6th Sunday after Pentecost - Devotion to the Precious Blood
The month of the Precious Blood follows directly on from the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which itself follows Mary’s month of May. The union of the Sacred Heart to the Passion is thus made abundantly clear in the devotion of the Church, as is the union of the two hearts of Jesus and Mary.
There is perhaps no better manner in which to embark into the month of the Precious Blood, than by taking the text of the hymn the Church provides for Lauds on the first day of the month, which is the feast of the Precious Blood itself. Praying and meditating upon the stanzas which Holy Mother Church provides for Her children is a sure way to grow in knowledge and love of the Precious Blood, for it is a devotion which is not so commonly found.
“Hail, holy wounds of Jesus, hail,
Sweet pledges of the saving rood,
Whence flow the streams that never fail,
The purple streams of his dear blood.
Brighter than brightest stars ye show,
Than sweetest rose your scent more rare,
No Indian gem may match your glow,
No honey’s taste with yours compare.
Portals ye are to that dear home
Wherein our wearied souls may hide,
Whereto no angry foe can come,
The heart of Jesus crucified.
What countless stripes our Jesus bore,
All naked left in Pilate’s hall!
From his torn flesh how red a shower
Did round his sacred person fall!
His beauteous brow, oh, shame and grief,
By the sharp thorny crown is riven;
Through hands and feet, without relief,
The cruel nails are rudely driven.
But when for our poor sakes he died,
A willing priest by love subdued,
The soldiers lance transfixed his side,
Forth flowed the water and the blood.
In full atonement of our guilt,
Careless of self, the Saviour trod—
E’en till his heart’s best blood was spilt—
The wine-press of the wrath of God.
Come, bathe you in the healing flood,
All ye who mourn, by sin opprest;
Your only hope is Jesus’ blood,
His sacred heart your only rest.
All praise to him, the Eternal Son,
At God’s right hand enthroned above,
Whose blood our full redemption won,
Whose Spirit seals the gift of love.
This blog has already mentioned how the love which the Sacred Heart has for men, leads ultimately to the passion, which is the most supreme act of love. How fitting therefore, that after moving Her children to dwell on the Sacred Heart, the Church now moves them to dwell on the Precious Blood of that same Saviour. She is ever keen that Her members be always fixed on the events which won for them salvation, and so even after the period of Lent and the glorious season of Easter, the Church continues to present the passion and death of Christ before Her children, so that they may learn to grow ever closer to the way of the cross.
Dom Gueranger points to this aspect in his own commentary for the feast: “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, whose 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 whereon 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, if man were not brought to see therein 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 24:8, Hebrews 9:20) the dower stipulated upon by Eternal Wisdom for this divine union to which he is inviting all men, and whereof the consummation in our soul is being urged forward with such vehemence by the Holy Ghost. This is why the present festival, fixed as it is upon a day that must necessarily be one of the Sundays after Pentecost, does not interrupt, in any way, the teaching which these Sundays are particularly meant to convey, but tends rather to confirm it.”
What tender words the good abbott uses in order to highlight the importance of the feast of the Precious Blood! “The Blood of Jesus is set before our eyes, at this moment,” he writes calling on all his readers to increase their love of the Blood of the Saviour - that blood which was shed in the brutal agonies of the passion, paying the price for man’s sins.
This same Precious Blood is present on the altars of the world every day, as each alter Christus pronounces the solemn words of transubstantiation, and the sacrifice of Calvary is repeated in an unbloody manner. If one has not taken the time to dwell on this Blood, each drop of which was more than enough to merit for us salvation, then this month provides a perfect opportunity to do so, as Catholics are called on to renew their love of their Saviour, who died and rose again.
“Come, bathe you in the healing flood,
All ye who mourn, by sin opprest;
Your only hope is Jesus’ blood,
His sacred heart your only rest.”
How is it that one can afford to ignore such a devotion, for in truth it is not a ‘mere’ devotion, but rather a required response of love, from man to his Redeemer. He who shed His blood so completely and so willingly, deserves our love as a mere act of justice. How much more then, should faithful souls desirous of salvation, learn to love and honour each drop of that Precious Blood, not out of mere duty, but out of filial love for the God-man, who still each day, comes onto the altars and offers Himself under the appearances of bread and wine.