There are two very important things that we learn from our Mother Mary. We are devoted to her in her humility and obedience. The Angel spoke and she did not put her trust in her own fears and doubts. She put her trust in the Angel’s promise because she had heard the Word of God before, who chooses the smallest to do the greatest work. She takes our part in taking the part of the couple in Cana, reminding us that the wine of this world has failed us, and that we must draw as servants from the font of our baptism to find the new wine of the new Covenant.
She stood patiently and silently at the foot of the cross. She could not end his suffering, but with her heart she could humbly share in that communion of suffering. She may have wondered why he hurried to the cross when it meant that he would leave her to suffer. The storm that overtook her soul had been prophesied by Simeon years earlier. Yet she waits in faith and hope, humble and obedient, confident in the knowledge of a God who has always been faithful.
She is our mother in the order of grace. “When we appeal to the throne of grace we do so through Mary, honoring God by honoring His Mother, Imitating Him by exalting her, touching the most responsive chord in the Sacred Heart of Christ with the sweet name of Mary.[i] We give ourselves to her because Jesus chose her as the perfect means to unite Him to us and us to Him.[ii] That is who she is; she is the perfect means to unite us to Jesus and Jesus to us. We come to her because she gives us Jesus. It is entirely the initiative of God that we celebrate her. It is entirely the initiative of God that our salvation should be born of her and from her; that our salvation comes through her. So, those who reject Mary, reject what Christ loves. They reject God’s work, and God’s will. If we reject Mary, we reject grace. But God is our only desire and His grace is what we need, and this grace is given to us first, through Mary; she is the one who gave birth to the grace that saves us.
[i] St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621),
[ii] St. Louis Grignon de Montfort
I am no longer part of the Precious Blood order(CPPS). However Catherine is still a favorite. This is taken from my blog in 2004. It was written for a series on Precious Blood Saints for the Precious Blood Family magazine.
The Precious Blood Family of Saints
We are used to including in our Precious Blood Family here on the West Coast of California a variety of names in our Litany of Saints that bring to mind our devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. At the top of the list are names like St. Gaspar del Bufalo and Blessed Maria de Mattias. In speaking of them we also include mention of Companions and fellow laborers who accompanied them, Venerable Merlini, St. Vincent Palloti, Blessed Vincent Strambi and others. For St. Gaspar, devotion to the blood of Christ was the fount from which all the other devotions sprang. There was no devotion more fundamental. If this is true, mention of this devotion would have been evident in the church's patrimony prior to the early 19th century when Francis Albertini composed such cherished prayers in honor of the Blood of Christ, such as the Seven Offerings and the Precious Blood Chaplet. A brief survey of the writings of the ancient Fathers and Doctors of the church would reveal that this is true. From the earliest centuries with St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin Martyr, to the present day, we discover how central this spirituality is.
St. Catherine of Siena
For me, a favorite in this list of Saints and Holy ones is the name of the youngest daughter of Jacobo of Benicasa and his wife Monna Lapa of Puccio dei Piagenti. Catherine, the youngest of twenty-three children, was born in 1347. From the first she was different from the others. At the age of six she saw the saints gathered in praise around the Lord and she wanted to be one of them. As a young girl she made a private vow of virginity, and at 12 she cut off her hair to make clear that she did not want a husband prepared for her, as she had already given herself to the Lord. Over difficult opposition of her family, and even of the Dominican Tertiaries she was joining, she finally was permitted to take the Dominican Habit and become a member of the this group of tertiaries called the "Mantellate.(1) The Mantellate were a group of older women, often widows, who took the habit of the Dominican Order but remained living in their homes and participating in the prayers of the community and the works of mercy.
The First Work: Communion
It was St. Gaspar that said that our principle was the same as Vincent de Paul, we are Carthusians at home and apostles on the road. It is Catherine, centuries before who put flesh to this ideal. After taking the habit, she confined herself to her room to be in total communion with God, going out only to attend the Mass at the local Dominican Church. After some years of this solitude and silence, her family slowly accepting the direction her life had taken, she abruptly returns to society, to serve the needs of the sick and the poor, to serve her family, and to participate in the works of the Mantellate. This sudden turn to work in the world did not end her spirit of silence and contemplation. The beauty of a soul in the state of Grace is what she delighted in, so whether serving the lepers at the edge of society, or bringing a condemned criminal to a delight for the truth(2) she did not care that she was sometimes misunderstood by her fellow citizens. "She is always with the poor and the friendless," they said. "You who were once far off, have been brought near by the Blood of Christ," the scripture tell us. She, who could not read, knew this and lived this with her every breath.
It would take a longer dissertation to explain the intricacies of feuds between Italian City states in the 14th century. Suffice it to say that it was contemplation of the truth that led Catherine to intercede in political and religious disputes, even to the point of her preaching to the Holy Father, bringing him to accept his own responsibilities and obligations. St. Gaspar's own venture in this regard seems to be a strong echo of the life of this 14th century Saint. Her first intervention was with prayer, then with counsel and personal intervention.
The First Sign: The Blood of Christ
"You know that I set before you the mystic body of Holy Church under the image of a wine cellar. In this wine cellar was the blood of my only begotten Son, and from this blood all the sacraments derive their power."(3) As one Precious Blood Companion here in California stated, "who does that sound like 450 years later?"(4) Indeed both St. Gaspar and Blessed Maria de Mattias provide echoes of this belief in the 19th century, as we hear from our own founder: "I am consoled, indeed, by the interior status of your soul with reference to the most holy Eucharist. When one withdraws into this mystical wine cellar, who can number the good effects that will be experienced? There, you are to beseech for me a holy electricity in my poor soul so that, each morning when I celebrate holy Mass, it will be recharged by the most merciful Jesus. Although there are mystical seasons in the soul, nevertheless, in one who loves Jesus Crucified, all turns out for the good. "(5)
The Precious Blood is worked so thoroughly through her writings that it is difficult to organize. Over and over, Catherine speaks of the "power of the blood," and the "blessing of the blood," and the "fruit of the blood." All are linked with God's providence, love and mercy. "My mercy, which you receive in the blood, is incomparably greater than all the sins that have ever been committed."(6) When Catherine speaks of the fire of divine charity from Christ's open side, she sounds just like Maria de Mattias, "or perhaps we should say Maria sounds like her."(7) Some of her writings are addressed to a soul on journey. Others are addressed, with concern and care, to the clergy.
It can be spoken no better than to echo her words. "God is the highest and eternal good, and cannot will other than our good; it is God's will that we be made holy in him, and everything God gives us and permits is toward that end. And if we were to doubt this, I assure you that we could remove all doubt by looking at the Blood of the humble and immaculate Lamb.(8)
In our own day we have elevated St. Catherine with the title, Doctor of the Church. More than this she is a member of our family, not just in the communion of Saints but in our own Precious Blood Family. In this year dedicated to God as Father, I suggest we take her as our inspiration, that this Father is our greatest good and joy, and that the proof of this goodness lies in the Precious Blood of the Savior.
(1)Source for this section of the article is St. Catherine of Siena, Lodovico Ferretti, Ediizioni Cantagalli, Siena
(2)A lovely description of these events is found in a book for children. St. Catherine of Siena, the Story of the Girl Who Saw Saints in the Sky, Mary Fabyan Windeatt, Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, IL
(3)St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue
(4) Maureen Lahiff served as a research assistant on this article
(5)St Gaspar in a letter to Mother Maria Nazzarena De Castris, 18 December 1830, Letter 2109, in Strokes of the Pen, IV
(6)St. Catherine, The Dialogue
(7)Precious Blood Companion Maureen Lahiff
(8)St. Catherine, The Dialogue
April 27, 2018
It is with sadness that we announce that we will be returning the care of St. Edward Church in Newark, Calif. to the Diocese of Oakland, effective July 1, 2018.
The announcement will be made this weekend to the parish and the Companions group that meets there.
As is explained in a letter to parishioners, " Our founder, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, urged us to be attentive to the signs of our time. So, while we’re faithful to our call to serve, we sometimes have to move on, as missionaries do. Our provincial council studied the situation for a long time before coming to this difficult decision."
Missionaries of the Precious Blood have been at St. Edward since 1979, when it was taken on by the Province of the Pacific. Fr. Marv Steffes was its first C.PP.S. pastor. We are grateful to God and to the people of St. Edward for the many blessings that have been shared with our members there over the years.
We ask that you keep the current pastoral staff of Fr. Jayababu Nuthulapati, C.PP.S.; Fr. Frankline Rayappa, C.PP.S.; and Fr. James Franck, C.PP.S. in your prayers as they break the news to the parish and help with the transition, and please continue to pray for these three faithful Missionaries as they prepare for their new assignments. We also ask you to pray for our Companions in Newark, who will help keep the legacy of Precious Blood spirituality alive in the parish.
Yours in the Blood of Christ,
Fr. Roa's first time as Priest in a Solemn Mass
Fr. Keyes first time at St. Eugene as Deacon
Ian Parelius first time as Thurifer
Great article. Click here
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we hear a whisper of a future conflict. Straight from the waters of His baptism in the Jordan, hearing the words, “This is my beloved,” Jesus is immediately thrust into the desert.
We see a hint of the future here. The reign of God will be opposed, as is evidenced by the “handing over” of John. Soon Jesus will begin speaking about His own "handing over," but the disciples never seem to want to listen to that. They are not aware, or they forget, that this conflict is the prelude to the whole contest. All too soon, Jesus himself will targeted for this "handing over."
Jesus had to be prepared for this contest, so the "Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him."
The wilderness is reputed to be the home of darkness and disorder, and wild beasts are symbols of the foreign, the alien and the strange; thus, it is in the very home of evil that evil is overcome! It is not by being taken away from evil that evil is conquered. It is mastered in the midst of the disorder and the darkness, and the very strange bestial forms become symbols of the new age. In the Messianic new age, these evil, bestial forces will have no power. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. [i]
Jesus enters into Galilee with great confidence, not beaten down by the desert experience, but strong and direct in his proclamation of the Gospel. The saints and ascetics want us to rise from our deserts with the same confidence. Temptation will not defeat us if we depend with ever growing confidence on the Redeemer.
We profess to be followers of Christ. We profess to be in Him; to be the elect. Experience has taught us, as it taught the early disciples, that we will be faced with disappointments, disagreements and even defeat. We enter into spring by proclaiming that there will be an end to this winter of defeat, just as there was an end to Jesus' forty days in the desert. The temptations and the tests will pass. We can expect no more than Jesus received. We know that as followers of Christ, at the bare minimum, we will be handed over to the court of public opinion.
But we enter into this struggle nonetheless, because we are in Jesus. And it is time to face the choice again: to whom does our life belong? Will we be victim of every defeat and disappointment or will our lives be a sign of new birth into this Christ who is victorious over every test, even death itself. (“… the covenant that is between God and us and every living creature....; and the waters shall never again become a [sign of a] flood to destroy all flesh."[ii]
We do not like to be in trouble. The desert is a lonely place. We despise difficulties, and we abhor struggle and hardship. There has to be some medicine for this headache. There needs to be found some escape. Cannot there be an easier way than this? We fill our lives with so much activity, noise, entertainment, possessions, anything to avoid the pains and the difficulties of life. Everything is designed to give us relief and to make our lives easier. (How do you spell relief?)
Love is not easy (and easy love never endures). To truly love, one must give of oneself, letting go of demands, judgments, opinions and expectations. We struggle to do this, but this is precisely who Jesus is and what Jesus does.
We do not imagine a God who struggles. The Arians and Nestorians of old could not imagine a God who dies, so of course, they believed such a one could not be God. We find it difficult to be with Jesus when He is in trouble, but He struggles to find a way in to our hearts, and our distance from Him troubles Him.
He faces the struggle directly. He does not shrink away. He shows us the tools He used to stand against the winds and shadows of this world. In the face of evil, He holds up the word of God. This is not just a collection of words or a quoting of scripture in the wind, but an immersion in the truth that there is more to life than bread, and that serving God benefits us with His grace. The Word of God here is the expression of a living, direct, tangible, personal, human, intimate relationship with God.
It is therefore the time to be handed over to the struggle. Jesus had to be prepared for this contest, so why do we think we can or should avoid it? He calls us to the desert to face our struggles directly; emboldened by His confidence, armed with His word and strengthened and nourished by His body and blood. Head into the desert! There may be darkness and little felt consolation but know that the angels are ministering to you as well.
As a priest, I hear lots of confessions. One of the sins that is increasingly confessed is an addiction to pornography and self-abuse. In this sex-obsessed society, many are caught in this as it is so readily available and there is so much opportunity. Once hooked, there seems little possibility that the addiction might be overcome. When tired or lonely, there seems to be an overwhelming urge or trigger that says the person deserves to feel better or to be cared for. There is no felt need to be in struggle here. The draw is so powerful that soon, the individual is acting out, but then feels ashamed and worthless, but since confession is a few days away, there is no preventive to keep him/her from acting out multiple times, digging the hole of shame ever deeper.
Ancient ascetics and monks, when treating this illness, say that the malady needs a physical remedy as well as access to the spiritual armaments. The body must be involved in the repentance. This is where Adoration or the Rosary come in. In Adoration, you place your body in reverence before the Divine Presence and with the Rosary you are praying by hand.
Adoration is the direct opposite of pornography. In pornography, you are dealing with real people who have become objects. As objects, you are using them for your own gratification and it is impossible to do otherwise. You are prevented by the circumstance from having any relationship with them. Adoration is the opposite. The Host appears as an object but it is a real person, and you are not prevented from being in a relationship. It is not immediate gratification but calls for faith from the individual. It is a struggle of faith that enables one to experience from the Eucharist a care and love that is eternal. The struggle of faith is essential.
Life is meant to be a struggle. It is time for you to be handed over to this battle. It is more than a struggle. We are at war. The demons and the angels surround you much like the wild beasts surrounded Jesus in the desert and the angels ministered to him. If we go on in our life as if our principle goals are consolation, blessings, success, prestige, honor, possession, rest, relaxation, and our own sense of right and justice, we will fall asleep to the struggle and continue to acquiesce to each and every temptation.
We are not greater than our Master. He indeed is our Savior, so we must go where He goes, and do what He does, for He taught us how to conquer sin and gave us the means to do so. So, go to Confession regularly, and enter willingly and joyfully into the desert struggle. Life is meant to be a struggle.
[i] Isaiah 11:6
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.