We Do Not have to Go It Alone

A New Year’s message from our provincial director, Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.

I am not one of them, but I have heard about people making New Year’s resolutions.

Usually, these are cast in the first person: I will quit smoking. I will learn a new skill.

I am here with good news: if you hope to grow in wisdom, knowledge, or fortitude in the coming year, you do not have to go it alone.

These gifts come to us through and from the Holy Spirit. Life, we hope, is a long journey of enlightenment. We want to think that we are far wiser than we were 10 or 20 or more years ago.

Was that our own doing? Some of it was, perhaps. But the farthest leaps in understanding always come to us when we plug into the power of the One who created the universe.

So if we want to use this year as a time when we see more clearly and understand more deeply, all we have to do is ask for inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit. And then follow the light that the Spirit always provides.

Fr. Joe Nassal: Radiant Dawn, Epiphany

This week the “bomb cyclone” has covered the Bay Area with thick clouds, strong winds, and relentless rains. In the first reading for the feast of Epiphany, the prophet Isaiah describes a similar scene: “Darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples.” But then the prophet proclaims not just a break in those clouds but how the people will receive a great light that will bathe them in hope and peace and forgiveness. The Epiphany story proclaims that this radiant dawn of God’s love is not just for a chosen few but for all. The journey of the Magi is our journey. Epiphany encourages us to pause and consider what is the guiding light of our lives. God continues to shine, though the thick clouds may block the Divine Presence from our sight at times. The Magi show us how to trust not only in the light that guides our journey but also in the power of our dreams.

The Miracle Presented Anew

By Fr. Jeff Kirch, C.PP.S., Provincial Director

Francia, Francesco; The Nativity of Christ; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-nativity-of-christ-83994

On behalf of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, serving the people of God around the world, I would like to wish you and your family a very merry and blessed Christmas.

“All around the world” has been on my mind. Earlier this month, I was in Rome to attend a meeting about religious life. I am still thinking about all those good men and women who minister to the people of God in so many ways.

Today they are celebrating Christmas in many ways, each according to their culture and customs. But each in awe of the newborn who changed the world for all of us. 

The central truth of Christ remains the same across time and cultures. But the way that we embrace the Truth is very personal. The universal and the intimate—it is a paradox that God cares about the whole world and each one of us. God is the creator of the universe and is embodied in a child too young to walk.

Let us all join in this worldwide celebration today with a continual sense of wonder that this miracle is presented to us anew. That we see it through our own eyes, yet share the Good News with all the Earth.

Fr. Joe Nassal: When Joseph Awoke-Advent 4a

Advent has always been one of my favorite seasons because it speaks of hope, expectation, and anticipation as we approach Christmas. But since 2010, when my sister Mary died on the First Sunday of Advent, I also associate this season of hope with grief. This is probably how Joseph, engaged to Mary, must have felt after finding out Mary was pregnant, and he knew he wasn’t the father. But when Joseph awoke from his dream, he did as the angel told him and took Mary into his home. An important question to ask ourselves this last week before Christmas is in the rush and crush of the season, are we awake or asleep? The great challenge as Advent people is how, even in our grief, we are called to stay awake and take “God with us” into our homes, our hearts, our communities, and our world.

New Symbol for the United States Province

by Jean Giesige, Dayton Office

When the Missionaries of the Precious Blood created their United States Province from the former Cincinnati and Kansas City Provinces earlier this year, they knew they would need a new symbol for this new entity.

The process of creating a new symbol began as it ends, with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

Four Missionaries were asked to participate in a discussion of their own call, their experience of the Congregation, its mission, and their understanding of Precious Blood spirituality.

They did a deep dive into the Congregation’s identity. One question they were asked: If the Congregation was a person, what would be its personality traits? Some of their answers were: “Empathy; a person who really listens; nonjudgmental; integrity; looking at current events and ready to respond in love; respect for others; compassionate; spiritual; humble.” 

Their thoughts were distilled and sent to a design firm that came up with the first round of symbol design drafts. The committee of four Missionaries took a long look, rejected a few designs outright, made recommendations on the rest, and set the designers back to work. 

The drafts that made it through that initial process went on to the Provincial Council. Council members studied the design drafts, rejected some, and asked the artists to refine others. The drafts went through several more rounds. The council studied not only the symbol design but the words that went with it. 

Council members were unanimous on the design that they ultimately chose. Elements of the design include the cup, cross, and covenant. The wine that is filling the cup is both flowing in, representing God’s Spirit infused into the Community, and flowing out to the world. It shows movement, because “Missionaries are not statues,” as St. Gaspar said.

“This process has allowed us once again to talk about who we are and how to present that to the world,” said Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., provincial director. “I appreciate the input of the council and of those four Missionaries who talked so vividly about their vocation and the identity of the Congregation that we all love. The new symbol was born out of all of that. I hope we can embrace it.”

Fr. Joe Nassal: Waiting in Joyful Hope-Advent 3a

On this Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, we are invited to Rejoice! And yet when we look at the landscape of our world, there is not much to be joyful about these days. But our readings today show us how to live in joyful hope even when our world seems to be falling apart. The prophet Isaiah envisions a parched land bursting with new life as the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute sing, and the lame dance. Paul gives us an image of joyful hope in the farmer patiently awaiting the harvest. And even John the Baptist, sitting in a prison cell, sends his disciples to hear the new prophet, Jesus, and ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus invites the disciples to look around and see for themselves how the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled. Our challenge today is to practice living with joyful hope. We do this by embracing all that we are, the good and the bad, in us and in our world, and knowing that God still beats and breathes within us. God still dreams in us, still believes in us, and still loves us.