Today is the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Saviour Jesus Christ and the Commemorations of the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost and the Octave of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.
It was six months ago now that the New Year began with the Feast of the Circumcision, the first time in which the Most Precious Blood of Jesus was shed on this earth. We have now begun the second six months of Anno Domini 2018, commemorating liturgically the Blood whose shedding made possible our regeneration in the Baptismal font and the Blood whose merits are poured out on us as a laver of redemption every time we avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Penance. The entire month of July is devoted to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
The Most Precious Blood of Jesus was pumped through His arteries by that same Sacred Heart, Which was formed out of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There was for a period of nine months, as the unborn Jesus developed in the tabernacle of His virginal and immaculate Mother’s womb, an interchange of the blood between Mother and Son, making Our Lady, who gave the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity His Sacred Humanity by the power of the God the Holy Ghost, the first to receive the Most Precious Blood of the Divine Redeemer. She received from Him what she had given Him, signifying the tremendous and mysterious–nay, almost impenetrable–union that existed between the Theandric Person and herself, who had been conceived immaculately and thus preserved from all stain of Original and Actual Sin. The Most Precious Blood that Our Lady gave to her Divine Son would be splattered on her as she watched Him shed every single drop of It to redeem us on the Wood of the Holy Cross.
The Most Precious Blood of Jesus has replaced the blood of goats and bulls and lambs, which was a mere foreshadowing of the Blood of all telling that would be shed for the many so that the lintels of the doorposts of their souls could be signed with It, the Blood of the Paschal Lamb, and thus avoid the angel of eternal death and damnation when they gave up their spirits and breathed their last in this vale of tears. It alone has the power to forgive sins and to regenerate eternal life in the souls of the faithful who seek out Its infinite and inexhaustible merits in the confessional. We receive the Most Precious Blood of Jesus every time we receive Holy Communion. Every single particle of a consecrated Host is the entirety of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the God-Man, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are thus not only healed of sin by the Most Precious Blood of Jesus; we are nourished unto eternity by It.
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ poured out His Most Precious Blood for us to pay back for us in His Sacred Humanity the blood debt of Adam’s sin that was owed to Him in His Infinity as God. One drop of His Most Precious Blood at the Circumcision would have been good enough to redeem us. He chose, though, to undergo the events of His fearful Passion and Death so as to show us, His rational creatures who are frequently so ungrateful and lukewarm, the depth of His love for us and to show us that we must be ready to shed our blood, both figuratively and literally, for Him and His Holy Church. And we must be ready to give unto the others the forgiveness that was poured out over us in the Sacrament of Baptism and is poured over us by the merits of the Most Precious Blood, applied to us in time by the words and actions of an alter Christus acting in persona Christi, repeatedly in the Sacrament of Penance. We must never be slow to offer others the Mercy that was won for us by Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s emptying Himself completely of the substance that made His human life possible, His Most Precious Blood.
As we seen from the accounts of mystics, such as the Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed His Most Precious Blood in the Garden of Gethsemane when capillaries burst in His head and His extremities as He underwent His Agony, seeing at that time all of the sins of all human beings, including yours and mine, for all eternity. The very thought of coming into contact in His Sacred Humanity with the antithesis of His Sacred Divinity, sin, caused Him to sweat droplets of His Most Precious Blood. Have we resisted sin to the point of shedding blood, as Saint Paul discusses in his Epistle to the Hebrews?
For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in. For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth. Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, Saying: This is the blood of the testament, which God hath enjoined unto you.
The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission. It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Jesus is not entered into the holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holies, every year with the blood of others:
For then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world: but now once at the end of ages, he hath appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment: So also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many; the second time he shall appear without sin to them that expect him unto salvation. (Hebrews 9: 21-28.)
Dom Gueranger puts it this way in The Liturgical Year:
John the Baptist [whose nativity's octave is commemorated today] has pointed out the Lamb, Peter has firmly established his throne, Paul has prepared the bride; their joint work, admirable in its unity, at once suggests the reason for their feasts occurring almost simultaneously in the cycle. The alliance being now secured, all three fall into shade; whilst the bride herself, raised up by them to such lofty heights, appears alone before us, holding in her hands the sacred cup of the nuptial-feast.
This gives the key of to-day’s solemnity, revealing how its appearance in the heavens of the holy liturgy at this particular season is replete with mystery. The Church, it is true, has already made known to the sons of the new covenant, in a much more solemn manner, the price of the Blood that redeemed them, its nutritive strength and the adoring homage which is its due. On Good Friday earth and heaven beheld all sin drowned in the saving stream, whose eternal flood-gates at last gave way beneath the combined effort of man’s violence and the love of the divine Heart. The festival of Corpus Christi witnessed our prostrate worship before the altars whereon is perpetuated the Sacrifice of Calvary, and where the outpouring of the precious Blood afford drink to the humblest little ones, as well as to the mightiest potentates of the earth, lowly bowed in adoration before it. How is it, then, that holy Church, is now inviting all Christians to hail, in a particular manner, the stream of life ever gushing from the sacred fount? what else can this mean, but that the preceding solemnities have by no means exhausted the mystery? The peace which this Blood has made to reign in the high places as well as in the low; the impetus of its wave bearing back the sons of Adam from the yawning gulf, purified, renewed and dazzling white in the radiance of their heavenly apparel; the sacred Table outspread before them on the waters’ brink, and the chalice brimful of inebriation–all this preparation and display would be objectless, all these splendours would be incomprehensible, if man were not brought to see herein the wooings of a love that could never endure its advances to be outdone by the pretensions of any other. Therefore, the Blood of Jesus is set before our eyes at this moment as the Blood of the Testament; the pledge of the alliance proposed to us by God; the dower stipulated by eternal Wisdom for this divine union to which he is inviting all men, and its consummation in our soul which is being urged forward with such vehemence by the Holy Ghost. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
It is thus incumbent upon us today, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood and the Octave Day of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, to make any and all sacrifices that we need to make to unite ourselves spiritually each day with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered at the hands of true priests if the circumstances our lives of the very circumstaances of the Church Militant in this time of apostasy and betrayal make it impossible to assist personally at the ineffable Sacrifice of the Cross.
The Precursor of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Saint John the Baptist, leapt for joy in the womb of his mother, Saint Elizabeth, as he heard the sound of the voice of Our Lady, carrying within her virginal and immaculate womb the One whose path he would prepare. Saint John the Baptist prepared the way by his preaching for the coming of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to assume His Public Ministry. May he, by his prayers from eternity, help us to prepare for the worthy reception of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity each day at the offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition wherein everything points seamlessly to the fact we are present at the very Sacrifice of the Cross at which the Most Precious Blood was shed for our redemption and for our nourishment unto eternity.
Father Frederick Faber’s The Precious Blood, which has been quoted much on this site in recent months, provides us with excellent food for thought on this glorious feast day:
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 intervention, 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 dominion of its Maker. In the mist 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 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, and 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 opposition in God are seen to be harmonious most simple and 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. Tot hem 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 form 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 moulded 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 the 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 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!
But the hour arrived, and the Creator became a part of his own Creation. The Precious Blood was actually created, and rose and fell in pulses of true human life, and filled with joyous being the Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart, and lived its life of Three-and-Thirty Years among men. These Three-and-Thirty Years formed in all true senses the longest and most important epoch of the history of creation. They were filled with countless actions, the value of each one of which was infinite. The vocations stamped upon millions of souls came from those actions of God made man. Their energies are vigorously ruling the world at this hour. The have moulded age after age since then. All holiness has been but an infinitely diversified copy of them. Out of their merits the attributes of God daily drink their fill, and yet those merits still abound and overflow. Out of their merits the Sacraments are drawing incalculable exuberance of grace all day and night; and they are still full to the very brim, and capable of saving unnumbered new creations. Out of the satisfactions of those years the jurisdiction of the Church has drawn unlimited indulgences; yet no visible impression has been made on their abundance. Poetry and art go to those years as to a school of heavenliest beauty; and all times and all minds find the lessons fresh and new. Theology sits by them as by abysses of divine wisdom, and one while is actively weaving her wondrous science out of them, and another while, captivated by their beauty, forgets to weave, is rapt in contemplation, and becomes devotion. As to devotion, those years are its very cloister and its garden. That life is God made visible to his creatures as the rule of life. It lays bare the very foundations of morals. It reveals the possibilities of human actions, while it also paints as in a picture the indefinable operations of the Holy Ghost. It is a freshness and a joy to think that, at this hour of the peaceful dawn, thousands of souls are silent before God, caught in the sweet snares of the beauty of these earthly years of Jesus. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ revealed to the Blessed Michael of Florence, the Camaldolese, how he longed that those who loved him should honor the Thirty-three Years with affectionate minuteness. It has been the characteristic devotion of all the saints. The souls that have been most drawn to meditate upon the attributes of God have learned their science in that other science of the Three-and-Thirty Years. Sometimes this devotion takes special possession of a religious order for some length of time. Sometimes it fastens upon a single religious house, and develops itself with marvellous fertility. This appears to have been the case with the Carmelite convent at Dole in the seventeenth century. To Sister Anne of Cross, lay-sister, it was the form and type of her whole life. It came natural to her do even her ordinary actions in thirty-threes. Still more did her penances and devotions take that shape. When that she was asked if she did not weary of such a reiterated devotion, she replied that, so far from it, it always came to hear as new. The devotion of Mother Louisa of Jesus was even yet more remarkable. She could hardly occupy her soul with any thing but the Thirty-Three Years; and the abundant lights she received from God in prayer had chiefly reference to this devotion. The first years of the Sacred Infancy were “delicious” to her soul. She had an especial attraction to contemplate the first time Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ bent on his knees, and clasped his hands, in prayer to the Father. Her holiness seemed always to be a participation in some of the interior dispositions of Jesus upon earth; and the characteristics of her spiritual life, consequent upon this devotion, were persevering fervor and extreme joyousness. She imprinted this devotion upon the whole community, and also upon the externs who came across her.
We see remarkable traces of the same devotion in Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s answer to the prayers of Frances of the Mother of God, Carmelitress at Dieppe, distinguished for her devotion to the Precious Blood. When she was praying for the soul of Sister Catherine of the Angels, she asked Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ after Communion to apply to Sister Catherine’s soul one drop of his Precious Blood in order to achieve her deliverance. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ answered, “I have given her one of my steps,” thus showing the value of his least actions. At another time she made the same prayer for Sister Elizabeth of the Nativity, asking for one drop of the Precious Blood; and Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ answered, “I will give her one of my tears, the efficacy of which is so great that it would turn hell into paradise, if it were applied there.” These answers seem to imply a special devotion in Frances of the Mother of God to the Thirty-Three Years; and that saintly religious was one of the most remarkable among the holy persons of the seventeenth century.
We speak very truly when we divide the world into many worlds. We take of the vegetable world, and the mineral world, and the animal world. We even subdivide these into lesser world. We go to the sidereal world to learn the immensities of space. Geology opens a world to us, which overshadows us with its distances of time. We call a man a little world in himself; and the microscopic world, which it is so rife with new aspects of God, delights us with all that it insinuates of the possibilities and likelihoods of the invisible world of immaterial and angelic life. We call these by the name of worlds, because they seem like complete creations in themselves, and are each of them a distinct revelation of God, distinct from all other revelations of him, and yet harmonizing with them all. They are separate shadows of God. The are his wisdom and his beauty, his power and his love, seen from different points of view. He is many Creators in one Creator. We are very right in making his one world into many worlds. So it is with the Incarnation. The whole material universe is not so vast as that one world of the Incarnation, nor capable of so many or such magnificent subdivisions. Intellectually or spiritually, the Thirty-Three Years form a world far vaster than the world of stars. They can even bear to be subdivided into many other worlds, which are still spacious enough for the swift intelligences of angels, as well as the rapidity of glorified human minds, to traverse for eternity, finding fresh wonders evermore. The Precious Blood has one biography in Mary’s Womb, where it issued from the lone sanctities of her immaculate heart. It has another in Bethlehem, and another in Egypt, and another in Nazareth, and another on the shores of Gennesareth, and another in Jerusalem, and another in Galilee. Each of these is a world beyond the measures of our science, a cloister for devotion, and yet a cloister in which eternity has ample room. God’s vastness is a living vastness. It carries itself everywhere, and everywhere is entire and transcends the necessities of space. Each of these separate worlds of the life of Jesus upon earth is tied by some occult sympathy to some particular attribute, or group of attributes to God. Thus we learn in the life of Mother Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, Carmalitess, at Dijon, that the souls which are called to a special devotion to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Resurrection have always a peculiar attraction to worship the divine sanctity. These are glimpses of that glad science of the Three-and-Thirty Years, which will be part o four unutterable bliss beyond the grave. Surely it makes the world seem wearier than ever, to think of the unsuspected grandeurs which the mysteries of our sweet Jesus are waiting to pour out into our souls, when he has received us into his kingdom.
It is plain, from what has been said, that our knowledge of the inward life of the Precious Blood during the Thirty-Three Years must be very superficial. Nevertheless, we must put it before ourselves as clearly as we can. Its first beginning was in the thrills of beatific joy. We shall see reasons afterward for carefully noting this. The beginning of the Human Life of Jesus was not gradual. It had no dawn. Its very union with the Divinity rendered this impossible. It broke out of nothingness into the blaze of consciousness and blessed ecstasy. It saw God as not even Mary sees him now. It saw him, went out of sight of all creation toward comprehending him, enjoyed him as not all heaven after the Doom will enjoy him, and adored him as no fabulous number of possible worlds could ever have adored him. This was the first pulse of the Precious Blood. They very first throb had in it an incalculable immensity of gladness. Out of its first moment all worlds might be gladdened beyond their power of bearing gladness. Save the Uncreated Jubilee, the sweet Spirit of the Father and the Son, never was there jubilee like that of the Precious Blood in its beginning. Yet from that hour the jubilee has never ceased; it has never lessened; it has never changed. Its pulses are not tides. They imply no vicissitude. They betoken only an equable impetuosity of immutable delight. The gladness which flashed like lightning out of the eyes of the Infant into the heart of Mary was unabated when the same eyes drooped languidly toward her upon Calvary. The blessedness which broke forth like a creation of light in the glory of the Resurrection had never left the Sacred Heart even during the Way of the Cross. But, with the beatific joy, the Precious Blood had all other joys as well. That Human Life as a joy in itself, a joy in its divine union, independently of its vision of God. It was a joy in the love and possession of so sweet a Mother. It was a joy in the unearthly tranquility of Joseph’s deep, loving adorable heart,. It was a joy in the jubilee of the worshipping angels. It was a joy in the very bitterness of its redeeming woes, and it was a joy in the intensity of its own loves of God and men.
But it was a life also of colossal of sorrows, even though they abated not the joy. Never did blood of man throb with such excesses of anguish as the Precious Blood of our most dear Redeemer. Its sorrows were lifelong. Their excesses exceeded all the tortures of the martyrs. There was never a moment which was not occupied with sorrow. The jubilee never commingled with the woe, not tempered it, nor compensated for it. Nay, rather, all joys intensified the sorrows. Joy, surely, is in itself a diviner thing than sorrow; for there can be no sorrow in the Ever-blessed. But sorrow was more human; and therefore it was chosen as the instrument of man’s redemption; and thus to us it becomes more divine, because it brings God to us and raises us up to God. Thus sorrow was more natural to the Precious Blood. It was a life more congenial to its nature. Moreover, it was its official life. For by sorrow it was to accomplish its redeeming work. Its shedding was to be not only the consummation of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s suffering, but the chosen suffering, in which precisely the work of redemption was to lie. Jesus–thrice blessed be his most dear Name!–is all our own, neither can we spare any thing of him. Yet it was precisely his Soul which was to redeem us, nor the Passion of his Body which was to be exactly our expiation. It was the shedding of his Blood which was to cleanse us from our sins. The remedy of the Fall was precisely in the Saviour’s Blood. All the sorrows of his life grew up to the shedding of his Blood, and were crowned of his life grew up to the shedding of his Blood, and were crowned by it; and his shedding the last drops of its after he was dead was significant of the work it had to do. The Soul, and the Body, and the Blood lay separate; and the sacrifice was thus complete. (Father Frederick Faber, The Precious Blood, written in 1860 and republished by TAN Books and Publishers in 1978, pp. 162-167.)
We must realize that there can be no peace in the souls of men or in their nations or the world unless each man everywhere comes to recognize that the price of human redemption was wrought for us by the God-Man as He shed His blood to redeem us. There is no secular salvation in any ideology or program or policy. There is salvation only in the Blood of the Divine Redeemer. We must resist the entreaties of the naturalists who tell us repeatedly that they have a plan for world peace or for national security that either ignores or is indifferent to this simple fact: the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ the source of our peace and sanctification.
One of the greatest tragedies of the conciliar revolution is that it has robbed so many Catholics around the world of access to the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We can only see, however, how so many Catholics act with equanimity when they see a man claiming to be the Vicar of Christ on earth fawning over the symbols of false religions and endless praising Protestants, the Orthodox, Talmudists, Mohammedans, Buddhists, and Hindus, among so many others, and as he makes short work of the remaining vestiges of recognizable Catholicism within what is a false church, a church that is but the counterfeit ape of the Catholic Church.
Why should Catholics be concerned about “loftier theological arguments” when the counterfeit church of conciliarism of which they are a part, whether wittingly or unwittingly, has denied them access to the merits of the Most Precious Blood of the Divine Redeemer, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? The world described by Father Faber in the passage from The Precious Blood just quoted is our world today! It is the world that is at peace with the daily slaughter of the innocent preborn by chemical and surgical means and the world that is celebrating the advances made by the lavender agenda at this time:
It is plain that some millions of sins in a day are hindered by the Precious Blood; and this is not merely a hindering of so many individual sins, but it is an immense check upon the momentum of sin. It is also a weakening of habits of sin, and a diminution of the consequences of sin. If then, the action of the Precious Blood were withdrawn from the world, sins would not only increase incalculably in number, but the tyranny of sin would be fearfully augmented, and it would spread among a greater number of people. It would wax so bold that no one would be secure from the sins of others. It would be a constant warfare, or an intolerable vigilance, to preserve property and rights. Falsehood would become so universal as to dissolve society; and the homes of domestic life would be turned into wards either of a prison or a madhouse. We cannot be in the company of an atrocious criminal without some feeling of uneasiness and fear. We should not like to be left alone with him, even if his chains were not unfastened. But without the Precious Blood, such men would abound in the world. They might even become the majority. We know of ourselves, from glimpses God has once or twice given us in life, what incredible possibilities of wickedness we have in our souls. Civilization increases these possibilities. Education multiplies and magnifies our powers of sinning. Refinement adds a fresh malignity. Men would thus become more diabolically and unmixedly bad, until at last earth would be a hell on this side of the grave. There would also doubtless be new kinds of sins and worse kinds. Education would provide the novelty, and refinement would carry it into the region of the unnatural. All highly-refined and luxurious developments of heathenism have fearfully illustrated this truth. A wicked barbarian is like a beast. His savage passions are violent but intermitting, and his necessities of sin do not appear to grow. Their circle is limited. But a highly-educated sinner, without the restraints of religion, is like a demon. His sins are less confined to himself. They involve others in their misery. They require others to be offered as it were in sacrifice to them. Moreover, education, considered simply as an intellectual cultivation, propagates sin, and makes it more universal.
The increase of sin, without the prospects which the faith lays open to us, must lead to an increase of despair, and to an increase of it upon a gigantic scale. With despair must come rage, madness, violence, tumult, and bloodshed. Yet from what quarter could we expect relief in this tremendous suffering? We should be imprisoned in our own planet. The blue sky above us would be but a dungeon-roof. The greensward beneath our feet would truly be the slab of our future tomb. Without the Precious Blood there is no intercourse between heaven and earth. Prayer would be useless. Our hapless lot would be irremediable. It has always seemed to me that it will be one of the terrible things in hell, that there are no motives for patience there. We cannot make the best of it. Why should we endure it? Endurance is an effort for a time; but this woe is eternal. Perhaps vicissitudes of agony might be a kind of field for patience. But there are no such vicissitudes. Why should we endure, then? Simply because we must; and yet in eternal things this is not a sort of necessity which supplies a reasonable ground for patience. So in this imaginary world of rampant sin there would be no motives for patience. For death would be our only seeming relief; and that is only seeming, for death is any thin but an eternal sleep. Our impatience would become frenzy; and if our constitutions were strong enough to prevent the frenzy from issuing in downright madness, it would grow into hatred of God, which is perhaps already less uncommon than we suppose.
An earth, from off which all sense of justice had perished, would indeed be the most disconsolate of homes. The antediluvian earth exhibits only a tendency that way; and the same is true of the worst forms of heathenism. The Precious Blood was always there. Unnamed, unknown, and unsuspected, the Blood of Jesus has alleviated every manifestation of evil which there has ever been just as it is alleviating at this hour the punishments of hell. What would be our own individual case on such a blighted earth as this? All our struggles to be better would be simply hopeless. There would be no reason why we should not give ourselves up to that kind of enjoyment which our corruption does substantially find in sin. The gratification of our appetites is something; and that lies on one side, while on the other side there is absolutely nothing. But we should have the worm of conscience already, even though the flames of hell might yet be some years distant. To feel that we are fools, and yet lack the strength to be wiser–is not this precisely the maddening thing in madness? Yet it would be our normal state under the reproaches of conscience, in a world where there was no Precious Blood. Whatever relics of moral good we might retain about us would add most sensibly to our wretchedness. Good people, if there were any, would be, as St. Paul speaks, of all men the most miserable; for they would be drawn away from the enjoyment of this world, or have their enjoyment of it abated by a sense of guilt and shame; and there would be no other world to aim at or to work for. To lessen the intensity of our hell without abridging its eternity would hardly be a cogent motive, when the temptations of sin and the allurements of sense are so vivid and strong.
What sort of love could there be, when we could have no respect? Even if flesh and blood made us love each other, what a separation death would be! We should commit our dead to the ground without a hope. Husband and wife would part with the fearfullest certainties of a reunion more terrible than their separation. Mothers would long to look upon their little ones in the arms of death, because their lot would be less woeful than if they lived to offend God with their developed reason and intelligent will. The sweetest feelings of our nature would become unnatural, and the most honorable ties be dishonored. Our best instincts would lead us into our worst dangers. Our hearts would have to learn to beat another way, in order to avoid the dismal consequences which our affections would bring upon ourselves and others. But it is needless to go further into these harrowing details. The world of the heart, without the Precious Blood, and with an intellectual knowledge of God, and his punishments of sin, is too fearful a picture to be drawn with minute fidelity.
But how would it fare with the poor in such a world? They are God’s chosen portion upon the earth. He chose poverty himself, when he came to us. He has left the poor in his place, and they are never to fail from the earth, but to be his representatives there until the doom. But, if it were not for the Precious Blood, would any one love them? Would any one have a devotion to them, and dedicate his life to merciful ingenuities to alleviate their lot? If the stream of almsgiving is so insufficient now, what would it be then? There would be no softening of the heart by grace; there would be no admission of of the obligation to give away in alms a definite portion of our incomes; there would be no desire to expiate sin by munificence to the needy for the love of God. The gospel makes men’s hearts large;and yet even under the gospel the fountain of almsgiving flows scantily and uncertainly. There would be no religious orders devoting themselves with skilful concentration to different acts of spiritual and corporal mercy. Vocation is a blossom to be found only in the gardens of the Precious Blood. But all this is only negative, only an absence of God. Matters would go much further in such a world as we are imagining.
Even in countries professing to be Christian, and at least in possession of the knowledge of the gospel, the poor grow to be an intolerable burden to the rich. They have to be supported by compulsory taxes; and they are in other ways a continual subject of irritated and impatient legislation. Nevertheless, it is due to the Precious Blood that the principle of supporting them is acknowledged. From what we read in heathen history–even the history of nations renowned for political wisdom, for philosophical speculation, and for literary and artistic refinement–it would not be extravagant for us to conclude that, if the circumstances of a country were such as to make the numbers of the poor dangerous to the rich, the rich would not scruple to destroy them, while it was yet in their power to do so. Just as men have had in France and England to war down bears and wolves, so would the rich war down the poor, whose clamorous misery and excited despair should threaten them in the enjoyment of their power and their possessions. The numbers of the poor would be thinned by murder, until it should be safe for their masters to reduce them into slavery. The survivors would lead the lives of convicts or of beasts. History, I repeat, shows us that this is by no means an extravagant supposition.
Such would be the condition of the world without the Precious Blood. As generations succeeded each other, original sin would go on developing those inexhaustible malignant powers which come from the almost infinite character of evil. Sin would work earth into hell. Men would become devils, devils to others and to themselves. Every thing which makes life tolerable, which counteracts any evil, which softens any harshness, which sweetens any bitterness, which causes the machinery of society to work smoothly, or which consoles any sadness–is simply due to the Precious Blood of Jesus, in heathen as well as in Christian lands. It changes the whole position of an offending creation to its Creator. It changes, if we may dare in such a matter to speak of change, the aspect of God’s immutable perfections toward his human children. It does not work merely in a spiritual sphere. It is not only prolific in temporal blessings, but it is the veritable cause of all temporal blessings whatsoever. We are all of us every moment sensibly enjoying the benignant influence of the Precious Blood. Yet who thinks of all this? Why is the goodness of God so hidden, so imperceptible, so unsuspected? Perhaps because it is so universal and so excessive, that we should hardly be free agents if it pressed sensibly upon us always. God’s goodness is at once the most public of all his attributes, and at the same time the most secret. Has life a sweeter task than to seek it, and to find it out?
Men would be far more happy, if they separated religion less violently from other things. It is both unwise and unloving to put religion into a place by itself, and mark it off with an untrue distinctness from what we call worldly and unspiritual things. Of course there is a distinction, and a most important one, between them; yet it is easy to make this distinction too rigid and to carry it too far. Thus we often attribute to nature what is only due to grace; and we put out of sight the manner and degree in which the blessed majesty of the Incarnation affects all created things. But this mistake is forever robbing us of hundreds of motives for loving Jesus. We know how unspeakably much we owe to him; but we do not see all that it is not much we owe him, but all, simply and absolutely all. We pass through times and places in life, hardly recognizing how the sweetness of Jesus is sweetening the air around us and penetrating natural things with supernatural blessings.
Hence it comes to pass that men make too much of natural goodness. They think too highly of human progress. They exaggerate the moralizing powers of civilization and refinement, which, apart from grace, are simply tyrannies of the few over the many, or of the public over the individual soul. Meanwhile they underrate the corrupting capabilities of sin, and attribute to unassisted nature many excellences which it only catches, as it were by the infection, by the proximity of grace, or by contagion, from the touch of the Church. Even in religious and ecclesiastical matters they incline to measure progress, or test vigor, by other standards rather than that of holiness. These men will consider the foregoing picture of the world without the Precious Blood as overdrawn and too darkly shaded. They do not believe in the intense malignity of man when drifted from God, and still less are they inclined to grant that cultivation and refinement only intensify still further this malignity. They admit the superior excellence of Christian charity; but they also think highly of natural philanthropy. But has this philanthropy ever been found where the indirect influences of the true religion, whether Jewish or Christian, had not penetrated? We may admire the Greeks for their exquisite refinement, and the Romans for the wisdom of their political moderation. Yet look at the position of children, of servants, of slaves, and of the poor, under both these systems, and see if, while extreme refinement only pushed sin to an extremity of foulness, the same exquisite culture did not also lead to a social cruelty and an individual selfishness which made life unbearable to the masses. Philanthropy is but a theft from the gospel, or rather a shadow, not a substance, and as unhelpful as shadows are want to be. (Father Frederick Faber, The Precious Blood, published originally in England in 1860, republished by TAN Books and Publishers, pp. 53-59.)
The reading in Matins for today's Divine Office should inspire us to have a greater and purer devotion to the very laver of our redemption, the Most Precious Blood of Jesus:
Wouldest thou hear the power of the Blood of Christ? Then let us look at the figure thereof, let us call to mind the old type, and tell the story written in the ancient Scriptures. The Egyptians would not let God take away Israel His firstborn, And Moses said: Thus saith the Lord: About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt, and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne unto the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill, and all the first-born of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast that ye may know how that the Lord hath put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. Ex. xi. 4-7. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them: Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families and kill the Passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood. and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel and on the two side-posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. xii. 21-23. And could the blood of a sheep save a man Yea, in good sooth not because it was blood, but because it represented in a figure the Blood of the Lord.
The statues of monarchs, mindless and speechless images though they be, have sometimes been an helpful refuge to men endowed with soul and reason, not because they are works of the brazier's skill, but because the likeness they bear is a King's. And just so did this unconscious blood deliver the lives of men, not because it was blood, but because it foreshadowed the shedding of the Blood of Jesus. On that night in Egypt, when the destroying Angel saw the blood upon the lintel and on the two side-posts, he passed over the door, and came not in unto the house. Even so now much more will the destroyer of souls flee away when he seeth, not the lintel and the two side-posts sprinkled with the blood of a lamb, but the mouth of the faithful Christian, the living dwelling of the Holy Ghost, shining with the blood of the True Messiah. If the Angel let the type be, how shall not the enemy quail before the Reality? Wouldest thou hear more of the power of that Blood I am willing. Consider from what source it welleth, from what fountain it springeth. Its fountain is the Heart of the Lord, pierced for us upon the Cross. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His Legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His Side, and forthwith came thereout Blood and Water, John xix, 32-34, whereof One is a figure of Baptism, and the other of the Sacrament of the Altar. One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His Side the veil of the Temple of His Body was rent in twain. John ii. 19-21, Matth. xxvii. 51. O how glorious is the treasure that is laid open to me therein How noble the riches that it is my joy there to have found! (Matins, Divine Office, Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.)
The Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ flowed from His Most Sacred Heart, which was formed out of and is in perfect communion with the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
May we pray to Our Lady, Mary Immaculate, to help us to be so cleansed by her Divine Son’s Most Precious Blood that we will have by means of penance and mortification blood running through our arteries and veins that carries holy sentiments of deep and filial attachment to First and Last Things, being ever ready to shed our blood, both figuratively and literally, in defense of the fullness of the Holy Faith without compromise or any taint of error, being especially willing to make all sacrifices necessary to help our families and friends persevere to the point of their dying breaths in states of Sanctifying Grace, offering as many Rosaries each day as our the duties of our states-in-life permit. Those who die in a state of Sanctifying Grace will, having had the seal of the Blood of the Paschal Lamb Himself placed on their lips, know the reward of the eternal merits of the Laver of Redemption in an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.
O Most Precious Blood of Jesus, have mercy on us.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Rosary, us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.