Catholics have a wonderful way of sanctifying time. The liturgical calendar, and the devotional life that goes with it, make our daily lives interesting and festive in ways that seem ever ancient and ever new as we encounter each year the cycle of sacred time. Just as May is the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary and June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, July is the month of the Precious Blood of the Lord. On July 1, we celebrated the Feast of the Most Precious Blood, at which Mass we prayed that God, Who willed to be pleased by the Blood of Christ, would grant that we might “salútis nostræ prétium sollémni cultu ita venerári, atque a præséntis vitæ malis ejus virtúte deféndi in terris; ut fructu perpétuo lætémur in cœlis.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his treatment in the Summa Theologiae (Q. 48) on the Passion of our Lord, speaks of the Precious Blood of Christ as the “price of our redemption.” The Common Doctor says, “Christ’s blood or His bodily life, which ‘is in the blood,’ is the price of our redemption (Leviticus 17:11-14), and that life He paid.” And again he says, “Christ is said to have paid the price of our redemption–His own precious blood–not to the devil, but to God.”
This is the mystery we celebrate this month as we “venerate with solemn worship” the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. We worship the Blood of God, the Blood that, poured out for us in the Passion of Christ, paid the price of our redemption. The Fathers of the Church frame our redemption in these terms: Christ, Who was perfectly innocent and completely undeserving of death, paid the debt of our deserved death by dying Himself, and so freed us from our debt and gave us life. Christ’s Blood signifies His death, and His death is our life.
Our devotion to the Precious Blood is the perfect sequel to our devotion to the Sacred Heart: “…unus mílitum láncea latus ejus apéruit, et contínuo exívit sanguis et aqua.” The Blood and water that flowed from Christ’s pierced Heart into the earth comprise the fountain of sacramental life in the Church. As Eve was born from Adam’s side, the Bride of Christ, the Church, is born here from the side of Christ. When we worship the Most Precious Blood of Christ, we are worshipping not only the price of our redemption, but the very life-blood of our new life in Christ’s Church. Here, on the Marriage Bed of the Cross (as the Fathers taught), Christ gives us new life through His holy sacraments.
We see now how to celebrate the Most Precious Blood during this holy month. In the Sacrament of Penance, we are born again in Christ if we have sinned seriously. Confession becomes a “second baptism” for us, renewing us in Christ and keeping us close to Him. May a holy and complete confession, in which we are washed by the Blood of Christ and begotten again by Him in the Church, be a pleasing offering to our Redeemer during this month of the Precious Blood.
Fr. Joseph Previtali
Assistant Chaplain to the Traditional Latin Mass Society