The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Monday, October 06, 2003
The Interview

There is a Blog in St. Blog's Parish that has taken on the task on interviewing various Catholic Bloggers. I was impressed and amused when he entitled my interview as "Keyes To the Kingdom"

Well here are the questions and my answers:

1) What originally attracted you to the Spirituality of the Precious Blood and St. Gaspar’s mission?

I was hired as the music director of St. Edward Church in Newark, CA in 1984. The parish was staffed by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. I had the opportunity to provide the music for several parish missions preached there and elsewhere with one of their missionaries. When I mentioned to him my thoughts of returning to the seminary, he took me aside and told me he wanted to share with me the power of Jesus’ blood. It remains to this day a memory of a significant encounter. Through his teaching and through reading several books on the topic I have come to believe, along with St. Gaspar that the spirituality of the Precious Blood is the basis for all other spiritualities and reaches to the very foundations of most of the writings of the saints. Another significant event was the preaching of Fr. Marvin Steffes, CPPS on Holy Thursday in 1987. Hearing of the sign of contradiction, of a lamb seated on a throne, and of the desire of Jesus to reach to the smallest and the least, was a moment of inspiration. I joined the CPPS community in 1988. I was ordained to the priesthood in 1991.

2) I’ve read quite a bit of information about the Mission and the Missionaries on your site, but not a lot about you personally. How did you get to where you are and how does blogging fit into your life?

God draws straight with very crooked lines. One benefit of my seminary experience from 1971 to 1975 was that I learned a great deal about music. Other than that when I describe my seminary experience I can basically say that I fled with my life. It was an experience of great darkness. The 70’s in my opinion were a very dark period for the church. At least in the seminary in which I studied, they lost sight of what it meant to be priest or church. There was much about the church that was a shipwreck at the time. When I left the seminary I made my living as an Insurance Rater, and then worked in various restaurants while I went to school. Being employed by the Church was a great risk, but I had 4 great years at St. Leander before a new associate pastor made life hell for me. In many ways I am lucky to be a Catholic but it took many twists and turns to learn that the Church and the faith are larger than the few individuals who might make life difficult for you.

I could tell you the story of the seminary professor who gave me a very poor evaluation because I identified the priesthood too closely with the celebration of the sacraments, but that would make this story too long. I have had a spiritual director call me a walking miracle. I will only tell you in person the story of why this priest thinks that way. It will never see print here. Of course all my Retrouvaille friends know the story.

1979-1983 Director of Music and Liturgy, St. Leander, San Leandro, CA
1983-1984 Student, Bradley University
1984-1988 Director of Music, St. Edward, Newark, CA
1988- Entered Missionaries of the Precious Blood
1989-1991 Choir Director, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland, CA
1990- Appointed Director of Vocations
1991- Ordained
Preaching Missions and Retreats, California, Texas, Ohio, Utah, etc
Director of Precious Blood Companions
Associate Director of Sonnino Mission House, Berkeley, CA
1994-2001 Pastor, St. Barnabas, Alameda, CA
1998- Elected to Provincial Council
2001- Director of Advanced Formation, Chicago

Blogging fits in to my life as a way and means of proclamation. We are ministers of the Word, and the Spirituality of the Precious Blood is so important, but few seem able or willing to listen. The Charism of St. Gaspar is at the Heart of the Christian life, or so says John Paul II, but who actually know this and lives by it? If you want to know the power of Jesus Blood, I would send you to Evangelium Vitae, paragraph 25. I may print the whole thing here just because you asked.

3) I have friends studying for the priesthood. What advice would you give someone else studying to be a priest?

Prayer is essential. Develop a life of prayer. Make sure that prayer is a regular and real part of your life. Attend to the liturgy. It is where you meet and influence the most people. If you can pray the liturgy you can be a good priest. One of the things most of my former parishioners say they miss about me is the way I celebrated the Mass. The Liturgy is not yours. It is the act of Jesus and the Church. You have no right to change it. It is supposed to change you. It is where you are immersed in the paschal mystery. This is where life is found in the midst of death. If you find yourself changing the words, or being just a little more creative with the text than the church is, ask yourself who you think you are. In that case you are not a servant of the church but are expecting and insisting the church bend itself to your experience and your will. Develop a spirit of contemplation. Paying attention to the presence and action of the Spirit of God present in the world is an enlivening experience. Humility is essential. A sense of humor is essential. Friends, intimate friends are essential. Develop close relationships with married couples especially ones that cherish and value the priesthood. Jeff and Donna, David and Maria Elena, John and Peggy, have been and continue to be a great source of strength, inspiration and true friendship.

4) I believe that the reality of suffering and the profound potential that suffering has in our lives is the one message that Americans (in particular) need to hear the most. Would you agree with that sentiment? If not, what would be your take on it?

I would agree with you. Suffering is not something you go looking for. It is not acceptable to be masochistic about it. But when it comes, you are challenged to remain as you are in Christ, and not become embittered or disillusioned by it. We live in an antiseptic culture that thinks it can have an answer to any pain or discomfort. Some pain and suffering has no explanation. But we need to know that there is more to this world than what we can see, touch and feel in this world. Sometimes the pains and discomforts of life can draw us out of ourselves and lead us to something new.

5) Who would you like to see as the next Pope?

I really do not know the cardinals that well, and I have not been paying attention to Papal politics. When John Paul II passes away I will miss him a great deal. I have learned a great deal from his writings. I have had the opportunity to shake his hand about three times in my life, and have attended at least three more audiences and one canonization. I have pictures on my wall of him and myself in 1987, 1992 and 1998. Two books of his that I treasure are Gift and Mystery, and the collection of his audiences known as the Theology of the Body. I have no doubt this Pope will be canonized and should be known as John Paul the Great.

Whoever goes into the conclave as a possible pope comes out as a cardinal. I am confident the next Pope will be a surprise and a blessing.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:51 PM link
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We are not monks, but...

“Our principle is that of St. Vincent de Paul: Apostles out in the field, Carthusians at home.” Letter 1040, January 24, 1825, Fr. Luigi Locatelli

“Generally speaking, solitude has always formed men maturely for the ministry. If they do not love it as young men, how can it be brought about that the Missionary is a Carthusian at home and an apostle out in the field?” Letter 2968, September 6, 1835, Student Fr. Francesco Verili

“With all due respect, the Missionary should be like a Carthusian in his own room.” Letter 3229, August 17, 1836, Fr. Domenico Silvestri

“May our House be like that of the Carthusians.” Letter 3515 to Fr. Orazio Bracaglia, September 5, 1837

“The House should be run like a Carthusian's place” …“So, run things, I repeat, as though it were a Carthusian house” Letter 3532, September 1837, Fr. Francesco Verili

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 3:05 PM link
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Nobel Peace Prize?
I could not possibly think of a better candidate.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 1:16 PM link
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St. Bruno

For the Feast of the founder of the Carthusians it is fitting to remember a little quote from St. Gaspar. He said this in one way, shape or form, in a great number of his letters.

"Our principle is that of St.Vincent de Paul: apostles out in the field, Carthusians at home."

from the letters of St. Gaspar, Letter 1040 to Fr. Luigi Locatelli, January 24, 1825

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 9:20 AM link
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Long day. I celebrated the 9:00pm Mass this evening (Sunday) at Calvert House, the Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Chicago. Bishop Braxton from Lake Charles, LA presided at the 5:00pm mass. Twenty Years ago he had been the chaplain at Calvert House. After the 5:00pm Mass they had a Chili supper and Bp. Braxton gave a wonderful talk. Before the 9:00pm Mass Fr. Yakaitis, the current chaplain brought Bp. Barxton in to introduce him the the congregation and Bp. Braxton spoke briefly to the congregation before Mass started. As he departed he snatched his notes from his talk from the pulpit.

Later during the Mass, as I prepared to deliver my homily, I discovered that Bishop Braxton had inadvertantly taken my homily with his notes. I told the congregation that the only reason I had written out my homily was because it was a topic I could speak on for hours and I needed something to help me keep the homily short and focused.

So I did the homily from memory, added a few things and kept it very brief, but it was humorous to think my notes were driving home with Bishop Braxton. I hope he enjoyed the homily.

Oh well, it turned out fine. If you want to see the original text of my notes they are on this blog below.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:09 AM link
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