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.
The will of God, although at times difficult, was for Paul a place of refuge. This is evident in the advice he gave someone with persecutions and multiple annoyances. Paul wrote: "In such situations I think you should do as vinedressers or gardeners do whenever a storm threatens or when it begins to rain or hail or when it starts to thunder and lightning flashes. They run to a shelter and stay there in peace until the storm passes. That's what I want you to do, with the grace of God. Always remain quiet and calm in the shelter of God's will, under the almighty protection of the Most High. Wait there in peace and tranquility of heart until the storms of persecution by your adversaries pass". This principle of abandonment to the divine will runs throughout all the stages of Paul's life and it pervades every facet of his being.
Acceptance of God's will in every situation presupposes a lively faith rather than an empty resignation or a stoic fatalism and, although this attitude demands heroic effort, it is absolutely essential for Christian perfection. As people grow in perfection, they long for opportunities to manifest to God their conformity to his will. This longing and its perfect solution is aptly expressed by Paul in the following: "When the cross of our dear Jesus has planted its roots more deeply into your heart, then you will rejoice, 'to suffer and not die', or better, to 'suffer or die,' or better still, 'neither to suffer nor die but only to be transformed according to God's good pleasure'".
Throughout his entire life, Paul strove not only to know God in faith but also to know himself, his own unworthiness. Before God he felt himself to be nothing. This emphasis on his nothingness was not a distortion of his self-image nor was it based on exaggerated feelings of guilt. Paul knew that even the smallest defects are magnified in the clear light of God, but he also knew that in the All of God, all else is as nothing. Whenever he speaks about nothingness, he exhorts his addressees to let their nothingness sink in the All of God, to let their nothingness be lost in the All that is God. This idea is clearly conveyed in one of his letters which states: "I want you to immerse your nothingness in his immense All, that is, in our good God. What a happy loss by which the soul, losing all in God, is truly found" (L. 1, 488). Today, as in the time of Paul, human beings find their own personal happiness when they search for their identity in the light of God, when, to use the words of the saint, they allow their "nothingness to sink into God". Only in the acceptance of this basic religious attitude can we truly find ourselves.