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I recieved a wonderful email from Rome from my friend Fr. Lopes:

Greetings from Rome. On Saturday, my mom and I head out to Umbria for a few days. We have the intention of going to the “Refugio San Gaspare” for lunch or dinner. I’ll tell ‘em you sent me.

He promises to send pictures.

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Sidebar for today


The sidebar image today is taken at St. Gaspar's tomb in January, 1963. Blessed John XXIII made a tour to the tomb of all the Roman saints asking their intercession for the Vatican Council. Here he is pictured at St. Gaspar's tomb.

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Sidebar images


I figure that some of these sidebar pictures may need some explaining. I am delighted that RC did such a wonderful job of cropping the pics and setting them up to change everyday. They all have some connection to The history and charism of St. Gaspar and the Devotion to the Precious Blood.

The picture today is from the "Burro." In front of the facade of the Church of St. Ignatius opens out this seventeenth century scenario of the Palazzi of the Burro, a complex of five fifths of a building, a flowing and almost circular arrangment, forming one of the most unique piazzas in late baroque Rome.

The name "Burro" comes from the french office (bureau) installed here during the Napoleonic occupation near the customs offices. In one of these offices St. Gaspar refused to swear the oath of loyalty to Napoleon.

It was on the morning of June 13, 1810, St. Gaspar was summoned here and the famous words were uttered: "I cannot, I must not, I will not."

For this he endured four years of exile and prison.

This picure, looking toward the sky, was taken during a trip to Rome in 2003 when I spent the summer at the Formation Directors School.

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I have climbed lots of Mountains, mostly in my younger days: Yosemite, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Red Peak, Mt. Sinai, St. Gaspar Mountain. St. Gaspar Mountain is the name given to a rather steep climb up the hill beyond Giano del Umbria in Italy, above the Abbey of San Felice where the Precious Blood Community was founded in 1815. Actually the proper name for this high place is Monti Martani, and just below the peak is a place called Rifugio San Gaspare. In the banner picture above, Monti Martani is the peak to the left, and in the clouds, if you look close is a faint hint of the cross that sits at the peak.

A few years ago I was at a meeting of 40 Precious Blood Missionaries from 17 countries. During the meeting we held a day of prayer. Our General bid us undertake a trek up the mountain as an image of the missionary life.

As always, with any mountain trek, the journey becomes a sacrament of the life we lead, the journey to the kingdom. When you climb a Mountain at first there is a distant glimpse of the summit. You know where you are headed but you cannot see what you will see at the summit. Further up the trail the view of the summit disappears. You can only see the road in front of you and the nearby rocks and flowers. You lose sight of the goal, but you remember seeing it from a far and you still take steps to reach the goal. The journey continues, but the trail gets tougher, steeper. At one point you are given again a glimpse of the summit and there is renewed focus, but soon all that is seen is the steps in front of you, the trees and rocks around you, and the companions who accompany you. There are vexing and bothersome moments on this journey. You have climbed so far and you turn a corner expecting a plateau, yet here you are faced with a steeper climb and you still cannot see the goal. But you climb. Eventually you come to a clearing above the tree-line, and there it is, not far. You still must climb but suddenly the goal appears to be within reach. Then you reach the summit. You are tired, but the struggle for the journey is suddenly unimportant as you see the splendor of the world laid out before you. It remains today a significant memory.

A few years after that meeting, I returned to Italy, this time with my sister and with Peggy Doherty, a Precious Blood Companion. As part of our stay in Assisi I took them over to Giano to the Abbey at San Felice and then we drove up to the top of Monti Martani. After exploring the peak where there is a large cross and an altar, we stopped into the little restaurant called Ristorante Rifugio San Gaspare. It turned out to be the least expensive but most expansive meal of the whole trip.

St. Gaspar continually invites us to this mystical mountain so that we may listen and contemplate God’s word in creation and return to the valley with this message of God’s generous love.

Our most loving God calls us to the mystical mountain. Moses of old received the supreme commandments of the Most High from the midst of the burning thorn bush so that he might later carry them out faithfully. In like manner should we upon the mountain of perfection heed the voice of our most affectionate Father so that we might afterwards be able to communicate his divine will to others. How should we not humble ourselves before God when contemplating our sublime calling and the responsibilities which we have in virtue of our sacred duties, our talents granted by the Lord, and the heavenly treasures entrusted to our care! (from the Second Circular Letter, 1827)
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Update on Tamil Nadu


We received an update on the effects of the earthquake on the CPPS parish in Kalapakkam (Tamil Nadu) from Vicariate Director Fr. Amaladoss Mariasusai on December 31. He writes that in Kalapakkam the community was just finishing Mass at about 9:15am on December 26. As the final blessing was being given, they saw that the water was going to reach the church. Pastor Fr. Irudayaraj took some children with him as he ran into the street. Fr. Raja remained in the church and was fortunate to have saved his life. One of the sisters escaped to the roof with 2 children. 10 parishioners died in the tsunami, and in about 300 more were killed in two nearby villages, many of them fishermen as well as children who had been playing on the beach.

Although water did reach the church of St. Anthony in Sadras (not far from a nuclear power plant), but Fr. Amaladoss writes that all escaped. At this point it is certain that housing will be needed and that the fishermen will need boats and nets so as to earn their livelihood once again.

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On the day of my Incorporation the event was celebrated as a part of the Liturgy of Hours. This was in order that the second reading might be from the writings of St. Gaspar, something that would not have been possible at a Mass. So Mass was celebrated in the morning at our Assembly, and then the Incorporation was celebrated at an evening prayer, structured closer to the Office of Readings than to Evening Prayer.

GDC preached. I remember it as being a pretty stunning homily, and memorable. Still I listened to it again today and it stills has the same power. The task, he says, is to walk by faith and to know that hope does not disappoint.

Here is the second reading, selections form the Eleventh Circular letter of St. Gaspar del Bufalo:

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)

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Responding to God who calls me to follow Christ by a special vocation and in your presence Father Director, trusting in God who is ever faithful, and begging the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, of St. Gaspar, our founder, and St. Francis Xavier, our patron, I, Jeffrey Robert Keyes, of my own free will, promise fidelity to the Society of the Precious Blood in accordance with its constitutions and statutes, giving myself entirely to the service of God for the rest of my life.

May 8, 1990

From left to right, Deacon Jeffrey Finley, CPPS (who now serves as pastor of St. Edward), Provincial Director Fr. Paul Link, CPPS, Doug Crandall serving as Acolyte, Provincial Formation Director Fr. James Sloan CPPS who was my predecessor as Pastor of St. Barnabas, and myself reciting the Act of Incorporation quoted above. Hidden behind Doug Crandal is GDC, the heretic, the Director of Advanced Formation. Hidden behind me is Sr. Suzanne Toolan, SM, a dear friend who directer the music. The Choir was made up of choir members from St. Leander, St. Edward, St. Francis DeSales and the Vineyard Choir, all choirs I had directed. It was a memorable moment.

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The Pacific Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood was established on April 20, 1965.

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Pray for Our Sisters


The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Missouri, invite you to join them in prayer for their General Chapter, March 25 to 28 and June 25 to 30, 2004. At this Chapter the Sisters will come together to evaluate their life and mission, establish directions for their future and elect their leadership for the next six years. The Sisters are depending on your prayerful support as they seek to discern God’s grace at this time in their history.

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There has been a fair amount of discussion over at Fr. Bryce's blog about a painting he has dubbed Exterminatrix of Heresies.

I have posted this picture before. This is probably not a picture that you have seen too many places, nor is it often the way that we imagine or see the Blessed Virgin Mary portrayed in artwork. Having been to the birthplace of our congregation four times, and having spent one week there this past summer, this is a picture that I have grown to love and delight in. ?Fascinating? is the word that I use most often in my journal in describing this picture and its effect on me as I sit in its shadow and mediate on what it contains.

When St. Gaspar founded our congregation in 1815 he placed it under the protection of Mary, Help of Christians whose feast is celebrated each May 24. There is another image that we use under the title of Madonna of the Precious Blood, an image that St. Gaspar used in his mission travels. I have a banner with that image on it and it goes with me on my mission travels.

This image of Mary, Help on Christians hangs in the cloister of the Abbey of San Felice in Giano del Umbria. it was painted by Francesco Melanzio (1465-1530) and it originally hung in the left side of the upper sanctuary, probably when San Felice served as a Benedictine Monastery. (San Felice was given to us in 1815) You can see the monks portrayed hiding in the folds of her garment on the bottom left side of the painting. The look of fear on the major figure there is striking. The child Jesus, much like the child in Revelations 12, is caught away to safety. The devil has a sinister look on his face; he has a hold on the child?s clothing, not on the child himself. The Madonna with the club is the most fascinating feature. She never loses a look of gentleness and peace, but it is also a look of determination and strength.

I would be interested in your reflections on this painting.

Madonna del Soccorso, by Francesco Melanzio (Montefalco - c.1465-c. 1530)
Found in the left side Upper Sanctuary of the Abbey of San Felice, Giano. It now hangs in the Cloister. It was restored by Professor Giovanni Bartoloni in 1961

Fr. Bryce incorrectly states the painting hangs in a little church in Montefalco, Italy. It is possible it did at one time. According to the date in the upper right it was painted in 1494.

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  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

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