As St. Paul of the Cross saw “the name of Jesus.. written on the forehead of the poor,” Passionists in England and Wales see the crucified God in the crucified people of this age, and the crucified Earth.
The Crucified God
Our faith is that God entered into the life of His suffering people and His creation by becoming human in Jesus. Jesus, the Incarnate God, was crucified and rose back to life, from death. So we speak of the crucified God, whose suffering love continues in history in his crucified people and crucified earth.
Jesus, in his life on earth, sought out those on the edges: the marginalised, the poor, the powerless. He lived and acted in solidarity with his suffering sisters and brothers. He also said “whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me”. So we can say that wherever we meet suffering humanity or the suffering of the earth, there we can find the Cross of Jesus. God is in solidarity with His suffering people.
So our Passionist spirituality, contemplation, prayer and worship, empowers and inspires, challenges and leads us to stay close to suffering humanity and the suffering earth. We seek to make our lives reflect this image of God in which we are created. We seek to follow faithfully and imitate closely Jesus the Christ. And we seek to be like Mary our Mother, to stand at the foot of the Cross contemplating the Passion of Jesus that continues in history. For it is only through the Passion and Cross that the hope of resurrection is born.
The Crucified People
Faithful to the example of Jesus, we choose to be alongside especially those who suffer poverty, violence, injustice and exclusion: the crucified of today.
We see the absence of justice and the absence of God as the two beams of the Cross in the world today, making up the ‘crucifixions’ of our time. Aware, too, that we cannot do everything – and reading the signs of the times – we make choices and follow our passion for God’s Reign. And so we choose to be alongside those where our passion takes us.
We choose those who the Bible calls ‘the stranger’, refugees and asylum seekers, and others on the periphery in our country through ethnicity or religion. We choose those suffering from the absence of the God of love and mercy. We choose people living in areas of social deprivation and those living with trauma and neglect. We choose those suffering from abuse of the earth due to mining and other forms of unsustainable activity. We choose those living with HIV and AIDS, and the victims of violence.
We are also painfully aware of the abuse crisis in our Church and society. We are committed to safeguarding and care for every child and vulnerable person.
Through our Passionist Partnerships we choose:
- People living in areas of social and urban deprivation – through our Inner City Mission (ICM), and through our Partners ASMF and the Vestibule.
- People living with HIV and AIDS: especially through working with our partner, CAPS.
- Refugees and Asylum Seekers: especially at Austin Smith House, and our partners Martha House and the Catholic Worker.
- Those suffering trauma and neglect: especially through the work of psychotherapy, through Riverdale Counselling Services.
- Those on the peripheries in our country: ethnic minorities, Muslims, and others – especially through our Inner City Mission.
- Those suffering from an absence of the presence of the God of love and mercy : especially through Minsteracres Retreat House and Parishes.
- Those suffering from the effects of international mining, especially through our partner London Mining Network.
- To respond to Pope Francis call to care for the earth, our Common Home, especially through our partner, Green Christian.
- Victims of Violence – especially through working with our partners in Catholic Worker communities, and promoting Gospel non-violence.
The Crucified Earth
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”Pope Francis (Laudato Sii)
The earth is our mother, as Pope Francis has reminded us. We confess that we, Christians in general and Passionists in particular, have been slow to respond to her cries. The crucifixion of the earth is the unsustainable exploitation of our planet in the interests of profit and greed. This leads to ecological disaster, brings misery to the world’s poorest people and threatens us all.
We have heard the cry of the earth, and are in a process of deepening our response. This crisis desecrates and threatens all life, God’s good creation. The threat flows especially urgently from human induced climate change and other aspects of the human caused environmental crisis. We recognise the call to an urgent response, in our faith and prayer, in our lifestyles and politics, in our spirituality and use of technology, in our priorities and our perceptions, our choices and attitudes.
The well known environmentalist, eco-theologian and Passionist, the late Thomas Berry spoke of the Great Work of our generation. The Spirit is calling us to come to terms with the new age we now live in, the anthropocene, where human decisions will forever decide the shape of life on God’s earth. Ultimately it is a spiritual challenge to our pride, greed and laziness.
Members of the Passionist family are responding by:
- Seeking to live responsibly day by day.
- Undertaking environmental audits of our properties.
- Committing our resources to the work of Passionist Partners, Green Christian and London Mining Network.
- Revising our policies to ensure we are acting responsibly.
- Involvement in environmental groups, including Christian Climate Action and others.