Eucharistic Readings for the Month of the Precious Blood (Days 1-5)
July 01, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
(N.B. Any of the responsories may be replaced by those given in the three sereis  for Matins together with their antiphons and psalmody)
Day 1
King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. He blessed Abram and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him one tenth of everything. (Gen 14:18-20)
From meditations on the Lord’s Prayer by Evelyn Underhill (+1941)

The symbolism of food plays a large part in all religions, and especially in Christianity.  As within the mysteries of the created order we must all take food and give food – more, must take life and give life – we are here already in touch with the “life-giving and terrible mysteries of Christ,” who indwells that order; for all is the sacramental expression of his all-demanding and all-giving Life.  We accept our constant dependence on physical food as a natural and inevitable thing.  Yet it is not necessarily so: there are creatures which are free from it for long periods of time.  But perhaps because of his borderline status, his embryonic capacity for God, man is kept in constant memory of his own fragility, unable to maintain his existence for long without food from beyond himself; his bodily life dependent on the humble plants and animals that surround him, his soul’s life on the unfailing nourishment of the life of God.  “I am the Bread of Life that came down from Heaven.  He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”  Eternal Life is the gift, the self-imparting of the Eternal God.  We cannot claim it in our own right.

The Biblical writers make plain to us how easily and inevitably men have given spiritual rank to this primitive truth of life’s dependence on food, and seen in it the image of a deeper truth which concerns the very ground of our being.

They give us the strange and haunting figure of Melchizedek, the King and Priest of Salem, of whom we are told so little yet feel we know so much.  It is a picture which holds us by something which far transcends historic accuracy; something conveyed yet unexpressed, like the undertones of a great poem.  While the other kings are fighting, slaying, disputing, their spoils – living the full animal life of self-assertion and self-development – Melchizedek comes forth from his hilltop city, in a quiet majesty which we instinctively identify with holiness; bearing, not any signs of power, but bread and wine.  He is the meek and royal minister of a generous God.  This thought of the King and Priest, unarmed and undemanding, bearing Bread and Wine from the Holy City to the poor fighters in the plain, cannot have been far from our Lord’s mind when, on the eve of the turmoil and agony of the Passion, he blessed and broke the loaves, took the chalice “into his holy and venerable hands” and gave thanks; and, with and in this token sacrifice, gave himself to be forevermore the food of men, “named of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:10)  That noble movement of the ancient king, who did not await his guests within the Holy City, but came forth as one that serveth, bearing bread and wine, is indeed a perfect image of the royal charity which comes to seek men’s souls on the plain where they struggle, bearing the gifts of eternal life.  The Eastern churches have always called the Eucharistic elements the “gifts”; and in the ancient liturgies this emphasis on an unspeakable free gift made to men by God, “one Heavenly Bread, one Food of the whole world,” (Liturgy of Saint James), is heard as a recurrent melody.

Throughout his ministry, our Lord, emphasized the idea of feeding as something intimately connected with his love and care for souls.  The mystery of the Eucharist does not stand alone.  It is the crest of a great wave; a total sacramental disclosure of the dealings of the Transcendent God with men.  The hunger of man is the matter of Christ’s first temptation.  The feedings of the four thousand and the five thousand are more than miracles of practical compassion; we feel that in them something of deep significance is done, one of the mysteries of Eternal Life a little bit unveiled.  So too in the Supper at Emmaus; when the bread is broken the Holy One is known.  It is peculiar to Christianity, indeed part of the mystery of the Incarnation, that it constantly shows us this coming of God through and in homely and fugitive things and events; and puts the need and dependence of the creature at the very heart of prayer.
Christ loved us, and poured out his blood to free us from our sins.
- He has made of us a kingdom of priests.

Live then in love, even as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
- He has made of us a kingdom of priests.
O God,
for your own glory and the salvation of the human race
you appointed Christ as eternal high priest;
grant that by sharing in his memorial
the people he purchased for you by his blood
may know the power of his cross and resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL 1998Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist)
Day 2
[The LORD said to Moses]: This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether an alien or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your settlements you shall eat unleavened bread. (Ex 12:14-20)
From the “Homilies on Joshua” by Origen of Alexandria (+253)

It is necessary to make some comments on the death of Moses, because unless we understand in what sense Moses is said to be dead, we shall not be able to grasp the sense in which the leadership is said to have passed to Joshua (whose name in Greek is Jesus). 

I would ask you, then, to consider the present condition of Jerusalem. The city has been destroyed and its altar abandoned. There are no more sacrifices, no victims or libations, no high priest or temple priesthood, no levitical ministry. Now, having considered all this, say to yourself: Moses, the servant of God, is dead. 

No longer can anyone be observed presenting himself three times a year before the Lord, making offerings in the temple, slaying the Passover lamb, eating unleavened bread, bringing the firstfruits of his harvest or consecrating his firstborn. Take note of this, and say: Moses, the servant of God, is dead. 

In place of these things, I ask you to observe how the Gentiles are turning to the faith and building churches. Altars are not sprinkled with the blood of dumb beasts anymore; they are consecrated by the precious blood of Christ. Instead of the blood of bulls and goats, priests and deacons minister the word of God through the grace of the Holy Spirit. All this must lead you to conclude that Jesus has taken the place of Moses as leader of the people – not Jesus who is called Joshua, the son of Nun, but Jesus the Son of God. 

Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed and we now eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The good soil yields a thirty, sixty, or hundredfold harvest in the Church; the descendants of Israel have been multiplied by the adoption of all those born not of blood or of the will of man or of the will of flesh, but of God himself. God’s scattered children have been reunited. His people now keep the Sabbath not by abstaining from their ordinary work but by refraining from sinful practices. After taking all these things into consideration, say to yourself: Moses, the servant of God, is dead, and Jesus has taken over the leadership. 

There exists a little work that treats of this mystery in figurative language, though admittedly it does not form part of the canon of Scripture. This book describes the appearance of two Moses figures, one a living spirit, the other a dead body. Surely this vision has a prophetic meaning. The letter of the Law, lifeless and empty of all those things of which we have just spoken, may be regarded as the dead body of Moses. But if you know how to remove the veil from the Law and understand that the Law is spiritual, there you have the Moses who continues to live in the spirit.


By faith Moses celebrated the Passover and the sprinkling of blood. 
-- God had something better in view for us.  
You know that you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ as a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
 -- God had something better in view for us.
God our Father,
you have raised our humanity in Christ
and have fed us with the bread of heaven:
mercifully grant that, nourished with such spiritual blessings,
we may set our hearts in the heavenly places;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (Church of England)
Day 3
The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.  And in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’” The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. (Ex 16:4, 13b-21)
From the apostolic letter Lumen orientale of Pope St. John Paul II (+2005)

In the Eucharist, the Church's inner nature is revealed, a community of those summoned to the synaxis to celebrate the gift of the One who is offering and offered: participating in the Holy Mysteries, they become “kinsmen"of Christ”, anticipating the experience of divinization in the now inseparable bond linking divinity and humanity in Christ.

In the liturgical experience, Christ the Lord is the light which illumines the way and reveals the transparency of the cosmos, precisely as in Scripture. The events of the past find in Christ their meaning and fullness, and creation is revealed for what it is: a complex whole which finds its perfection, its purpose in the liturgy alone. This is why the liturgy is heaven on earth, and in it the Word who became flesh imbues matter with a saving potential which is fully manifest in the sacraments: there, creation communicates to each individual the power conferred on it by Christ. Thus the Lord, immersed in the Jordan, transmits to the waters a power which enables them to become the bath of baptismal rebirth.

In the liturgy, things reveal their own nature as a gift offered by the Creator to humanity: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gen 1:31). Though all this is marked by the tragedy of sin, which weighs down matter and obscures its clarity, the latter is redeemed in the Incarnation and becomes fully “theophoric,” that is, capable of putting us in touch with the Father. This property is most apparent in the holy mysteries, the sacraments of the Church.

Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world's salvation. This does not mean, however, an absolute exaltation of all that is physical, for we know well the chaos which sin introduced into the harmony of the human being. The liturgy reveals that the body, through the mystery of the Cross, is in the process of transfiguration, pneumatization: on Mount Tabor Christ showed his body radiant, as the Father wants it to be again.

Cosmic reality also is summoned to give thanks because the whole universe is called to recapitulation in Christ the Lord. This concept expresses a balanced and marvelous teaching on the dignity, respect and purpose of creation and of the human body in particular. With the rejection of all dualism and every cult of pleasure as an end in itself, the body becomes a place made luminous by grace and thus fully human.

To those who seek a truly meaningful relationship with themselves and with the cosmos, so often disfigured by selfishness and greed, the liturgy reveals the way to the harmony of the new man, and invites him to respect the Eucharistic potential of the created world. That world is destined to be assumed in the Eucharist of the Lord, in his Passover, present in the sacrifice of the altar.


Our fathers passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
— Everything that happened to them was symbolic.

All ate the same spiritual food; all drank the same spiritual drink.
— Everything that happened to them was symbolic.

God our creator,
you feed your children with the true manna,
the living bread from heaven:
let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage
until we come to that place
where hunger and thirst are no more;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (Church of England)
Day 4
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, ‘All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt-offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’ (Exodus 24:3-8)
From Meditations before Mass by Romano Guardini (+ 1968)

Behind the covenant of Sinai stands an earlier covenant, the one that existed between God and Abraham. It too had been sealed in blood: After the sun had set and a dark mist had risen, a lamplike fire passed between the «divisions» [of the slaughtered, sacrificial animals]. “That day God made a covenant with Abram, saying: To thy seed will I give this land, from the river of Egypt even to the great river Euphrates” (Gen. 15:17-18). And still further back, in the grey beginnings of time, looms the original covenant between God and Noe, sealed after the Flood, when Noe offered sacrifice to the Lord: “. . . and Noe built an altar unto the Lord: and taking of all cattle and fowls that were clean, offered holocausts upon the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and said: I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man: for the imagination and thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth: therefore I will no more destroy every living soul as I have done. All the days of the earth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, night and day, shall not cease” (Gen. 8:20-22). “Behold, I will establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you…. And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations. I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall I be the sign of a covenant between me, and between the earth” (Gen. 9:8-13).

In all these texts we find the reference to blood, often stressed again and again. This may impress us as strange, inhuman, but we do well to refrain from judging hastily by our twentieth-century reactions. Deep in the consciousness of all races lies a knowledge of the power of blood. Blood is life in its primary and most elementary form. Its flow eases tension, appeases anger, averts the lowering fate, enables life to reassume its course. How, it is impossible to say; we can only sense the truth of this. Somehow, through the flowing of blood a new beginning is made, mysteriously fortified by the sanguinary life-power. Obviously, the primitive significance of blood cannot simply be applied as it stands to revelation, for if ever anything needed redemption, it is the dark, primeval powers of blood. However, once existence has been transfigured, all things are revealed anew, and with them the power of blood. It is significant in the covenant not because it is symbolic of the glory and terror of life, but because in a special way it belongs to God, the Lord of all life. The flowing of the sacrificial blood in the Old Testament is an acknowledgment of His sovereignty, signifying the opposite of what it signifies in other religious sacrifices. It is not a kind of blood-mysticism, not a release of the divinity in nature, not a summoning of the powers of the deep. It has nothing to do with any of these. It is simply the recognition and prayerful acknowledgment that God alone is Lord!

Upon the conception of streaming blood as an expression of ultimate obedience, then, God places His covenant. And again we must be careful to differentiate. The word does not signify here what it does in the various religions, namely, the alliance of a divinity with a particular tribe. There it constitutes the secret vitality of the tribe, which in turn is the immediate expression of the god’s reality. Thus the two are interdependent to the point of being or non-being: the tribe enjoys the power and protection of its god; on the other hand, the god lives from the fertility and strength of the tribe. Their unity is effected in sacrifice. Through his offerings man strengthens the vitality of his god; then, by consuming the offerings, man avails himself of his god’s strength.

In the Old Testament there is not a trace of any such conception. God is not the divinity of a people or tribe because of any natural circumstance. He is not the mysterious source of its vitality and strength, but One who summons it from the freedom of divine decree. Certainly not because He needs human expression of His existence and a steady stream of earthly vitality in order to exist. He needs neither the Hebrew people nor any other people, for He is Lord of all that is. He summons this particular race not because it is better or more pious or more loyal than another. On the contrary, over and over again it proves itself disobedient, hard-hearted, and inconstant. What God founded with the Hebrew people was neither a powerful theocracy nor a religion expressive of a particular racial existence. He simply entrusted the Hebrews with His word and His law, which they were to bear through history, ultimately to all the peoples of the earth. Why He selected the Hebrews for this task is the impenetrable mystery of His decree.

All this must be clear if the word covenant is to receive its full weight. Above all, it is no question of a natural give and take, no alliance between the divine essence and the tribal, no blending of divine power with earthly, no beginning of a history of God in the history of a race. Not until all these conceptions have been cleared away does the inconceivable reveal itself: in absolute freedom the Lord of the universe singles out a people, addresses it and enables it to respond; He gives it His loyalty and demands its loyalty in return. He undertakes a divine task on earth and commands a race to render its services. If that race renounces its natural-historical existence in obedience to God’s command, it will receive its fulfillment direct from divine sovereignty.

But the Hebrew people declined. They clung fast to their racial consciousness and will and hardened themselves therein. When God’s Son, whose coming had been foretold throughout the centuries, comes to fulfill and end the covenant, His relation to men again assumes the form of a covenant. The people of the first covenant crowns its disobedience by turning on the Messiah and killing Him; and the second covenant, which should have been sealed in faith and love, once again is sealed in sacrificial blood, now the blood of Jesus Christ. For the Messiah accepts the destiny prepared for Him by the disobedient people of the first covenant and turns it into the sacrificial offering of the second, which binds the Father, Lord of the world, to His new people, now no longer a natural ethnic one, but a spiritual people, comprised by all the races of the earth and united by faith. Wherever a man opens his heart to the tidings of Christ and believes in Him, he becomes a member of that «people,» as St. Peter says in his first Epistle: “You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of the darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:9).

The new covenant, then, embraces a divine people which takes nothing from any earthly people and disturbs no national history, because it exists on an entirely different plane.

It is strange how completely the idea of the covenant has vanished from the Christian consciousness. We do mention it, but it seems to have lost its meaning for us; our Christian existence is determined by concepts of the new life, the new world, God’s kingdom, all of which tend to attach themselves to corresponding concepts in the natural order and to masquerade as things self-understood. But the moment of demasking always arrives. Then the seeming naturalness of the Christian conceptions falls, and we realize with a start that Christian being is no mere continuation of natural being, that the Christian order of existence is not simply a higher step in the order of nature and man, but «descends» to us from divine freedom and is meant to be caught up and held in human freedom. God summons man before Him. Upon hearing the divine command and question, man is meant to liberate himself from what is purely of this earth and to prove his loyalty to God-straight through the ties of the world. What then takes place is based not on nature, or the processes of history, or the unfolding of the mind and spirit, but on grace, summons, freedom, decision, all contained in the idea of the covenant. We are Christians because of a covenant. This thought must complement the other, more familiar  concept of rebirth and the new creation. Covenant and rebirth: individual dignity and responsibility, and the abundance of the new life. The two great concepts belong together, for they mutually sustain one another.

Holy Mass is the commemoration of God’s new covenant with men. Awareness of this gives the celebration an added significance that is most salutary. To keep this thought in mind is to remind ourselves that Christ’s sacrificial death opened for us the new heaven and the new earth; that there exists between Him and us a contract based not on nature or talent or religious capacity, but on grace and freedom; that it is binding from person to person, loyalty to loyalty. At every Mass we should reaffirm that contract and consciously take our stand in it.

Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, -- 
-- “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” 
We have come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
 -- “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.”
God ever-faithful,
you have made a covenant with your people
in the gift of your Son,
who offered his body for us
and poured out his blood for the many.
As we celebrate [the] eucharistic sacrifice,
build up your Church
by deepening within us the life of your covenant
and by opening our hearts to those in need.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen.  (ICEL 1998; Body and Blood of Christ)

Day 5

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the wadi. (1 Kings 17:1-6)
From the spiritual writings of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (+ 1906)
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood, remains in Me and I in him.” The first sign of love is this: that Jesus has given us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. The property of love is to be always giving and always receiving. Now the love" of Christ is "generous. All that He has, all that He is, He gives; all that we have, all that we are, He takes away. He asks for more than we of ourselves are capable of giving. He has an immense hunger which wants to devour us absolutely. He enters even into the marrow of our bones, and the more lovingly we allow Him to do so, the more fully we savor Him. He knows that we are poor, but He pays no heed to it and does not spare us. He Himself becomes in us His own bread, first burning up, in His love, all our vices, faults, and sins. Then when He sees that we are pure, He comes like a gaping vulture that is going to devour everything. He wants to consume our life in order to change it into His own; ours, full of vices, His, full of grace and glory and all prepared for us, if only we will renounce ourselves. Even if our eyes were good enough to see this avid appetite of Christ who hungers for our salvation, all our efforts would not prevent us from disappearing into His open mouth." Now this sounds absurd, but those who love will understand! When we receive Christ with interior devotion, His blood, full of warmth and glory, flows into our veins and a fire is enkindled in our depths. We receive the likeness of His virtues, and He lives in us and we in Him. He gives us His soul with the fullness of grace, by which the soul persevere in love and praise of the Father! Love draws its object into itself; we draw Jesus into ourselves; Jesus draws us into Himself. Then carried above ourselves into love's interior," seeking God, we go to meet Him, to meet His Spirit, which is His love, and this love burns us, consumes us, and draws us into unity where beatitude awaits us. Jesus meant this when He said: “With great desire have I desired to eat this pasch with you.”
R/. Elijah saw by his head a baked loaf of bread. He got up and ate it and drank, and walked by the strength of that food to the mountain of God. 
V/. Anyone who eats of this bread will live forever.  V/. Elijah saw…
You have blessed all generations,
O God most high,
in Jesus, our compassionate Saviour,
for through him you invite us to your kingdom,
welcome us to your table,
and provide us with nourishment in abundance.
Teach us to imitate your unfailing kindness
and to build up Christ’s body, the Church,
by generously handing on to others
the gifts we have received from your bounty.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.  (ICEL 1998; Body and Blood of Christ)