September 2, 2021

In this issue

Passionist Family Formation e-Learning (PFFeL)
By Don Webber, CP
The Charism Formation Commission published several proposals. The fourth proposal recommended extended learning of the Passionist Charism through our relationship with Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois.

In our Rule and Constitutions, study is frequently stressed:
“Through study and other suitable means, each one of us should continually aim at deepening [our] faith, nourishing [our] prayer life, and preparing [ourself] to be an effective apostle” (#84).

At the end of 2020, a revised document of our Congregation, The General Program of Formation, was published for discussion and evaluation. The strategy of Fr. Martin Coffey, CP, Secretary General of Formation, to travel around the Congregation to receive feedback has been delayed by the pandemic. Nevertheless, we read in the proposed draft an important reference that both vowed members and laity need ongoing formation. The draft begins: “Formation is the term we use for the guided journey into the mystery of God undertaken by everyone who aspires to the fullness of life in the Congregation of the Passion. Passionist formation is a life-long process of personal growth and daily conversion to Christ Crucified and his Gospel” (#1). Further on, the draft continues: “Today the Passionist charism is lived by men and women religious, as well as lay men and women. Lay Passionists bring a whole new breadth of experience and insight into the charism that greatly enriches the whole Passionist family” (#16),
From the beginning, Paul of the Cross always emphasized the importance of prayer and study. The silence and solitude of the ‘Retreat’ was not only to provide a friendly environment for prayer but also for study, reading and writing. At Mount Argentario, in the early years at the first ‘Retreat’, Paul and his brother John Baptist had a schedule of prayer and the celebration of Mass in the morning. After these morning prayers, they went to their rooms to write and to study, after which they would take a long walk in the woods.
Paul wrote to Lucy Burlini in 1749 that when she falls into contemplative prayer, “You will learn more than all the wise men of the world when awake and studying their sciences.” This was not a negative comment about studying the sacred sciences. Paul kept both study and prayer in balance. Writing to Paulinus Fossi in 1762: “I hope you will do that [mental prayer and sacraments], and I hope that you are studying. I trust in God that he will open your mind to learn, perhaps studying more in your room than in school.”
Inspired by the ideals of St. Paul of the Cross and appreciating the future directives of The General Program of Formation, Holy Cross and St. Paul of the Cross Provinces are eager to begin the Passionist Family Formation e-Learning (PFFeL) program to help deepen our understanding and appreciation of our Christian faith and our Passionist Charism. Presentations will be offered online by Passionists and other faculty at Catholic Theological Union.

Having the experience and imagination of scholars and experts
from Catholic Theological Union will offers all of our Passionist Family
a further opportunity to integrate the Passionist charism in our daily lives.

For more information and registration please click here.
As we celebrate the 300th Jubilee as the Congregation of the Passion, we give thanks that the mustard seed of our Charism has grown into a large tree. Our deepest hope is that this unique tree in the Church will grow even larger and be capable of producing countless varieties of fruit. We ask for the grace to remain deeply rooted in our Charism, and to engage, with all simplicity and humility, with even more dedication in the mission entrusted to us by Jesus, making even clearer the greatest act of God’s love in the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. Let us continue to water, trim, and fertilize this tree of our Charism by our prayer, study and service, so its branches may give comfort and shade to those suffering today.

Living in the Passionist Story
By Faith Offman
Over the years in our Visioning Process, one word heard over and over is ‘story’.  Our Passionist Story is part of an ongoing story, first envisioned by Paul Daneo within the greater context of God’s story and continuing through our story/ies.
“…(S)torying’ is the telling and hearing of stories as a mutually creative, interactive language-event….the participants – storytellers and storylisteners – come together in a relationship of reciprocal oral-aural play and imagination for the cocreative constructing, inhabiting, and exploring of shared storyworlds…thus the oral-aural story cannot exist without both the engagement and participation of teller and listener together.  But each must serve it differently, namely, in the ways they have been called: that is, one by telling, the other by listening.
But something else always happens in the process of storying, something inherent in the way story structures consciousness.  In serving the story in their own different but complementary ways, by their mutual listening and telling, the speaker and hearer of stories are also serving one another.  For, as they discover in the practice of storying together, what is being told and heard are not just elements of the narrative plot but parts or aspects of themselves that were previously unknown, parts of themselves not heard or told before this encounter with the story and each other.

…Each act of storying creates a ‘brave new storyworld’ that enfolds all previous tellings and tellers, listenings and listeners within it.  The reception and passion on of story changes all of them, both the stories themselves and those who tell and listen to them…thus, the story itself changes, together with those who enact and embody it in their tellings and hearings.  They become part of each other:  the story in its tellers and listeners; the tellers and listeners in the story.”  (4,13,14)
I am struck by how our Visioning Process has propelled us into ‘storying’!  Our Passionist Story continues and we are living in the story!  Visioning is helping us connect the stories and discover our path within and throughout the story
– our story
– Paul’s story
– God’s story
…this mutual ‘storying’ opens the path toward new, exciting, and, perhaps, endless possibilities of what our Charism is calling us to.
Transformative Communities: God's Co-creative Pioneers
(Part 4)
By Mark Clarke, Community Works, Inc.
Practice Three: Establishing a Collaborative Ecosystem
In 2015, Pope Francis issued his second encyclical, Laudato Si, with the subtitle “on care for our common home.” This document calls us to see all organizations and systems as intricately united and asks us to respond to the world's internal ecology. It is the essential work of Transformative Communities in the twenty- first century. Pope Francis in Laudato Si said, “Each organism as a creature of God is good and admirable in itself; the same is true of the harmonious ensemble of organisms existing in defined space and functioning in a system” (95). In the past decade, we have come to appreciate ecosystems' value in every aspect of life.

There is a tendency for organizations to explore the concepts of abundance and diminishment from their internal resources. What if the central question is: if we examine our relational ecosystem, could we reframe our reflection about diminishment and abundance? Could we understand diminishment better if we looked at a more comprehensive framework? Often when groups explore their relational connections, they open themselves to potential collaboration and other possible solutions. Asking these questions transitions them from a limited perspective to a more outside-their-box consideration.

For example, the soil that creates our food is an integrated system woven together by bacteria, fungi, earthworms, amoebas, and protozoa. It is the power of these various agents interacting that feeds us. We see this framework in our lives, from nature to home to school to work. All are a part of a powerful interconnected and interwoven set of relationships. If we take a moment of reflection, we can understand the web of connections within our community.

The graphic [to the right] depicts an eco-system of relationships for a school. It illustrates how a school has a variety of connected relationships to achieve its students' educational outcomes. The school is an open system rather than a closed set of relationships. These connections foster the growth and development of the student, local community, and other institutions within the web.

Transformative Communities at their core recognize they are more robust through active participation in their relationships. They embrace being an open rather than a closed system. Ilia Delio claims in Making All Things New:

“The organization of an available system is the set of
relations among its components, structures
and the physical embodiment of its relational organization” (120-121).

It is a significant shift for an organization to become an open rather than a closed system.

When a group opens itself to expanded relationships, it delves more deeply into both the gifts and barriers of its interconnections. For example, collaborating on environmental issues exposes both the shared values and differences within the group as members work to set priorities and action steps. These relationships open groups to a renewed appreciation of their values, leadership styles, and call to action. It offers a contemplative space to seek greater clarity of their purpose based on collaborative seeking of solutions around a critical social issue.

The affirmation of being connected is
essential for the community to “choose life.

To choose life is to foster the spiritual practice of asserting that life's fundamental nature is interconnected.

Many cultures, however, believe in the guiding myth of the rugged individual. In contrast, the world has begun to understand and has moved to create a broader, more connected community to solve the most pressing issues. The current pandemic has demonstrated that a virus starting in one part of the world has a harmful and unintended impact on all. The epidemic has shown that seeking solutions requires sharing resources and knowledge across countries. This level of collaboration lessens the impact from nation to nation. As we collectively grow in understanding this spiritual discipline, we expand the range of potential solutions.

Transformative Communities recognize the wisdom of establishing collaborative relationships and networks to solve complex social issues. Significant change usually demands an interdisciplinary approach. For example, the majority of us think homelessness is a housing issue. That is partially true, yet some individuals would not be homeless if they had work and a range of affordable housing. Others having debilitating mental or social diseases need society to provide intense psychological support and living space.

Transformative Communities understand that
social issues demand a rigorous commitment to an
interdisciplinary approach to foster productive solutions.

An individual Transformative Community realizes that its mission and services address a particular issue because no single organization can serve all needs. To effect actual systemic change, therefore, they must fashion a coalition of partners with various gifts. They must continually foster and affirm their role with others in a more extensive ecosystem.

The spiritual experience of collaborative relationships
helps groups appreciate God’s infinite resources.

These associations create the landscape to co-create with God, seeking answers for today. Networks, collaboration, and other connections offer Transformative Communities extensive resources to co-create with God. It changes the mental and operational framework from diminishment to abundance promoting hope and passion for acting.

Diversity, contemplative action, and collaborative ecosystems are not three separate practices. They are interwoven efforts that, when linked together, create an integrated approach to solving complex issues.

In Re-Enchanting the Earth, Delio says: “Love tends to what is deep within us and draws us together into a new unity beyond our partial selves. Love causes us to see the world and all that is within it in a vibrant freshness, deep down freshness”(xxvi ). It is the power of diversity, contemplative action, and a dedicated ecosystem that continually creates the freshness Delio celebrates. Both diversity and a collaborative ecosystem move the Transformative Community from isolation to connection, opening new creative opportunities.

According to Daniel O’Leary in An Astonishing Secret, “Creation is a web of relationships – a kind of mystical body. Everything in the universe is connected. We are all one, all part of the One Energy Field, the One Creative Source, the One Loving Creator” (203). The Transformative Community, at its core, takes to heart this message through its openness to diversity, contemplative action, and collaborative ecosystems.

Read the entirety of Mark Clarke's article here.
Works Cited
Bass, Diana. Grounded: Finding God in the World. Harper One: Greenville, SC, 2015.
Born, Paul. Deepening Community.Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco, CA, 2014.
Brinkley, Douglas. American Moonshot.NY: HarperCollins, 2019.
Delio, Ilia. Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness. Orbis: Maryknoll, NY, 2015.
________. Re-Enchanting the Earth: Why AI Needs Religion. Orbis: Maryknoll, New York, 2020. ________. The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love. Orbis:
Maryknoll, NY, 2014 Wcisel, Mary. Graphic Designs, 2020.
Feiler, Bruce. Life Is In the Transitions. NY: Penguin, 2020.
Francis, Pope. Encyclical Letter. Laudato Si’. (24 May 2015).
McNeil, Barbara Salter. Roadmap to Reconciliation. IVP: Downers’ Grove, IL, 2016. New American Bible. USCCB: Washington, DC, 2010.
O'Leary, Daniel. An Astonishing Secret. Dublin: Columba Books, 2017.
Tutu, Desmond. No Future without Forgiveness. NY: Doubleday, 1999.

"Let everything in creation draw you to God. Refresh your mind with some innocent recreation and needful rest, if it were only to saunter through the garden or the fields, listening to the sermon preached by the flowers, the trees, the meadows, the sun, the sky, and the whole universe. You will find that they exhort you to love and praise God; that they excite you to extol the greatness of the Sovereign Architect Who has given them their being."

Holy Cross Province Vision Statement
Guided by the Holy Spirit and the signs of the times,
we create and carry out ministry that reaches
the suffering of today and form community
that spiritually nourishes the
Passionist Family of Holy Cross Province.
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