Power of the Blood, A Great Price
by Sr Maryann Bremke
(This was given as a reflection for the Sisters of the Precious Blood during Mass on their Feast Day, July 1st, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood).
Living through these pandemic days has a tendency to change some of our standard behaviors. Among more important habits of daily life, we may have found ourselves seeking comfort food. How many of us were ushered out of childhood maladies with the soothing panacea of chicken noodle soup? Perhaps these days call for Chicken Soup for the Soul—stories from a book I used with high school students who often needed an inspiring message that was short, poignant and deeply motivating. Listen to one of them.
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her younger brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.”
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to Lisa’s cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”
Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.
The life-giving power of the blood comes at great price!
Gathered here, (in the courtyard, and on zoom) we celebrate Eucharist on this Feast of the Precious Blood—Eucharist the life-giving bread, the comfort food of all the redeemed. What a costly, precious price Jesus paid with his willingness to give us so great a transfusion! From cradle to these challenging days we have experienced the life-giving power of that Precious Blood! Our cheeks have been re-colored from its restorative, healing power. Our very lives have been steeped in its soothing balm. Our world has been a Precious Blood world for more years than we are ready to admit. It is our immersion into this Precious Blood world that has defined our spiritual DNA. It is the spark—that center of our being that enables us to hear the cry of the blood. It is the signature identification of our lives through our life-long efforts in ministry. Today it awakens us to the demands of our Coronavirus world coupled with our awakening to the injustices of systemic racism. Precious Blood authorizes our documented presence where the life-giving power of the blood calls and motivates our willingness to pay the great price.
We have experienced the power of the Precious Blood. It is redeeming power; it is life-giving power; it is healing power; it is cleansing power; it is reconciling power; it is transforming power; it is a forgiving power; it is a sanctifying power; it is a protecting power and above all it is intimate, creative, loving power. This Precious Blood is the dynamic gene of our DNA that dares us to proclaim our mission in every age. Mother Brunner and her contemporaries proclaimed it through hard domestic work, day and night prayer, teaching orphans and caring for seminarians. CPPS transplanted into the new world proclaimed it through their coping with rough living conditions, hardships of travel, prayer through the night and day, service to and teaching German immigrants. Twentieth century CPPS members proclaimed it through the traditional roles of religious—prayer adjusted to the active ministry, domestic work in seminaries and convents, teaching in schools throughout the U.S., in Chile and Guatemala, nursing in areas of community need. Our lived legacy generated at great personal sacrifice testifies to the life-giving power of the Precious Blood.
The question remains: How do we harness this dynamic power of the Precious Blood to heal our fractured world today? The roughing-it of origin and frontier ministries is by-gone. We’ve stepped out of the traditional grooves of 20th century religious women. Assembly 2019 frames our approach to the challenges of our time. Our sick world needs a blood transfusion. Our blood has developed the antibodies needed to combat its illness. Are we willing to give it? We will know our willingness in contemplation at the foot of the cross where we hear the whispered words of the Crucified. In quiet prayer encounter, immersed in the power of the Precious Blood, we absorb its reconciling power:
confronting racial injustices rampant in our bruised world and sacrificing in whatever way we can to utter the overdue cry: no more
extending our charism through living legacies in education especially to the poor
doubling our efforts to respect God’s creation enriching it for future generations
Today, let’s each one of us retire to our quiet space and reflect on how we relate to the awesome power of the Precious Blood. Let us open our hearts to the ways that we can personally participate in a needed, lifesaving transfusion for our death-bent world. Make no mistake, it will be costly. To do less is not worthy of women who call themselves Sisters of the Precious Blood.