Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Most Precious Blood of Jesus

The month of July is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood. The feast of the Precious Blood of our Lord was instituted in 1849 by Pope Pius IX, but the devotion is as old as Christianity. The early Fathers say that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ, and that the sacraments were brought forth through His Blood.

"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 extraordinary importance of the saving Blood of Christ has ensured a central place for its memorial in the celebration of this cultic mystery: at the centre of the Eucharistic assembly, in which the Church raises up to God in thanksgiving "the cup of blessing" (1 Cor 10, 16; cf Ps 115-116, 13) and offers it to the faithful as a "real communion with the Blood of Christ" (1 Cor 10, 16); and throughout the Liturgical Year. The Church celebrates the saving Blood of Christ not only on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, but also on many other occasions, such that the cultic remembrance of the Blood of our redemption (cf 1 Pt 1, 18)

Here are some thoughts I found on the Precious Blood of Jesus.

Good Pope John 23rd in 1960 wrote an encyclical encouraging devotion to the Precious Blood. Here are some excerpts:

As we now approach the feast and month devoted to honouring Christ's Blood — the price of our redemption, the pledge of salvation and life eternal — may Christians meditate on it more fervently, may they savour its fruits more frequently in sacramental communion. Let their meditations on the boundless power of the Blood be bathed in the light of sound biblical teaching and the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. How truly precious is this Blood is voiced in the song which the Church sings with the Angelic Doctor (sentiments wisely seconded by our predecessor Clement VI):

Blood that but one drop of has the world to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man's Blood — just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden,12 in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church's sacraments. Such surpassing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.

Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church... This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works.

If only Christians would reflect more frequently on the fatherly warning of Peter, the first pope: "Look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts. You know well enough that your ransom was not paid in earthly currency, silver or gold; it was paid in the precious blood of Christ; no lamb was ever so pure, so spotless a victim."15 If only they would lend a more eager ear to the apostle of the Gentiles: "A great price was paid to ransom you; glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence."16 Their upright lives would then be the shining example they ought to be; Christ's Church would far more effectively fulfill its mission to men. God wants all men to be saved,17 for he has willed that they should all be ransomed by the Blood of his only-begotten Son; he calls them all to be members of the one Mystical Body whose head is Christ. If only men would be more responsive to these promptings of his grace, how much the bonds of brotherly love among individuals and peoples and nations would be strengthened. Life in society would be so much more peaceable, so much worthier of God and the human nature created in his image and likeness.

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