Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 28, December 20,1720

     Paul Daneo writes: “ I experienced some dryness and also some recollection, specially through the agonies of my Jesus. I remembered that last evening, Thursday, I was saying that the memory of the sad and sorrowful day of Friday was something to make one agonize and collapse. I asked my Jesus to make me collapse with sorrow. “

     Orlando’s entry: On 1720, December 20th fell on a Friday, so Paul goes to his Remembrance of the Passion of our Lord to “recollect” himself….. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Recollection, as understood in respect to the spiritual life, means attention to the presence of God in the soul. It includes the withdrawal of the mind from external earthly affairs in order to attend to God and Divine things. It is the same as interior solitude in which the soul is alone with God.” In other words, when you are “recollected” you are in a true state of prayer. When I attempt to reach this wonderful state, I spend a considerable amount of time trying to get past myself, all the discomforts, distractions, the mass of thoughts and pre-conceptions, even the prayer words and Biblical inspirations that lead me to YOU, my Lord. Sometimes I get closer to You than others. Sometimes You just “grab” me at any moment of Your choosing , and bless me with delightful Love. Sometimes You break my heart.      St. Paul of the Cross invites us to find this state of recollection by going straight to the Passion of Jesus, perhaps “in fear and trembling”, as another Paul once wrote. When he was 65 years old, St. Paul of the Cross gave us this image of recollection: “ Regarding the mysteries of the Passion of our Lord, I advice you to stay with those in which you find more devotion and cause you to love God. But when your soul is pleased to remain in the sacred silence of faith and holy love, resting in the bosom of the Father, follow that inclination, even though it lasts for all your prayer. Obey the Holy Spirit, who DRAWS you in prayer.”

     Berta’s entry: Dear Jesus, I feel for Paul Daneo. Here he is in that small cell “collapsed with sorrow” because his meditation took him to that “sorrowful day of Friday”, when You, my Lord were judged, sentenced, scourged, and crucified. Yet in the outside world, in the town of Castellazo, it was the season of Advent and people were joyfully awaiting for the celebration of Your birth. Here we have the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. And where are You, my Jesus? You are everywhere. You are the Life!     St. Paul of the Cross, throughout the years, has led me to understand the Love that radiates from You on that Cross. But You are the beginning and the end, and this has led me to ponder about when Your Passion really began. From discussions with others in the Passionist Community I have learned of different possibilities. Your Passion began when You, my God, decided on Creation, some say. I’ve also heard that Your Passion began the moment Mary said “Yes”. Whenever Your Passion began my Lord Jesus, what every example shows is the love You have for us! I see that! And as a Lay Passionist, I feel that, and always carry it in my heart! 

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