Written By: Gregory Watson
“You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
July is devoted to the Precious Blood of Jesus—which is one of those “body part” devotions (i.e., the Holy Face of Jesus, the Five Wounds of Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, etc.) that are a uniquely Catholic way of honouring Jesus. I know growing up Protestant, it seemed weird to worship just the Heart of Jesus. Why not all of Him? Then again, I never cared much for Christmas for the same reason. Jesus isn’t a baby anymore, after all.
But devotion to the Precious Blood is the one such devotion that Protestants share with Catholics. Songs and hymns about the Blood of Jesus, being washed in the blood, a river flowing with blood, the power in the blood, and so on, attest to a lively faith in the saving efficacy of the Precious Blood of Jesus shed for us on the Cross.
Of course, the rich, sacramental theology of Catholicism takes those pious instincts of our Protestant brethren and perfects them, seeing in the blood and water which flowed from the pierced heart of Christ on Calvary the birth of the Church, the summary of the Sacraments, and the origin-point of Divine Mercy.
In the Middle Ages, there was a universal belief that the pelican was an incredibly motherly and nurturing bird, which would go so far, when food was scarce, as to pierce her own side and feed her chicks with her own blood. This notion of the pelican led to its obvious use as a symbol for Christ, who allowed Himself to be pierced to both cleanse us and nourish us with His blood. St. Thomas Aquinas refers to this in his great hymn, “Adoro Te Devote”:
Pelican of mercy, Jesus, Lord and God,
Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood:
Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured
Might from all transgression have the world restored.
Let us then, with thanksgiving for this great gift, offer it back to Our Father for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of the world which so desperately needs recourse to the Precious Blood of Jesus!
Invocations to the Precious Blood
Precious Blood of Jesus, shed in the circumcision, make me chaste of mind, heart, and body.
Precious Blood, oozing in the agony of Jesus, from every pore, grant me to love above all things the holy and adorable will of God.
Precious Blood, flowing abundantly in the scourging at the pillar, inspire me with a keen sorrow for my sins and a love of suffering.
Precious Blood, falling in profusion from the crown of thorns, grant me a love of humiliation.
Precious Blood, furrowing the way to Calvary, fill me with courage to walk unfalteringly in the bloody footsteps of Jesus.
Precious Blood, shed so profusely in the Crucifixion of my Jesus, make me die entirely to self-love.
Precious Blood, shed to the very last drop by the opening of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, give me that generous love that sacrifices all for God.
Precious Blood, sacred source from which all graces flow, apply Your infinite merits to my soul.
Precious Blood, whose virtue animates and enlivens our actions, apply Your infinite merits to all our works.
Life-giving fountain, in which the soul fully quenches its thirst, saturate me with pure love.
O Divine Blood of my Jesus, I adore You from the depths of my heart.
I fervently invoke You, for You are my salvation and by You I hope to obtain the joys of paradise.
Eternal Father, be merciful, for the sake of the Blood of Your only Son; we plead You, show us Your mercy.
Most Precious Blood of Jesus, cry for mercy for us to the Heavenly Father, and deliver us.
Eternal Father, I offer You the Precious Blood of Jesus, in reparation for my sins and the needs of the universal Church.