In generationibus vestris cultu sempiterno

| | Comments (4)

Preciosisima%20sangre%20de%20Cristo%2C%20Anonimo%2C%20Oleo%20sobre%20tela%2C%2040%20X%2026%20cms%2C%20Siglo%20XVII-%20XVIII.jpg

"This day shall be unto you for a memorial and ye shall keep it a Feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a Feast by an ordinance for ever" (Exodus 12:14)

As I sang this Magnificat Antiphon at Second Vespers of the Most Precious Blood, I felt certain irony. It was in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, convened by Blessed John XXIII, an ardent promoter of devotion to the Precious Blood, that the feast of the Precious Blood was removed from the reformed calendar. This was not something that Blessed John XXIII could have foreseen.

The argument that the cultus of the Precious Blood is included in the Mass and Divine Office of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ fails to convince me that it was necessary to suppress the feast of July 1st. Its magnificent antiphons and responsories, drawn principally from the Letter to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse, are possessed of a spiritual unction that penetrates the heart.

The Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, sons of Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, and the religious Congregations associated with them, might think about launching a movement for the restoration of the Feast of the Most Precious Blood to the General Calendar. My esteemed confrère, Father Jeff Keyes, C.PP.S. may be able to get things moving.

In any event, the month of July is suitable for meditating the Apostolic Letter of Blessed John XXIII, Inde A Primis, on promoting devotion to the Precious Blood. Here is the text:

To his Venerable Brother Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See: Venerable brethren: greetings and apostolic blessings.

Devotion to the Most Precious Blood

From the very outset of our pontificate, in speaking of daily devotions we have repeatedly urged the faithful (often in eager tones that frankly hinted our future design) to cherish warmly that wondrous manifestation of divine mercy toward individuals and Holy Church and the whole world redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ: we mean devotion to his Most Precious Blood.

Catholic Childhood and Family Life

From infancy this devotion was instilled in us within our own household. Fondly we still recall how our parents used to recite the Litany of the Most Precious Blood every day during July.

The Surveillance and Development of Piety

The Apostle's wholesome advice comes to mind: "Keep watch, then, over yourselves, and over God's Church, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops; you are to be the shepherds of that flock which he won for himself at the price of his own blood."[1] Now among the cares of our pastoral office, venerable brethren, we are convinced that, second only to vigilance over sound doctrine, preference belongs to the proper surveillance and development of piety, in both its liturgical and private expressions. With that in mind, we judge it most timely to call our beloved children's attention to the unbreakable bond which must exist between the devotions to the Most Holy Name and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus — already so widespread among Christians— and devotion to the incarnate Word's Most Precious Blood, "shed for many, to the remission of sins."[2]

Thinking With the Church

It is supremely important that the Church's liturgy fully conform to Catholic belief ("the law for prayer is the law for faith"[3]), and that only those devotional forms be sanctioned which well up from the unsullied springs of true faith. But the same logic calls for complete accord among different devotions. Those deemed more basic and more conducive to holiness must not be at odds with or cut off from one another. And the more individualistic and secondary ones must give way in popularity and practice to those devotions which more effectively actuate the fullness of salvation wrought by the "one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, who is a man, like them, and gave himself as a ransom for them all." [4] Through living in an atmosphere thus charged with true faith and solid piety the faithful can be confident that they are "thinking with the Church" and holding fast in the loving fellowship of prayer to Christ Jesus, the High Priest of that sublime religion which he founded and which owes to him its name, its strength, its dignity.

Wonderful Advances in Liturgical Piety

The Church's wonderful advances in liturgical piety match the progress of faith itself in penetrating divine truth. Within this development it is most heart-warming to observe how often in recent centuries this Holy See has openly approved and furthered the three devotions just mentioned. From the Middle Ages, it is true, many pious persons practiced these devotions, which then spread to various dioceses and religious orders and congregations. Nevertheless it remained for the Chair of Peter to pronounce them orthodox and approve them for the Church as a whole.

Holy Name, Sacred Heart, Precious Blood

Suffice it to recall the spiritual favours that our predecessors from the sixteenth century on have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which in the previous century St. Bernardine of Siena untiringly spread throughout Italy. Approval was given first to the Office and Mass of the Most Holy Name and later to the Litany.[5] No less striking are the benefits the popes have attached to practising devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose rise and spread owe so much to the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.[6] So highly have all the popes regarded this devotion that again and again in their official acts they have expounded its nature, defended its validity, promoted its practice. Their crowning achievement on this devotion are three splendid encyclicals.[7]

Greater Liturgical Splendour

Likewise the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, which owes its marvellous diffusion to the 19th-century Roman priest, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, has rightly merited the approval and backing of this Apostolic See. We may recall that by order of Benedict XIV the Mass and Office in honour of the divine Saviour's adorable Blood were composed. And to fulfill a vow made at Gaeta Pius IX extended the feast to the whole Church.[8] Finally, as a commemoration of the nineteenth centenary of our redemption, Pius XI of happy memory raised this feast to the rank of first-class double, so that the greater liturgical splendour would highlight the devotion and bring to men more abundant fruits of the redeeming Blood.

Approval of the Litany of the Precious Blood

Following our predecessors' example we have taken further steps to promote the devotion to the Precious Blood of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus Christ. We have approved the Litany of the Precious Blood drawn up by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and through special indulgences have encouraged its public and private recitation throughout the Catholic world. Amid today's most serious and pressing spiritual needs, may this latest exercise of that "care for all the churches"[9] proper to our sovereign office awaken in Christian hearts a firm conviction about the supreme abiding effectiveness of these three devotions.

July, Month of the Precious Blood

As we now approach the feast and month devoted to honouring Christ's Blood — the price of our redemption, the pledge of salvation and life eternal— may Christians meditate on it more fervently, may they savour its fruits more frequently in sacramental communion. Let their meditations on the boundless power of the Blood be bathed in the light of sound biblical teaching and the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. How truly precious is this Blood is voiced in the song which the Church sings with the Angelic Doctor (sentiments wisely seconded by our predecessor Clement VI [10] ) :

Blood that but one drop of has the world to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Adoration of the Precious Blood

Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man's Blood — just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden,[12] in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church's sacraments. Such surpassing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Blood of the new and eternal covenant especially deserves this worship of latria when it is elevated during the Sacrifice of the Mass. But such worship achieves its normal fulfilment in sacramental communion with the same Blood, indissolubly united with Christ's Eucharistic Body. In intimate association with the celebrant the faithful can then truly make his sentiments at communion their own: "I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. . . The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul for everlasting life. Amen." Thus as often as they come worthily to this holy table they will receive more abundant fruits of the redemption and resurrection and eternal life won for all men by the Blood Christ shed "through the Holy Spirit."[13] Nourished by his Body and Blood, sharing the divine strength that has sustained count less martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day's fortunes — even if need be to martyrdom itself for the sake of Christian virtue and the kingdom of God.

Like Lions Breathing Out Fire

Theirs will be the experience of that burning love which made Saint John Chrysostom cry out:

Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church... This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works. [14]

Social Fruits of Devotion to the Precious Blood

If only Christians would reflect more frequently on the fatherly warning of the first pope: "Look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts.
You know well enough that your ransom was not paid in earthly currency, silver or gold; it was paid in the precious blood of Christ; no lamb was ever so pure, so spotless a victim."[15] If only they would lend a more eager ear to the apostle of the Gentiles: "A great price was paid to ransom you; glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence."[16] Their upright lives would then be the shining example they ought to be; Christ's Church would far more effectively fulfill its mission to men. God wants all men to be saved,[17] for he has willed that they should all be ransomed by the Blood of his only-begotten Son; he calls them all to be members of the one Mystical Body whose head is Christ. If only men would be more responsive to these promptings of his grace, how much the bonds of brotherly love among individuals and peoples and nations would be strengthened. Life in society would be so much more peaceable, so much worthier of God and the human nature created in his image and likeness.[18]

More Eloquent than the Blood of Abel

This is the sublime vocation that St. Paul urged Jewish converts to fix their minds on when tempted to nostalgia for what was only a weak figure and prelude of the new covenant: "The scene of your approach now is Mount Sion, is the heavenly Jerusalem, city of the living God; here are gathered thousands upon thousands of angels, here is the assembly of those first-born sons whose names are written in heaven, here is God sitting in judgment on all men, here are the spirits of just men, now made perfect; here is Jesus, the spokesman of the new covenant, and the sprinkling of his blood, which has better things to say than Abel's had." [19]

Not Just Willingly but Enthusiastically

We have full confidence, venerable brethren, that these fatherly exhortations of ours, once brought to the attention of your priests and people in whatever way you deem best, will be put into practice not just willingly but enthusiastically. As a sign of heavenly graces and our affection we im part our most heartfelt apostolic blessing to each of you and to all your flocks, and particularly to those who respond with devout generosity to the promptings of this letter.

Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the eve of the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood, June 30, 1960, the second year of our pontificate.

1. Acts 20:28.
2. Matthew 26 :2&
3. Encyclical "On the Sacred Liturgy," America Press edition (New York: 1954), No. 46.
4. I Timothy 2:5-6.
5. Acta Sanctae Sedis 18 (1886) :509.
6. Cf. Office for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2nd nocturn, lesson 5.
7. "On the Consecration of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus," The
Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: 1903), 454-- 461; "The Reparation Due to the Sacred Heart," The Catholic Mind
26 (1928): 221-235; "On Devotion to the Sacred Heart," The Pope
Speaks 3 (1956): 115-149.
8. Decree "Redempti Sumus," Aug. 10, 1849, Decreta Authentica S.RC. (Rome: 1898), II, No. 2978.
9. II Corinthians 11:28.
10. Bull "The Only Begotten Son of God," Jan. 25, 1343, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (St. Louis: 1957), No. 550.
1. Hymn "Adoro te devote." Translation from Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford: 1930), No. 89.
12. Luke 22:43.
13. Hebrews 9:14.
14. "Homily 46," Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (Fathers of the Church, New York: 1957), 469, 471-472.
15. 1 Peter 1:17-19.
16. I Corinthians 6:20.
17. Cf. I Timothy 2:4.
18. Cf. Genesis 1:26.
19. Hebrews 12:22-24.

4 Comments

Thank you Fr. Mark and might I add that Fr. John Hardon's is so very nourishing to the mind and the soul:http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Christology/Christology_013.htm

The Precious Blood - "Peter begins by reminding the faithful to remember the hardest thing in this life for us is to remain mindful of the truths of faith. Because what we believe on God's revealed Word is twice removed from the common experience that we have in this world. What we believe is first of all not immediately perceptible to the senses."

The rest from Fr. Hardon:
"Moreover, what we believe is not even penetrable to the naked reason. The word, remember, is an imperative: keep in mind. Arouse your faith in what and how you were redeemed. And it is the how we were redeemed that is the foundation stone of the mystery of the Precious Blood. God took on a human nature so that in that human nature He could die. In order to die, the soul had to separate from the body. But for the Body to have the soul separate, the body itself had to be deprived of His Blood. Theologically speaking and physiologically speaking, the All-Holy Son of God who became Man to redeem us could only have died by being drained of His Blood. Christ, listen, could not have died of some disease. Christ could not have died because of some mortal illness. All illness, disease, the natural debilitating of the body is the result of sin. Let me emphasize this. All our illness, our disease, our sickness, our wasting away of our body for all of us this is our faith - is the result of our sinful nature. Not so with Christ. That draining of the human body of His Blood was the one way that Christ, Sinless Son of God and Son of Mary that He was, the one way that He could die."
May all in this month of the Precious Blood be totally covered in HIS Precious Blood. May we all pray, meditate, promote, and encourage others in this devotion.

Thank you for all your uplifting articles and pictures! After reading these two, I had to find a litany of the Precious Blood, and there are several posted at Google, as most people might guess!

I wish I could get it restored to the Universal Calendar. I live at the fringes of my community, and few would support such an endeavor since it was never removed from our calendar. The members I live with see my devotion to the liturgy as something not to support, although they do not impede it.

Leave a comment

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

Categories

Archives