Readings on the Precious Blood (Day 11-20)
July 03, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Day 11

 A reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:14-22)

From the homilies on the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom (+407)

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? Do you seek, blessed Paul, to rouse your hearer to a sense of reverence when you mention tremendous mysteries, and call this fearful and awe-inspiring cup a cup of blessing? Yes, he replies, it is no small matter I have touched on. For when I speak of blessing, I mean to unfold the whole treasure of God’s goodness to us, and call to mind his wonderful gifts. It is in gratitude for these and all other such blessings that we approach the Sacrament.

Why then, you Corinthians, asks Paul, is your behaviour so inconsistent? You praise God for having delivered you from idols, and then you run back to their tables. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? What great confidence and awe there is in these words! Paul means that in the cup is the same blood that flowed from Christ’s side, and it is that of which we partake. He called it a cup of blessing because, when we hold it in our hands, we raise our hearts to God in wonder and amazement at his unspeakable gift. We praise him because Christ shed this very blood so that we might not remain in error; and not only did he shed his blood, but he gave all of us a share of it.

The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ? The Apostle did not say ‘a participation’, because he wanted to signify something more than this. For when we communicate it is not merely a matter of sharing and partaking, but of being united. In the same way as a body was united with Christ, so we are united with him by this bread. But why did he add, which we break? This we can see is done at the Eucharist, but it was not so on the Cross; rather the contrary, for Scripture says: Not a bone of his shall be broken. But although he did not suffer this on the Cross, he suffers it now in his offering on your behalf; he allows himself to be broken so that all may be filled. Paul used the phrase: a communion in the body; but there is a difference between communicants and the body we receive in communion, and so he set about removing even this distinction, small as it might seem. For after he had spoken of a communion in the body, he still sought to define his meaning more accurately, and therefore added, Because there is one bread, we although many are one body.

Why then do I say ‘communion’? he asks. We are that very body. For what is the bread? It is the body of Christ. And what do those who partake of it become? The body of Christ. Not many but one body. Just as bread consists of many grains formed into a whole, so that the separate grains are invisible (for although they are certainly there, they cannot be distinguished from the whole), in the same manner are we united both with one another and with Christ. That is why the Apostle continued: for we all partake of one bread. But if we all partake of the same bread, and all become the same body, why do we not show the same love, and become one in that respect also? Formerly it was so, in the time of our fathers, for Scripture says: The multitude of believers were of one heart and soul.

RESPONSORY

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break,  is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because we who are many are one bread and one body -- for we all partake of the one bread and one cup.

Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup unworthily, will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord -- for we all partake of the one bread and one cup.

Day 12

A reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)

From the “Commentary on Psalm 1” by St. Ambrose of Milan (+397)  

First drink from the Old Testament, so that you may drink from the New as well. You cannot drink from the second without drinking from the first. Drink from the Old Testament to slake your thirst, and from the New to quench it completely. Compunction is found in the Old Testament; joy in the New.

Notice how the Lord, on his servants’ behalf, countered the wiles of the devil. With deceitful cunning the devil beguiled one man in order to overthrow all mankind in his person; but with salutary food Jesus redeemed all mankind, in order to restore with him all, even him who had been beguiled.

The Lord Jesus poured out water from the rock and everyone drank. Those who drank from the symbol were satisfied, but those no drank from the reality were inebriated. That was a good inebriation that steadied the walk of the sober mind; that was a good inebriation that watered the gift of eternal life. Drink of this cup, then, of which the Prophet said: Your cup that inebriates, how noble it is! Drink the cup of the Old Testament and of the New, for in both you drink Christ.

Drink Christ because he is the vine; drink Christ because he is the rock that poured out water. Drink Christ because he is the fountain of life; drink Christ because he is the river whose running waters give joy to the city of God, and because he is peace, and because out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Drink Christ to drink the blood which redeemed you; drink Christ to drink his words: the Old Testament is his word; the New Testament is his word. Holy Scripture is drunk and swallowed when the power of the eternal Word penetrates the depths of the mind and the virtue of the soul. In short, we do not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Drink this word, but according to its own order. Drink it first in the Old Testament; then hasten to drink it also in the New.

RESPONSORY

Know that in this bread is the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup, the blood of Christ which flowed from his side. Take, therefore, and eat his body; take and drink his blood, – and you will become members of his body.

Eat this sacred food, so that your bond of unity with Christ may never be broken. Drink this sacred blood, the price he paid for you, so that you may never lose heart because of your sinfulness. – and you will become members of his body.

Day 13

A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:3-10)

From a Lenten sermon by St. Thomas of Villanova (+1555)

Approach humbly the fountain of life, the fountain of salvation, the fountain of water well enough to eternal life. Approach devoutly; fill the jar of your soul with the water of grace. All who thirst, come to the waters. It is the sixth hour; Jesus was crucified in the sixth hour. Come to the waters, for the fountains of the great deep or broken open. And what else is the deep put the Word of God? The fountains were broken open with nails and spear; the fountains were broken open with whips and blows; the fountains were broken open with thorns and torments. Come, you who thirst, come to the waters; come and milk without cost. Buy for nothing.

But how can one buy this without price? This cannot be considered a purchase, for nothing is bought without price. What is received without price is received freely, is given freely: but then is it a purchase? Buy from God and give to God that which God suffered. Offer from his own resources that you might buy things that are his. Offer his sorrows and receive his consolations; offer his death and receive his life; offered his pains and receive his glory.

Oh happy purchase, without fraud and with the greatest profit! The seller’s goods are bought with the seller himself paying the price. With your payment then, Lord, we buy your goods for ourselves. But why do I say your goods? I perceive something greater; I perceive and rejoice and grow faint in wonder. O good Jesus! O merciful Jesus! By your blood we buy you for ourselves; by your blood you have purchased us for the Father. O infinite generosity of God, who gave himself up to death that he might give himself unto life? Your blood, good Jesus, is the cost. It is your payment and ours: by it you have purchased us for the Father; by it we purchase you for ourselves.

We buy, then, but without cost, since we buy you with your own payment. Twice you give yourself, when you offer yourself as the price, and when you offer yourself as what is purchased. Whoever possessed you without that price? Who without a large sum of money would dare to set a price for such an inheritance? Oh Lord, you were put up for sale publicly, auctioned off, as it were, but you are to be bought only by those who love you.

Nor may someone who offers much purchase you, but only he who offers all, though it be little. O soul, offer what you have, but offer it all, and you will receive all. If you have much, offer much, and you will receive all; if you have little, offer little, and you will receive little. All who thirst, come to the waters. Come and buy. Lord, increase the price as much as you want; the water of life which you are is of infinite value. Appraise it as you will, for we can give nothing from ourselves in payments. The water of salvation must be purchased for us but your own payment. If you ask much, then grant much; if you ask a little, then grant little.

RESPONSORY

God has predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ -- in whom we have redemption through his blood. 

The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us -- in whom we have redemption through his blood.

Day 14

A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. (Ephesians 2:13-16)

From the letters of Saint Maria De Mattias (+1866)

The blood of Jesus is all our hope and all our good. May our hearts never withdraw from that perennial fountain flowing from the loving wound of the side of our most loving Spouse Jesus Crucified! Here all our poor labors borne for love of him will  be sweetened. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus Crucified and we can be sure he will not let us perish, provided we are faithful to him. Oh! What a beautiful honor is ours to serve God, to think always of God, to love God, to suffer in order to please God; in short, to live entirely in God. This he permits us in his infinite goodness. I say, he permits us, poor creatures … to be elevated to union with him; nay more, he even commands it. How must not these re-flections encourage the soul! She would never depart from the feet of her Lord in order to hear his most loving voice calling her to unite herself ever more to him. She does not tire of always blessing, loving, praising and thanking him with all her heart. She seeks nothing else but to give him pleasure. Her Lord’s good pleasure constitutes all her delight, and if she obtains that, she is rich and filled with so much consolation that she does not know how to express it. Courage, therefore, and confidence in God, that, should every-thing else be wanting, it matters nothing, provided we enjoy the grace of our beloved Spouse, Jesus Crucified. Let us pray very much for the Church and ardently love Jesus,  our Savior, who founded it with his Precious Blood.

Let us have faith in the most holy word of Jesus, who assures us that he will hear those who invoke him. We wish nothing else except his glory and the  salvation of souls which cost his Blood; and therefore, let us hope firmly, for all our confidence lies in the merits of the Divine Redeemer who looks upon his spouse, the Holy Church, with tender love. And, if he now chastises her, he does so to purify her in order to make him dearer to his loving eyes. The design of our Lord Jesus Christ is to reunite all peoples in his Church, and therefore the chastisement is being felt everywhere. Oh! What a triumph! Oh! What a triumph! Let us pray, let us pray, let us pray.…The Blood of Jesus is our only hope and our only Good—this Blood, shed with so much pain and so much love for our eternal salvation. Let our hearts be filled with courage, fearing nothing, not even death, so that at every moment the Precious Blood be glorified, loved and blessed by all!

Let us summon our spirit to union with God, in whom we shall find the person of his most holy Son given to us with infinite love, clothed with human flesh and covered with wounds and Blood, inviting us to contemplate him with fixed attention so that our hearts might respond to the delicacy of his most tender love. Jesus loves us without any merit on our part. Let us love him very much because he is worthy of being loved. Let us love him also for the great gift of the redemption and for the Blood he willed to shed for us. Let our only thought be to bring all, as far as is possible, to the knowledge of Jesus, our Crucified Love, who is covered with blood and wounds for our salvation. Do not become disheartened. Courage and great confidence in the Blessed God. Much prayer. Jesus died for love of us; the merits of his sufferings are ours. Do not fear, my daughter. A loving glance at Jesus Crucified, and then take courage to labor for the school, for the salvation of souls, for the glory of his Precious Blood…. We shall pass through many tribulations in order to enter Heaven. Great confidence in the Precious Blood of Jesus. Let us ask God to make us understand the great value of sufferings. Suffering is dear to a soul that loves Jesus Christ, and it always seems to her that she does not suffer for Him who suffered so much and died crucified for love of us.

RESPONSORY

You who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. -- For he is our peace, who has made both one.

So that he might create in himself one new humanity -- For he is our peace, who has made both one.

Day 15

 A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians.

[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

 From “The Precious Blood” by Fr. Frederick William Faber (+1863)

All God’s works are in a certain sense part of the life of God. It is this which gives to creation its interest as well as its significance. It is in this way that time participates in eternity. The life of the Precious Blood may be divided into seven epochs; or it would be more true to call them seven lives, both because they do not follow each other in order of time, and also because they are not all actual periods of its existence. These seven lives are as follows: the life of the Precious Blood in the Mind of God before creation; its life of efforts in the world from creation to the Incarnation; its life upon earth during the Thirty-Three Years; its life of energy in the Church afterward, up to the day of Doom; its contemporaneous life all that time in Heaven; its contemporaneous life on earth in the Blessed Sacrament during that same time; and finally its eternal life in Heaven, when the Doom is past. In all these lives of the Precious Blood there is a hidden life which we cannot reach, and whose mysteries are not only above our comprehension but beyond our imagination. Its union with the Divinity is inexplicable. Its peculiar redeeming value, in that it is blood, is also a secret hidden from our intelligence. It represents abysses of the Divine wisdom, which are not only unfathomable but nameless. It bears upon itself the imprint of unsuspected perfections in the broad majesty of God. The jubilee of its life is a height of creation lost to our eyes in the burning vicinity of the uncreated. To this innermost inward life we cannot penetrate; but we can see, and understand, and love much of an inward, though less secret, life, which we could not see when we regarded the Precious Blood under the figure of a Procession. It is of this inward life we must now endeavor to get some idea.

The life of the Precious Blood in the Mind of God from all eternity is in one sense a real life, and in another sense an unreal one. It was not an actual life. It was a life of predestination, of foreseen beauty, of multiplied divine intentions. It was a specially Divine invention, if we may use such a word. It was an idea which could not have come to any mind but that of God, and therefore the complacency which it caused in the Divine Mind was immense. It was a sort of second Word to God, a created expression of His uncreated perfection. It was part of the most grand and glorious thought of God, the Incarnation. It was a most important part of it. It was also a specially chosen part, selected for the accomplishment of our redemption, and for the restoring of a revolted creation to the dominion of its Maker. In the most dear and dread Mind of God it was a fountain always flowing. The beauty of its flowing had been one of His unbeginning gladnesses. It was the fountain which gave forth, multitudinous and beautiful as the creation of the radiant Angels, the countless predestinations of the infinitely varying souls of men. The mystery of all election was from the first glassed in its beaming depths. It was its spray, which caught the golden light of eternal things, and fell down before the throne, even as it is still falling now, in starry showers of splendor. It was a mirror too in which the manifold countenances of the Divine perfections looked always, and loved to make their beauty bearable to mortal eye. It is there to this day, that the oppositions in God are seen to be harmonies most simple and most worshipful. All parts of creation give us double views of God, simultaneous views of His seeming opposite perfections, just as on the Mount of Olives the eye may rest at will either on the Dead Sea or on the Holy City. But of no part of creation is this so true, or true in so high a sense, as of the Precious Blood. Redeeming grace tells the whole history of God, so far as it can be told, unfolds His character in all of its breadth which is comprehensible, and as it were recites and magnifies each separate perfection: and redeeming grace is the specialty of the Precious Blood.

Moreover, the Precious Blood dwelt also in the Mind of God as the type and model of all creation, whether fallen or unfallen. In its unity lay the germs of all created loveliness and of all created variety. Mary was its first shadow, its first reflection, the freshest copy of the original. No wonder then that it was an infinite delight to the Three Divine Persons. To them it was none the less real because it was not yet actually created; for to God the solidest created substance is but as shadow compared with the reality of His ideas. Thus from all eternity did the Precious Blood reign like a sovereign thing in the adorable complacency of God. 

As it had lived an eternal life in the Mind of God before creation, so also did it live a life of visible effects and real jurisdiction from the beginning of the world, before it had become itself an actual created thing in the mystery of the Incarnation. It was the Precious Blood which hindered the fall of man from being as irretrievable as the fall of Angels had been. It did real work in every single soul which was created in those four thousand years. It altered their position in the world. It made the. eye of God look differently on them. It rained supernatural graces upon their hearts. It diminished temporal chastisements. Neither was it less influential in the counsels of God than in the souls of men. It caused His compassion to overspread the whole earth. It turned the chronicles of the world into a succession of types, and shadows, and predictions of itself. While it was itself preparing all things for its own coming and shedding, it so controlled all things that they rather seemed to be a preparation for itself. It sounded in every thing that God said. It impressed its character upon every thing that God did. It underlay all heathen life, and all Hebrew life. It was the significance of the most significant, and also of the most insignificant, events. It molded all sanctity into an onlooking for itself. It beautified the hearts of men for God with supernatural desires. For all those forty ages it was the secret meaning and the hidden agent of the world. All that blossomed upon earth blossomed only because the Precious Blood watered the soil under ground. Who would not long to see it, as it would one day be, in the actual Human Heart which was to be its living chalice? Even the patience of the long-waiting God might vouchsafe to yearn for the actual creation of the Precious Blood. How sweet then to Him must have been that dear sanctity of Mary, whose beautiful compulsion caused the Word to anticipate His time!

RESPONSORY

God was pleased to reconcile all things in Christ  – making peace through the blood of his cross.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell – making peace through the blood of his cross.

 Day 16

 A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

When Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:11-22)

From “Theology of the Precious Blood” by Edwin Kaiser (+1984)

The Blood of Christ becomes the most intimate bond between humanity and God in all the supernatural life.  Though the Blessed Humanity of Christ, body, blood, and soul are the work of all three divine persons, we ascribe the fruitfulness of the Redemption to the Holy Spirit. Wherefore we look upon Him as most intimately united with the Blood of Redemption, vivifying it, pouring it forth in Sacrifice, giving it to the souls of men and women. In one breath St. Paul speaks of the "charity of God" as "poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us," and of Christ who died "for the wicked when as yet we were weak" (Rom. 5:5-6). In words of great mystic beauty the theologian Scheeben treats the point: "By means of this Blood the Holy Spirit vivified the Blessed Humanity and adorned it with every grace and favor. He filled the Blood with His own loveableness, for He is the Spirit of love, the pledge of love between Father and Son, making it sweet with fragrance as it ascended to God in sacrifice. The Holy Spirit led the Blessed Victim to the altar of sacrifice. We might well speak of the Holy Spirit as the amor sacerdos leading the God-man to sacrifice and placing it before the Father in so far as He unites it with the infinite homage of love, which is Himself. We might say that the Holy Spirit is transfused over the whole world through the Son.

Most befitting is it therefore, that the Son who is the Head of all creatures should set forth and effect in the shedding of His Blood this pouring forth of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love. The shedding of Blood becomes the sacrament (or visible sign) of the giving of the Holy Ghost. The sacraments are visible signs of grace, but the shedding of the Blood of the God-Man signifies and effects the giving to men and women of the Holy Spirit Himself. The shedding of the Heart-blood of Christ is the most real pledge that He and His Father will communicate also to us the inner-most mark of their divinity. Likewise the blood is a purifying, warming, vivifying force. As such it is a picture or sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore we may call the shedding of the Blood the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit, signifying, representing, pledging, effecting the Spirit of the Father and the Son, the Spirit of Love given to men and women."

RESPONSORY

If the blood of goats and bulls sanctified those who were defiled -- how much more will the blood of Christ. purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God.

Not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood -- how much more will the blood of Christ purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God.

Day 17

 A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

 It was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:23-28)

From the “Treatise on the Holy Spirit” by St. Basil of Caesarea (+379)

The type manifests things to come by imitating them, foreshadowing future events in order to make them understood. For example, Adam was a type of the One who was to come, the rock was a type of Christ, and the water that flowed from the rock was a type of the life-giving power of the Word, for the Lord said: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The manna typified the living bread that came down from heaven and the serpent fixed to the pole typified the saving Passion consummated upon the Cross, which is why all who looked at it were saved.

Similarly, the reason the story is told of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt is that they prefigure those who are saved by baptism. The firstborn of the Israelites were saved in the same way as are the bodies of the baptized, since grace was given to those marked by the blood. For the blood of the lamb was a symbol of the first man who was created and who of necessity still exists in us, transmitted through succeeding generations until the end of the world.

The sea and the cloud had the immediate effect of producing faith because of the amazement they aroused, but in relation to the future they were types foreshadowing the grace to come. Who is wise enough to understand these things, to understand how the sea is a type of baptism because it separated the Israelites from Pharaoh just as baptism separates us from the tyranny of the devil? In its waters the sea destroyed the enemy and in baptism is slain our enmity with God. From those waters the people emerged unharmed, and we emerge from the waters of baptism as though we had died and come to life again, saved by the grace of him who called us. As for the cloud, that foreshadowed the gift of the Spirit, who cools the heat of the passions by the mortification of our body.

RESPONSORY

Christ came as the high priest of the good things which are to be.
Not with the blood of goats or calves,
but with his own blood – he entered the holy place once for all, and won our eternal salvation.
He did not enter a holy place fashioned by man,
he entered heaven itself. – he entered the holy place once for all, and won our eternal salvation.

Day 18

 A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshippers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
   but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
   you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
   (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)

From a sermon by St. John Chrysostom (+407)

This blood makes the seal of our King bright in us; it produces an inconceivable beauty; it does not permit the nobility of the soul to become corrupt, since it refreshes and nourishes it without ceasing. This blood both refreshes the soul and instills a certain great power in it. This blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us and even summons us angels and the Lord of Angels. Where they see the blood of the Lord, demons flee, while angels gather. This blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. This blood is the salvation of our souls; by it the soul is cleansed; by it, beautified; by it, inflamed. It makes our intellect brighter than fire; it renders our soul more radiant than gold. This blood has been poured forth and has opened the way to heaven. This fountain is a fountain of light, shedding abundant rays of truth. And beside it the Powers from on high have taken their stand, gazing on the beauty of its streams, since they perceive more clearly than we the power of what lies before us and its unapproach­able flashing rays. This blood was formerly foreshadowed continual­ly on altars, in sacrifices of the Law. This is the price of the world;by it Christ purchased the Church; by it He adorned her entirely. Christ has both purchased us with His blood and adorned us with His blood. Those who share in this blood have taken their stand with angels, and archangels, and the Powers from on high, clad in the royal livery of Christ.

RESPONSORY

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said -- but a body you have prepared for me.

‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ – -- but a body you have prepared for me.

Day 19

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy ‘on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:19-31)

From the “Writings of the Founder” by St. Gaspar del Bufalo (+1837)

In the devotion to the Precious Blood we go to the heart of our faith. It cannot be denied that God, always rich in mercy, has at all times used efficacious means to recall souls to the study of Christ crucified and to apply to all the divine Blood of redemption. The first centuries of the Church were fruitful in martyrs; the following centuries witnessed sporadic attacks on one or the other doctrine of the Church, and lack of appreciation of some of her traditions and practices on the part of one or other segment of the Catholic world. In our miserable times, however, the crisis among the people is a general one. The perversion of faith and morals offers insult to the redemption and renders useless, because of human malice, the application of the merits of Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us at the  price of his Blood. Consequently, is it not time to stir up our apostolic zeal and follow the light given to souls especially favored by God in order to recall to the minds of people the inestimable price of our  redemption and excite them to penance and tears? Does not Sacred Scripture itself trace for us this reform by making peace through the Blood of his cross for those in heaven as well as those on earth? Does not divine Wisdom say that those justified by his Blood shall be saved from God’s wrath? It is not enough merely to pronounce the name of God to be saved: None of those who cry out Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Two things, therefore, must be taken care of in our day. We must, first of all, find a way of placating the eternal, divine Father. For that purpose we have the merits of the divine Blood: The cup of salvation I will take up. Secondly, we must seek its effective application to souls, especially by means of missions and spiritual retreats, as well as other salutary religious activities adapted to the needs of the times. These were exactly the reasons which moved the holy Pontiff Pius VII to erect an Archconfraternity under the august title of the Divine Blood.

Sinners are abusing it terribly, and the Lord in the excess of his love is saying: What gain is there from my Blood? There should be dedicated persons  who, by means of solemn worship, provide adoration and reparation, and at the same time preach to the people the glories of the divine Blood, emphasizing the fact that in this devotion we go to the heart of our faith. Hence, we say in the consecration of the chalice, The Mystery of Faith. There is an intimate connection between the devotion to the Blood of Christ and the salvation of souls. Such is its centripetal force that all the prophetic utterances, symbols, figures and sacrifices of the Old Testament converge on it as the spokes of a wheel on a hub: In wine he washes his garments, his robe in the blood of grapes. Exodus says that the Hebrews were ordered to stain their doorposts with the blood of the lamb in order to be freed from the chastisements of Egypt as a symbol of the liberation of our souls from the servitude of the devil. Skipping many other references which could be made, we note what Moses did to his people: Taking  the blood he sprinkled the book and all the people saying: This is the Blood of the covenant which God has enjoined upon you...Almost  everything is purified by blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. We hear the Apostle saying: For if the blood of goats and bulls can sanctify those who are defiled, how much more will the Blood of Christ cleanse our consciences from dead works? We must pass up other references. Indeed, the Holy Scriptures are filled with sacred references to it: Why is your apparel red?... He wore a garment sprinkled with blood. This devotion calls to mind baptism, through which the divine Blood purifies our souls, and reminds us of penance and the other sacraments, because you have redeemed us with your Blood, you have made us a kingdom, and priests to serve our God. Whereas all other devotions are aids to Catholic piety, this devotion is its foundation, support and essence. Other devotions, products of various times, have holy and praiseworthy beginnings, but they go back only so far. This devotion, on the other hand, goes back to the moment when Adam sinned. Therefore, Jesus was called the Lamb who was slain from the world’s beginning. St. Thomas says: The Blood of Christ is the key to Paradise. St. John Chrysostom affirms: The  Blood of Christ is the salvation of souls...an excellent wine is the Blood of Christ.

RESPONSORY

We have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, -- by the new and living way that he opened for us.

We have a great priest over the house of God.  Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience -- by the new and living way that he opened for us.

Day 20

 A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:18-24)

From the encyclical letter “Evangelium vitae” (The Gospel of Life) by Pope St. John Paul II (+2005)

“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (Gen 4:10). It is not only the voice of the blood of Abel, the first innocent human to be murdered, which cries to God, the source and defender of life. The blood of every other human being who has been killed since Abel is also a voice raised to the Lord. In an absolutely singular way, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, the voice of the blood of Christ, of whom Abel in his innocence is a prophetic figure, cries out to God: “You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God ... to the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel” (12:22, 24).

It is the sprinkled blood. A symbol and prophetic sign of it had been the blood of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, whereby God expressed his will to communicate his own life to humanity, purifying and consecrating them (cf. Ex 24:8; Lev 17:11). Now all of this is fulfilled and comes true in Christ: his is the sprinkled blood which redeems, purifies and saves; it is the blood of the Mediator of the New Covenant “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28). This blood, which flows from the pierced side of Christ on the Cross (cf. Jn 19:34), “speaks more graciously” than the blood of Abel; indeed, it expresses and requires a more radical “justice”, and above all it implores mercy, it makes intercession for the brethren before the Father (cf. Heb 7:25), and it is the source of perfect redemption and the gift of new life.

The blood of Christ, while it reveals the grandeur of the Father’s love, shows how precious human beings are in God’s eyes and how priceless the value of human life. The Apostle Peter reminds us of this: “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pt 1:18-19). Precisely by contemplating the precious blood of Christ, the sign of his self-giving love (cf. Jn 13:1), the believer learns to recognize and appreciate the almost divine dignity of every human being and can exclaim with ever renewed and grateful wonder: “How precious must humanity be in the eyes of the Creator, if we “gained so great a Redeemer’ (Exsultet of the Easter Vigil), and if God gave his only Son” in order that we should not perish but have eternal life’ (cf. Jn 3:16)!”

Furthermore, Christ’s blood reveals to humanity its greatness, and therefore its vocation, consists in the sincere gift of self. Precisely because it is poured out as the gift of life, the blood of Christ is no longer a sign of death, of definitive separation from the brethren, but the instrument of a communion which is richness of life for all. Whoever in the Sacrament of the Eucharist drinks this blood and abides in Jesus (cf. Jn 6:56) is drawn into the dynamism of his love and gift of life, in order to bring to its fullness the original vocation to love which belongs to everyone (cf. Gen 1:27; 2:18-24).

It is from the blood of Christ that all draw the strength to commit themselves to promoting life. It is precisely this blood that is the most powerful source of hope, indeed it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God’s plan life will be victorious. “And death shall be no more”, exclaims the powerful voice which comes from the throne of God in the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 21:4). And Saint Paul assures us that the present victory over sin is a sign and anticipation of the definitive victory over death, when there “shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:54-55).

RESPONSORY

O Lord, the blood of your Son, our brother, cries out to you from the earth. – Blessed the earth that drank in the blood of the Redeemer.

The blood he shed is more eloquent than the blood of Abel. – Blessed the earth that drank in the blood of the Redeemer.

 

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