At the heart of Passionist spirituality is contemplation of the Passion the suffering and the Cross – of Jesus Christ. It is vital to understand this correctly. St Paul of the Cross called the Passion the most overwhelming example of the love of God – it is this overwhelming love which we contemplate. Our spirituality is simple but very, very deep. St Paul of the Cross compared it to a bottomless ocean, and said that “the Passion will teach you everything”.
Our Love for the Crucified
By contemplating the Passion we draw close to the self-emptying love of Christ. This in turn helps us to love God and neighbour, to turn to the crucified ones of our world and to respond to them with a love which comes from Christ within us. Passionist spirituality should always have an outcome in our relationship with others, especially those who are suffering in any way. In this way we can then go out and witness to and preach the Good News.
Contemplation and Meditation
How do we contemplate the Passion? There is no set formula – different things will help different people. Some find it helpful to meditate on the Stations of the Cross, or the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary for example. Thoughtful reflection on a crucifix, a painting or an icon is helpful. Of course the Passion in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist is always central.
Silence, Solitude, Fasting
Silence and solitude have traditionally been key aspects of Passionist spirituality – making time to be alone with God. Fasting on Fridays is an ancient Christian tradition, and is one way of especially remembering the Passion on the days associated with Good Friday. A pause for a moment of prayer at 3pm is another way.
Meditating on the Gospels
A good way of prayer is to use the Passion narratives of the Gospels, for example the last three chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Set aside some quiet time, introduce your prayer by asking the help of the Holy Spirit, then read a few verses. Remain in silence with these verses, letting them speak to the depths of your heart. The next day, move on to the next few verses, or if you want to go deeper into the text, repeat the same verses for a few days. As you consider what the verses are saying, always read them through the lens of the love of God.
Connecting with Daily Life
In these ways we can connect our prayer, our contemplation and meditation, with our daily lives, and see the ongoing Love of God and Passion of Christ in the lives and sufferings of ourselves and others, as well as local and world events.
Core Passionist Prayers
Some of the key prayers that form part of our daily rhythm of life.
The Way of the Cross
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you,
because we are inspired and energised by the memory of Your Passion,
and so we take action with the Crucified of today.
We share in the joys and sorrows of our brothers and sisters who are marginalised,
and so we announce the Gospel of the Passion of Jesus the Christ.
May the Passion
of Our Lord Jesus Christ
And the sorrows of Mary our Mother
Be always in our hearts.
Everything in Heaven and on Earth
and under the earth
Must bend the knee before the name of Jesus,
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
Dwelling in the presence of God the Father.
Prayer to Blessed Dominic Barberi of the Mother of God, Passionist, Apostle of England
O God who so lovingly raised Blessed Dominic to the heights of holiness, learning and apostolic zeal and made him a powerful minister of your mercy; grant also to us an abundant share of his virtues, that we too, according to our state, may contribute to the realisation of his desire for the union of all Christians in one fold under one shepherd. Deign now, through his intercession, to grant us the particular grace which we humbly ask of your mercy.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
– Rome 12.viii.1963 Nihil Obstat
Prayer of Ignatius Spencer
Pioneer of ecumenical prayer, Fr Ignatius Spencer was born the Hon. George Spencer on 21st December 1799, the youngest son of the second Earl Spencer. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he took orders in the Church of England but increasing doubts led him to become a Catholic. He was ordained priest in 1832. In 1846 he joined the Passionists (taking the name Fr lgnatius) and travelled all over England, Ireland and the continent of Europe, preaching and seeking prayers for England. He died on 11th October 1864 and is buried in the Passionist Church at Sutton, St Helens.
Father in heaven, your servant. Father Ignatius Spencer, spent his life preaching the love shown for us in the Sacred Passion of your Son and working tirelessly to bring the people of this country to know that love. Help us to follow his example and show us that you are well pleased with his life by granting the favour we now ask through his intercersion. Amen.