By Sister Charmaine Grilliot
As members of a congregation devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus, we live Precious Blood spirituality as core and fundamental to who we are. My comments in this article, however, will be personal, as each of us lives out this spirituality in our own way. In concluding, I will draw some more universal applications about the nature of Precious Blood spirituality.
In the third grade, I knew that I wanted to be a Sister of the Precious Blood, and I wanted to be a teacher. I was attending St. Mary School in Dayton, Ohio, and Sisters of the Precious Blood taught me. Their lives of prayer and service inspired me and motivated me.
As students, we attended daily Mass and received Communion, all of which was recorded on a chart for display in the classroom.
This Eucharistic orientation influenced my life as I also walked the mile or so to church on Saturdays so I could attend Mass and receive Communion.
My parents reinforced my faith practices; occasionally on Saturday, Dad would drive to church so we could worship together. There was the added treat of stopping at the local bakery to purchase sweets for breakfast. Mom and Dad both were faithful to the practice of their Catholic religion; they participated actively in the parish life. I remember particularly their devotion to the Eucharist, especially on Holy Thursday when they went to church for night adoration, giving up their sleep while continuing their commitments to family and work.
After completing the eighth grade, I entered Precious Blood High School operated by the Sisters of the Precious Blood. I finished high school, then entered the postulancy, followed by the novitiate, and finally made my profession of vows. During this time I had a routine of prayers and devotions and spiritual exercises that imbued me with an understanding about the Blood of Christ. There were the Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood, the Chaplet of the Precious Blood, the Stations of the Cross, the rosary, hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and various other prayers. These were coupled with daily attendance at Mass and reception of Communion.
At times the regimen seemed a bit oppressive, but I know today that these experiences laid the foundation for my understanding of Jesus and the ultimate sacrifice he made by shedding his Precious Blood for me. I came to develop more deeply a personal relationship with Jesus.
Reflection on certain passages from Scripture further increased my understanding of Jesus’ unconditional love for me. Two of these texts remain a vital part of my life:
“I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in his sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death.” — Philippians 3:10
“I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life lived in the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” — Galatians 2:19-20
All of this formation did not keep me shuttered within the hallowed walls of the convent. Rather it impelled me into a life of service for others. For over 60 years now, I have ministered in teaching, education, administration, and, more recently, spiritual direction, adult formation, and retreat ministry. This service is in imitation of Jesus who, while he spent time on the mountain and in the desert praying, never ceased to be among the people — feeding, healing, teaching, forgiving, and reconciling all those who presented themselves to him. Precious Blood spirituality mandates this unique combination of being contemplative in prayer and a good steward of the gifts of mind and body and spirit that God has given to each of us.
In summary, then, let me highlight what I believe have been and continue to be the elements of Precious Blood spirituality in my life:
Faith formation: It takes time to get to know Jesus and to be formed into his likeness. This formation can be developed through our family, our home life, our education, our environment, our friends, our spiritual mentors. The foundation needs to be laid, and it does take time. It is never too late to start, and it never ends.
Personal commitment to Jesus, especially under the aspect of his Precious Blood: This is a lifelong endeavor and a personal one. No one can do this work for us. We have to spend time every day getting to know Jesus and how he showed his love for us by shedding his precious blood. The desire to know and love Jesus is imbedded deeply in each of us. We need only to give expression to this desire to foster it and allow God to grow it in us.
Compassionate service to others: In imitation of Jesus we need to leave our place of prayer and solitude to be for others. As Jesus was generous sharing his love with others, we place ourselves at the disposal of all who are poor and needy and hungry and longing for God, so that the richness of Precious Blood spirituality may become a part of the lives of everyone we touch.