by Berta Hernandez
I am a Passionist Associate. I am part of the associates in Jamaica, New York. Yesterday my husband and I were at a Bible study class and on a break someone asked what an associate does. The immediate reaction to such a question is always one of confusion. What DOES an associate do?
Well, the usual answer is that we meet every month and share our spirituality with each other. We read about St. Paul of the Cross and his spirituality and discuss his charism, which we believe is also ours. But yesterday I didn’t want to give the usual answer. I replied the following to the young man that had asked the question: I am a Passionist. I try to live with Jesus at the CENTER of my life. Because Jesus is at the center of my life I am filled with love and compassion for my neighbors, who I believe are the crucified of today.
I try my best to see Jesus in everyone I meet although sometimes it is not an easy task. I realize that because I am a Christian as well as a Passionist I have to make sure to not only look for Jesus in others, but to also walk in His footsteps and try to reflect Him through my actions and what comes out of my mouth.
Right now in Rome the Passionist order is having their General Chapter. They reelected Fr. Joachim Rego,CP as their Superior General for the next six years. I have always been inspired by his writings and his demeanor. On the 19th of October he sent out a message to his Passionist family, in other words, to all of us.
This is what he said in that message that resonated through my whole being: “Our mission (as Passionists) is integrally connected with our life in community. Our community life and our mission cannot be separated; they are two sides of the one coin. Our life is our mission (by witness), and our mission is our life (by action). Together, they both shape us and give us our identity and authenticity as Passionists. Who we are and what we do are interconnected and interrelated.”
I realize that this was aimed at the professed Passionists, but doesn’t this talk directly to us lay people also! We are the Church of Jesus Christ! The world is our community! At this particular time in our lives we HAVE to do what Jesus would do! Fr. Joaquin went on to say that, “Who we are (our being/life) and what we do (our doing/mission) are interrelated; they are two sides of the one coin and cannot be separated . Each flow from and influences the other. We are not called to be ‘working for God’, but rather we are to do ‘God’s work’ – a subtle but important distinction made by Fr Thomas Green SJ in his book: Darkness in the Marketplace.”
Why did I call this short reflection “The Call for Renewal”? I did that because we are facing many trials in our world today. We have to be renewed by the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ! We are being called to action by the Holy Spirit of God! No longer to be quiet and shy! No longer to go past the hurt and the broken that we see in the streets, the hospitals, the nursing homes, next door. We truly have to pick ourselves up, shake ourselves out and start all over again. We have to pick up our cross and help whoever needs help in picking up theirs. We have to preach Christ crucified with words and actions. Let’s all join the Passionist Community in their renewal as of today, as of this hour, as of this minute!
And for those of you that are out there doing just that, thank you. You are the example . You are the servants. You are the light.