"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Remarkable Supernatural Gifts of St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross

Paul Francis Daneii, born at Ovada, Genoa, Italy, 3 January, 1694; died in Rome, 18 October, 1775.
His parents, Luke Danei and Anna Maria Massari, were exemplary Catholics. From his earliest years the crucifix was his book, and the Crucified his model. Paul received his early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, in Cremolino, Lombardy. He made great progress in study and virtue; spent much time in prayer, heard daily Mass, frequently received the Sacraments, faithfully attended to his school duties, and gave his spare time to reading good books and visiting the churches, where he spent much time before the Blessed Sacrament, to which he had an ardent devotion. At the age of fifteen he left school and returned to his home at Castellazzo, and from this time his life was full of trials. In early manhood he renounced the offer of an honourable marriage; also a good inheritance left him by an uncle who was a priest. He kept for himself only the priest's Breviary.

Inflamed with a desire for God's glory he formed the idea of instituting a religious order in honour of the Passion. Vested in a black tunic by the Bishop of Alessandria, his director, bearing the emblem of our Lord's Passion, barefooted, and bareheaded, he retired to a narrow cell where he drew up the Rules of the new congregation according to the plan made known to him in a vision, which he relates in the introduction to the original copy of the Rules. For the account of his ordination to the priesthood, of the foundation of the Congregation of the Passion, and the approbation of the Rules, see PASSIONISTS. After the approbation of the Rules and the institute the first general chapter was held at the Retreat of the Presentation on Mount Argentaro on 10 April, 1747. At this chapter, St. Paul, against his wishes, was unanimously elected first superior general, which office he held until the day of his death. In all virtues and in the observance of regular discipline, he became a model to his companions. "Although continually occupied with the cares of governing his religious society, and of founding everywhere new houses for it, yet he never left off preaching the word of God, burning as he did with a wondrous desire for the salvation of souls" (Brief of Pius IX for St. Paul's Beatification, 1 Oct., 1852). Sacred missions were instituted and numerous conversions were made. He was untiring in his Apostolic labours and never, even to his last hour, remitted anything of his austere manner of life, finally succumbing to a severe illness, worn out as much by his austerities as by old age.

Among the distinguished associates of St. Paul in the formation and extension of the congregation were: John Baptist, his younger brother and constant companion from childhood, who shared all his labours and sufferings and equaled him in the practice of virtue; Father Mark Aurelius (Pastorelli), Father Thomas Struzzieri (subsequently Bishop of Amelia and afterwards of Todi), and Father Fulgentius of Jesus, all remarkable for learning, piety, and missionary zeal; Venerable Strambi, Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino, his biographer. Constant personal union with the Cross and Passion of our Lord was the prominent feature of St. Paul's sanctity. But devotion to the Passion did not stand alone, for he carried to a heroic degree all the other virtues of a Christian life. Numerous miracles, besides those special ones brought forward at his beatification and canonization, attested the favour he enjoyed with God. Miracles of grace abounded, as witnessed in the conversion of sinners seemingly hardened and hopeless. For fifty years he prayed for the conversion of England, and left the devotion as a legacy to his sons. The body of St. Paul lies in the Basilica of SS. John and Paul, Rome. He was beatified on 1 October, 1852, and canonized on 29 June, 1867. His feast occurs on 28 April. [Editor's note: It was later transferred to 19 October.] The fame of his sanctity, which had spread far and wide in Italy during his life, increased after his death and spread into all countries. Great devotion to him is practiced by the faithful wherever Passionists are established.

The remarkable supernatural gifts of Saint Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775) was one of the great mystical souls of reparation and devotion to the Passion of Jesus. He endured terrible sufferings and spiritual trials, while at the same time was given extraordinary mystical gifts, graces and consolations, including remarkable visions of our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary. He also had visions of souls in Purgatory, who were allowed to come into his cell and tell of their sufferings. At times rays were seen shining around Paul's head. He was known for his heroic sacrifices and mortifications, such as fruequent fasting, late night prayer vigils and travelling about from one mission to another without shoes throughout all seasons of the year.

St. Paul was once working on some soldiers at Portecole in an effort to reform their lives. One not only resisted conver­sion but also made blasphemous and obscene remarks about the matter. This soldier had been sitting outside on a stone and had been trying to draw a sentinel nearby into conversa­tion and a game of cards. The other remonstrated with him, saying that the holy priest Paul might pass by at any moment.

The other soldier reacted strongly: "I will be as soon con­verted as that ox returns again to life!" He was referring to the lifeless body of a slaughtered ox that lay nearby. The butcher had already partially flayed it. But at the soldier's unwise and irreverent remark, the ox rose up alive and ran with wild fury at the soldier sitting on the stone. He managed to escape, and the ox hit his own head on the stone where the soldier had been sitting but a moment before. The stone was drenched with blood and the ox died for good there.

At the close of a mission given by Father Paul in Or­betello in September of 1741, a child was gazing out a win­dow at the crowd which was leaving the church. He fell to the pavement and was instantly killed. Medical assistance was called for and sadly the boy was pronounced dead. At that moment St. Paul of the Cross was about to enter a boat to go elsewhere. The bereaved parents ran to the shore and told him of the tragedy. He went back with them and contemplated the corpse of the innocent child. Paul re­mained in silent prayer for a few moments and then spread his hands over the little body. The onlooking crowd was silent, waiting to see what St Paul would do. To the absolute astonishment of all, after a few sec­onds the child came to life, and thus Paul restored him to the arms of his parents.

On another occasion, the saint was a guest at the house of Signori Goffredi, where a hen was served for dinner. St. Paul said, "You have inadvertantly done wrong to kill that poor animal, because with her eggs she was the support of a poor woman to whom she belonged. Let us do an act of charity. Open that window." Upon the man opening the window Paul then blessed the hen--which was already cooked, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. He had hardly pronounced the words when the hen suddenly returned to life, was miraculously covered with feathers, took wing and went off screaming out the window, to the house of her poor mistress. Signori Goffredi soon afterwards found out that the hen had been stolen by the man who sold it to her. This miracle was recorded under sworn oath by the eyewitness to the miraculous event.

On one occasion when St. Paul of the Cross was preaching from a platform he became too weak to continue, so his guardian angel removed Paul and took upon himself Paul’s appearance, and commenced speaking the mission for him. On another occasion, the angel also went, under Paul's appearance, with a flashing sword to threaten an unrepentant sacrilegious sinner who had been sinning in a very serious way for over 50 years. Needless to say after the extraordinary appearance of the angel, the man hastened to confession and was reconciled with God.

Other supernatural powers were given to Paul in abundance. After having given a mission in Piombino, they brought him on his way to the ship, and he was seen to board the boat and set sail by an large crowd of people. Dr. Gherardini, who accompanied him to the vessel, did not leave the shore until the vessel was out of sight; but within a few hours he met Paul coming out of the house of a gentleman in town. Not believing his own eyes, the doctor approached him, and said, "How is it, Father Paul, that I find you here? I just saw you setting sail from the port, and I kept my eyes on the vessel and on you until you were out on the high sea. How is it that you came to be here?"
"Please keep this to yourself" answered Saint Paul, "I came here on an errand of charity" and then he suddenly disappeared.

Even those whom Paul employed in the service of the missions were made the operators of such wonderful graces. During a mission to Montcromano he wanted to send a letter of great importance to Sutri, and requested one Matthias Marc* to do the errand. The latter hesitated on account of the River Biedano being impassable. "Go! " Paul said to him. "I assure you of the protection of God, and if the waters be as high as the top of the trees, I tell you to cross them, and fear not!"
Knowing of his great virtues and holiness, Matthias had faith in Paul's words, started on his errand, and reaching the river where the current ran very high, he entered upon it, with his horse walking above the waters as if on firm ground. Some travellers, waiting for the waters to subside, saw the remarkable wonder, and exclaimed, "He must be carried by the devil for we can even see the shoes of his horse!"

Paul forewarns some of the punishments of God if they do not repent
In spite of these miraculous proofs of the divine mission which Paul had received from God, some persons were insensible to his appeals for reform. Sadly and reluctantly, Paul predicted the punishments of divine justice on those who refused to listen to the loving counsels of mercy.

In Pittigliano, a few men who were often giving public scandal for their notoriously bad behaviour used to meet in an apothecary shop, to make contemptuous and ridiculous remarks about the holy missionary, and about the things of God. On one occasion when St Paul was given a mission in that town, they chose to repeatedly strike at a brass bell from a Pharmacy shop that was directly across from the Church in which Paul was preaching, to the greatest annoyance and distraction of Paul and the faithful who sought to gain grace from his holy preaching.

Paul sent the men a very civil message, begging of them to desist; but their answer was that in their own house they would do as they please stating "Let him mind his own affairs."

Being told of their unrepentant reply, the servant of God then raised his eyes to heaven, and publicly exclaimed, "Then, let those men be on their guard, lest God should punish them!"
To the astonishment of those who heard the warning, each of the men died within a very short time, one after another; and, as the blessed Paul had also prophesied, that "that Pharmacy shop will be closed because of its owner" and in fact the Pharmacy failed, having soon thereafter gone bankrupt. 

 St. Paul of the Cross on Sickness & Suffering

Taken from the book "Flowers of the Passion -Thoughts of St Paul of the Cross" gathered from the letters of the Saint, published in 1893 and availible for free viewing on Google Books here.

In his letters, St Paul of the Cross writes:

"One day the Lord caused me to hear these words at the foot of the tabernacle:
'My son, he who embraces Me embraces thorns.'
-Oh, what a grace! Oh, what a gift!"
"Meditation on Jesus Christ crucified is a precious balm which sweetens all our pains."
"What an honor God confers on us, when He calls us to travel the same road as His divine Son!"
"Be thankful for your precious trials, both interior and exterior; it is thus that the garden of Jesus is adorned with flowers, that is, with acts of virtue!"
"The more deeply the cross penetrates, the better; the more deprived of consolation that your suffering is, the purer it will be; the more creatures oppose us, the more closely shall we be united to God."
"Believe me, afflictions, fears, desolations, dryness, abandonment, temptations, and other persecutions make an excellent broom, which sweeps from your soul all the dust of hidden imperfections."
"Have you ever noticed rocks in the sea, beaten by the tempest? A furious wave dashes against the rock, another and yet another does likewise, yet the rock is unmoved. But look at it after the storm has subsided, and you will see that the flood has but served to wash and purify it of the defilement it had contracted during the calm.
From now on I wish you to be as a rock. A wave dashes against you? Silence! It assails you ten, a hundred, a thousand times? Silence! Say, at most, in the midst of the storm, "My Father,
my Father, I am all Thine! 0 dear, o sweet will of God, I adore Thee !"

"The statue must be chiselled with very sharp tools before it is fit to be placed in' the grand gallery."
"The holy gospel tells us that unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains but a grain of wheat, and does not bear fruit. But the poor grain by being sown, how much must it not suffer to die and fructify! It must endure rain, snow, wind, and sun. The soul is a seed that God sows in the field of holy Church; to fructify, it must die by dint of pain, contradiction, and persecution."
"I wish that all men could understand the great favor that God grants them when, in His goodness, He sends them suffering, and especially suffering devoid of all consolation; for then the soul, like gold which is purified in the fiery crucible, is cleansed, made beautiful, detached from earthly things, and united to the Sovereign Good, without even being conscious of it."
"Remember that true holiness is accompanied by pains and tribulations from within and without, by attacks of visible and invisible enemies, by trials of body and mind, by desolations and prolonged dryness; "and all that will live in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12) -that is to say, all sorts of trials from demons, from men, and from our rebellious flesh."
"Sickness is a great grace of God; it teaches us what we are; in it we recognize the patient, humble, and mortified man. When sickness weakens and mortifies the body, the soul is better disposed to raise herself up to God."
"Regarding your bodily health, obey the orders of the physician. Tell him sincerely what you suffer, in modest, clear, and concise language; after having said all that is necessary, be silent and let him act. Do not refuse remedies, but take them in the loving chalice of Jesus, with a pleasant countenance. Be grateful to the person who nurses you; take whatever she offers you. In brief, act as a child in the arms of its mother. Remain in your bed as on the cross. Jesus prayed for three hours on the cross, and His was a truly crucified prayer, with no comfort from within or without.
Oh God! what a grand lesson! Beg God to imprint it on your heart. Oh, what a subject for meditation!"
"There could not be a surer sign of God's love for you than this pain which He has sent you. Adore the divine will. You were in good health when you were in the world, but you were not then as dear to God as you are now. He loves you as a daughter, as a cherished spouse: this is why He treats you so generously.
Long illnesses are the greatest favors that God confers on souls whom He loves most. . . . Repose peacefully in the arms of your heavenly Spouse, Who loves you much; hold yourself on the cross of sickness as tranquilly and silently as is possible. If the cause of your illness be the wound of divine love which embalms your soul, it is well if you die under such a stroke: yours will be a death more precious than life."
"In your pains and trials say: 'May Thy holy will be done, Oh my God! I welcome thee, afflictions! Beloved sufferings, I press you to my heart! Ah! dear hand of my God, I bless Thee! Blessed be the holy rod that strikes me with so much love! Oh, tender Father, it is good for me to be humbled!'
"Sickness is a good discipline and a rough hair-cloth. Oh, how pleasing to God are the disciplines which He sends us!" -St Paul of the Cross