St. Paul of the Cross Monastery
148 Monastery Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone (412) 381-1188 Fax (412) 481-5049
A letter to our Confraternity of the Passion
from Fr. Donald Ware
December, 2016 Advent
We have begun celebrating our Church Advent Time... a preparation for our joyful celebration of Christmas. How will you celebrate Advent?
Our culture says simply... 'Buy, Buy, Buy.' It's the American thing to do! And now we can do it much more simply on the Internet… don't fight those crowds and that traffic!
May I offer a suggestion for preparing for Christmas… a 'spiritual preparation'.
How do we spiritually prepare for Christmas?
Might I suggest some aids to help us remember the real meaning of Christmas during this Christmas Season?
The real meaning of Christmas is all around us, if we would but pause and take time to look and reflect… and pray a bit. Look at Christmas preparations through spiritual eyes or with spiritual consciousness…
Look at Christmas decorations...
The Christmas Tree- the tree reaches from earth to heaven - or perhaps you could say that the Christmas tree descends from the heavens and takes root in our mother earth, as Christ descended from His heavenly home to dwell among us.
The Christmas wreaths- evergreens, reminding us of God's ever-lasting love and care for us, bringing hope into the coldness and winters of our world and our own lives.
Christmas Lights- on the Christmas tree, in home windows, decorating our streets… remind us of Christ the Light coming into our darkness on that first Christmas morning.
Christmas Carols, whether Christian or secular… remind us of the angels' voices joyfully announcing to the shepherds the Good News of the birth of a Savior. Only Songs could express the joy and happiness of such Good News - so don't ever be afraid or embarrassed to sing (or even hum) Christian Carols, whether at home or in Church. We join with the angels in celebrating God come among us.
Christmas Meal... We gather around a table laden with all kinds of goodies, to share with our loved ones, family and friends - to enjoy each other's company, to linger awhile and not rush off, to be filled with good food and good companionship, with laughter and the joy of each other's presence…
This reminds us of the way Jesus spent so much of his time, gathered at meals with his disciples, and also with sinners and social outcasts - sharing with them, loving them, and yes, enjoying them.
Gift giving... is a very important part of Christmas.
In our secular world it is probably the most important part.
But think... why give gifts?
The gift is an expression of our love, our care, our admiration. That's what's most important.
And we give gifts because Christmas is about our loving God who gives us the greatest gift God can - God's own Son - a gift chosen before the world began, brought to us thru Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laying in a manger - God's Son, now one of us. What a gift of love. And that's why we give gifts as Christmas, to express the meaning of Christmas - to express our love.
Santa Clause... There is no Mrs. Clause... Santa Clause was in reality St. Nicholas, a saintly bishop who was known to love the people he served, and give gifts to many people, especially those in need. What a beautiful example he left us… As we celebrate this Christmas Season try to take a little time to share it with those in need… a sick relative or neighbor, a food pantry, or your favorite charity.
Mass on Christmas... is usually a special occasion for many. Enjoy it - the beautifully decorated Church, the trees and lights, the manger scene, the choir and the Christmas hymns, the Church packed with worshippers, the story of Christmas proclaimed in the Gospel, the song of the angels sung by all - Glory to God in the Highest.
Let these sights and sounds and movements fill you with what Christmas is all about. God can deeply touch us with love and joy at times like this.
At communion time, welcome the baby Jesus into the manger of your heart, there to worship him and bring him the gift of yourself, your life, your love, your adoration - and your thanksgiving for gifting you with his very self.
God bless you.
Fr. Don Ware, C.P.
The Confraternity of the Passion of Christ
"May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our Hearts"
The Confraternity of the Passion of Christ is a society of lay men and women dedicated in a special way to the contemplation of the Passion of Jesus Christ - in Himself - in their own lives - and in the lives of others. St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775), founder of the Passionist Fathers, Brothers and Nuns, began the first Confraternity in 1755. He wanted as many as possible of the People of God to share in the life, spirit and mission of the Passionist family.
Our purpose is above all to gain a deeper love and understanding of the Passion of Christ and then to apply it to the crucified of today: to ourselves, to the physically and mentally ill, and to all who are experiencing Christ's Passion in their lives in any way. Furthermore, members are to assist and strengthen each other in their desire to draw closer to God through Passionist spirituality and share in all the good works, prayers and indulgences of Passionist communities throughout the world.
The Confraternity of the Passion of Christ is open to all, men and women, single and married, to anyone who feels God is calling them to the Passionist way of life.
To become a member of the Confraternity of the Passion of Christ it is necessary to make a personal commitment to cultivate in oneself devotion to the Passion of Christ and through it to grow more deeply in faith and love of God and one's neighbor. It is also required that one's name be entered on the membership list.
By joining the Confraternity, a person assumes no strict obligations, but there is a Rule of Life as a guide and some recommended practices. If you believe God is calling you to the Passionist way of life and you have a desire to draw closer to Jesus through His Passion, please join us at the next Confraternity Mass. We will be very happy to meet and talk with you.
For more information about The Confraternity of the Passion of Christ please contact
Rev. Donald Ware, C.P.