“The Precious Blood is the wealth of the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart is the symbol of the Precious Blood; yet not its symbol only, but its palace, its home, its fountain. It is to the Sacred Heart that it owes the joy of its restlessness and the glory of its impetuosity. It is to the Sacred Heart that it returns with momentary swiftness, and assails it, as a child assails his mother, for fresh powers, for new vigour, and for the continuance of its unwearied impulses.
The devotion to the Precious Blood is the devotion which unveils the physical realities of the Sacred Heart. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is the figurative expression of the qualities, dispositions, and genius of the Precious Blood – only that the figure is itself a living and adorable reality.” ~Father Frederick William Faber, The Precious Blood (1860)
Today, the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and, dedicates the entire month of July to the Precious Blood. Dom Prosper Gueranger (b. 1805- d. 1875), the Catholic teacher extraordinaire, wrote a few paragraphs on this feast in The Liturgical Year. In this Precious Blood writing, Dom Prosper expounds on today’s Epistle and Gospel, and instructs the reader on the meaning of today’s feast, and July’s dedication. I am posting this excerpt, today, with some minor edits, followed by a prayer to Our Lady of the Precious Blood.
The Dom Prosper Precious Blood excerpt begins:
John the Baptist has pointed out the Lamb, Peter has firmly fixed his Throne, Paul has prepared the Bride: this their joint work, admirable in its unity, at once suggests the reason for their feasts occurring almost simultaneously on the Cycle. The Alliance being now secured, all three fall into shade, while the Bride herself, raised up by them to such lofty heights, appears alone before us holding in her hands the sacred Cup of the nuptial feast.
This gives the secret of today’s Solemnity, revealing how its illumining the heavens of the holy Liturgy at this particular season is replete with mystery. The Church, it is true, has already made known to the sons of the New Covenant, and in a much more solemn manner, the price of the Blood that redeemed them, Its nutritive strength, and the adoring homage which is Its due. Yes, on Good Friday Earth and Heaven beheld all sin drowned in the saving Stream when Its eternal flood-gates at last gave way beneath the combined effort of man’s violence and of the Love of the Divine Heart. The Festival of Corpus Christi witnessed our prostrate worship before the Altars on which is perpetuated the Sacrifice of Calvary and where the outpouring of the Precious Blood affords drink to the humblest little ones, as well as to the mightiest potentates of Earth, lowly bowed in adoration before It.
How is it then that Holy Church is now inviting all Christians to hail in a particular manner the Stream of Life ever gushing from the Sacred Fount? What else can this mean but that the preceding solemnities have by no means exhausted the Mystery? The peace which the Blood has made to reign in the high places as well as in the low; the impetus of Its wave bearing back the sons of Adam, from the yawning gulf, purified, renewed and dazzling white in the radiance of their heavenly apparel; the Sacred Table outspread before them, on the waters’ brink, and the Chalice brimful of inebriation — all this preparation and display would be objectless, all these splendours would be incomprehensible, if man were not brought to see in it the wooings of a Love that could never endure its advances to be outdone by the pretensions of any other. Therefore, the Blood of Jesus is set before our eyes at this moment as the Blood of the Testament, the Pledge of the Alliance proposed to us by God (Exodus xxiv. 8; Hebrews ix. 20), the Dower stipulated upon by Eternal Wisdom for this divine Union to which He is inviting all men, and the consummation of which in our soul is being urged forward with such vehemence by the Holy Ghost.
“Having therefore, Brethren, a confidence in the entering into the Holies by the Blood of Christ,” says the Apostle, “a new and living way which He has dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh, let us draw near with a pure heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He is faithful that has promised. Let us consider one another to provoke to charity and to good works (Hebrews x. 19-24). And may the God of peace who brought again from the dead the great pastor of the sheep, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Blood of the everlasting Testament, fit you in all goodness, that you may do His will: doing in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen!” (Hebrews xiii. 20-21)…
Epistle – Hebrews ix. 11-15: Brethren, Christ being come, a High Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by His own Blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who, through the Holy Ghost, offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? And therefore He is the Mediator of the New Testament; that by means of His death, for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former Testament; those that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance; in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Dom Prosper Guéranger explains the Epistle:
The Epistle that has just been read to us is the confirmation of what we were saying above as regards the special character of this Festival. It was by His own Blood that the Son of God entered into Heaven. This divine Blood continues to be the means by which we also may be introduced into the eternal Alliance. Thus the Old Covenant founded, as it was, on the observance of the precepts of Sinai, had likewise by blood consecrated the people and the Law, the tabernacle and the vessels it was to contain. But the whole was but a figure. “Now,” says Saint Ambrose, “it behoves us to tend to Truth. Here below, there is the shadow. Here below, there is the image. Up yonder, there is the Truth. In the Law was but the shadow. The image is to be found in the Gospel. The Truth is in Heaven. Formerly a lamb was immolated. Now Christ is sacrificed, but He is so only under the signs of the Mysteries, whereas in Heaven it is without veil. There alone, consequently, is full perfection to which our thoughts should cleave, because all perfection is in Truth without image and without shadow. Yes, there alone is rest: to there, even in this world, do the sons of God tend; without indeed attaining fully thereunto, they get nearer and nearer, day by day, for there alone is to be found that peace which forms saints.”
“Lord God,” cries out in his turn another illustrious Doctor, the great Saint Augustine, “give us this peace, the peace of repose, the peace of the seventh day, of that Sabbath whose sun never sets. Yes, verily the whole order of nature and of grace is very beautiful to your servitors, and goodly are the realities they cover. But these images, these successive forms, bide only a while, and their evolution ended, they pass away. The days you filled with your creations are composed of morning and of evening, the seventh alone excepted, for it declines not, because you have forever sanctified it in your own Rest. Now what is this Rest, save that which you takes in us when we ourselves repose in you, in the fruitful peace which crowns the series of your graces in us? sacred Rest, more productive than labour! The perfect alone know you, they who suffer the divine Hand to accomplish within them the Work of the Six Days.”
And therefore, our Apostle goes on to say, interpreting, by means of other parts of Scripture, his own words just read to us by holy Church, “and therefore, if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews iii.) The Blood Divine has rendered us participators of Christ: it is our part not to squander, as though it were worthless, this immense treasure, this initial incorporation which unites us to Christ, the divine Head. But let us abandon ourselves, without fear and without reserve, to the energy of this precious leaven whose property it is to transform our whole being into Him. Let us be afraid lest we fall short of the promise referred to in our today’s Epistle, that promise of our entering into God’s Rest, as Saint Paul himself tells us. It regards all Believers, he says, and this divine Sabbath is for the whole people of the Lord. Therefore, to enter in it, let us make haste. Let us not be like those Jews whose incredulity excluded them forever from the promised land (Hebrews iii.- iv.).
Gospel – John xix. 30-35: At that time, when Jesus had taken the vinegar, He said: “It is consummated.” And bowing His head He gave up the ghost. Then the Jews (because it was the Parasceve) that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that was a great Sabbath day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came, and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger explains the Gospel:
On that stupendous day, Good Friday, we heard for the first time this passage from the Beloved Disciple. The Church, as she stood mourning at the foot of the Cross on which on her Lord had just died, was all tears and lamentation. Today, however, she is thrilling with other sentiments, and the very same narration that then provoked her bitter tears now makes her burst out into anthems of gladness and songs of triumph. If we would know the reason of this, let us turn to those who are authorised by her to interpret to us the burden of her thoughts this day. They will tell us that the new Eve is celebrating her birth from out the Side of her sleeping Spouse, that from the solemn moment when the new Adam permitted the soldier’s lance to open His Heart, we became in very deed, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Be not then surprised, if holy Church sees nothing but love and life in the Blood which is gushing forth.
And you, soul, long rebellious to the secret touches of choicest graces, be not disconsolate. Say not: “Love is no more for me!” However far away the old enemy may by wretched wiles have dragged you, is it not still true that to every winding way: yes, alas, perhaps even to every pit-fall, the streamlets of this Sacred Fount have followed you? Think you, perhaps, that your long and tortuous wanderings from the merciful course of these ever pursuant waters may have weakened their power? Do but try. Do but, first of all, bathe in their cleansing wave. Do but quaff long draughts from this Stream of Life. Then weary soul, arming yourself with faith, be strong, and mount once more the course of the divine Torrent. For, as in order to reach you, It never once was separated from its Fountain-Head, so likewise be certain that by so doing, you needs must reach the very Source Itself. Believe me, this is the whole secret of the Bride, namely, that from wherever she may come, she has no other course to pursue than this, if she would fain hear the answer to that yearning request expressed in the Sacred Canticle: “Show me, you whom my soul loves, where you rest in the midday.” (Canticles i. 6) So much so indeed, that by re-ascending the sacred Stream, not only is she sure of reaching the Divine Heart, but moreover she is ceaselessly renewing in its waters that pure beauty which makes her become, in the eyes of the Spouse, an object of delight and of glory to Him (Ephesians v. 27). For your part, carefully gather up today the testimony of the Disciple of love, and congratulating Jesus, with the Church, His Bride and your Mother, on the brilliancy of her purpled robe, take good heed likewise to conclude with Saint John: “Let us then love God, since He has first loved us” (1 John iv. 19). (end of Dom Prosper excerpt)
A prayer to Our Lady of the Precious Blood:
Remember, O Lady of the Precious Blood, the sorrowful sheddings of the Blood of thy Jesus and the most bitter tears thou didst mingle with His Redeeming Blood. In the name of the Blood of the Victim of Reparation and of thy holy tears; in the name of the seven swords which pierced thy heart, by which thou didst become the Mediatrix of all graces for the human race and the Queen of Martyrs, have pity on my soul and on all its miseries; have pity on sinners and on the innocent souls they seek to pervert; have pity on the poor, the sick, the infirm, on all their sufferings, both physical and moral; have pity on the agonizing, especially upon those who, except for thine intercession, would leave this world without being purified in the Blood of the Lamb. It is by the Blood of thy Dying Son, by His inexpressible Sufferings, by His last plea to His Father in favor of mankind, by His ignominious Death and by the perpetuation of His Sacrifice on Catholic Altars, that I beg thee not to reject my supplications, but graciously to hear them. Amen.
May you have a good day.
~Image: Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, detail of the Ghent Altarpiece, by Jan van Eyck, 1432, source.