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.
Mystical union with the Crucified is not easily accomplished. It presupposes an immovable faith in the providential love of God and total surrender to him. Such faith and surrender is especially difficult to practice-during times of pain and suffering. Yet, faith tells us that each unavoidable suffering that we encounter, whatever shape it may take, is ultimately grounded in the will of God; and the Lord, desiring what is best for us, can use suffering to pour out his love upon us. This is the truth of faith that underlies the passion mysticism of Paul. This does not mean that Paul adhered to a dull fatalism or that he engendered a cult of suffering or glorified it. Rather, he indicated a way of accepting unavoidable suffering, giving it a meaning which springs from the depths of Christian faith.
In writing to a person who had been ill for a long time, Paul says: "Look on your illness and this physical weakness as the will of God, which you ought to embrace out of love. God wants you to serve him as a sick person and to practice patience with gentleness and calmness of heart while you lie on your sickbed". Paul proposes faith in God's providence and union with the suffering Jesus as the basic attitudes that help a person accept and master actual suffering. He gives encouragement in rich picturesque language: "Try to have a childlike and great trust in God's presence. Rest with great equanimity on the cross. Try to be quiet, joyful, and totally abandoned without complaint. Drink deeply of the chalice Jesus Christ himself offers you. Even though it may appear bitter to our way of thinking, it is exceedingly sweet to the spirit because it enriches in every way . . . cast the little drops of your pain into the sea of sufferings of your divine spouse. Then see how the soul, totally inebriated with love, immerses itself completely in pure love and pure suffering with which it is penetrated both within and without".
When, through inner struggles, a person succeeds in accepting concrete, unavoidable suffering as the will of God and sees in it the possibility of participating in the passion of Jesus, it does not mean that pain and sorrow are taken away. Although the pain must be borne, it is no longer senseless, and God's grace can work to transform the suffering so that the sufferer "rejoices in sorrow and exults in grieving love".