Pope Francis wanted to join spiritually in this celebration and share the “joy of the gift of the vocation that [the Passionists have] received from living and proclaiming the memory of the Passion of Christ, making the Paschal Mystery the center of their life”.
At 10:30 AM, on 22 November, despite the pandemic, but respecting the anti-COVID-19 measures, the Jubilee officially begins with the opening of the Holy Door and the celebration of the inaugural Mass in the Basilica of Sts. John and Paul, in Rome. This event can be viewed via streaming. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will be the principal concelebrant.
For the Passionists, the present Jubilee which opens with sanitary face masks and social distancing, is an occasion for spiritual renewal, growth, and reevaluation of the charism, as reflected in the theme they have chosen– “Renewing our mission: gratitude, prophecy and hope”. The theme of keeping alive and promoting the charism was at the center of the 47th General Chapter of 2018 and will also be the focus of the next General Synod of the Congregation in 2021.
The Superior General, Fr. Joachim Rego, explained — “All planned celebrations should be aimed at deepening our commitment to keep alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus as the ultimate expression of God’s love for all peoples and all creation, and find new and contemporary ways to promote this memory (Memoria Passionis).”
Pope Francis also wished to express his paternal affection and joy during this anniversary celebration. In a message addressed to the Superior General of the Passionists, the Holy Father encouraged them to strengthen their “commitment to the needs of humanity. This missionary calling is directed above all towards the crucified of our age– the poor, the weak, the oppressed and those discarded by many forms of injustice. The implementation of this task will require a sincere effort of inner renewal on your part, which derives from your personal relationship with the Crucified-Risen One. Only those crucified by love, as Jesus was on the cross, are able to help the crucified of history with effective words and actions.”
Furthermore, he said that “this significant centennial anniversary represents a providential opportunity to move towards new apostolic goals,” while being mindful that “contact with the Word of God in prayer and reading the signs of the times in daily events will enable you to perceive the creative presence of the Spirit whose outpouring over time, points out the answers to humanity’s expectations. No one can deny the fact that today we live in a world where nothing is the same as before.”
It has been 300 years since November 22, 1720, the day when young Paul Danei, founder of the Passionists, received the habit of a hermit and began a 40-day retreat in the small cell of the Church of San Carlo in Castellazzo. During this retreat he wrote the Rule of “The Poor of Jesus”, the future Congregation of the Passion. He adopted the religious name of Paul of the Cross and, over time, the members of the Congregation assumed the name “Passionists”, in keeping with the commission that Our Lady had 1given to Paul—to preach the Passion of Jesus Christ as “the greatest and most wonderful work of divine love” capable of transforming humanity and the entire world. He was canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX.
“When we talk about renewing our mission,” explained the Superior General, Fr. Joachim Rego, “it is primarily about renewing ourselves, because ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’ are interconnected and interrelated.”
The Jubilee Year, therefore, is not a celebration of the Congregation’s greatness or successes; rather it is a celebration of the blessings of God during these three centuries and the faithfulness of countless Passionists who, through their lives and their ministry, have kept alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus as a magnanimous and concrete act of God’s love.
During the Jubilee, the International Congress ” The wisdom of the cross in a pluralistic world ” will be held in Rome at the Lateran University, from September 21 to 24, 2021.