Prayers of devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus are a great way to keep His sacrifice for us at Calvary front and center in our minds throughout the year, in addition to during the Lenten season, when we traditionally focus on our Lord’s Passion through prayers such as the Stations of the Cross, especially during Holy Week. The month of July has traditionally been a special time of devotion to our Lord's Precious Blood as well.
The words blood and life go together quite well! The religious sacrifices of the Old Testament involved the shedding of blood from bulls, goats, and lambs. Why? Because the priests conducting these rituals hated animals? Hardly! Blood was sacrificed to God as recognition of its life force, making it all the more significant as a sin offering and for atonement.
As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church “The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign of life. This teaching remains necessary for all time” (CCC 2260).
When the time came for God in the Second Person of the Trinity to take on human form in the Incarnation out of His great love for Humanity He was recognized by His cousin, John the Baptist, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
He would be, as God as well as man, a God-sized sacrificial lamb to redeem us from our sins and open the gates of heaven to those who would follow Him there through loving obedience to His Commandments and the Gospel messages.
Along these lines, we would like to offer these short prayers which remind us of the salvific nature of our Lord’s Precious Blood:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus, in satisfaction for my sins, and for the needs of Holy Church.
This Precious Blood prayer below asks for our Blessed Mother Mary’s always invaluable assistance in combating mortal sin, and is good for both morning and evening prayers. You can add a Hail Mary in her honor for this intention:
O Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of thy Divine Son for the intention that one mortal sin may be prevented this day [or this night].
And finally we have these two prayers offering our Lord’s Precious Blood for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, one of which also calls on Mary’s assistance for us:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. (This is known as the Prayer of St. Gertrude.)
O Eternal Father, I offer Thee, through the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Precious Blood of Thy Son for the relief of the suffering souls in Purgatory.
The broken state of Fallen Humanity wounded by Original Sin and our concupiscence has led to numerous conflicts since Abel’s blood cried out to God after His brother slew him (Gen 4:8-10).
Although people have shed blood heroically for a greater good, such as the martyrs of the Church, and those who died to end slavery in the Civil War or to stop Hitler in World War II, more often than not rivers of blood have been spilled for various nefarious purposes.
St. James summed up the human dilemma quite well when he wrote: "For where there is envy and contentiousness, there is instability and every wicked deed.... Whence do wars and quarrels come among you? Is it not from this, from your passions, which wage war in your members?" (Jas 3:16; 4:1).
Keep in mind that, by way of contrast, our Lord shed His Precious Blood in His Passion to give each of us new life here on earth and Eternal Life with Him in heaven! Yet He’s left it up to each of us to choose to accept this awesome gift of salvation.
We can do this in part through prayer; obeying His Commandments; receiving Him in Holy Communion (at Mass) in a state of grace; and receiving absolution for our sins in Confession. Note also, that we partake of His Precious Blood at every Mass in the host as well as the chalice of wine (when it’s offered) as described here.
If you’ve seen Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ, or read the mystic Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s account of this dreadful scourging, you can see right away it must have been by supernatural means that Jesus made it to Calvary at all!
Such was his loss of blood having His flesh torn apart for upwards of an hour, according to Sister Emmerich, by brutal sadists hacking away at him!
He described this gruesome event to Sister Josefa Menendez, a Spanish nun in these terms: “blood flows from every limb, and I am reduced to such a state of pitiful disfigurement as no longer to resemble a human being.”
If any of us were subject to such a beating, would we not have gone into shock and perished by such a loss of blood? There’s only about 5 quarts of blood coursing through our veins sustaining each of us. When that’s gone its lights out, gang!
Indeed, Sister Emmerich noted of those who were scourging our Lord "These abominable wretches had already, at the same pillar [on which Jesus was scourged], scourged poor sinners to death."
One other point we see from Mel Gibson’s movie that’s worth mentioning: the crucifixes we venerate in churches and in our homes, hopefully, as on Good Friday, are “cleaned up” versions of Jesus’ real suffering. As we see in the film, He was battered from head to toe, literally!
The painting by the Flemish Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens shown above gives us just a hint of just how much blood our Lord shed! For us, each one of us!
We also see a certain Biblical resonance in the film looking at the scars from the scourging all over His body as shown here.
Truly this brings to mind the prophet Isaiah’s line about the Suffering Servant, a prefiguring of our Lord, that “by His bruises we are healed!”(Is 53:5) St. Peter echoes this sentiment in 1 Pet 2;24 where he writes that “By his stripes you were healed”.
(Indeed some of Jesus’ scars in this movie do look like red stripes!)
The larger point in all this that Christ’s shedding of His Precious Blood at Calvary, like His precious Blood we ingest in the host at Communion is a testament to His great love for us and extraordinarily ardent desire to help us reach heaven, now that its doors have been reopened to us by his death and shedding His blood on the cross.
As St. Paul expressed it, in Jesus "we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph 1:7)
Note that the priest in the Mass refers in the words of Consecration to Jesus’ Blood being shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. (It used to be all in that part of the liturgy but was changed to reflect the traditional Latin text and Gospel references in 2011.)
As Christ Himself told His apostles the night before He died ”All of you drink of this; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto [for] the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:27-28).
It is important to remember not to partake of His Body and Blood in the host in the Eucharist having committed a mortal sin without receiving absolution for it in Confession. As St. Paul wrote, those who do so are committing great sacrilege (1 Cor 27-30).
May all of us reading this be among the many our Lord spoke of. May His sacrifice of His Precious Blood for humanity at Calvary not have been in vain for any of us!