Devotion to the Passion
In the spring of 1978, Fr. Claudio Piccinini, C.P, was assigned to the Passionist monastery of Our Lady of Sorrows, West Springfield, MA.
Fr. Augustine Paul Hennessy, C.P. the rector of the monastery at the time, asked Fr. Claudio to be the director of the Confraternity of the Sacred Passion, an organization of laity associated with the Passionist community. As director, Fr. Claudio wanted to help the members deepen their devotion and remembrance of the Passion.
It is within the Confraternity that The Story of Jesus the Listener begins.
Fr. Claudio decided to obtain a large crucifix and carry it into members’ homes and the homes of their families and friends. Father asked each individual member and the entire family to pray in front of this crucifix. They were asked to meditate on the love that God has for each one of us as manifested through the Passion and Death of Jesus His Crucified Son.
The idea of bringing the crucifix into the homes proved to be a very good one. In fact, it turned out to be so good that Fr. Claudio felt that the Lord Himself must have inspired it. Very early on Fr. Claudio saw that the idea was doing much good to the people involved. As a result he decided to dedicate every free moment to the development of this devotion to Jesus the Listener.
The Crucifix needed a name that would immediately indicate the content and scope of the devotion that was being started. While talking to Fr. Jordan Loiselle, C.P., one of the Passionist priests living at the monastery, Fr. Claudio asked him whether he had any ideas on the matter. Without hesitation, Fr. Jordan answered, “Call Him ‘The Listener’.” Fr. Claudio responded: “Yes, we will call Him ‘Jesus the Listener’”.
Fr. Claudio’s enthusiasm grew recognizing that the title “Jesus the Listener” described his desire perfectly. He thanked Fr. Jordan, and the crucifix was called “Jesus the Listener.”
Fr. Claudio’s initial desire was to help the Confraternity members deepen their love and devotion to the Passion of Jesus. It soon became apparent that a new devotion had been born and that it possessed a rich and profound theological insight filled with spiritual content. We have always been told that “we” are to listen to God. But this devotion teaches that Jesus is “The Listener.” Jesus invites us to share with him our prayers, our requests, our hopes and dreams; and as our God, he always responds.
The First Host Home
Through the generous donation of a benefactor from Northampton, MA, Fr. Claudio bought an artistic wooden crucifix from Italy for the Jesus the Listener program. A portable wooden shrine was made to display it. The first host-home family was chosen from the list of Confraternity members.
A New Mission of Evangelization
The devotion that had been initiated by Fr. Claudio was becoming the shared property of hundreds. What had started as a simple way to encourage family prayer in the presence of the Crucifix was revealing itself to be a Mission of Evangelization with Jesus the Listener at its center. The presence of the Jesus the Listener Crucifix in the home became a beautiful and deeply spiritual experience for everyone involved. The program was successful because it was helping many people, spiritually and emotionally.
One of the most interesting and beautiful phases of the development of this Evangelization Mission was that a few individuals were inspired to conduct Jesus the Listener home services themselves under the leadership of Fr. Claudio. With this, a new Group Mission was born confirmed by the participation of the community.