Volume II examines St. Gaspar’s preaching on the devotion to the Precious Blood. Gaspar was renowned as one of the great preachers of his day and the Congregation he founded in 1815 had as a special aim the preaching of missions and retreats for the renewal of the Church. Conti introduces the reader to the sources for understanding the preaching of St. Gaspar on the Blood of Christ and how he saw preaching on this mystery as the appropriate response to the need for re-evangelizing the Church of his time.
In the first volume of this work we learned of the origins of the devotion to the Blood of Christ in St. Gaspar and how this great mystery shaped his life and ministry. Gaspar's devotion bore fruit in the founding of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1815.
This volume examines St. Gaspar’s preaching on the devotion to the Precious Blood. Gaspar was renowned as one of the great preachers of his day and the Congregation he founded in 1815 had as a special aim the preaching of missions and retreats for the renewal of the Church. Ironically, however, no texts of Gaspar’s sermons on the Precious Blood have come down to us.
Nevertheless it is possible, as Fr. Beniamino Conti amply demonstrates in this volume, the second part of his San Gaspare Del Bufalo apostolo del Sangue di Cristo, to know something of the nature and goals of Gaspar’s preaching. He introduces the reader to the sources for understanding the preaching of St. Gaspar on the Blood of Christ and how he saw preaching on this mystery as the appropriate response to the need for reevangelizing the Church of his time.
Conti traces three main themes in Gaspar’s preaching: making reparation to Christ, propitiation of the Eternal Father, and the sanctification of souls. Gaspar promoted these themes not only in his preaching but also by means of various devotions, among which were the Seven Offerings, the Chaplet of the Precious Blood, and the veneration of the Madonna of the Precious Blood, all of which continue to be part of the devotional practices of the Congregation and of the Church today. He concludes the book by reviewing how St. Gaspar asserted the legitimacy and excellence of the devotion which, given the opposition it generated, certainly needed his able defense.
The extensive and valuable appendix contains eight of the most important extant works of St. Gaspar on the Blood of Christ as well as excerpts of the memoranda or “memorials” written in defense of the Congregation and its title, written to three successive popes.
As I noted in the translator’s introduction to volume I, Fr. Conti has had a lifelong dedication to research on the life of St. Gaspar. This book was originally published as a single volume, first in 1970 and then reprinted in 1978 and 2002. It is an especially valuable work since it introduces us to so many of the original sources, providing us with better insight into the thought and heart of the great Apostle of the Blood of Christ.
A few technical remarks are in order. Translations of the letters of Gaspar generally follow those of the late Fr. Raymond Cera, C.PP.S. These translations are available in a loose-leaf photocopied version as well as in a digital edition, for which we can thank the late Fr.
Milton Ballor, C.PP.S., who scanned hundreds of pages for the project. Fr. John Colacino, C.PP.S., provided his English translation of In omnibus divites facti estis in illo ‘In all things you have been made rich in him.’ Gaspar generally did not include chapter and verse references when quoting the Bible and used the Latin Vulgate for such quotations. I have supplied these references, enclosing them within brackets in the text. For the English translations of the biblical texts I have usually relied on the Douay-Rheims version, an English translation of the Vulgate.
English translations of Italian or Latin words or phrases in the text are provided within single quotation marks. I have not provided English translations of the titles of works available only in Italian or Latin cited in the endnotes, since I believe that anyone wishing to pursue such references would have some knowledge of the language in question. I have tried to provide references to English translations of Italian and Latin works where these are available.
In matters of capitalization and punctuation in the documents quoted I have adhered to the original text, even if this does not conform to current English practice. With regard to Gaspar’s family name, for example, modern Italian generally renders it as “Del Bufalo” even if Gaspar himself generally used “del.” In our English language publications we commonly use the latter form, “del Bufalo.”
No project like this is the work of an individual, and I would like to acknowledge the support and assistance of several people who have been involved. Fr. Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., encouraged me to undertake this project while he was editor of C.PP.S. Resources. A special word of thanks goes to Pauline Vokits, who formatted and carefully proofread both volumes and who offered many worthwhile corrections and suggestions. Jean Giesige, director of communications for the Cincinnati Province of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and a C.PP.S. Companion, likewise read the text and contributed helpful comments. Mark Yates, C.PP.S., also provided valuable proofreading services for this volume. Finally, thanks to Fr. Yuri Kuzara, C.PP.S., for permission to use the image of St. Gaspar that appears on the cover.
Translating this work has been a gratifying project, drawing me closer to the mind and heart of our founder, St. Gaspar, and helping me to understand the burning devotion to the Blood of Christ that impelled him to give his life in its service. I hope that many may come to know better the great Apostle of the Precious Blood.
Jerome Stack, C.PP.S.
May 24, 2009
Memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians
Secondary Patroness of the Congregation