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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: Here’s the first one:
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.)
And here’s the shorter, second one:
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.
And now I’d like to offer this longer prayer to our Lord’s Precious Blood in a litany, before continuing with some more thoughts on this important devotion
The Litany of the Most Precious Blood pays tribute to the blood our Lord both shed for us in His Passion and offers us in the Eucharist for our salvation
It is important to remember that the host we consume at Mass is indeed the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ! (Although the wine at communion is “my blood of the new covenant” as our Lord put it at the Last Supper (Mark 14:24) the host as the body of Christ contains our Lord’s blood as well.)
The Litany of the Most Precious Blood was approved for public use in 1960 by Pope John XXIII, although devotion to the Precious Blood goes back centuries. Indeed, as Father Faber wrote in 1860 “the lives of the saints are replete with devotion to the precious blood.” The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar.
When the Litany of the Most Precious Blood is prayed publicly, the congregation’s responses to a leader are given in italics below. I hope this Litany can inspire you in your efforts to receive Jesus worthily in Communion and to have Him fortify you in your efforts to serve Him and others on your journey towards Eternal Life!
The prayer itself follows:
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son
of the Eternal Father, save us. (after each line)
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God,
Blood of Christ, of the New and Eternal Testament,
Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in the Agony,
Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging,
Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns,
Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross,
Blood of Christ, price of our salvation,
Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness,
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls,
Blood of Christ, stream of mercy,
Blood of Christ, victor over demons,
Blood of Christ, courage of martyrs,
Blood of Christ, strength of confessors,
Blood of Christ, bringing forth virgins,
Blood of Christ, help of those in peril,
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened,
Blood of Christ, solace in sorrow,
Blood of Christ, hope of the penitent,
Blood of Christ, consolation of the dying,
Blood of Christ, peace and tenderness of hearts,
Blood of Christ, pledge of Eternal Life,
Blood of Christ, freeing souls from purgatory,
Blood of Christ, most worthy of all glory and honor,
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
V. Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, in Thy Blood.
R. And made us, for our God, a kingdom.
Let us pray:
Almighty and eternal God, Thou hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world and willed to be appeased by his blood. Grant, we beg of Thee, that we may worthily adore this price of our salvation and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of the present life so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
This Litany gives us a poignant reminder not only of Christ's Passion but also of the good our Lord’s Blood can do for us as the “Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls” at Mass as well.
We get a wonderful sense from this line of the life source and force that is Jesus' Precious Blood. And the beauty of this is that His Precious Blood was not just depleted from His Sacred Body on our behalf almost 2000 years ago in His ignominious crucifixion.
We can partake of it as Baptized Catholics in a state of grace free from mortal sin in the host we consume in Holy Communion at Mass!
St. Peter reminds us of its importance when he writes. “You were redeemed not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Our Lord Himself said that His blood would be shed for "the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28).
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 he was slain by his brother Cain (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 shed 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.
If you’ve seen Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ, or read the mystic Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s account of His dreadful scourging in the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 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!
Jesus 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!
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 indeed look like red stripes!)
The larger point in all this is 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 His 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 for 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 having recieved absolution for it in Confession first. As St. Paul wrote, those who do so are committing great sacrilege (1 Cor 11:27-30).
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 one of us!