Fr. General began his exhortation
with a few introductory words in English:-
I want to thank you all for your welcome especially Fr. Martin and his
Council and Fr. Frank and the community here. I found my self very much
at home here. I felt I was one of the family. Since my time in Brazil I
was encouraged to improve my English and I try to learn, but I am not
learned enough to preach and hence I speak in Italian
He continued in Italian and Fr Martin Coffey C.P. interpreted:-
‘I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the community for
being here – I exalt to see so many here for the celebration. In the
Eucharist we realise what Jesus said – we are one reality just as the
Father and Jesus are one – we become one in this celebration. Even
though we are here fifteen or twenty people the celebration of the death
of Jesus is a single death, the one death of Jesus. By uniting ourselves
with that we become one.
In the celebration there is a kind of mystical death, - priests,
brothers, laity die mystically on the altar with Jesus every time we
celebrate the Eucharist. The community becomes its true self, fully,
properly in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is a meeting between
God and us and that is what unites us. It is his death and our death, it
is his life and our life also. It is that great encounter between God
Jesus always gave priority to the encounter with people. The
Passion is another expression of that desire to enter into contact with
people. Beyond all the limitations of organisation, institutions - the
main thing is the encounter of Jesus with people and that is achieved
most fully in the Mass. In the gospel we read today we see Jesus
encountering people, even in his ironical and humorous way of dealing
with the very difficult situation in which he found himself. It is
primarily an encounter with people. For what good works do you want to
stone me, he asks. Already the circle is closing around him, holy week
is upon him, already they are planning his ultimate death.
Next week we have Holy Week, the culmination of the works of God,
the expression of his great love for us. Holy Thursday, we have the
Eucharist, the priesthood. Good Friday we are at Golgotha. We recall the
refusal of the people to accept him as the Son of God, looking for other
signs, tempting him – you come down from the Cross and we believe you.
Here we have the mystical death of Mary at the foot of the Cross, she
does not die the same kind of death but she dies in a mysterious way,
dies in her heart. We face the betrayal of the disciples and their
fears. We confront the suicide of Judas. Judas who failed to appreciate
that Jesus gave Mary to be the Mother of all, he gave her to be the
mother of Judas. He did not hear that.
The love and betrayal, but all does not end with Jesus on the Cross.
Easter Sunday the Day of Resurrection into new life follows. The death
on the Cross, like the grain that falls into the soil and dies within
it, flowers into new life. The centre of the Paschal Mystery is the
centre of the life of the Church and it is the central part of our
charism as Passionists. The death which gives life. The General Chapter
reflects on this theme – The Passion of Jesus, the Passion for Life.
Though he dies, he dies in order to give life. Obviously the death of
Jesus seen without the eyes of faith it is complete disaster, it is the
end of everything. But seen with the eyes of faith we see this death as
a victory because in and through that death comes life. So we who are
consecrated to the Passion are consecrated to his life. So we have to
ask ourselves is that life lived out in that sort of consecration of
union with Jesus in his Passion. Is that the way we live?
We all experience many difficulties during life whether it is age,
sickness, etc but in faith are these real difficulties or steps in the
way to life. The difficulties won’t go away, but because of our faith
perspective, we have the opportunity to live them in a new way because
our eyes are fixed on a Glorious Jesus. Life is different if you are
twenty or thirthy or eighty or ninety, it is obviously different. But in
the light of eternity what is twenty, thirty, eighty or ninety? It makes
little difference. With the eyes of faith we can live to the full at
whatever age we are.
In our lives we have always recognised there is the active
dimension and the contemplative dimension. When we are young we
obviously give a certain priority to the active dimension. Maybe it is
also true that as time goes on and age increases we give more priority
to the contemplative. The invitation is to live whatever age we are in,
especially in our old age, in reference to the Passion of Christ. Not to
be looking back and comparing what we are doing now with the past but to
look and get life and inspiration and joy from the Passion of Jesus. Our
Future is in the hands of God and our future is God, right to the last
moment. This life we have now, senior age, it is still a fruitful life
and useful life because it is in the hands of God. As Passionists we
want to offer our whole life to God just as we are, in our infirmity, in
our inability to do the things we would like to do. Offer our life as it
is now today into the hands of God as part of our Passionist
When I was a young boy in the Junior Seminary after the war there
was a great deal of poverty, lack of food and sustenance. What we used
to say was that if we prayed for it the food would come in through the
windows of the Choir. Today we have plenty of food but a great shortage
of vocations. Same principle – the vocations will come if we pray, in
through the windows of the Choir!
Jesus speaks about vocations only once in the Gospels and he does not
say do many things in order to get vocations he just gives one advice
and he says pray. That is the one activity that will bring vocations, so
pray and if we pray there will be vocations.
Just a final word so that we do not be here all day! It is the
importance of witness. In these days here in Mount Argus I has seen in
the community that relations among the members seem to be very good.
There is a serene, happy and peaceful atmosphere. This is a wonderful
witness to the presence and power of God’s Love in the community. You
are exhorted to increase it even more – to make your lives together an
even deeper witness to the activity and presence of God’s love. The
greatest attraction for anybody to come to our life is the witness of a
happy community - a community built on true love. In calling you to a
greater love in community I ask you to pray for the Heart of Jesus. When
Jesus was rejected, mocked and ridiculed he still said ‘Father forgive
them’. That should be the love that animates our community life, a
Finally two words. Firstly, an invitation to great Hope. Jesus is
with us and he is strong. He seemed to be sleeping in the boat but he
wasn’t. Today he seems to be sleeping, but he is not. God is with us.
Secondly, I invite you to enter into the celebration of Holy Week and to
become in your own lives witnesses to that great mystery.
Once again thanks for your welcome and sorry if I was a bit long, but I
wanted to say these things to you..