A Thanksgiving message from our
Provincial Director Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.
Each day brings us both a broad and a close-up view of life. We are usually struggling to understand some big issue (the conflict in the Middle East comes to mind) and also dealing with some smaller details specific to our own life, good or bad. Maybe your car is overdue for an oil change, or the postal carrier just delivered a book that you cannot wait to read.
This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for it all, macro and micro, for miracles large and small, for broad horizons as well as the little pinpricks that God puts into our lives to remind us to pay attention to the details.
Most of all, we are grateful for the people the God puts into our lives. He not only knit each of us when we were in the womb, he knits us together out in the world, into a human family so that we can be a comfort and help to each other. Whether in one-on-one relationships, or our lifelong attempt to love the whole human family, human love is born from the love God gives us.
Today we say thank you, God, for the little gifts and the big picture, for the people we have known forever and those we are yet to meet. We cannot understand all the connections that God is making for us, large and small, but if we are wise, we see them all with a grateful heart.
By Fr. Tim Knepper, C.PP.S.
A while back, I went to my local barber for a haircut. He knew I was a Catholic priest, and so religious and theological topics came up all the time. He attended a non-denominational Protestant church, and so this was my small part in ecumenical dialogue.
One day, the subject that came up during the haircut was forgiveness. In the midst of the conversation, we arrived at a disagreement on my choice of shampoo, but more importantly, we disagreed on reconciliation. The way he described reconciliation still sticks with me. He said that God does reconcile the sinner, but we as Christians “bury our wounded.”
There is a type of burying in the Gospel this weekend. One of the workers in the parable, the third one who receives only one talent, buries the talent the master gives him. From the perspective of the master who beats him and takes the buried talent away from him, he was supposed to have made money off of the talent according to the master upon his return home.
There is something in the affirmation from the master to the first two servants, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” that shapes our reading of the third servant as bad for having buried the talent he received. Why did he bury it? One possibility is that he wanted to avoid taking a risk, as the first two servants did.
It is not just money or the dead that get buried in our Christian lives. My barber was right, both about the shampoo and “burying our wounded.” It’s sometimes easier to bury more than just money or the dead to give off a sanitized version of our lives and our faith. It’s easier to try to show a life or faith devoid of any messiness or wounded-ness that is a part of real life. The stories of the saints sometimes have buried facts about them, because the authors thought that if people knew those “buried” facts about their lives, we might not call them saints anymore. God’s grace turns sinners into saints, no matter what we try to bury or keep buried.
Precious Blood spirituality leans into our wounded-ness and our wounds. “Burying our wounded” isn’t in line with who God calls us to be or how God calls us to treat one another or ourselves. To echo today’s reading from Proverbs, the wounds of Christ are precious, beyond the worth of pearls, and the importance of Christ’s wounds brings importance to our wounds too.
Our wounds are important enough to not be buried. Our wounded are important enough to not be buried. Through our wounds, we come closer to Christ, and we are strengthened by our God. Today, God calls us to remember the value of our wounds and our wounded and to unbury anything and anyone we would bury.
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Fr. Tim Knepper, C.PP.S., is the parochial vicar of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Palm Bay, Fla. He is also a spiritual director.
By Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S.
Praying with the scriptures today has missionary images dancing and intermingling in my heart and mind.
The first image St Paul gives us: A missionary is a mother who gives life to another and nurtures that life. The mother nursing her child at her breast, the child’s eyes locked on the face of the mother. The nurturing of child with milk, and more so, with a totally selfless love for the child. A missionary/mother giving of herself with an undeniable and never-failing love. Such sweet tenderness!
The dance partner is one of my favorite Precious Blood images, the Unity or Schoenstatt crucifix. Again, this is image of a mother and child and the self-giving of a life through divine love, but here it is the child who allows his life to be poured out for another in a sacrifice of love. The ever-faithful mother at his side, at one with him in the sacrifice, receiving the Precious Blood in a chalice so that it can be shared. It is offered to me and you, so that we are brought into that same communion of salvific love. Such sweet communion!
As these images dance and intermingle they question my missionary heart and mind.
- How does the love of a mother-God nurture my life and form me to be missionary in all that is to come?
- How in my missionary life am I to be like St Paul, a self-less loving mother who tenderly creates and nurtures the life of others?
- How am I to love in a profound and sacrificial way, like the child on the cross?
- And how am I to be the vessel, the participant who shares in the sacrifice and whose life is an offering of communion?
It is the interplay of those two mother and child images that expresses the challenging Gospel message. Jesus speaks of priests and church leaders. The command to us is to ensure that our missionary preaching is authenticated by our way of life. No cheap talk is permitted. He urges us to embrace a place of humble service and avoid places and positions of privilege and honor. It is as if he says to us:
- Be like me―Drink deeply of the love of God because it will strengthen you and give you life.
- Be like my mother―give lovingly of yourself to nurture the life of the helpless and those in need.
- Be like me―willing to pour out your life as a sacrifice for the life of others.
- And be like my mother―the vessel who carries my Precious Blood into the world.
A former moderator general of the worldwide congregation, Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S., resides in Chicago. He serves as the provincial secretary and treasurer of the United States Province.
Christ speaks to us of the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” What motivates us to do that?
We are in the time of year when seasons change and we witness the dynamic of creation.
Science tells us that planet Earth has been the process of creation for millions of years.
The last glacier covered most of Ohio between 35,000 and 12,000 years ago.
What was this creative process through which God put planet Earth to prepare a place for us where we can enjoy a fall and winter of 2023, and then another spring and summer of 2024? I remember so well as a kid looking up at the night sky over in the Best State of these United States (which is Indiana, in case you didn´t know) when there were no outside lights. I would see a sky just full of stars from east to west, from north to south, making me think of how great God is, making all this possible.
Now some 80 years later, I look up into that same sky, somewhat impaired by the streetlights and security lights of the city, but still I see a few stars, the crescent moon, half and then full and the sun in all its splendor lighting our planet every 24 hours. How can one not love a heavenly Father who has prepared planet Earth for us to enjoy?
That us is not just for us residents of beautiful Ohio, but for all humanity with whom we share planet Earth. Thus says the Lord: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens.” We hear this in our first reading from Exodus 22. We are to make immigrants welcome so they too can enjoy in 2023–24.
Changing life and God: We are pilgrims and, on our way “to serve the living and true God and await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath,” as we hear in our second reading from 1 Thessalonians 1. Again, what a loving Father God we have, who as sent his Son, Jesus to prepare the pilgrim way through this life and into new life.
Fr. James Gaynor, C.PP.S., who served in Peru for many years, is now in ministry at the St. Gaspar Family of Parishes in Dayton.
Solemnity of Saint Gaspar
By the V. Rev. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.
This time each year, Missionaries of the Precious Blood around the world celebrate our founder, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, whose feast day falls on October 21.
The Solemnity of St. Gaspar may be moved to the nearest Sunday—which this year is October 22, when the Church is celebrating World Mission Sunday. It is appropriate for our favorite Missionary, who never left his home country of (what is now) Italy, but had a vision of a thousand tongues proclaiming the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus.
St. Gaspar remained true to his mission of preaching and demonstrating the great love that Jesus showed in the shedding of his Precious Blood, right up until Gaspar’s death on December 28, 1837. Weakened by his constant ministry to people who were struck by a cholera epidemic in Rome, St. Gaspar was called “a victim of charity.”
May we all remain true to the mission that God places in our hearts. It is that mission that gives our lives meaning. May we live so that others are drawn to the great mission of the followers of Christ, to love one another as Jesus loves us, and to convince all people that they are worthy of such love. St. Gaspar del Bufalo, pray for us!
The V. Rev. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., is the provincial director of the United States Province. Previously, he served as the secretary general of the worldwide Congregation and was also in ministry at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., of which he is an alumnus.