« Mission | Main | North, South, East and West »

March 31, 2004

Community in the Bond of Charity

Precious Blood Family arrived today and this article is found in the March-April Issue

God has willed to make us holy and to save us, not as individuals without any bond or link between us, but rather to make us into a people who might acknowledge and serve God in holiness.(1) We are called, not simply as individuals but as a people, to be sign and instrument(2) of the work of God in this world, not only in the past, in history, but also in this time and place. Before any other description of our basic attributes or qualities, the communal nature of the church is placed before us a basic presupposition.

For what purpose are we in the community? To cooperate with the great designs of divine Providence in the sanctification of ourselves and others; to be united in the bond of charity, and to imitate more closely the life of Jesus Christ. (3)

St. Gaspar would remind us often that the community should gather each month. He would make sure that we were not to work alone on a mission but to cooperate with others. This was to be the school of charity as it was in other communities, but Gaspar also saw the community as the bulwark against any assaults of the evil one.

He never thought of himself as working alone. He always thought of himself as part of a community. Bonnani, Albertini, Cristaldi, and others are always mentioned as being among his closest co-workers. (4) In telling the stories of the early missions and retreats one hears of several missionaries working together with brothers in service, and even selected laity. The effects or fruits of the mission were maintained by seeking out suitable people among the laity who could continue these associations that were begun by the mission. And in advising his missionaries, he would always remind us not to trust in our own thinking alone, but to work together with others for the common good. “Clinging to one's own opinions and rejecting the advice of others” was one of the things that Gaspar assigned to the “miserable condition” of us humans.

God has no need of people in his work; we are the ones who reap benefits from his Society. The Lord will multiply his gifts for those who remain and it will be sufficient that on our part we do what is required of us. In addition to that, through prayer, let us place it in God’s hands, and let us never cease to take counsel with one another as the opportunities arise. Let us surrender our own will in all things and we shall have died to ourselves. (5)

The scriptures themselves call us to a common life. This is not just the property of religious and clergy but something common to all the faithful who believed together and had all things in common.(6) We live the legacy of Gaspar in contrast to the self-reliance, self-assertion, self-expression and self-centeredness that is the hallmark of our age and central among our national values.

What a good fortune for us to live in community where the fulfillment of our sacred duties is, without doubt, facilitated in its execution, along with our individual association with an Institute which is promoting so much good work to the glory of the Lord! (7)

1) Lumen Gentium, p. 359
2) Lumen Gentium, art.9 par.2, p.360
3) Eleventh Circular Letter
4) "Historical Sketches of the C.PP.S.," Andrew Pollack, C.PP.S.
5) Letter 1638
6) Acts 2:42-47
7) Letter 1479

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at March 31, 2004 11:24 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"even selected laity" ?? !!!

is that Gaspar's take on things, or a bit of pre-Vatican II ecclesiology being assumed on your part, Father Jeff ?

the more we learn of the full history of the church, the more free and natural collaboration we find out existed.

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at April 1, 2004 12:29 PM

The "Method for Missions," presumably written by Gaspar, but published after his death, refers to the practice early in a mission of the art of finding and selecting appropriate and worthy laity to participate in the mission and to continue the fruits of the mission after the missionaries departed. This was principally in the leadership of the "associations" that were begun as part of the mission. They never participated in the public preaching like the Companions of today.

Gaspar worked in the Papal States in the early 19th century, a long time before the Second Vatican Council was called. He had little choice about being "pre-Vatican II."

Posted by: Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS at April 1, 2004 1:18 PM

so, the 'even' added to the description of selected laity is your editorializing, then?

of course Gaspar had a choice about transcending his culture and the customs and attitudes of the church he served -- he did it regularly and got in trouble for it!

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at April 1, 2004 6:30 PM

He did not get into trouble for the use of laity and women in the public ministry. It was all appropriate to the times and customs. Maria de Mattias got into more trouble for that, but it was not her fault. She was just more popular preacher than the priest of Acuto.

I would prefer to call it "reporting," as I am basically reporting on sources and not interjecting my own opinion.

Posted by: Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS at April 1, 2004 8:13 PM