Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 21 - Feast of the Apostle of the Precious Blood of Jesus

Altar & Reliquary,
General House C.PP.S., Rome
of St. Gaspar del Bufalo (1786-1837)
Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood
The inscription in Latin are Gaspar's words:
"May my right hand fall into oblivion if I should ever forget you,
O Society of the Precious Blood."

Excerpt from the 1st Circular Letter of St. Gaspar (1826) to the Priests, Brothers, and Seminarians of the Society of the Precious Blood:

"Twelve years have now elapsed since our institute, as envisioned from the beginning, has experienced growth in the Church of Jesus Christ. You can readily see how well it is suited to the renewal of proper conduct and the spirit of the apostles in the secular clergy of our time. In this letter of encouragement I do not intend to consider particulars. I wish only to arouse in both you and myself, my dearly beloved brothers, that true spirit of the Lord. It cannot be denied that up to now, because of the the pressing matters dealing with our new foundations, we have been called upon to take care of a variety of things, that is to say, various objectives pertinent to the sacred ministry which we exercise. But, like a painting that is first sketched, then actualized and finally perfected and ennobled, so also has it been with our Society which presently is enjoying the good fortune of being protected and ennobled for the greater glory of God whom alone we serve...
To my mind, our missionaries represent so many mystic stones fashioned for the work to be done, reminiscent of the words of St. Paul: 'You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone'. These stones must be polished by the stroke of the mystic chisel to effect that perfection which is required of us...This should be achieved in the course of this retreat which ought to remain memorable for all of us in order that we might erect that mystical building leading to eternal blessings.

Allow me, my dearly beloved, to repeat both for you and myself that 'the time has come: you must wake up now.' These words are applied by the saints not only to sinners in need of conversion, but to all the redeemed children of God who are thereby fervently stimulated to strive for extraordinary holiness. The time has come: while preaching to others, we must not become worse than they. The time has come: we must protect ourselves from the snares of the one who is the enemy of all and who attacks the ministers of Christ's Gospel and holy religion with special energy. The time has come: we must arm ourselves with courage, generosity and invincible zeal so that we all may be one with Jesus Christ. The time has come: we must grow in virtue, continue to exercise deep humility before God, and acquire compassion in behalf of our fellow human beings. All this must be based upon the spirit of prayer. The time is at hand when we are to develop that interior virtue which counterbalances the influence of our exterior occupations. We must realize our grave responsibilities to God because of our very special and sublime vocation...

Let us then meditate on the motives that prompted us to devote ourselves to this great Society. Let us also examine the dispositions with which we have carried out our duties up to now. Have we perhaps been discouraged by trials and tribulations, instead of meditating on the words of the Apostle: 'In all our joy is overflowing.' Or were we negligent in our duties and in the observance of the Rule given to us? After all, we must remember that the Rule is only a summary, shall we say, of what we preach to others of our calling and whose practice we demand of them. They are principles, however, that we ourselves may fail to practice because of certain well-known excuses which are, in reality, under the appearances of good, only diabolical delusions, calculated to disturb and offset the attainment of virtue in its beginnings and from its very foundations. Clinging to one's own opinions and rejecting the advice of others, one can be led to believe that he is in our Society for a purpose other than the one that is understood to be properly its own. But, such is the miserable condition of humans, so that the saying of the saints is only too true: we are all patients in the vast hospital of the world. Infirmities are cured, however, by the oil of meekness, tenderness, docility, by overcoming self-love through a victorious obedience to our superiors, by supporting each other in mutual, charitable love, by patiently correcting each other; and finally, by steadfastly bearing with one another.

Not the walls that surround us nor the men with whom we live, but rather the victory over our own self, even in spiritual things -- that mystic childhood to which Christ calls us -- the desire for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, these alone will make us more perfect. They form, as it were, the framework of the holiness which is lacking in us and which we must absolutely seek to attain as the consequence of this retreat...Truly, our Society will progress the more happily in proportion to our becoming men of the spirit. Despite the sufferings and hardships, which are always present, the enemy shall never triumph. 'For it is when I am weak that I am strong'...

Through the goodness of our most loving Father, we shall indeed see in ourselves continuous miracles of grace. He has loved and still loves us dearly. He tenderly shows us his Sacred Heart as a sweet asylum for souls thirsting for Jesus Christ. Could it be possible that we custodians and dispensers of the heavenly treasures be deprived of the riches which adorned the daughters of Sion? Indeed, neither the place where we live nor the insignia we wear form the essentials of holiness. On the contrary, a holy life, desire for perfection, thirst for the love of God, confidence in him, willingness to bear cheerfully all sacrifices for his sake, these are the qualities that make us saints...

Let us, therefore, pray for one another and put all our trials in the wounds of the crucified Jesus. There we shall find a healing remedy -- consolation, encouragement and salvation. Let us sincerely love our Society 'with the holy kiss' so that 'we too might live a new life.'"

To the Brothers:

"...Praise and bless God who fills 'your years with prosperity.' He has given you a proof of his concern for your welfare, especially this year in the holy retreat which we need for our spiritual renewal. I would like you to make three resolutions during these special days. The first refers to God, the second to yourselves, and the third to the Society in which you live.

In regard to God, thank him for having freed you from the many dangers of the world...As you make your way in virtue, the daily bread with which you are to nourish and strengthen your souls in profound humility is that vivid awareness of the presence of God and that realization of having to give an account for the gifts that God bestows upon you.

As for yourselves, remember that living in a Community house requires especially the resolution of laying aside the old Adam. I mean that you should subdue your passions and imitate Jesus Christ. Therefore, overcome your anger by patience, selfishness by charity, and negligence by justice. You are no longer your own, but you belong to Jesus Crucified. Your holiness of life and your good example should therefore be a continuous Mission to the people...

Finally, since you are accustomed to attribute to the Society itself the defects that are the faults of individuals, I urge you to look upon our Society as a spiritual field where virtue is to be cultivated...Be careful not to cause the least discord. Be lovers of silence; shun criticism and ridicule which are injurious to both charity and perfection. Let all things be stepping stones to heaven. Deny your own will and accept the bitter things for sweet and the sweet for bitter, and you will be saints...

Did you think, perhaps, that Community life would be free from crosses? You deceive yourselves. Did you perhaps enter the Society from human motives and not divine -- to escape reproaches at home, to rid yourselves of the yoke of paternal authority, to evade labor in the fields, to suffer no deprivation in your life, and the like? If you love the Society, my dear Brothers, change your minds. Look into yourselves and if you admire virtue as it exists in others, then you too should practice it incessantly. Let the Society and every one of its members be dear to you. Put aside all hatred, aversion, prejudice and pride. In their place put charity, docility, humility, prudence and a sincere desire for the success of the Community where you are in service. In short, let the Society be your way to heaven..."

To the Seminarians:

"During the retreat, let the students keep before their minds the purpose of the Society. The assaults of the devil are directed especially against the young. All must know, therefore, that his attacks are to be strenuously resisted. May the Father make them spiritually keen and wary. May he point out to them the way of salvation."

Closing admonitions:

"Let whoever conducts the spiritual exercises first practice what he preaches, lest he be told: 'Physician, heal yourself''...Let those who give orders learn how to serve. They should rule their confreres by exhortation rather than by command. In example, prayer and charity, let them excel all others, joyfully and promptly administering to the needs of all. Always show prudence, polite manners and a well-ordered courtesy toward each other. Our hearts must be free from all things foreign to our calling and occupation. Love to talk to God. Be an apostle while working in the Missions and a contemplative at home, but be this in accordance with the Rule. Finally be angelic in all your actions." 
(Translation by the late Rev. Raymond Cera, C.PP.S.)

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