Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 30, December 22,1720

     On that day Paul Daneo simply wrote: “I was recollected, with a great feeling of fervor.”

     Berta’s entry: Dear Jesus, today young Paul Daneo is getting a respite from all his sufferings. He is “recollected” and on fire for You, my God. As I see it, it is a gift from You to him after the hard, miserable time he spent the day before.      I have often talked to You, my Jesus, about my rollercoaster life. One day elation, the next not so much, then the bottom opens and I go into an abyss. Those days of elation are a gift from You, my God! Those day are the days I truly live for; they fill me to the brim with Your love. That fire Paolo was feeling on December 22 is the fire of Your love! It feeds us! It nurtures us ! It caresses and heals our souls, minds and bodies. That fire is the Holy Spirit giving us the boost we need to continue facing the rest of the days. Thank You, my God. You know exactly how to take care of us.

     Orlando’s entry:  On his 30th day, Paolo again receives great reward from our Lord for his perseverance in prayer and faith through his terrible ordeal of the night before. This day, he has little to write because he is resting in the recollection and fervor, the sweet balm, that God’s loving embrace gives him after so much suffering with Him and for Him.     Yesterday, Berta asked : “ Is the road of suffering the only road to our God?” I don’t think so. We are approaching the very heart of our Christmas Celebration, a time of Joy and Light, where we can feel so close to God. But it is a Light in the darkness. So many people are languishing in the pandemic. So many are lonely or die alone. Suffering is taking place in so many ways and in so many places in the world. I feel that one of the great merits of this diary of Paul of the Cross is that he gives us a sort of primer on how to face whatever suffering comes our way.      So I tried to pray as he suggests, meditating on the Passion of my Lord. I asked, “Father, what moment of His Passion means the most to me right now?” A flood of images came, but finally, I imagined myself on a cross, squirming in pain, and begged my Heavenly Father to deliver me from this agony. I felt a gentle force moving my head to the right. There was my Lord Jesus on His own Cross. Beneath Him people were trashing Him, laughing at Him. Even my crucified brother, on the other side of Jesus was putting Him down. I tried to defend Him, pointed out our own sinfulness, but it did no good. I asked Jesus for His mercy. His eyes turned to me and He promised me Eternal Life. I got lost in those eyes. It was beautiful; He was beautiful! I rested in that Beauty until the terrible storm and the unbearable pain in my body brought me back to the awful scene. They were breaking the legs of my screaming brother. I looked to Jesus for help but He was gone, His head down. It seemed He could do nothing to console me. I was all alone. The club struck my knees mercilessly. I screamed in pain as my body collapsed. I could not breathe! I found myself attached to a respirator in an ICU unit. The therapy was not working. I was suffocating alone, and along with every other victim of COVID in the planet. I could not even scream.     My eyes opened, and they were full of tears. I was sitting comfortably in my “prayer armchair”, wondering “Was this just a daydream? It was so real. Why did You give me this vision(?), Lord? What are You telling me?” There was only silence. My mind, body, and soul could do nothing but rest in this silence. What I perhaps felt the most was gratitude.

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