Following the month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, comes July, dedicated to His Most Precious Blood. While devotion to the Sacred Heart is widely known and practiced, the same is not necessarily true of the Precious Blood; however, the history behind this devotion is long-standing.
The noted Jesuit theologian and author Father John Hardon, S. J., quotes Pope St. Clement I, circa 96 A.D.: “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.”
As Father Hardon explains, “That’s why God became Man: that He might be able to endure pain, especially the pain of draining His Blood out of love for us.”
Devotion to the Precious Blood has its basis in the representation of Jesus as the Lamb of God, harkening back to the Old Testament image of the Paschal Lamb sacrificed at Passover in accordance with the Law of Moses. This ancient ritual sacrifice achieved its fulfillment with the death of Jesus on the Cross, as He poured out every drop of His blood to save us from sin. The continuing sacrifice occurs daily in Jesus’ presence, Body and Blood, on the altar at every Mass.
In Sacred Scripture, Saint Peter teaches: “…realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb” (1 Pt 1:18-19).
Commenting on this quotation, Father Hardon emphasizes, “Precious Blood is the revealed title, part of God’s inspired Biblical teaching in the first letter of the first Vicar of Christ.”
Reaching back through the history of our faith, and right up to the present day, numerous great figures have provided insights into this sacred title, for example:
Saint John Chrysostom, 5th century: “This Blood [of Christ], poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean.”
Saint Catherine of Siena, 14th century: “God created us anew to grace in the blood of His Only Begotten Son. And in that blood we were freed from our weakness.”
Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, a 19th century Italian priest, is credited with popularizing devotion to the Precious Blood, and founding the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood: “Today the war is being waged against religion as such and against Christ Crucified. We need, therefore, to reemphasize the glories of the Cross and of our Crucified Redeemer, to reopen the fountains of mercy just when the devil would make us the victim of wrath.”
Pope Saint John XXIII, 1960: “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 …”
Saint John Paul II, 2001: (Addressing the Missionaries of the Precious Blood), “With you, I bow down in adoration of that infinitely precious stream flowing from the wounded side of Christ …”
Pope Francis, 2018: “God chose the sign of blood because no other sign is so eloquent to express the supreme love of life given for others. This donation is repeated in every Eucharistic celebration, in which alongside the Body of Christ, His precious Blood is made present; the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant, shed for all for the redemption of sins (cf. Mt 26:26).”
In closing, we return to the words of Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, just as relevant in our troubled world today as they were two hundred years ago: “Now, more than ever, it is opportune to tell people at what price our souls were redeemed. We must let it be known how the Blood of Christ cleanses the souls and sanctifies them, particularly by means of the sacraments…His Blood is offered up every morning upon the altars and…instead of blasphemy and insult, we should give it adoration and praise.”
Prayer to the Most Precious Blood
O precious Blood of Jesus, infinite price paid for the redemption of sinful mankind. O Divine Blood, drink and laver of our souls, standing between us and the Father pleading mercy.
With all my heart I adore You, sweet Lord, and offer reparation for the insults, outrages and ingratitude which You continuously receive from human beings, especially those who dare blaspheme the Divine Blood You shed for us.
Bless this Blood of Infinite value. Bless the fire of Jesus’ Love who shed it to the last drop for us. Where would I be if not for this Divine Blood that redeemed me? Indeed, Lord, I have drawn it from You to the last drop. What love! Thank You for this saving balm!
May every heart, every tongue, now and forever, praise and thank this priceless balm, this saving Blood, this fountain of crimson Mercy welling up from the fountain of infinite Love. Amen.
Suggestions for Family Prayer
For young children whose families wish to add this devotion to their prayer time, the concept of shedding of blood may be disquieting. Parents can focus on the reality of Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us and suggest to children that they apply this concept to their own lives: offer up a treat or a pleasurable activity, or perform an act of kindness for someone else, in imitation of Jesus.
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