There is a scene from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, following the bitter scourging of Jesus, where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, along with Mary Magdalene, falls on her knees with a cloth to wipe up the blood which has stained the ground where he stood while being flogged. The love and devotion with which she carefully collects his blood is evident, as she is aware of its divine and sacred nature. Mary understood and appreciated that this was no ordinary blood, but the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, both human and divine.
July, Month of the Precious Blood
July is the month set apart to honor the Most Precious Blood of the Redeemer. According to Fr. John Hardon, S.J. in The Precious Blood of Christ, the basis for the Church’s devotion to the Precious Blood comes from the first letter of St. Peter: “You know that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, not with perishable things as silver or gold but with the Precious Blood of Christ as the Lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19) In order to save us, Christ had to voluntarily shed his blood on the Cross, to suffer and undergo his Passion and death so that we could be freed from our sins. Fr. Hardon says that because of his divine and sinless nature, Christ would not die of natural causes as we do, since all sickness and death is a result of original sin and our own sinfulness. Jesus, on the other hand, had to undergo the violent shedding of his blood in order for his life to end and the sacrifice to be complete. Fr. Hardon explains that Peter compares the Blood of Christ to silver and gold, two of the most precious and incorruptible substances on earth, in order to emphasize that nothing on earth is adequate to save us except for Christ through the shedding of his Blood, and that it, along with the Body of Christ, is the most Precious substance and worthy of our worship and adoration.
The Awfulness of Sin
Fr. Hardon also explains that the violence and suffering which Christ endured demonstrate the evil of sin and should incite us to love and reparation. “This veneration of the Precious Blood, which is the first element in our devotion to the Precious Blood means that we have a deep sensitivity to the awfulness of sin. Sin must be terrible. It must be awful. It must be the most dreadful thing in the universe. Why? Because it cost the living God in human form the shedding of His Blood.” When we think of Christ’s sufferings, it should inspire us to avoid sin at all costs and to pursue a life that is holy and free from offending him.
Early Devotion to the Precious Blood
The beginnings of the devotion to the Precious Blood can be discovered in the writings of the early Church Fathers. In the first century, around 96 A.D., Pope Clement wrote, “Let us fix our gaze on the Blood of Christ and realize how truly precious It is, seeing that it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of conversion to the whole world.” From the beginnings of Christianity following the death of Jesus, his followers realized the importance of acknowledging the divine nature of the Precious Blood. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, they realized, we are freed from the slavery of sin and death and brought into union with God and eternal life.
The Offering of the Precious Blood
The Offering of the Most Precious Blood to the Eternal Father is an excellent means of receiving grace and interceding for others. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was a Carmelite nun who practiced this devotion and said of it, “Every time a creature offers up this Blood by which he was redeemed, he offers a gift of infinite worth, which can be equaled by no other!” During her life, she offered up the Precious Blood at least 50 times a day and was said to have seen some of the souls she saved by her fervent practice of the devotion. In modern times we stand in need of this devotion more than ever because of the prevalence of sin which offends God so greatly. It is a simple but fruitful means of helping ourselves and others. We are called to assist our fellow Christians on earth and suffering in Purgatory, and, like St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, we can use this beautiful devotion to do so. A simple formula for the offering is, “Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus, in satisfaction for my sins, and for the needs of Holy Church.”
The Blood Which is the Life of Souls
“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!” These words, taken from the opening prayer of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, remind us of the hope we should place in the Divine Mercy of God through the shedding of Christ’s Blood for us on the Cross. The Divine Mercy Image was revealed to St. Faustina in Poland by Our Lord and was first venerated in 1935 at Ostra Brama, the “Dawn Gate” to the city of Vilnius. When St. Faustina’s confessor requested her to ask Jesus about what the two rays in the Divine Mercy image symbolized, Jesus responded, “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls…” He continued, “These two rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.” (Divine Mercy in My Soul) Through St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy devotion, Jesus was reminding us of the power and majesty of his Blood and renewing devotion to it.
Prayers and Devotions
July is an ideal time to reflect on the shedding of Our Lord’s Blood and to renew devotion to it. There are many ways to honor the Precious Blood. The Litany of the Precious Blood is a devotion that has been approved by the Church for universal recitation. Other prayers and devotions, including novenas and prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, which are dedicated to the Precious Blood can be found for recitation here.
(Image by Pixabay)
Memorare to Our Lady of the Precious Blood
REMEMBER, O Lady of the Precious Blood, the sorrowful Sheddings of the Blood of thy Jesus and the most bitter tears thou didst mingle with His Redeeming Blood. In the name of the Blood of the Victim of Reparation and of thy holy tears; in the name of the seven swords which pierced thy heart, by which thou didst become the Mediatrix of all graces for the human race and the Queen of Martyrs, have pity on my soul and on all its miseries; have pity on sinners and on the innocent souls they seek to pervert; have pity on the poor, the sick, the infirm, on all their sufferings, both physical and moral; have pity on the agonizing, especially upon those who, except for thine intercession, would leave this world without being purified in the Blood of the Lamb.
It is by the Blood of thy Dying Son, by His inexpressible Sufferings, by His last plea to His Father in favor of mankind, by His ignominious Death and by the perpetuation of His Sacrifice on Catholic Altars, that I beg thee not to reject my supplications, but graciously to hear them. Amen.