Precious Blood Spirituality
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the Blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2: 12-14)
Precious Blood spirituality calls for inclusion, for seeking out people who feel unloved, rejected and alone, in the same way that Christ seeks them out. Because Jesus shed his blood to bring reconciliation, love and hope to each and every one of us, the Missionaries seek to spread this reconciling love to everyone, especially the lost, the hopeless, the poor, the victims of violence — anyone who feels left out of the circle of God’s love.
Fr. David Kelly, C.PP.S., who serves at the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation which ministers to youth in a violence-torn neighborhood of Chicago writes:
“We have to create communities of hope where we recognize that our lives are intertwined with one another and that what affects one, affects us all. This ethos—the interconnectedness of all—is at the heart of the spirituality that calls us to be ambassadors of reconciliation. It seems to me that at the very core—the very essence—of who we are, has to be the willingness to enter into the tension and messiness of life and witness to the power of God’s love to transform. I have to believe that is our ministry -walking faithfully into the muddled mess of life and giving witness to the transforming power of the Blood of Christ.”
Jesus offered his body and blood to his disciples at the last supper and welcomed them to sit at table with him. Missionaries, then, open their doors to friends and to strangers. They share what they have.
What is at the heart of Precious Blood spirituality?
What motivates our Missionaries to dedicate their lives to proclaiming the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus?
Here, they explain what it means to them—and perhaps to you.
“Missionaries of the Precious Blood tend to be very ordinary people. And I mean that in the best possible way. They are engaged with and encouraging people at a very ordinary level. “We really have an incarnational spirit, which means we are with the people. We live with the people we serve and take on their flavor as well . . .
“If there are tables that need to be set up at a parish function, the priest joins in helping to set up tables. We’re just folks. There’s a humanness to us. Our becoming priests or brothers does not remove us from the world.”
“When I decided to explore the call I was hearing to the priesthood, I sat with the vocation director for the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. He told me, ‘You have a missionary heart. We need to send you to a religious community.’
“I put aside any thoughts of becoming part of the diocesan clergy because generally, they stay in one diocese. The Spirit was telling me, ‘I have a mission in store for you.’ So I became a missionary—a Missionary of the Precious Blood, to be exact.”
“Pope Francis is urging us to go to the periphery. He tells us to get out of the center, where things are comfortable and peaceful.
“That’s what St. Gaspar, our founder, did. Throughout his life, he went to the periphery. He ministered to the bandits in the Italian countryside. When he was in Rome, he went to the poor people in the marketplace, to jails and to hospitals. He spent years in exile—on the periphery.
“It’s not an easy place to be. But being on the periphery can give us insights that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t go there.”
“Our Pilgrim God took suffering upon himself. He did not avoid it or soothe it. He faced it head on. He, in the spirit of the suffering servant of the Old Testament, took our suffering upon himself and thus helped us to find a way through it.
“The secret was love. Even in the face of rejection, passion and death, Jesus lived for others and died for others.
“Love was the secret of his life and gave meaning to his death. And it is our way through suffering as well.
“The secret lies in taking up the suffering that comes our way and converting it into redemptive suffering, just as Jesus’ cross, taken up in love, for love, has redeemed us.”
“My vocation (as a religious brother) has definitely changed over the years . . . I don’t feel I’ve done anything heroic—I’m just doing my job. I feel the most important thing I offer students, faculty and staff is a ministry of presence. It doesn’t matter so much what I do here—it matters that people know I’m here for them.”
“The cross of Christ, where his blood was poured out for us, shows how Christ’s own suffering enters into and transforms all human suffering. And the cup, offered at the Last Supper as his Blood for us to drink, is at once a cup of suffering as well as the cup of blessing by which God is praised, a sign of the heavenly banquet to come.
“A spirituality of the Blood of Christ, therefore, is a spirituality of solidarity with those who suffer, and a spirituality of hope for the genuine liberation that only God can bring.”
“In Precious Blood spirituality, a number of images stand out for us: the covenant, the cup, the cross, and the wounded but victorious lamb. There is an element of suffering in each image. The covenant recalls God’s promise to God’s people and the history of slavery and suffering in Egypt. The cup includes the passion of Jesus, especially when Jesus asks the sons of Zebedee, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” The cross and the wounded but victorious lamb point us to the harsh wounds of suffering and pain, both in the life of Jesus and in our own lives. Just as Jesus is not in control over the suffering and pain he endures, the suffering and pain in our lives sometimes reminds us of how little control we have of our lives.
The’s Gospel’s message for us to love one another might not seem to go along with the suffering embedded in the images of Precious Blood spirituality. But in the same way that these images include suffering, they include love. The love of God to God’s people in the covenant. The love poured out in wine and shared in the cup. The love of Jesus for his friends to lay down his life upon a cross. Love for one another reminds us of the need to get out of our own egos and try to find a way to accept life on life’s terms. As Jesus concludes in the Gospel today, and this is how the world will know we are Christians—by our love.”