By Brother Matt Schaefer, C.PP.S.
I’m sitting in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at the Sisters of Providence Center in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., pondering how to write this reflection for our feast day. The focus of the chapel is an altar of repose topped by a marble canopy in the shape of a crown. The structure is massive, over 20 feet tall. A quartet of angels hover in adoration on marble clouds above the tabernacle, while cherubs on the canopy present a crest emblazoned with “Gloria.” It seems to be both an appropriately grand and an overly elaborate display. The Blessed Sacrament is the nexus of several great mysteries of our faith—the Incarnation, transubstantiation, and salvation. As such, it deserves a reverent, even awe-inspiring, setting, and the angels and clouds of heaven seem fitting. And yet, to a Precious Blood person, the Blessed Sacrament is as real and accessible as the food on our dinner tables.
As great as the mysteries of our faith are, they would seem remote and theoretical if they did not also have relevance in our lives. Trying to explain how the salvation of the world occurred in the shedding of Jesus’ blood is interesting—but not very difficult—with second graders. They tend to accept whatever they are told, whether they understand or not. Discussing the concept of salvation with adults usually leads to more questions. Our minds, constantly attempting to figure out the world around us, want to get a firm grip on everything. However, faith and belief are not about complete understanding, but practical understanding. What helps to improve our faith is when the concepts and mysteries of the Church are experienced in our lives. Even hearing people describe what their faith means to them can seem like evidence because it is rooted in the real life experience of a real person.
Years ago when I was just beginning to discern a religious vocation, I met my first Precious Blood Missionary. At first, I was a bit put off by the words Precious Blood. It was a familiar enough term due to my years in Catholic school, but it seemed confined to the glowing-candle-and-incense interior of a church. I received a Precious Blood book of prayers at that first meeting, which I tossed on a pile of other discernment materials. For some reason, the words Precious Blood lingered around the edges of my mind and I occasionally browsed the book of prayers. One day I came across the Litany of the Blood of Jesus by Fr. Al Naseman, C.PP.S., and suddenly the words Precious Blood moved out of the church and into the world!
That litany made the Precious Blood of Jesus understandable, relevant, and necessary for my outlook on the world. Fr. Al beautifully encapsulated the essence of Precious Blood spirituality—the blood shed in our suffering, the blood connecting us with others, the blood creating compassion, the blood offering reconciliation, paced by the repeated invocation of our belief in salvation as we say, “Blood of Jesus…save us.” As seen in this litany, the applications of Precious Blood spirituality are endless. And though our spirituality may be familiar and even simple to us, the implications are great. The deeper we immerse ourselves in it, the more we are compelled to share it with others. Precious Blood spirituality calls us to continual personal conversion so that we can be beacons of reconciliation to the world.
On this great feast of our community, let us keep this refrain on our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts so that we remember our connection with all people and always preach of the reconciling power of the Precious Blood of Jesus. Blood of Jesus, save us!
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Brother Matthew Schaefer, C.PP.S., is in ministry at the Downtown Dayton Parishes, which include Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and