July is the Month of the Precious Blood

 

Precious Blood - Christ

Precious Blood of Christ

 

The Precious Blood which we worship is the Blood which the Savior shed for us on Calvary and reassumed at His glorious Resurrection; it is the Blood which courses through the veins of His risen, glorified, living body at the right hand of God the Father in heaven; it is the Blood made present on our altars by the words of Consecration; it is the Blood which merited sanctifying grace for us and through it washes and beautifies our soul and inaugurates the beginning of eternal life in it.

– The Cathedral Daily Missal

Having closed the month of June, where we pondered the merits and graces of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in July we enter into the mystery of His Precious Blood.

It was in the mid-Nineteenth century that Bl. Pope Pius IX instituted the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He did so in thanksgiving for his return to Rome, having been driven out by Italian revolutionaries to Gaeta.

Later, Pope St. Pius X placed the Feast on the first of July and following the Feast, the whole month is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

So, what is the significance of this important devotion to the Precious Blood of Our Lord and Saviour? We can begin to explore the meaning, by looking at the connections between the Jewish Temple rituals and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In his letter to the Hebrews, St. Paul said:

If the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of a heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: how much more shall the Blood of Christ, Who by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God (Hebrews ix: 13-14)?

As St. Paul has alluded to, it was customary within Jewish Temple worship, to sacrifice certain animals and sprinkle their blood, in order to cleanse and sanctify. Each day in the Jewish Temple, a lamb was slaughtered by the presiding high priest and its blood sprinkled upon the altar.

In his book, How Christ said the First Mass, Father James L. Meagher, D.D. wrote of these Jewish rituals and customs, as the religious precursor of the Christian tradition. In a section entitled, ‘The Daily Immolation of the Lamb, the Eucharist Prefigured’, he writes:

The lamb was the most striking image of Christ among all the various Temple sacrifices. Therefore morning and evening with an elaborate ceremonial like a pontifical High Mass, the high priest presiding, a lamb was sacrificed in the Temple … But the sacrifice of the paschal lamb was a still more strikingly typical of Christ.

The [paschal] lamb was killed by the priests in the Temple … The blood was sprinkled on the great sacrificial altar, as the blood of Christ was sprinkled on his cross. The lamb was skinned as Christ was scourged.

It is most significant, to note, that after the skinning, the paschal lamb was taken into a Jewish home, where pomegranate sticks were pushed through its body, creating the form of a cross. This process was even known as ‘the crucifying of the lamb’. Father Meagher continues:

When the Hebrews celebrated their first Passover, they sacrificed the lamb on the Sabbath to foretell that on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, the real Lamb of God would be sacrificed in our churches …

The blood of the paschal lamb was sprinkled on the door-posts of their houses as a type, a prophecy, of the blood of Christ sprinkled on his cross (p 136-7).

Once in a homily, I heard a priest speak about the symbolism of the wood of the crib, in that it prefigured the wood of the Cross. In other words, even at His birth in Bethlehem, Our Lord’s crucifixion was foretold. And eight days later, at the Circumcision that the Blood of Our Tiny Saviour was first shed. Then, not until His Passion, did His Precious Blood flow for us again.

In the Agony, He sweated drops of Blood. His poor Body was tortured through the Scourging, His Holy Brow pierced with the crown of thorns. And in this sorry state, covered in Blood, congealed, but still flowing, He was brutally nailed to the Cross, through hands and feet.

Our sin has done this to Him. Yet His Precious Blood flows, cleansing us of the very sin that caused It to flow. We are healed and cleansed, having caused Our Blessed Lord to suffer so!

And there He hung for us. And there His Precious Blood flowed, bringing to birth Holy Church.

For as Our Lord hung upon the Cross, His Sacred Heart was pierced with a lance and out flowed Blood and Water. This mystery is understood to be the very moment Holy Church was born.

Whilst the Water signifies Baptism, the Precious Blood represents the Eucharist. For these Sacraments form the foundation of our faith. Both cleanse our souls afresh. Once we have been born in Christ, cleansed from original sin, in the waters of Baptism, we continue our Christian journey into the mysteries of the Sacrifice at the altar, where we are renewed (even daily) at Holy Mass.

Each time we assist or attend Holy Mass, the Precious Blood flows and we are sprinkled and cleansed by this Blood of the Sacrificial Lamb upon the altar.

It is as though we are at the foot of the Cross on Calvary. If our eyes were able to see the unbloody sacrifice in its deeply sorrowful reality, we would find ourselves there, at the foot of the Cross. And the Precious Blood of our dying Saviour would flow down upon us, from His Glorious Wounds.

In a special book called the Heart of the Mass, we find beautiful passages about the efficacy of the Precious Blood. It reads as such:

In His Passion the Blood of Christ was shed, but It fell upon the stones and the ground. In Holy Mass the self-same Blood is shed but It does not fall upon the earth nor upon the bodies of men; It is applied to the souls of those who are present. Thus, when we assist at Holy Mass it is just as if we stood beneath the Cross on Calvary, with contrition of heart, and were sprinkled with the Precious Blood. And as we should then have been cleansed from all stain of sin, so no less surely will we now be sprinkled with that same Blood, and, if we are repentant, be cleansed from guilt (Heart of the Mass, p 67).

One time, years ago now, at Holy Mass, as the priest lifted the chalice and the server held up his chausible, I sensed a great power, as though all the prayers in the world were being offered to Almighty God in that chalice of His Precious Blood. The power, the beauty, the depth of that moment was incredible.

As the priest raises the Chalice after the consecration, it is the moment when we are sprinkled with the Blood of our Saviour, the Blood of the Lamb. This Blood is applied to our souls, which It cleanses from our iniquity.

Here are two beautiful prayers to be recited at this special and powerful moment, when the Precious Blood within the chalice is elevated.

Hail, Precious Blood, flowing from the Wounds of Jesus and washing away the sins of the world! Oh, cleanse, sanctify and keep my soul, that nothing may ever separate me from Thee; in life and in death let me be Thine.

And …

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ; in atonement for my sins, in supplication for the holy souls in Purgatory and for the needs of Holy Church.” (Indulgenced Prayer)

St. Gertrude the Great composed a prayer for the Holy Souls, similar to the above, which I say daily. According to tradition, Our Lord told St. Gertrude that 1000 souls would be released each time this prayer is recited.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus Christ in union with the Masses said throughout the whole world today for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Here I leave you, with this incredibly powerful quotation from the Heart of the Mass, summing up the efficacy of Our Lord’s Precious Blood:

One single drop of this Precious Blood is worth more than oceans of the blood of martyrs. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, one single drop would have sufficed to redeem the whole world. There is no sin so heinous that it cannot be forgiven, no stain so dark that it cannot be purged away, no debt so enormous that it cannot be remitted through the power of the Precious Blood, Let us, therefore, unite with the priest and offer It to God after the Consecration with all our fervour.

Litany of the Precious Blood

Throughout this month, Roger and I are praying the Litany of the Precious Blood. Here it is below:

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God, the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, *
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God,
Blood of Christ, of the New and Eternal Testament,
Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in Agony,
Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging,
Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns,
Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross,
Blood of Christ, price of our salvation,
Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness,
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls,
Blood of Christ, stream of mercy,
Blood of Christ, victor over demons,
Blood of Christ, courage of Martyrs,
Blood of Christ, strength of Confessors,
Blood of Christ, bringing forth Virgins,
Blood of Christ, help of those in peril,
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened,
Blood of Christ, solace in sorrow,
Blood of Christ, hope of the penitent,
Blood of Christ, consolation of the dying,
Blood of Christ, peace and tenderness of hearts,
Blood of Christ, pledge of eternal life,
Blood of Christ, freeing souls from purgatory,
Blood of Christ, most worthy of all glory and honor,

*Save Us

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord. 

Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, in Thy Blood.

And made us, for our God, a kingdom.

Let us pray. Almighty and eternal God, Thou hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world and willed to be appeased by his blood. Grant, we beg of Thee, that we may worthily adore this price of our salvation and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of the present life so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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