O good St. Paul of the Cross, you revealed the wonders of God’s power by proclaiming the Passion of God’s only Son. By your words and mighty deeds, you became a spiritual guide and preacher of the Gospel to a world grown cold to the love of Jesus Christ. Turn our hearts and minds to the merciful cross of Jesus. Help us to persevere in faith and love, and assist us in every need. By sharing the Passion of Jesus in this life, may we come to share in the glory He has promised. Amen.
Our Novena readings are taken from the book In This Sign, by Fr. Martin Bialas, CP.
Two hundred years have passed since the death of Paul, but his spiritual legacy remains. Paul wrote no great books nor spiritual treatises; nevertheless, an exact picture of his spiritual teaching is found in his diary, his work on mystical death and in his numerous letters. In these, the principles of his spirituality are so clearly articulated that they need only be applied in our lives.
The vitality of Paul's faith and his radical commitment to follow Christ give a strong contemporary flavour to his writings. The example of his faith and the strength of his union with Christ serves as an example to moderns with threatened faith to renew their friendship with the Crucified. Paul's passion mysticism also serves to give us deep insight into the mystery of the suffering of Jesus and this supports us in bearing our own pain and suffering.
Immovable faith: "Allow yourself to fall into the hands of God."
Characteristic of our age is widespread "Existenzangst", that is, continual worry about ourselves and how to preserve our existence. This excessive concern with self is a heavy burden on the spirit leading to anxiety and neuroses. It may comfort us to know that Paul was no stranger to such anxiety; but, Paul knew he was safe in the hands of God. The whole edifice of his spiritual life was based on complete trust in the love and providence of God. Because Paul experienced God as the Good, the Loving, and the Merciful, he could write:— "Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him" (L.III, 75). To a young woman plagued by doubts and worries, he wrote? "My daughter, why do you doubt? What do you fear? You are in the arms of Omnipotence and still you are afraid?" (L.I, 164). Even during times of uncertainty and weakness he would say a person cannot fall any further than the outstretched hands of God: ". . . walk in the service of God with great cheerfulness, with great trust . . . let yourself fall into the hands of God and rest in the divine bosom of your heavenly Father" (L.I, 495f). In a similar vein, Paul frequently exhorted his directees to rest in God and to reside in this deep trust like a child on its mother's breast (LI, 417).
Paul's own faith in the goodness of God never wavered even when his plans were beset by serious problems. He relied on his faith that God remained close despite the difficulties: either the loving hand of God had sent the suffering or had allowed it to come his way. This rock-like faith in God's loving care and in his will not only led Paul to abandon everything to the Lord, but it was also so much a part of his being that it surfaced in all of his writings. Frequently, he pointed to the example of Jesus who referred to the Father's will as food (Jn 4: 34). Paul constantly exhorted people to accept the will of God in life's events, even in those associated with unavoidable suffering.