by Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S., Publications Editor
“Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name? / Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same? /
Will you risk the hostile stare, should your life attract or scare? / Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?”
The Summons by John Bell (© 1987 The Iona Community, GIA Publications, Inc. agent)
When this song came out, I had recently gone to St. Joseph, Missouri to be the music director at St. Francis Xavier Parish. I had heard of Precious Blood in passing, but didn’t know much about it. It wasn’t a perfect parish, or a perfect local Precious Blood community, and I was far short of being a perfect Christian or a perfect musician. As we journeyed together, I was attracted to Precious Blood spirituality, first in the initial St. Joseph Companion group, and then afterward in formation. Formation had its challenges as well, both as I worked to integrate the community into my life and as I embraced the challenge of different ministries. In some ways I changed, but it’s probably better to say community life and the people I struggled with (literally, at times) led me to a deeper understanding of who I am as a Missionary of the Precious Blood living the Bond of Charity.
I remember two of our now departed members, who were very different in many ways, yet had a friendly relationship that amazed me. I organized a pizza party for one and his friends, and he brought the other, with whom he seemed to have little in common. Community is more than taking sides, it’s about finding and embracing our common Mission and letting Charity deal with everything else. It is about embracing the struggle for Faith and the struggle to be together, and drawing strength through the power of Christ’s Blood from it.
November 2-8 is National Vocation Awareness Week. Finding and developing Vocation isn’t about whom we can recruit and how well our Vocations Team is doing their job. It’s about embracing the struggle together to be a Precious Blood Community—finding our mission, finding our faith, finding our song and prayer, finding Christ in those we serve. It is about our health as a Christian community—for healthy communities attract healthy people—and our involvements with the young, who will come to those they feel a deep connection with. We must be more than like-minded people who enjoy each other’s company. Our life together is our best choice in serving Christ, and it can be the best choice for others. Vocation is about struggling together to be a nurturing community proclaiming the Gospel today, as well as helping others get in touch with their inner Precious Blood Missionary.