As Dillingen Franciscans, “we derive inspiration and enrichment for our religious life from spiritual reading; therefore we devote at least two hours a week to such reading. (Constitutions 3.11) This reading doesn’t always have to be something new, either; we may re-read the same book multiple times during our lifetime. I have done this with St. Alphonsus’ classic, “The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ,” though not necessarily in its entirety. We have a copy in the St. Anne’s chapel and I am using it again this Lent. It was written in 1761, but offers meditations on Christ’s passion which are excellent for use even today.
St. Alphonsus’ beautiful, impelling, work draws from the words of scripture and of saints before him. Below I will quote but one touching passage shared by this Neapolitan saint.
“…He chose to die, not only for all men, but for [me] in particular: He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. Yes, he has loved me…and for my sake he gave himself up to die. And thus ought every one of us to say…that God has loved every individual man with the same love with which he has loved the world…So that each one of us is under a great obligation to Jesus Christ for having suffered for every one, as if he had suffered for him alone….O Lord! I thank Thee, and I love Thee, and I hope to thank Thee for it, and to love Thee forever in that blessed country.”