THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS
I. The Nature of the Blood of Christ
Catholic theology teaches that the entire human nature of Christ is adorable because of its intimate and unending union with the Person of the Divine Word. Devotion to any one of the parts of the human nature of Christ properly takes the form of adoration (cultus latriae). The object of such adoration is the Godhead itself, or the Divine Word, Who is inseparably united with Christ's sacred humanity.
But there are certain parts of Christ's human nature which are particularly deserving of honor because of the singular part they played in the mystery of Redemption or because of a special symbolism they possess. Thus, the Sacred Heart symbolizes Christ's infinite love of mankind. The special reason underlying devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Christ is the fact that we were redeemed with the Precious Blood. The Precious Blood of Christ, shed unto the last drop during the Passion, is the price He paid for our salvation.
1) The Blood of Christ is true sacrificial Blood shed to ratify the New Covenant. As the Covenant on Mount Sinai was ratified by sprinkling the people with the blood of the Covenant (Ex. 24:8), so by the will of God and according to His Divine plan, the New Covenant required dedication by the blood of a victim, Jesus Christ. His Blood was far more excellent than the blood of sacrificial victims of the Old Covenant to cleanse and purify the tabernacle and its vessels. St. Paul says: "For Jesus has not entered into a Holy of Holies made by hands, a mere copy of the true, but into Heaven itself, to appear now before the Face of God on our behalf; ...once for all at the end of the ages, He has appeared for the destruction of sin by the Sacrifice of Himself... Christ was offered once to take away the sins of many." (Heb. 9:24-28)
Our Lord's words of Consecration over the chalice were: "Take ye all and drink of this; for this is the Chalice of My Blood, of the New and eternal Covenant, which shall be shed for you and for many, unto the remission of sins, in remembrance of Me." (1)
2) The Precious Body and Blood of Christ is offered in the Mass as the Sacrifice of Christ's Mystical Body, a sacrifice in which each of us participates in virtue of our membership in His Mystical Body, the Holy Catholic Church.
The Precious Body and Blood of Christ received in Holy Communion gives food, drink, refreshment and health to the life of the soul. The Lamb of God, slain for the sins of mankind, is the sacrifice and the banquet of the Christian soul, the very strength and inspiration for Christian living. Thus devotion to the Most Precious Blood encourages a greater love for the Mass.
This Blood of Christ is real drink (2), and, together with His Flesh, is food for our eternal life. () Jesus promised the Eucharist in these words: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day. For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He who eats My Flesh, and drinks My Blood, abides in Me and I in him." (John 6:54-57).
And St. Paul says, "For as often as you shall eat this Bread and drink the Chalice, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats this Bread or drinks the Chalice of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of the Chalice; for he who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the Body, eats and drinks judgment to himself." (1 Cor. 11:26-30) "The Chalice of blessing that we bless, is it not the sharing of the Blood of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16)
II. The Effects of Christ's Blood
Devotion to the Most Precious Blood rests on basic truths of Christianity. Mankind's fall from supernatural life in the Garden of Eden; man's utter inability to reinstate himself in God's friendship and grace; Christ's superabundant satisfaction for the sins of all men through the shedding of His Most Precious Blood; mankind's opportunity of reunion with God, both in this life and particularly in the next, through the application of the merits of the Precious Blood to souls - such fundamental truths should be emphasized in our age when men tend to glory in their material successes, unmindful of their total dependence upon God.
In the New Testament, and especially in the Epistles of St. Paul, there are many effects ascribed to Christ's true and bloody sacrifice.
1) By or through His Blood we have the forgiveness of sins. "In Him we have redemption through His Blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:7) "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the Blood of Christ, Who through the Holy Ghost offered Himself unblemished unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:13-14)
And St. John says, "And they overcame Him through the Blood of the Lamb and through the word of their witness, for they did not love their lives, even in the face of death." (Apoc. 12:11) "...the Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb." (Apoc. 7:14) "To Him Who has loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own Blood, and made us to be a kingdom, and priests to God His Father--to Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (Apoc. 1:5-6)
2) By and through the Blood of Christ we have eternal redemption. "But when Christ appeared as High Priest of the good things to come, He entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands (that is, not of this creation), nor again by virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of His own Blood, into the Holy of Holies, having obtained eternal redemption." (Heb. 9:11-12). (While this redemption applies to all men without distinction, it must be remembered that all men do not thereby automatically attain salvation.)
3) We are justified and saved from the Divine wrath through the Blood of Christ. "Christ died for us. Much more now that we are justified by His Blood shall we be saved through Him from the wrath. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life." (Rom. 5:9-10) (Here it is important to recall that salvation applies only to those men who cooperate with the graces of Christ's redemption, by living according to His teachings, and thus saving their souls.)
4) The Church was purchased by the Blood of the Savior. "Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock in which the Holy Ghost has placed you as Bishops, to rule the Church of God, which He has purchased with His own Blood." (Acts 20:28)
5) People are sanctified through the Blood of Christ. "And so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His Blood suffered outside the gate." (Hebr. 13:12) This sanctification refers, of course, to the constant growth in virtue which is the sure vocation of every true child of God: "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
6) By the Blood of the Cross of Christ reconciliation and peace were effected with the Father. "For it has pleased God the Father that in Him all His fullness should dwell, and that through Him He should reconcile to Himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the Blood of His Cross." (Col. 1:19-20)
7) In the Blood of Jesus we are incorporated in Christ by membership in His Church. "But now in Christ Jesus you, who were once afar off, have been brought near through the Blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:13)
III. Our Duties Toward Christ's Blood
Because we were redeemed with the Precious Blood as of an unblemished and spotless Lamb, we must become holy in all our conduct. St. Peter says, "But as the One Who called you is holy, be you also holy in all your behavior... You know that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1 Pet. 1:15, 18-19)
St. John urges us to walk in the light as God Himself is the Light. "But if we walk in the Light as He also is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin." (1 John. 1:7)
St. Paul taught that apostasy from the New Testament is more serious than the violations by Israel of the commandments given on Mount Sinai, because Christians have come to Jesus, the Mediator of a New Covenant, and to the sprinkling of His Blood. "And to Jesus, Mediator of a new covenant, and to a sprinkling of Blood which speaks better than Abel." (Heb. 12:24)
To sanctify all mankind through His own Blood, Jesus suffered outside the gate of the city of Jerusalem; hence, Christians must go forth to Him outside the camp of the wicked world, and share in His shame and sufferings. "For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the Holies by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp; and so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His Blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us therefore go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach, for here we have no permanent city, but we seek for the city that is to come. Through Him, therefore, let us offer up a sacrifice of praise always to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name." (Heb. 13:11-16)
In devotion to the Most Precious Blood, the Church offers a supernatural weapon to fight materialism. The events of international life today indicate a bitter struggle between the forces of God and the forces of the devil. Devotion to the Most Precious Blood is our powerful defense against such a formidable foe, "the spiritual forces of wickedness on high." (Eph. 6:12) Our Blessed Mother told us at Fatima that only a return to God, to prayer, and to penance would bring us lasting peace and salvation. Devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Christ will develop within us this necessary change of heart and mind. The story of the Precious Blood is the narrative of Christ's struggle with the forces of evil, and of His ultimate victory. Devotion to the Precious Blood teaches us that our only hope of turning back the forces of the devil is to align ourselves with the sufferings of Christ by following His commandments, His habit of prayer, and His esteem of penance and self sacrifice.