A compendium of articles that seeks to communicate the patrimony of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, its rich tradition and spirituality.
Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Vatican Council document Perfectae caritatis, on the adaptation and renewal of religious life. The second article of that document noted:
The up-to-date renewal of the religious life comprises both a constant return to the sources of the whole of the Christian life and to the primitive inspiration of the institutes, and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time.
. . . the spirit and aims of each founder should be faithfully accepted and retained, as indeed should each institute’s sound traditions, for all of these constitute the patrimony of an institute.
In the ensuing decades we have seen much progress in this “return to the sources” and in a rediscovery of the patrimony of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. In our Congregation we now have a complete edition of the writings of St. Gaspar, many historical studies, as well as a renewed interest in the spirituality of the Precious Blood.
We have also become aware of our uniqueness as a society of apostolic life and have focused more and more on the so-called three pillars of the C.PP.S.—mission, community, and spirituality. We have come to realize that we have a distinct place in the spectrum of religious life, with a special approach to our apostolates, common life, and spirituality. Our members engaged in the important ministry of formation seek to communicate our rich traditions and spirituality to our candidates, to hand on to them the patrimony of the Community. They have taken to heart these words from our Normative Texts:
…communitarian formation demands that the members be vitally and dynamically involved in the Society, absorbing its spirit, making its ideals their own. . . (Art. C31)
Many formators have expressed the desire for a compendium of documents that would serve as a kind of handbook for the study of the heritage of the Congregation, so that the candidates entrusted to their care might more easily absorb the spirit of the Congregation and make it their own. This book, the first of two volumes, is an attempt to provide such a compendium for formators, candidates, and indeed for all members of the C.PP.S.
In the discussions leading up to the creation of this work, the members of the C.PP.S. general curia, all of whom have had experience in the ministry of formation, thought that the course for formators held in 2003 presented a good opportunity to begin gathering resources for the work. Some of the articles contained in these two volumes were presentations at that course. Others are articles or presentations taken from other sources.
In this first volume, the first three articles deal with the general theme of formation. Fr. Barry Fischer, C.PP.S., our current moderator general, discusses the “context and challenges” of formation today, especially in the light of the “changing face” of the Congregation. The second article, a publication of the Union of Superiors General, describes the nature of the society of apostolic life and what distinguishes congregations like ours from vowed religious. Fr. Michele Colagiovanni, C.PP.S., offers an understanding of formation according to the mind of our founder, St. Gaspar.
The rest of the articles can be classified broadly as historical. Don Romano Altobelli, C.PP.S., describes how in the early years of the C.PP.S our Congregation was not a religious congregation in the classic sense but rather was an association of secular priests who lived a common life. The history of the Rule of St. Gaspar, which shaped the Congregation for a hundred years, is outlined in the article by Don Evaldo Biasini, C.PP.S.
Continuing the discussion of the Rule, Don Emanuele Lupi, C.PP.S. recalls for us how the Rule approved in 1841 was interpreted and adapted in the light of the signs of the times in our history. Don Mario Brotini traces the development of the Rule as well as of our Normative Texts from canonical and historical perspectives. The Archconfraternity of the Precious Blood, founded by Gaspar’s mentor Albertini and under whose aegis our Congregation existed for a number of years, is the subject of the presentation of Fr. Francesco Bartoloni, C.PP.S. My article on the history of the general curia is an attempt to show how the general administration of the Congregation developed and raises some questions about directions for the future.
The Madonna of the Precious Blood, historically an important icon for the Congregation, is treated from a historical and artistic perspective by Don Beniamino Conti, C.PP.S. Finally, Fr. Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., offers reflections on a contemporary understanding of the Madonna of the Precious Blood as woman of the new covenant.
The second volume will contain articles by C.PP.S. authors on the “three pillars” of the Congregation: community, mission, and spirituality. That volume is scheduled to be published in 2006.
I wish to offer a word of sincere gratitude to the authors who wrote these articles, for their love of the Congregation and for the work involved in preparing the texts we have here. Several of the articles were translated from the Italian, and I thank our translators who are given credit at the end of each article. Special thanks are due to Pauline Vokits who put this book into its present format and who scrutinized the text with great care and made many very helpful suggestions.
Finally, I thank our moderator general, Fr. Barry Fischer, and my fellow general councilors Francesco Bartoloni, Robert Schreiter, and Luis Filipe Cardoso Fernandes, for their ideas, encouragement, and support in this project.
On behalf of the C.PP.S. general curia, I offer C.PP.S. Heritage to our candidates, to their formators, to our members and lay associates, and to all who wish to delve more deeply into the rich patrimony of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
Jerome Stack, C.PP.S.
28 October 2005
Fortieth anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis