July: The month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus

07-01-2018Monthly Reflection

A Time of Regeneration

The Blood that coursed through the veins of Christ was a part of that Sacred Humanity made possible by the maternity of Mary, whose parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne are honored this month. (July 26). Our Lord's blood poured out on the Cross purchased our salvation, washed clean the robes of the martyrs, and gave birth to the Church as it flowed from his wounded side. The Precious Blood of Christ — now pulsing through his Mystical Body — continues its salvific work, preserving and purifying, repairing and providing nourishment for regeneration and renewal of its members.

July’s longer and warmer days also provide us with the opportunity for renewal, both interior and exterior. Schedules relax and pressures ease, inviting travel. But, whether we travel or not, like the missionary, St. Junipero Serra (July 1), we preach to others — by our conduct, our speech, even the clothes we wear. May we be modest in everything we do, imitating St. Maria Goretti, the young martyr for purity (July 6), and “preaching” Christ to everyone we meet.

The summer Readings of Ordinary Time remind us that our earthly pilgrimage is also a journey, a great adventure towards union with Christ, the Beginning and the End of our journey. Each Sunday with its Easter renewal becomes a mile marker along the way, linking where we have been with where we are going. May the Precious Blood of Jesus sustain us as we journey to our true home, with Mary and the angels as our companions on the way.

The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood. The feast of the Precious Blood of our Lord was instituted in 1849 by Pius IX, but the devotion is as old as Christianity. The early Fathers say that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ, and that the sacraments were brought forth through His Blood.

"The Precious Blood which we worship is the Blood which the Savior shed for us on Calvary and reassumed at His glorious Resurrection; it is the Blood which courses through the veins of His risen, glorified, living body at the right hand of God the Father in heaven; it is the Blood made present on our altars by the words of Consecration; it is the Blood which merited sanctifying grace for us and through it washes and beautifies our soul and inaugurates the beginning of eternal life in it."

The Old Testament

Cain and Abel are making an offering. Abel's sacrifice is pleasing to God, Cain's is not. This gives rise to the sin of hatred, and fratricide is its resolution. The thirsting earth soaks up Abel's blood as it shouts to heaven for vengeance. This shouting prefigured the scene on Calvary, where Christ's Blood cried to heaven for the redemption of mankind.

Millenia pass, and now we see Israel oppressed by Egypt. God commands the people to kill a lamb and to sprinkle the doorposts with its blood; houses thus besprinkled are spared by the messenger of death. But where the doors are not reddened with the blood of the lamb, all male firstborn from king to slave die. This blood on the doorposts was a type of the Blood of Christ. Can the blood of a lamb save a man? No, but as a figure of the Redeemer's Blood it certainly does. For when the Destroyer sees the thresholds of a human heart marked with Christ's sacred Blood, he must pass by. And another soul is saved.

In a vision the prophet Isaias saw a man treading out grapes (in the Orient, trampling upon grapes in the wine-press was the usual means of extracting the juice). The prophet asked the man: "Why are your garments so red? "The wine-press I have trodden alone," he answers, "because from the nations there is no one with me." The trodder of the wine-press is Christ, His garments crimsoned by the Blood of redemption.

—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace , Pius Parsch

The New Testament

The Church reminds us of the first drops of blood that flowed for our redemption on the day when Jesus was circumcised.
It is night on Mount Olivet, and the moon is shining. We see the holy face crimsoned with blood during the agony in the garden.
Unhappy, despairing Judas casts the blood-money down in the temple. "I have betrayed innocent blood!"
In the scourging chamber we see the Lord in deepest humiliation; under raw strokes the divine Blood spurts out over the floor. Christ is led before Pilate. Pilate shows the blood-covered Body to the crowds: Ecce homo! We go through Jerusalem's streets following the bloody footsteps to Golgotha. Down the beams of the Cross blood trickles. A soldier opens the sacred side. Water and Blood.

—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Symbols of the Precious Blood

Adam is sleeping an ecstatic sleep. God opens his side, removes a rib and forms Eve, the mother of all the living. But our view transcends this action and in spirit we behold the second, the divine Adam, Christ. He is sleeping the sleep of death. From His opened side blood and water flow, symbols of baptism and the Eucharist, symbols of the second Eve, the Church, the Mother of all the living. Through blood and water Christ willed to redeem God's many children and to lead them to an eternal home.

At Jerusalem a service in Yahweh's honor is taking place on the Day of Atonement. The high priest is making his annual entrance into the holy of holies to sprinkle the blood of bucks and bulls upon the covenant in expiation for the sins of the people. The Church shows us the higher meaning of this rite. Our divine High Priest Christ on the first Good Friday entered that Holy of Holies which is not made with hands nor sprinkled with the blood of bucks and bulls; there He effects, once and for all, with His own Blood man's eternal redemption.

A finale. Holy Church transports us to the end. The heavenly liturgy is in progress. Upon the altar is the Lamb, slain yet alive, crimsoned by His own Blood. Round about stand the countless army of the redeemed in garments washed white in the Blood of the Lamb. Hosts of the blessed are singing the new canticle of redemption: "You have redeemed us out of every tribe and tongue and nation by Your Blood."

Now from vision to present reality. How fortunate we are to have divine Blood so near to us, to offer it to the heavenly Father for the sins of the whole world!

—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Devotion to the Precious Blood

Devotion to the Precious Blood is not a spiritual option, it is a spiritual obligation, and that not only for priests, but for every follower of Christ. I really believe that one of the symptoms of modern society (and I would even include, sadly, modern Catholic society) one of the symptoms of a growing, gnawing secularism is the lessening and the weakening of devotion to the Precious Blood. Devotion, as we know, is a composite of three elements: It is first- veneration, it is secondly- invocation, and it is thirdly- imitation. In other words, devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain, is first of all to be veneration on our part, which is a composite of knowledge, love and adoration. We are to study to come to a deeper understanding of what those two casual words, Precious Blood, really mean.

I found this passage in the oldest document, outside of sacred scripture, from the first century of the Christian era – to be exact, from Pope St. Clement I, dated about 96 A.D. Says Pope Clement: "Let us fix our gaze on the Blood of Christ and realize how truly precious It is, seeing that it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of conversion to the whole world."

To understand the meaning of the Precious Blood we must get some comprehension of the gravity of sin, of the awfulness of offending God, because it required the Blood of the Son of God to forgive that sin. We are living in an age in which to sin has become fashionable.
This veneration of the Precious Blood, which is the first element in our devotion to the Precious Blood means that we have a deep sensitivity to the awfulness of sin. Sin must be terrible. It must be awful. It must be the most dreadful thing in the universe. Why? Because it cost the living God in human form the shedding of His Blood.

Lord Jesus, You became Man in order by your Passion and Death and the draining of your Blood on the Cross, might prove to us how much You, our God, love us. Protect us, dear Jesus, from ever running away from the sight of blood. Strengthen our weak human wills so that we will not only not run away from the cross, but welcome every opportunity to shed our blood in spirit in union with your Precious Blood, so that, dying to ourselves in time we might live with You in Eternity. Amen

—Excerpted from The Precious Blood of Christ, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

History

The feast, celebrated in Spain in the 16th century, was later introduced to Italy by Saint Gaspar del Bufalo.

For many dioceses there were two days to which the Office of the Precious Blood was assigned, the office being in both cases the same. The reason was this: the office was at first granted to the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood only. Later, as one of the offices of the Fridays of Lent, it was assigned to the Friday after the fourth Sunday in Lent in some dioceses, including, by decision of the Fourth Provincial Council of Baltimore (1840), those in the United States.

When Pope Pius IX went into exile at Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1849), he had as his companion Father Giovanni Merlini, third superior general of the Fathers of the Most Precious Blood. After they had arrived at Gaeta, Don Merlini suggested that His Holiness make a vow to extend the feast of the Precious Blood to the entire Church, if he would again recover possession of the Papal States. The Pope took the matter under consideration, but a few days later, on 30 June 1849, the day the French army conquered Rome and the insurgents of the Roman Republic capitulated, he sent his domestic prelate Joseph Stella to Father Merlini with the message: "The pope does not deem it expedient to bind himself by a vow; instead His Holiness is pleased to extend the feast immediately to all Christendom."

On 10 August of the same year, he officially included the feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the General Roman Calendar for celebration on the first Sunday in July, the first Sunday after 30 June, the anniversary of the liberation of the city of Rome from the insurgents. In reducing the number of feasts fixed for Sundays, Pope Pius X assigned the date of 1 July to this feast.

In 1933, Pope Pius XI raised the feast to the rank of Double of the 1st Class to mark the 1,900th anniversary of Jesus's death. In Pope John XXIII's 1960 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast was classified as of the first class (see General Roman Calendar of 1960).

The feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, "because the Most Precious Blood of Christ the Redeemer is already venerated in the solemnities of the Passion, of Corpus Christi, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. But the Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is placed among the votive Masses".

Significance

In Catholic belief, the Blood of Christ is precious because it is Christ's own great ransom paid for the redemption of mankind. In this belief, as there was to be no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, the "Incarnate Word" not only offered his life for the salvation of the world, but he offered to give up his life by a bloody death, and to hang bloodless, soulless and dead upon the Cross for the salvation of humanity. Jesus is said to have given his life - his blood - for the sake of all humanity, atoning for every form of human sin. The Precious Blood is a call to repentance and reparation.

Prayer

"O God, who by the Precious Blood of your Only Begotten Son have redeemed the whole world, preserve in us the work of your mercy, so that, ever honouring the mystery of our salvation, we may merit to obtain its fruits. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
From Wikipedia

The month of July is dedicated to The Precious Blood of Jesus. The entire month falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time, which is represented by the liturgical color green. This symbol of hope is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. It is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time. The last portion of the liturgical year represents the time of our pilgrimage to heaven during which we hope for reward.

The Holy Father's Intentions for the Month of July 2018

Evangelization – Priests and their Pastoral Ministry: That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests. (See also Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network)

Feasts for July

The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of July are:
1. Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Sunday
3. Thomas the Apostle, Feast
4. Independence Day (USA), Opt. Mem.
5. Anthony Mary of Zaccaria; Elizabeth of Portugal, Opt. Mem.
6. Maria Goretti, Opt. Mem.
8. Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time,Sunday
9. Augustine Zhao Rong and companions, Opt. Mem.
11. Benedict, Memorial
13. Henry, Opt. Mem.
14. St. Kateri Tekakwitha (USA), Memorial
15. Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
16. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Opt. Mem.
18. Camillus de Lellis (USA), Opt. Mem.
20. Apollinaris, Opt. Mem.
21. Lawrence of Brindisi, Opt. Mem.
22. Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
23. Bridget, Opt. Mem.
24. Sharbel (Charbel) Makhloof, Opt. Mem.
25. James, Feast
26. Joachim and Anne, Memorial
29. Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
30. Peter Chrysologus, Opt. Mem.
31. Ignatius of Loyola, Memorial

Focus of the Liturgy

The Gospel readings for the Sundays in July 2018 are taken from St. Mark and St. John — all are from Year B, Cycle 2.

Week Topic
July 1- 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Gospel recounts the healing of Jairus' daughter and the cure of the woman with the issue of blood.

July 8 - 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel Jesus said that a prophet is not welcome in his own country.

July 15 - 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jesus sends out the twelve apostles and gives them authority over unclean spirits.

July 22 - 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jesus invites the Apostles to "come away and rest a while."

July 29 - 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Gospel tells the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

Highlights of the Month

July is usually hot and a time for relaxing. It is also the time when crops planted in the Spring are maturing and growing. Just as the crops are dependent upon summer rains not only to grow but to survive so our spiritual development is dependent upon our frequenting the sacraments and receiving the Blood of Christ.

The main feasts of this month are St. Thomas the Apostle (July 3), St. Anthony Mary and St. Elizabeth of Portugal (July 5), St. Maria Goretti, (July 6), St. Augustine Zhao Rong (July 9), St. Benedict (July 11), St. Henry (July 13), Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha (USA - July 14), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16), St. Camillus (July 18), St. Apollinaris (Junly 20), St. Lawrence of Brindisi (July 21), St. Bridget (July 23), St. Sharbel (July 24), St. James (July 25), Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26), St. Peter Chrysologus (July 30), St. Ignatius of Loyola (July 31).

The feasts of St. Junipero Serra (July 1), St. Bonaventure (July 15) and St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) are superseded by the Sunday liturgy.

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