Eleven years after I was ordained, I was asked, rather encouraged, to become the director of advanced formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in the Cincinnati and Kansas City Provinces of the community. Until then I had not spent much time reading about or reflecting on the spirituality of the Precious Blood. However, I knew that part of my responsibility as a formation director was to hand down the spirituality to those who were seeking membership in the congregation. So, over the next few years, I read all of the books published in the Resource Series of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood that related to our spirituality. For me, the most important of those books was In Water and In Blood by Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S. The writings of Barry Fischer, C.PP.S. were also central to my coming to understand this spirituality.

After being ordained sixteen years, I was asked to become the director of vocation ministry for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. I would live in the house of initial formation and work out of the provincial house five or six miles away.  Shortly after I moved in, several new candidates in formation with the congregation arrived. One evening at dinner, one of them asked Mark Hoying, C.PP.S. and myself what was the most important thing about Precious Blood spirituality when we were preparing for membership in the congregation and ordination to the priesthood. We looked at each other and began to laugh. You see, when we were in formation, no one ever spoke about Precious Blood spirituality. There were devotions to the Precious Blood which we had become familiar with, prayers such as the Seven Offerings and the Prayer for the Congregation. We celebrated the feast days of St. Gaspar our founder and St. Francis Xavier our Patron. But we simply never talked about Precious Blood spirituality. As far as we knew those three words had never been connected until In Water and in Blood was published, which happened just after I was ordained.

In participating in several provincial assemblies and community retreats where either Bob Schreiter, C.PP.S. or Barry Fischer, C.PP.S. spoke, the spirituality became more and more central to the lives of the members of the congregation. They also shared their reflections in various articles published both in the United States and in the international publications of both the congregations of Precious Blood men and women. Out of their writing and their presentations, the images that became central to our understanding of Precious Blood spirituality today emerged.

First there were only three images – covenant, cross and cup. As Bob Schreiter, C.PP.S. was working and writing in the area of reconciliation, the fourth image immerged. Then in a passing comment in an article he wrote, he thought that we might need to add a fifth image – the image of the lamb once slain who lives.

The first advisory board of Precious Blood Parish Missions took the first four images as their inspiration in developing the first mission they designed – Proclaiming Abundant Love. That mission was meant to be an introduction to a contemporary Precious Blood Spirituality for the people of God in the parishes where Missionaries and Sisters of the Precious Blood, as well as Adorers of the Blood of Christ serve. However, over the past twenty years, most of the parishes where the Proclaiming Abundant Love mission has been celebrated were not those parishes, but parishes that were simply looking for a message that would engage the spiritual imagination of their people.

Since preaching on the spirituality of the Precious Blood has been an important part of my ministry for many years, a number of people have asked me to write about it. At first, I struggled with what I would say. I wrote several different outlines, but when the outline that eventually became this book came to me, I was certain that this was the way for me to go.

A contemporary spirituality of the Precious Blood is rooted in the scriptures. So I decided to look for scripture passages that spoke about the five images that are part of Precious Blood spirituality. First, I looked at those passages used in the Proclaiming Abundant Love mission. Then I did an electronic search of the Bible looking for those images throughout the scriptures.

Some of the reflections are just that reflections on the passage, other are stories from my life and from the lives of others whom I have known that arise out of reflection on both Precious Blood spirituality and our lives as men and women rooted in the Blood of Christ.

Spirituality is not meant to be some abstract theological insight. It is meant to be a way of living rooted in some aspect of our encounter with God. It is my hope that the scripture reflections that follow will help you see where God is at work in your life and enable you to grow closer to the One who shed is Precious Blood for us.