January 5, 2018
for the Birthday of St. Gaspar
“God doesn’t want improved creatures but a new creation.”
Dear Members, Companion, Volunteers, and Friends,
Peace be with you as we celebrate the birthday of our founder, Saint Gaspar, and the Feast of the Epiphany! I pray you savor sacred memories of spending time with loved ones during this Christmas season and have experienced warmth amid the brutally cold weather affecting so many in our country.
In the gospel on January 4, Jesus asks a pertinent question as we begin a new year. When he notices two disciples of John the Baptist following him, he turns and asks, “What are you looking for?” As the year unfolds before us, what are we looking for?
Are we looking to slow down or try to get more accomplished in our already busy lives? Are we looking to lose weight, exercise more, meditate or pray more, read more and watch less TV, spend less money but more time with family and friends? Are we looking to forgive those with whom we are estranged or seeking forgiveness from those we have hurt? Are we looking to reconcile, renew, refresh, rebound from whatever that was that happened to our world in 2017?
Are we looking to create something new? Ah, yes, there it is! Are we looking to become a new creation in the blood of Christ?
As you know, at our gathering last September, the members and companions of the Cincinnati and Kansas City Provinces agreed to become a New Creation in the United States. The Provincial Councils have appointed a New Creation Commission that will meet for the first time February 19-20, 2018. Commission members have been communicating through email, exchanging ideas, insights, and resources in preparation for the meeting. One of the members shared Richard Rohr’s meditation for Christmas Day in which he quotes Neale Donald Walsch:
Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that.
You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring that you want something new.
The old will defy the new; the old will deny the new; the old will decry the new.
There is only way to bring in the new.
You must make room for it.
One way of making room for the new is to honestly answer the question Jesus asks the two disciples following him: “What are you looking for?” Are we looking to make room for the new creation being born in us? Or, are will looking to cling to old ways, tattered resentments, and nurse old wounds? What are we looking for?
In his meditation on Christmas, Rohr drew inspiration from his founder, St. Francis of Assisi, who, Rohr writes, “was a master of making room for the new and letting go of that which was tired or empty.” Our founder, St. Gaspar, was certainly open to making room for the birth of a new community as he gathered with kindred spirits and drew upon the energy and wisdom of mentors and models to found the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
As we begin this process of becoming a new creation as a Society of Apostolic Life in the United States, we must make room in our own personal lives to become a new creation. Think about those two disciples of John who followed after Jesus. There is no indication they were unhappy with John as their teacher. But John the Baptist was always on the look out and when he sees Jesus and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” something stirs in the two disciples who immediately follow after Jesus.
Initially, they are not sure how to respond to the question Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?” So, they go to the default many of us use when meeting someone for the first time: “Where are you from?” Or, more precisely, “Where are you staying?” Jesus uses the line vocation directors have used ever since: “Come and see.” These two disciples make room in their calendars and more importantly in their hearts to spend the day in the place where Jesus was staying. After spending the day with Jesus, they come to the conclusion there’s no going back to their old way, to their former teacher. They have found what they were looking for.
What are we looking for? May we make some room in our lives this year for the new to be born in us because as the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, reflects, “The future enters into us, in order to transform us, long before it happens.” For the future to enter, we must make room.
So, let’s begin by making room for one another and for each one we meet along the way who will challenge us to stretch our minds, our hearts, and our souls.
What are we looking for? To paraphrase Dom Helder Camara, “May we look for Christ in each and every person.” Have a healthy, happy, and holy year of becoming new!
With peace in the blood of Christ,
Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.
Mark Your Calendars: Here are a few dates to keep in mind and in our prayer
January 15-17, 2018
Cincinnati Provincial Council Meeting
January 20-21, 2018
Florida Companions Retreat
January 23-24, 2018
KC Province Leadership Team Meeting
February 3-4, 2018
California Companions Retreat
February 14, 2018
February 19-20, 2018
New Creation Commission Meeting
March 4-7, 2018
Nomination Retreat for Cincinnati Province
March 19-21, 2018
Cincinnati-Kansas City Provincial Councils Meet
New Creation Commission Meeting
April 1, 2018
April 4-16, 2018
Vietnam Mission Visitation
April 7, 2018
Definitive Incorporation of Four New CPPS Members
May 21-25, 2018
Cincinnati Provincial Assembly
June 11-14, 2018
41st Kansas City Provincial Assembly