Precious Blood Invocations

While July is traditionally the month of Devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, it is worth noting how some of our Lenten reflections on Christ’s Passion can have resonance in the summer as well as all year round!

When we meditate on the first two Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, for example, the Agony in the Garden and our Lord’s scourging at the Pillar, images of Christ’s shedding His Most Precious Blood come readily to mind!

Jesus indeed shed much blood in His Passion, so that by His death and resurrection we might heed His Gospel message of love for God and neighbor and turn away from our sinful proclivities which have caused so much bloodshed in wars worldwide over the centuries.

In Jesus’ Agony, in Luke’s Gospel, we read that he emanated a bloody sweat which fell to the ground as he pleaded with His Father to spare Him the heinous brutality of His Passion that lay straight ahead within a couple of hours. Yet we must remember that Jesus gave us a model on how each of us should react when facing trials and tribulations.

You may recall that He said to His Heavenly Father, three times: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). His memorable and quite understandable request for relief was followed by His moving obedience to the Divine Will.

While Our Lord is often depicted in artwork about this mystery looking thoroughly composed in prayer, we can see from Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ a more likely scene of blood dripping from His face. This probably would have come from whatever repugnance He felt in His humanity from His coming Passion clashing with His need in His Divinity to make the supreme sacrifice of His life for our Salvation.

And it is not too much later in The Passion of the Christ that we see Jesus shedding His Precious Blood from physical rather than emotional agony as two brutes take vicious sadistic delight striking our Lord again and again, as if Jesus were some sort of human piñata.

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, in church approved private revelations taken from the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ recounts how there were actually six of these heartless ruffians, taking turns in pairs of two each, striking Our Lord with blow after blow for upwards of an hour!

She relates with the second pair of scourgers, that “under the fearful lashes of these inhuman executioners, all the stripes of His sacred body were torn open, His Blood spurted around in a circle and bespattered the arms of the hangmen. Jesus moaned and prayed and twitched in His agony.”

Our Lord Himself would later describe His dreadful scourging in church approved revelations to Sr. Josefa Menendez, a Spanish nun in the 1920’s, like this: “bits of My divine flesh are rent off by the scourges..blood flows from every limb and I am reduced to such a state of pitiable disfigurement as to no longer resemble a human being.”

Following Sacred scripture He subjected Himself to such torture so that as we read in the book of Isiaiah it was by those very “stripes” (such as lacerations) that we would be healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

It Is important to note that the blood of animals such as goats, sheep and even bulls were considered essential sacrificial offerings of atonement for sin in the Jewish Old Testament liturgies.

Now instead we have Jesus offering Himself to His Heavenly Father in an unbloody manner in the Eucharist at Mass.

Christ’s Sacrifice of His life at Calvary was and still is the ultimate sacrifice for fallen humanity to restore our relationship with God and to provide access to heaven for those in a state of sanctifying grace.

No longer would continual animal sacrifices be necessary to atone for sins. The Lamb of God took care of that once and for all in His Crucifixion!!

Or as St. Peter put it so well in his first letter “ you were redeemed, not with corruptible things like silver or gold,.... but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish or spot, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:18-19).

Jesus made a truly God-sized atonement for the sins of fallen humanity that stretched back as far as in the Book of Genesis when Cain slew his brother Abel, the first offspring of our first parents, out of envy in the first, but sadly not the last, murder in the Bible. We read that God heard the voice of Abel’s blood cry out to Him from the ground (Genesis 4:10).

And since then sadly there have been rivers of blood shed for centuries everywhere that would be deafening in their sheer magnitude if they cried out from the ground, mostly in pointless sacrifices for the false Gods of money, power, and worship of various Molochs and conquerors, people fighting either for or against those who would make themselves Gods. Christ’s blood shed for us at Calvary might have reduced, but did not stop all this bloodshed.

The Book of James includes this stingingly accurate indictment of our brokenness that causes so much of this bloodshed, so much of it meaningless when weighed on the scales of eternity!

"Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? You lust, and don’t have. You murder and covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war” (James 4:1-2).

It is most ironic that words about bloodshed bring thoughts of death, while blood itself is such a life force. There are some 60,000 miles of blood vessels carrying oxygen, nutrients, and hormones in each of our bodies!

The main point to keep in mind in all this is that blood as a vital life force can become for us an Eternal Life force if we partake of it worthily as Jesus’ Precious Blood in Holy Communion. 

Remember as always that you need not actually have to take it from a chalice, which became more of a rarity if offered at all during and after the Coronavirus pandemic. The host will suffice. Under the appearance of bread in the Eucharist our Lord is present then in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

While His Blood is indeed true drink as he told His disciples in John 6 the wafer suffices because after all you can’t have Christ’s body without his blood. He is wholly present in both species.

And just as our blood transmits life-giving oxygen, His Precious Blood can give us the oxygen of Sanctifying Grace with each communion we receive free from mortal sin!

Speaking of which, there's a great short prayer given in a little booklet from Tan Books entitled Devotion to the Precious Blood, a type of which Father Faber once wrote could prevent many mortal sins if more of us would say it every morning and every evening. You can even follow this prayer with a Hail Mary in honor of the Mother of God for this intention.

O Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of the Divine Son for the intention that one mortal sin may be prevented this day (or this night).

Jesus posed a provocative question to sister Josefa Menendez (in the text in italics below), when reflecting on His Agony in the Garden and His bloody sweat that fell to the ground as His crucifixion for our salvation drew near.

It is important to note here that Jesus, having committed no sin himself, nonetheless became an extraordinary sin offering for our salvation. He took it on Himself to make the momentous appeal for His Heavenly Father’s mercy in the midst of what he called so many “offenses, sins and crimes that were to be committed throughout the ages…to calm His Father’s anger and satisfy His justice".

At the moment I felt all the torments of My Passion burst overwhelmingly upon Me: the calumnies and the insults… the scourging and the Crown of Thorns, the thirst…the Cross.

All these sufferings thronged before My eyes and pressed upon My Heart, while at one and the same time I saw all the offenses, sins and crimes that were to be committed throughout the ages. I not only witnessed them, but was invested in them…so that under the burden of their ignominy I was constrained to present Myself before the face of My all-holy Father and implore Him to show mercy.

And there burst upon Me the wrath of an angry and offended God, and in order to appease His Majesty I offered myself as security for sinful man, I, His Son, to calm His anger and satisfy His justice. But so great was the anguish and so mortal the agony of My human nature under the strain and weight of so much guilt, that a bloody sweat poured from Me to the ground.

O sinners who thus torture Me…will this Blood bring salvation and life, or will it be shed in vain for you? How can I express My sorrow at the thought of this sweat, this anguish, this agony, this Blood… useless for so many souls!

This is a provocative and moving question for all of us to consider: “Will this Blood bring salvation and life, or will it be shed in vain for you?" May it not have been in vain for any of us!

God Bless,

Christopher Castagnoli




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