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March 7, 2006

Why am I here?

God draws straight with crooked lines. That really should be the title of my life story. There have been so many twists and turns in my life that it is enough to say that I am sticking around to see what is next.

It has been eight months since the demise of the province to which I belonged and in which I made my life long commitment. Many times since then I have asked the question, “why am I here?� or “why do I stay?�

The answer is simply this: St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

There is a picture that Thomas Merton took of an old farm hook. There it hangs from the sky, with nothing around it. In the photograph you do not see the source or the origin of the hook. It is just there. The only other thing visible in the picture is the distant farm land. He titled the picture, “The only known photograph of God.�

Yep, I am hooked. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of everlasting life.�

I am completely captured by the substance of Precious Blood Devotion. (Sorry, I can never again use the term “spirituality.�) The Gasparian charism is indeed a gift for our time. It is still largely hidden, and I struggle with finding ways to make it explicit. Yet, that struggle has borne fruit and I have seen it do miracles.

The present desert is made pleasant by the coming of Lent. Last Sunday’s gospel of the First Sunday of Lent (B) made it clear that deserts are not to be avoided. As we saw Jesus emerge from the desert struggle not defeated by the struggle but charged with the kingdom of God, we can pray that the same be true of us.

The following is an edited selection form Gaspar’s Eleventh Circular letter. It was read at my incorporation into the CPPS community nearly sixteen years ago. It asks the question “Why have you come here.� And, of course, St Gaspar does a pretty good job of answering the question.

I suggest three things in particular for our consideration during these days.

First, that we examine ourselves in the light of the question which the Mellifluous Doctor was accustomed to ask his monks: Why have you come here? (St. Bernard.) For what purpose are we in the Society? 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....
I am in the Society to look after the life of my soul, to offer myself for the glory of God with a holy abandonment in God himself, and to train myself in humility and obedience, all this with the purpose of knowing better his divine Will by being completely reliant upon him as I should.

The second point about which we must examine ourselves is the love that we are to show towards our Society and towards one another. We should always act according to the spirit of the Lord. … We should act in such a manner that we, too, might have stamped upon our hearts the saying of the great St. Francis Xavier: May my right hand be forgotten if I should forget you… (Cf. Ps 136 (137):5.) In this matter, may our love be very, very special. Let it be generous and outgoing, patient and longsuffering, judicious and vigorous.

…May God grant that in the case of our Society the words following may be verified: The blossoming vines give out their fragrance.( Song 2:13) …The cultivation of a vineyard requires skill, toil, vigilance and fruitful rain. Likewise, in the cultivation of our communities, we need special graces. These are obtained through prayer, through exerting ourselves in accomplishing good works, in being orderly and in being vigilant to gather the awaited fruit. In a marvelous way, our Prescriptions and our Rule, which cannot be too highly recommended, serve as our support.

Finally, the third point for our meditation is our activity in furthering those objectives which lead towards the glory of the Lord. This we do in seeking to give them permanence through the Associations which our Society promotes, using the means that it designates as well as the practices which it encourages. Here, let the apostle St. Paul speak. In his letters he reveals a very profound ardor for the salvation of souls and their constant perfection. The love of Christ compels us. (2 Cor 5:14) In all our trouble I am filled with consolation and my joy is overflowing.( 2 Cor 7:4)

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at March 7, 2006 9:44 PM

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"I am completely captured by the substance of Precious Blood Devotion. (Sorry, I can never again use the term “spirituality.�)"

Would it be rude to ask why?

Posted by: Geri at March 8, 2006 9:05 PM

Because the term spirituality has been co-opted by just about everything else in this West Coast. Buddhist Spirituality, Hindu Spirituality, Gnostic Spirituality, you name it spirituality.

Posted by: FrKeyes at March 8, 2006 9:13 PM

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