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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Blood, Sacred Blood

This is my latest article for Precious Blood Family Magazine. It is basically my homage to St. Gaspar's letter 57

Blood is not pleasant to think about sometimes. Some become squeamish. At the same time, blood has a central place in some of our violent movies and other entertainment. There we do not pay attention to it. It is not real in the movies. Still, spend a few moments thinking about blood, your blood. Stop. Take your pulse. Blood is central. It is powerful. Its action, its force, what it carries, gives us life. It moves faster, we move faster. It fails, we fail. It is the silent, ever present essence of the power of life.

Our ancestors had a vastly simpler, maybe primitive approach to blood. It was simply where life met death and death met life. Fresh, warm, crimson blood was an offering, a sacrifice, a gift back to God, taking the substance of the life God had given and, giving it back, offering it all. We flinch when the priest passes among us on Easter morning scattering the water of the newly blessed font over the people. Can you imagine what it was like in the desert when inaugurating the covenant Moses took half of the blood of the bulls and splashed it on the people? This was before dry cleaning was even imagined. You were stained. It didn’t come out. It was an enduring mark of life. Life branded you, stained you, claimed you as belonging to a covenant with life itself. It was remarkably more than the privileges of membership, and you can’t leave home without it. This primitive approach developed through time to an elaborate ritual in the holy of holies where the blood of sacrifice was placed in the temple’s inner heart on the mercy seat. Blood was a way to communicate with God, to approach the very limits of life and death and receive in return his life and forgiveness.

St. Gaspar would invite us to this same reflection, but then would ask us to spend a few more moments reflecting on God’s blood, divine blood. His letters indicate it is too little to call this blood significant. Somehow our words do not convey its grandeur. This blood was the flaming outburst, the burning expression, the extravagant generosity, of a God of unreasonable and unimaginable kindness. (1) The human body of the Son of God becomes the holy of holies, and now the blood on the mercy seat is the blood rushing through his precious heart. His death on the cross and the tearing of the veil in the temple indicate that the presence of the divine has been snatched from a temple of stone and placed in the temple of a human heart where it is most defeated, overwhelmed or broken. We may think that God has abandoned us in our struggles; yet, in fact, he is closest to the broken and forsaken. You who once were far off have been made near through the Blood of Christ. (2)

This blood has a voice, a piercing cry. For Gaspar the sound of this blood extinguishes any noise of sin. (3) This voice cries out clearly on behalf of sinners and any who are broken. This voice cries to the heavens when life is lost or blood is shed. This is precisely where a devotion to or spirituality of the Precious Blood identifies us. Reciting a devotion is untruthful if it does not correspond to devoted living, and a spirituality is empty if it is not a way of life. A Spirituality of the Precious Blood drives us to follow that voice, to take it up as our own. St. Gaspar would plunge us into these mysteries, (4)bending to its gentle crushing force that urges us on to a courageous love, first for the ineffable love of God, and in the same beat of the heart, to a love for all people, especially those who are far off. Yes, blood can be messy, but it is sacred too.

1. Letter 57
2. Eph. 2:13
3. Letter 52
4. Letter 57

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:39 PM link
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More Letters

Letters 51-100 have arrived on-line. It may be useful to note that in these letters St. Gaspar writes from prison. He has several correspondents for whom he writes letters of spiritual direction. My favorite is letter 62. Check out letter 52 as well.

Here they are:
Look for the Documents Tab

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:58 AM link
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The Sister's Stoles

I was delighted to see that Catholic News Service has some quality Photograph duplications available in honor of the Holy Father's 25th anniversary. The third option shows him during his trip to St. Louis a few years ago wearing the stole made for him by the
Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, O'Fallon,MO.

Long term readers may remember that the same group of sisters designed and made a stole for me, with the image of the Lamb, Cup and Cross, and the embroidered images of the founders of our men's and women's communities. I ordered the one picture from CNS. I may get the two of these pictures framed together.

The Holy' Father's stole sits in a museum case in the Cathedral in St. Louis. Mine travels with me on missions and retreats.

The link is below if you want to see the other pictures available from CNS.

CNS - Catholic News Service: Pope Photo Sales

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:41 AM link
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Another New Voice

In the kitchen this afternoon, Steve and I enjoyed a rather heated but respectful exchange on the topic of Inclusive language. Steve is a Candidate for the CPPS Community in his Third year of Theology.

The question remains, "To whom are we accountable?" and "Does someone who changes the text on their own initiative in a corporate setting damage unity?" It was an interesting discussion and dialogue, one being about ideas and opinions and judgments, the other about feelings and personal experiences. There was much to share and agree on, and still some things that we do not see eye to eye on.

At Morning Mass I will still be forced to listen to three differing responses to "Let us give thanks to the Lord Our God" from a small community of men from about four different cultures.

In the meantime it might be helpful to consult another voice. Paul Mankowski, SJ tried to link to this in the comments but apparently the address is too long for Haloscan to understand. His article is from
Touchstone Magazine and should be available here.

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