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Precious Blood Devotion and Spirituality from Saint Gaspar to the Present Day

Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S.

The theme of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ has been central to the identity and self-understanding of our Congregation from the very beginning. It was under this title that St. Gaspar del Bufalo created our Institute in 1815, and it was this very title he defended before Pope Leo XII when the Institute came under attack in 1825 from his opponents. The diffusion of devotion to the Precious Blood was seen as central to the work of the Missionaries in their popular mission preaching, and was even enshrined for a time as the principal purpose of the Missionaries in the 1946 Constitutions. One cannot, therefore, think of preparing candidates for our Congregation without considering an immersion in this mystery of Christian faith a necessity.

The purpose of these presentations is directed to those who are responsible for the formation of candidates for the C.PP.S. As such, it does not attempt to give a full account of the various themes which make up our understanding of the blood of Christ. Nor does it give a complete history of the various turns which this reality has taken for us in the course of nearly two centuries. Rather, it is an attempt to step back from the immediate details of our understanding of the blood of Christ to raise questions which are important for the work of formation in communicating the meaning of the blood of Christ.

The first question has to do with the concrete form of our understanding of the meaning of the blood of Christ in the history of redemption and what that means for our response to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. We live, after all, not with a general, abstract or purely theological understanding of the blood of Christ. We live out that meaning in very concrete forms of prayer and action. To that end, we will examine our experience of the meaning of the blood of Christ for us under two separate, but deeply interrelated forms, namely, as devotion and as spirituality. These represent two distinctive approaches to the meaning of the blood of Christ for us, approaches which exist alongside, and interrelated with, one another.

Spirituality and Theology: