I’ve been working on this book for two years now and it’s finally finished, in time for Lent. Christus Publishing from Wellesley, MA, a new publishing firm, asked me to write the book and I see they have it on their internet site today for sale. We’ll put it on Crossplace.com ,our Passionist site for selling books and media, as soon as we can.
It gave me an opportunity to look again at St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, his spirituality and the community he founded. He was a great teacher of prayer, a gift we need today more than ever. He saw prayer as a gift given to everyone, and his letters to all kinds of people witness that conviction.
I appreciated the opportunity to write a short biography of the saint; I don’t think I copied others exactly. He lived in an interesting time, when the Enlightenment was pushing ahead in Europe, changing the worldview of the church and society. We’re still feeling its affects.
I read most of his letters while writing the book and was impressed by their earthiness. He was an earthy mystic who took people as they were and didn’t mind their darkness. I revised many of the present English translations of his writings for the book, perhaps for the better.
A recent exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York City featured the letters of Jane Austen. Letter-writing was the rage from the 18th century on and Paul of the Cross used this “new” communication to reach others. He would be using the new media today, I think.
I liked writing reflections for all the Lenten gospels for the book; the readings for Lent are indeed a treasure to be explored. Our catechesis and spirituality are becoming more biblically and liturgically based, and we need to see how a spirituality like that of Paul of the Cross fits in to this new trend.
“From their place in heaven they guide us still.”