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.
Summons to interiority
Christians live in the world, in time and in space. As such they are subject to the influences of the age in which they live. In a highly industrialized and technological society, they are often caught up in a web of pressures for achievement. Educational institutes and the professions demand high levels of performance. As a result, modern Christians are exposed to pulls and pressures hitherto unknown. This results in a hectic lifestyle characterized by speed and superficiality. Activism tends to become the order of the day and any increased time available for leisure is replaced by a passion for doing things.
Many who are trying to seek meaning and peace in their lives are turning to the methods of the Far East and these methods are being applied in the Church's religious life. Despite the fact that people need a respite from the tumult of daily work, they need not necessarily turn to oriental disciplines for peace. Examples of true interiority are found in the lives of Teresa of Jesus, John Tauler, John of the Cross, and Paul of the Cross.
Paul of the Cross is a particularly useful model because he is at once a man of action and a man of the spirit. As a man of action, he founded thirteen monasteries, conducted two hundred popular missions, directed eighty retreats, and wrote about 10,000 letters of spiritual direction. As a man of the spirit, he was a mystic who lived his life out of the riches of his inner experience of God. He highly valued solitude, quiet and silence, and each day spent many hours in deep prayer and contemplation. Although his life revolved about the two complementary poles of active apostolate and contemplation, it was the latter upon which his fruitful apostolic life was based, that is, upon his life of interior prayer and profound union with God.
Since in Paul's time as in our own, there was a great danger for people to become lost in external activities, one of his great goals was to lead others to a life of interior prayer and union with God. Because the preconditions for this are quiet, silence and a return to the center of a person's being or soul, Paul exhorted his directees to turn inward. To Agnes Grazi, a single woman with whom he corresponded for many years, he wrote: "Jesus wants to make you very holy, as I too desire you to be. He wants you to grow in that holy interior recollection I have so often recommended to you. This will enable your spirit to repose like a child in the bosom of the heavenly Father and to be reborn each moment in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ". To another, he admonishes: "Pay attention to interior recollection and that divine inner solitude. Enter by faith and love into the innermost reaches of that sacred desert and there lose yourself in God. Love and be silent.”