hearts."
Today, as Ane Kirstine officially begins the time of her postulancy, divine providence places before her and before all of us the example of this holy Passionist, Charles of Mt. Argus. He, together with our holy founder and all the holy men and women of our Congregation who make up the choir of heaven, are wonderful models who are actually very close to us. We are in fact surrounded by a great crowd of heavenly witnesses. The heavenly choir of Passionists is not only aware of what is taking place here at our monastery today, but they are also powerfully interceding for us, especially for our new postulant.
We too are powerfully interceding for you, Ane Kirstine, and for each member of your family, as you give such joy to the Heart of Christ in beginning your postulancy. Our Lord loves them, and will be gracious to them each in a particular way. We place each of you in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He will be faithful to you and to them.
Please come forward now to receive your postulant crucifix. God bless you!
Ane Kirstine thanks you for your prayers and for the loving greetings sent by so many. Please continue to pray for the other women whom Jesus desires to remain with Him in Passionist life, that they may likewise give a generous response to this Beloved Good - JESUS.