See I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves (Lk. 10:3). ⧾
The commission of the seventy disciples to go and to prepare for Our Lord’s own coming is a commission that continues through the ages. We too are likewise sent by virtue of our Confirmation; and at the end of every Mass this commission is renewed: Go forth in peace. We are sent out to work for the salvation of the world, the salvation of souls. Our long and varied history chronicles successes and failures in this regard. Our long history has also witnessed to what is referred to as Christendom: the political, economic, moral, social [and] legal life of a nation as inspired by the gospel ethic (Archbishop Fulton Sheen, 1974). Our own nation, at least in its origin, was once thus governed. Some fifty years ago, Archbishop Sheen observed: I believe that we are now at the end of Christendom, but not of Christianity….And I believe the sooner we face up to this fact, the sooner we will be able to solve many of our problems….We live in a world that challenges us. And many fall away….These are the times in which we live. They are therefore wonderful days; marvelous; we should thank God that we live in times like this. These last sentiments are those of a saint. Nevertheless, even for those of us who may be more faint of heart, these words are nonetheless true. We must never waver from a spirit of thankfulness and of hope.
In the two generations since this assessment was made, the changes that we have experienced especially in regard to the moral, social and legal life of our nation can only be described as exponentially tragic; but this world is our battleground and into we are sent like lambs into the midst of wolves. Yet as the Prophet Isaiah assures us, the hand of the Lord is with his servants (66:14). Though the forces of the world are now at war with nature itself, for the very nature and purpose of the human person is now also the battleground, we must not lose heart and we must keep in mind the reassuring words of Our Lord: See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you (Lk. 10:19).
St Paul the Apostle rightly observed that our struggle is against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness, in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). Against these what is needed is the whole armor of God: truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the equipment of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and prayer and supplication (Cf. Eph. 6:13-20). These are the arms that were used against the cruelty of pagan Rome, the violent superstition of Barbarians, the dehumanizing limits of rationalism, and the cruel tyranny of Fascism and Communism. Now we must use these same arms against the dictatorship of relativism, the indifference of a materialistic culture of death, against the increasingly heartless overreach of the government and sadly, the silence of our shepherds in the face of the moral violence inflicted upon the flock by scandal and heresy. Ours is a world where the charity of the Church has been replaced by the brutality of the state; and our apostasy generally speaking, has facilitated this transition. Our reckless spirit of rebellion has rendered most people both unbelieving and unthinking, a toxic mix. The traditional Catholic faith alone and nothing else can restore a sense of piety, reverence and humility to a world that wages war on the very idea of the sacred; refusing in its pride to acknowledge that there might exist any belief, institution, or code of conduct not subject to human revision.
Nevertheless, in the struggle that is ours in our time and in our day, it is imperative that we rediscover a sense of the sacred, for this alone will bring about the restoration of society and the renewal of the Church. The auto-demolition of the Church of which Pope Paul VI spoke so poignantly appears to proceed at breakneck speed; but we are not without resources. I share with you as I did yesterday some thoughts from a profound spiritual text that has its origin in our own nation. In the Sitio – I thirst, a written expression of the spirituality that she lived and which continues in the Church through the Institute of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood – the first contemplative community founded in our country, Venerable Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood wrote these words which may serve us in this confused and confusing time: God wishes reparation to be made for the profanation of His Blood. He wants all people to be saved. He invites us, He urges us, He commands us to labour at the work of reparation …Urged on by love, we have to steal away from the cold secular atmosphere. Though written for her spiritual daughters and for a very specific context, her counsel is worth heeding. This is not an escape from reality but a necessary plan of action if we wish to overcome these evil times and the evil men who now govern us.
I encourage you to take home a copy of this spiritual text. Meditate upon it during this month dedicated to Our Lord’s Most Precious Blood and seek to establish in your homes which for those of you with children must be a school for the Lord’s service, a cloister of sorts where you can shield yourselves and your loved ones from the evil that has now been institutionalized. In this all of us can help one another by establishing deep bonds of communion in faith and in charity.
The Sacrament of Charity that binds us together and that we devoutly celebrate and receive each Sunday is our point of departure and our point of return; our source and summit. In practical terms, it means that we must seek first the Kingdom of God. Our Lord Himself exhorts us: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Mt. 6:33). The disciples were sent out by Our Lord with a definite purpose; and upon their return, with joy they gave an account of their undertaking: ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ Our life is not without purpose; and perhaps more than anything else, what is being asked of us as disciples of Christ is that we witness to life’s sacredness, goodness and purposefulness – seemingly against all odds!
We may very well share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God (2 Tim. 1:8); perhaps more than we already do, but here in our parish – the family of families, and in the domestic church of our own families we continue to share the truth and goodness of the Gospel, confident in the conviction that history is continuously guided by Divine Providence. If history has taught anything, it has taught us that when the faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people begin to die. Yes, nations are mortal but God never dies and in the Church of God, the remnant never wanes. So we rejoice in hope, [we are] patient in tribulation [and] constant in prayer (Rom. 12:12). ⧾
T H E S I T I O
A LEGACY LEFT TO HER DAUGHTERS
By MOTHER CATHERINE AURELIA OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD FOUNDRESS
A written expression of the spirituality which she lived, and which continues in the Church through the founding of the Institute of the SISTERS ADORERS OF THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
SITIO – I THIRST The mysterious Sitio which the Divine Crucified One made resound from the height of His cross has found an echo in my poor heart. I have meditated on it, I have relished it, I have understood it, and I, in turn, have cried out in burning ecstasy: “I thirst.” In the ardent zeal urging me on, I would like to be a magnet to attract all hearts in order to give them all to Jesus Christ. But since, of myself I am nothing, I turn to Him who is everything, and in the name of His Blood, of His Love, I implore Him that He Himself bring all hearts under His gentle sway to make of them so many springs of living water where He may quench His burning thirst. I ask this grace of Him especially for the timid virgins who, like myself, have heard and understood the last cry of the immolated Lamb: “I thirst.” I cannot find words to express the extent of the burning desire which gushed from the heart of my Jesus into mine. Jesus is thirsting for love. I would like hearts to return to Him love for love, to make up to Him for the neglect, indifference and impiety of sinners; hearts that will unite to pray, make reparation and suffer in union with the Holy Victim who really knew how to love, obey and suffer for the happiness and salvation of souls. But those He has loved even to the folly of the Cross, on whom He lavished His gifts, whom He has treated as His friends, His sisters and brothers, leave Him after insulting Him and heaping abuse upon Him. In vain O Jesus, do You cast upon them, to win them, a long and loving gaze. The follies of the world absorb them. They see nothing, they hear nothing. Others must devote themselves in their place. Women chosen for suffering, come; your hearts are little, but they are full of the love which they have drawn from the Saviour’s wounds. Inebriate them anew with Your Blood, O Jesus; then, come, drink from their hearts, quench there the insatiable thirst for souls enkindled in You by the fire of love. God wishes reparation to be made for the profanations of His Blood; He wants all people to be saved. He invites us, He urges us, He commands us to labour at the work of reparation; He awaits our feeble cooperation. Mistrustful of ourselves, but trusting Him who can do all, we commit ourselves with zeal to this divine vocation. Urged on by love, we have to steal away from the cold secular atmosphere; we need solitude and seclusion, peace and silence; we need our enclosure where freed from worldly cares and solicitude we can work with all our strength for the glory of Him who worked so much for our salvation. We need the divine overshadowing of the sanctuary where we can at all times cast upon the Bosom of God our desires, our sighs, our humble prayer, imbued with sacrifice. Like Jesus, through Jesus, in Jesus, we must pray for those who do not pray, for those in anguish, for those who blaspheme, for those who risk their eternity for perishable interests, for those who are ungrateful, who ignore and forget the DIVINE CRUCIFIED ONE and who crucify Him anew each day. The Sisters of the Precious Blood will pray for the sanctification of all races of people; their prayers will draw refreshing assistance on Christ’s apostles evangelizing their sisters and brothers who still sit in the shadow of death; they will obtain the grace of repentance for sinners. Page 3 Women committed to reparation will pray also for hearts torn by suffering and haunted by despair; they will pray for the just to be more just, the virgin more virginal, the priest more holy, the ardour of his zeal more living and that he be a more worthy minister of the Precious Blood. Following the example of their seraphic and gentle protectress, St. Catherine of Siena, they will work diligently in the buffeted barque of the Church, will pour the balm of prayer on her deep wounds, and burn to give their blood, their life, the very marrow of their bones to defend her holy cause. In short, by their mediation and willing penance they will draw down graces for which the earth is athirst; and if they are truly contemplative, God will give divine wings to their souls to fly like angels, wherever the interests of the Beloved call them. Humble virgins, who have learned from the very mouth of the Saviour the excellence of the part you have chosen in contemplative life, and who thirst for pure love, for sacrifice, and for suffering, do not resist the breath of God urging you towards solitude; let yourselves be led by the sacred hand that chose you among thousands to make of you living victims whom He wishes to immolate for His Father’s glory; come with joy to take shelter under the blessed tent His love has prepared for you; come and taste the divine hope of virtue; come and serve a holy apprenticeship for the life of Heaven; come and feel how intense are joys of innocence and faith, tears of repentance, fervent raptures of the Eucharistic Table; come and drink of the chalice the Lord offers you; it is full of so delicious a draught that once you have touched it to your lips you will want to drain the cup. Page 4 Come; here you will find the way that leads to true sorrow of soul, to the holy anguish of zeal which is no longer a penance but a grace. Come, come to rest on the sacred tree of the Cross; come, under its crimsoned boughs, take your delights and feed on its fruit; come and hide from the pursuit of the enemy of salvation; come and see from experience how sweet and light is the Lord’s yoke. To sanctify the works of their hidden solitude born of longing, prayer and sacrifice, and to fulfill worthily the aims of their sublime vocation, the Religious Adorers of the Precious Blood, daughters of Mary Immaculate, will never forget that they consecrated themselves to God, in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, as women of reparation, and that they must always be seen on the summit of the holy mountain holding in their hands the chalice of salvation and uniting their voices to that of the Precious Blood, in order to beg grace and pardon for themselves and all people. At the sight of this striking sign of the inexpressible love of His Word made flesh, the heart of our Father who is in Heaven will be touched and the waves of His mercy will flow over every point of the globe. Let me repeat: in order to walk faithfully in the footsteps of the Divine Liberator and make perpetual holocausts of ourselves, we must be untiring in spirit, aspiring to every act of self-giving and to every sacrifice. We have to be courageous souls who do not hesitate to shed our heart’s blood in the sweat poured out in the austere practice of work and penance. Here are needed souls on fire with that love which made Jesus burn with the desire to be baptized in a baptism of blood. Page 5 Love! Oh, Love! That is the divine seed which produced the fruit of the Cross. It is love that burdened Jesus with the wood of sacrifice and gave Him the strength to fly to the holy mountain. Yes, it is love that urged Him to immolate Himself for us. It is love rather than whips and cruel thorns that drew the Blood from His veins! It is love that made Him hide Himself under the lowly appearance of bread in order to give Himself wholly to us. It is love that made of Him the King of martyrs. The life of Christ was one perpetual act of love. In His Mother’s womb, in the crib at Bethlehem, at Nazareth, on the bloody mountain, Jesus offered to His Father sacrifices of love. Now, on the altar, the new Calvary to which love enchains Him, He immolates Himself anew each day; He lances darts of fire on just souls to kindle in them the pure flame that consumes His heart, and on sinners to touch them, convert them, and draw them to the repentance of love. Yes, our Jesus is all love; He is the perfect model of love. Enraptured by the charms of this Spouse of love, our souls burn with desire to resemble Him and walk in His footsteps; they choose the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense for their dwelling in exile. The road is short, the way is all outlined. Let us tread it, my friends, my sisters, in the train of the Spouse of Blood become a victim for us, and desiring to continue in us, with us, and for us this life of immolation and praise to the glory of His Father and for the greater good of souls. Our Love was crucified; let us be crucified with Him. He gave us all His Blood; let us give Him all our love; let us bathe His sacred wounds with tears of love. Each day, on the altar of the new Calvary, let us offer Him a thousand victims of love; by our songs of love let us atone for the outrages He there receives. Page 6 Solitary Lover, I thirst to be with You, a victim in my turn; I thirst to share Your sorrows, to weep over the outrages and forgetfulness of sinners. God is love. He will forget the depth of our misery; He will bind us to His altar with unbreakable bonds. He will unite our will to His adorable will, merge our feelings with His own; He will transform in us everything opposed to the holiness of our state and with the burning seraphim permit us to offer perpetual homage of adoration to the chalice of His Blood. He will let us share His life of poverty, self-sacrifice, opprobrium and loneliness. In the humble sanctuary of our cloister, the gentle zeal of sacrifice must reign day and night. Spouses of the God of Calvary must live humbly, unknown and in suffering; for nothing attracts His love more delightfully than the fragrant virtues His spouses hide in their hearts; and the more they wish to hide from the eyes of the world, the closer they are to the gentle Solitary One loving and suffering for them. The heart of the Religious of the Precious Blood, daughter of Mary Immaculate, should be, also, like that of her most holy Mother, a living chalice pure and white where Jesus’ Blood flows uninterruptedly. It should be the enclosed garden of the Spouse, spreading everywhere the good odour of Jesus Christ. It should be like the lily of the valley that perfumes the air as it modestly rises towards Heaven. It needs a hedge of thorns not to be blighted by coming in contact with strange hands. This hedge is formed of prudence, humility and penance. May these lines, traced in the Blood of Jesus by a most unworthy hand, redound to the glory of God. May the Mother of Fair Love, of Crucified Love, bless them for my daughters! May she also make my burning prayer to her for their happiness come true! May she unceasingly adorn their souls with the pure, crimson Blood of the Beloved which she herself gave Him and make of them spotless victims worthy of being offered on the mystic altar. Finally may she bear us herself, upon her maternal wings, to our true home, Heaven, there to sing with our friends: Teresa, Agnes, Catherine, etc., etc., the virgins’ canticle at the banquet of the Lamb! Sister Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood