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.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

My name is Susan Maduell and I became a Precious Blood Companion at the Assembly in May of this year 2002. My journey towards becoming a Companion began in August of 1998 when I started attending St. Barnabas Church in Alameda. The pastor at that time, Fr. Jeff Keyes, hired a very dear friend of mine, Sister Ann Diskin, to be his Pastoral Associate. I attended Mass with her to support her in her new position at St. Barnabas Church. Even though I was a parishioner in another church, the warmth and spirituality of the community drew me closer to St. Barnabas. For that reason, I became a parishioner.

I first learned about the Precious Blood spirituality and the power of His Most Precious Blood to reconcile and renew through the homilies, talks and the Parish Missions at St. Barnabas Church given by the Precious Blood Priests. I was moved, inspired, encouraged and changed every time I attended a Parish Mission. The more I learned about the Precious Blood spirituality, the more I became quite interested.

In February of 2000, I found myself at a crossroad in my journey. Something was pulling me closer to a more ministry-filled life. Although most of my time away from work was spent in church ministry, I still wanted much more. I had been considering religious life for a few years, and I was thinking this is it…I need to make a decision. At a Friday night Holy Hour, I was very distraught about my current job and I was asking God for guidance. At the same time, Fr. Jeff, who had just lost his Music Director and his Secretary within 2 months, was there praying to God for guidance. When the service ended, Fr. Jeff approached me and asked me what I did for a living and if I was happy in my position. I told him I was not happy and was praying for help. He then asked me if I would be interested in applying for the secretary position at St. Barnabas Church. What a blessing for both of us, he gained a secretary and I gained full time ministry in the church.

My time working at St. Barnabas gave me the opportunity to learn more about the Precious Blood Fathers, Companions, Sisters, and Adorers. So much more that I was inspired to go a step further. I had been considering entering religious life for a few years and I was exploring religious orders. Many different religious orders were sending me emails, brochures and letters inviting me to meet them, including the Adorers and the Precious Blood Sisters. I did not know who the Adorers were until I came to St. Barnabas. After I found out more about their similar spirituality, I flew to Texas and had a wonderful time meeting and learning all about the Adorer’s of the Precious Blood of Christ.

One day I asked Fr. Jeff “What is a Companion” and his answer to me was “Why don’t you come to the Companion Meeting?” So, I did. This Companion group was a group of friends and colleagues who I already knew, so I was very comfortable coming into such a large group. I enjoyed learning more about St. Gaspar and his life and how these Precious Blood Fathers and Companions lived out their lives in the light of St. Gaspar. It has been an incredible journey for me. I decided after going to the Alameda Companions for a year, I wanted to meet this much smaller group in Newark, who I had been emailing and sending letters to for Fr. Jeff. They were a group of people I did not know yet, and just as wonderful. I feel blessed to be so close to both groups. The Companions are a family of people connected by the same spirit and everyone has their own unique gifts to share. I am incredibly blessed to be in such a group, and for the wonderful journey that enabled me to become a Precious Blood Companion.

Susan Maduell receives Companion "Cup and Cross" pin from Fr. James Sloan, C.PP.S. Director of Companions

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:10 PM link
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New Provincial Council

Congratulations to the new provincial council of the Pacific Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, elected to a new four-year term on Thursday June 27, 2002. The New Council consists of Fr. Ron Wiecek, C.PP.S. as Provincial Director. Fr. Ro n also serves as Pastor of St. Barnabas Parish in Alameda, CA. Next is Fr. Jeffrey Finley, C.PP.S. as Vice-Provincial. Fr. Finley also serves as Pastor of St. Edward Church in Newark, CA. Fr. Gary Luiz, C.PP.S. was elected as Second Councilor. He also serves as Adjudant Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Oakland and on the Provincial Vocation team. Third Councilor is Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. who also serves as Inter-provincial director of Advanced Formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in Chicago.

The Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Province of the Pacific, serve in the Dioceses of Oakland, Monterey, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Indianapolis, Chicago

Below is a link to a picture of the new Council. Left to Right, Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, Jeffrey Finley, CPPS, Ronald Wiecek, CPPS, and Gary Luiz, CPPS.

The New Provincial Council

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 10:35 PM link
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Lectio Divina

This article was published recently in The Precious Blood Family in the July/August 2002 issue. For information about subscribing to The Precious Blood Family, please send me an email.

An important part of any prayer is the act of listening. Certainly when we come to God we ask for what we need and we praise God for his goodness. But we must also come with an openness seeking to listen to his will and to his way. Worship means that we listen to the Master’s voice and respond. The Holy Father in our own day, and even our own spirituality as members of a Precious Blood family call us to listen to the voice of Jesus’ Blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

The scriptures speak of the Good Shepherd who brings out his flock and goes before them. They follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:1-10) If many of us do not live on farms this image may not speak to us, but if we have ever had a family dog, we know that the sound of our voice is enough to call the pet to our side. This is the kind of listening we need to develop with God.

How do we listen to God? How do we pay attention to his heart, to his way and to his word? The ancients used a practice known as Lectio Divina or Sacred Reading. There are many ways of using this practice down through the centuries and it is described in many ways. Lectio is a reading of the Bible or other sacred texts like the Fathers of the Church or St. Gaspar and Blessed Maria de Mattias in a prolonged contemplative prayer and dialogue. This is different from spiritual reading where one might read several chapters of a spiritual book in one sitting. In Lectio one reads a passage slowly in a way that enables one to “chew” the words, to taste them in much the same way as Ezekiel took the scroll on which the Word of God was written and ate it. (Ezek 3:3) Some find it helpful to read the text aloud and this was very common as an ancient practice. It may take an hour or so to read the Gospel of Mark, but with Lectio it would take several weeks or months.

The first task is to bring yourself, your life and situation to a place of prayer. Prayer is not about a life we imagine we might want to live, but about the life we are living. Then select a passage from a book in the bible or from another of our sacred texts. Read the passage over a few times. Maybe read the passage aloud. Try not to form any response to the text, but listen to what is being said. Go beyond to the text to the person speaking. Now sit for a few moments of silence with what you have heard. What was said? What did God say? Then read the passage again a few more times. This time ask yourself how the passage made you feel. What feelings did these words or this situation provoke in you? Try to avoid thoughts, opinions or judgments but stay with the feelings. What is the heart of Jesus saying? How does my heart respond to his feelings? Then rest for a time in silence with these feelings. Read the passage again a few times. This time ask yourself how God wants you to put his word into action. What is the invitation or the challenge? What must I do to see the Word made flesh in me? Select one concrete action that you can accomplish in the coming day or week. Make sure that it is something you can do, and commit to doing it. Close with a short prayer, maybe the Our Father or another favorite prayer.

Lectio is a reading of God’s word with the eyes and ears of a spouse. It is not a prayer to confirm my own understanding of life. It is a word that desires to break in, to upset my prejudices and lead to a fuller revelation. Lectio is long term activity, not a source of immediate gratification. Lectio is about vocation, the call of God. We are to hear God as he is and not as we want him to be, and we are called to respond. This is a prayer that is to be applied to my own life situation. This time of prayer is supposed to be purposelessness with a sense of gratuity, leisure, and peace. It is about a relationship of love and is not intended to be utilitarian. Reading and praying is not just for the mind. The body must be involved. At the end of the prayer take a passage, a sentence or a word to remember through the day and to bring us back to the encounter.

Because Lectio Divina is dialogue it is therefore reception, self-gift and communion. It is reception by attention and reflection; self-gift through our response; communion through encounter. Our companion on this journey is Mary who kept all these words in her heart.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 3:43 PM link
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What helps us to realize that, in God's sight, we do not have to pretend that we are more than we are, that we can be like children before God?

I think that today’s (Sunday July 7th) readings call us to an incredible confidence in God. St. Gaspar has a marvelous letter (Letter 62) on this kind of confidence. It is three pages long and I would gladly email it to anyone who asks.

Here is a segment:

“Oh how can a creature allow himself to be dominated by dejection or languidness of spirit! You, oh soul, you by yourself (writes a great ascetic) will never be good for anything; but, with God's assistance you will be like a zero in mathematics: no matter how often you multiply a zero, the result is always zero; but, add units to them and they become thousands and millions. God, added to your nothingness, will change you and make you a totality of omnipotence. To be sure, why did the Lord always select the weak, the unlearned, those despised in the eyes of the world for his greatest undertakings, if not to banish from our hearts every feeling of diffidence, filling them with holy trust in his divine power? Confortamini in Domino, et in potentia virtutis eius! (Be Strengthened in the Lord and in the power of his goodness)

Cast a glance at Moses who was sent before the Pharaoh; a look at David who was destined to fight against the giant; see the Apostles who promulgated the sacred Gospel, ... then, let me know if allowing oneself to be overtaken by excessive timidity and pusillanimity is or is not a great wrong against the Almighty and an evident proof that one has not sufficiently acknowledged the amiability of his heart. Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos? (If God is for us, who can be against)”

How can we know that, in spite of our contradictions, we are already "children of God?"

Here are a few more scripture passages that help us focus on today’s readings:

Mark 10:13-16:
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. {14} But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. {15} Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." {16} And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

John 3:35
The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.

John 10:15
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 13:3
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,

Sirach 51:23-30
Draw near to me, you who are uneducated,
and lodge in the house of instruction.

Why do you say you are lacking in these things,
and why do you endure such great thirst?

I opened my mouth and said,
acquire wisdom for yourselves without money.
Put your neck under her yoke,
and let your souls receive instruction;
it is to be found close by.

See with your own eyes
that I have labored but little
and found for myself such serenity.

Hear but a little of my instruction,
and through me you will acquire silver and gold.

May your soul rejoice in God's mercy,
and may you never be ashamed to praise him.

Do your work in good time,
and in his own time God will give you your reward.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:57 AM link
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