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.

Friday, December 05, 2003
Alma Redemptoris

Telephones don't make great microphones, but it is time for Night prayer here, and Peggy has requested that I sing the Alma Redemptoris. When some friends say "jump," the only response can be "how high."

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posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 7:58 PM link
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Prayers at the Creche

Two blog readers, including the friend who gave me the stable and the first figures, have asked that I post pictures of my creche. I will post a few selections with hopes that I am not breaking any copyright laws. The Advent Creche is a prayerful exercise for me. The figures represent many aspects of human life and commerce. As I place these figures in the creche I am reminded that it was in the midst of very ordinary circumstances that the Advent of our God occurred.

Remember that this a progressive creche. Different pieces are added each day. Mary and Joseph will not show up until just before Christmas. The Wise Men won't be put out until Epiphany. The Creche remains until the feast of the Presentation.

It was the government's call for a census that framed the experience of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. Let us pray that as we pay attention to and respond to the actions of the government in our own day we may open our eyes to the silent coming of God to us in the flesh.

In that time the high priest and the teachers guided the people with the Word of God. It was the scribes and the teachers who guided the wise men to Bethlehem. Even though they knew where to look they did not come to worship. These figures remind me as a priest and teacher that I have to respond to the Word of God myself.

Last night the household went out to dinner in honor of the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, our patron. We were accompanied by Sr. Jacinta, CPS (another Precious Blood Congregation), by Sr. Jeanne, ASC (An Adorer of the Blood of Christ), by Fr. Jerry Stack, CPPS (Our General Secretary from Rome) Matt Schaefer, a candidate from Ohio who is in Special Formation, and by the two Glenmary Missioners who live with us. It was a wonderful feast at a famous Greek restaurant here in Chicago. Each day we gather at the table in our dining room for dinner and conversation that sometimes lasts hours. Sometimes it takes a season like this to remind ourselves that in the midst of preparing and sharing meals we also must be open and aware of the Word made flesh who is coming to be our very nourishment for the journey to the kingdom. The figurines below celebrate the normal preparation and sharing of food and wine.

As you go about your normal work today remind yourselves of all the simple people who were engaged in very normal work in their town and village in those days. The Son of God appears very quietly hidden from the normal concerns of commerce and trade. These figures call us to pray for all workers today, to ask how we can bring the presence of the one who saves and redeems us into our work, and to focus our work on the kingdom of God.

The turkey in the center of the picture above is always the first figurine placed in the scene, immediately after Thanksgiving. The Roman soldier was next, followed the next day by the high priests and teacher. The following days the food oriented figures were placed. Then followed the other work centered figures. Since I go to California on the 22nd, the scene will be complete by then. When I return to Chicago in early January I will begin to set up the figures of the Wise men and their animals and accessories.

If you are setting up your creche in your home, make sure it is not simply a nice decoration. Make it also a place of prayer. Blessed Advent.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 9:35 AM link
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First Friday of Advent
Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31

"Let it be done for you according to your faith." (Matt 9:29)

The two blind men in this Gospel passage are models of faith. They believe when they cannot see. There are so many things in our lives we cannot see. We cannot see our future. Often we cannot see the resolution to certain problems. It is sometimes so difficult to see where the truth is in a given situation. We overlook our faults and weaknesses. We are indeed blind to many things. And sometimes we can be afraid to see more clearly because then we might have to change the way that we live. This is the courage and faith of the two blind men that cry out for healing and mercy even though they are in the dark and they cannot be sure what “sight” will mean for them. They trust that God is life-giving, and they are not afraid to cry out in the darkness. Only those who admit they are in darkness have the ability to cry out for sight.

St. Gaspar would call his time very dark indeed, but he certainly trusted that God was able to enlighten the hearts of those who sought him. Maria de Mattias lived in a time of darkness too, but in spite of obstacle she provided education to those who were not supposed to be educated. So with our founders we are not afraid to walk in the dark. We who proclaim the coming light must search out our own blindness first so that we can share the way with those who seek. Only then can we say we believe as the first reading proclaims, “out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.”

In what ways am I blind or in the dark these days?
How might God be calling me to be faithful?
What in me prevents my seeing?

Reflection By: Rev. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. (Province of the Pacific)

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:00 AM link
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