Feasts for Tired Believers

Central Italy, 1800s

The Passionists celebrate two feasts immediately before Ash Wednesday. The Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden on Tuesday before that day.

I think both feasts are inspired by our missionary founder, St. Paul of the Cross, (1694-1775) who spent many years announcing the graces of lent in the villages and towns of the Tuscan Maremma in Italy..

It was a challenge. The Tuscan Maremma was then a place where graces seemed gone. An area in Central Italy facing the Mediterranean Sea, almost 2,000 square miles– roughly the size of Long Island and New York City together– it was the poorest, most troubled part of Italy in Paul’s day. Only gradually, towards the end of the 1700s, after his death, did it begin inching towards recovery.


Now Tuscanny is a popular tourist destination. Then it was an unhealthily mix of hills and swamplands. Malaria was widespread, roads often impassible, dangerous because of bandits. Farmlands were abandoned; beggars everywhere. The people in isolated villages and hill towns suspected outsiders.

Paul and his companions preached there for many years. Every year it was the same; it never seemed to change. You need other eyes and another kind of heart to work in a world like that and not get tired.

And so I think as they packed their bags for their lenten journey into the Tuscan Maremma they had to remind themselves what was there before them: the mystery of the Passion of Christ. They needed to pray so they wouldn’t forget. That’s what Jesus did before the mystery of his Passion.

It’s still so today, isn’t it?,. These two feasts are for tired believers, as well as missionaries, who face the world where things don’t seem to change. We need another way of seeing things and another kind of heart to journey on..

If you want to pray these feasts with the Passionists, go here. I’ll add some thoughts tomorrow on the Feast of the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion.

9 thoughts on “Feasts for Tired Believers

  1. cenaclemary12

    Thanks for the link to pray these feasts. This text reminded me how wonderful is the work of God, accomplishing more than I can imagine in my life.
    Found on Page 30
    “This is is a work entirely of God .. The soul, completely immersed in God’s love, without images, in pure and naked faith, will discover herself hidden in the sea of the Saviour’s sufferings in an instant. By a glance of faith, she will understand everything, without comprehending it fully, since the passion of Jesus is a total work of love. The soul, all lost in God who is love, who is all love, becomes a blend of love and sorrow, because the spirit is totally penetrated and completely immersed in a sorrowful love and a loving sorrow. This is a work entirely of God.”
    From the Letters of Saint Paul of the Cross, priest (Lettere II, 213, 224; III, 67, 149


  2. fdan

    Dear Father Victor, in my devotions to the Passion of Jesus Christ, I came across saint Augustine’s meditation on The Passion of the Whole Body of Christ. Is that a Passionist devotion, The Passion of the Whole Body of Christ. Or does it perhaps represent today’s crucified? I was hoping you could shed light on this for me. Thank you, Father Victor.


  3. fdan

    Dear Father Victor, no need, here, to instruct the ignorant; Father Alex Steinmiller, CP has answered my earlier questions to you in his Passionate Pause segment for today. He instructed that if we look at any Passionist chapel the crucifix always has the living body of Christ – Christ’s eyes are always wide open! He said further that Christ is awake to the world and to the suffering that goes on in the world and that the Passionists in solidarity come alive. Finally he said do something each day to be in solidarity with the crucifix and allow the passion of Jesus to guide us in compassion for others. Thank you Father Steinmiller for your answer and I will especially keep you in my prayers and all those who suffer by virtue of where they were born.


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