This text was originally published as part of Ad Cenam Agni, a 2023 virtual Lenten Retreat hosted by the Abbot's Circle.
The strongest proof of the divinity of the Blood shed in the Passion is the Church’s prayer. “The law of prayer establishes the law of belief” as St. Prosper of Aquitaine, the great disciple of the Norbertines’ Holy Father Augustine, taught. And the Church in her approved public worship does address the Holy Blood in prayer, with the invocation “Save us!” “Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in the Agony, Save us! Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging, Save us! Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns, Save us! Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross, Save us!” These are the words of the litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus placed in the Roman Ritual and ordered for public worship by St John XXIII in 1960. In addition, some places in the Roman Rite there is also an annual liturgical feast of the Precious Blood, established universally once by Blessed Pius IX.
Prayer to Precious Blood shed in different ways is a powerful aid to our meditation on and devotion to the Passion of Our Blessed Lord. Looking at the Precious Blood we can see both the whole picture of the mystery, or one small corner of it, as our devotion directs us. The saving Divine Blood was on the hands of the very ones who shed it, on the Magdalene’s hands and hair as she clung to the Cross and on her lips as she kissed it, on the centurion’s cloak as it shot out his side, and fell upon the Good Thief in mercy, and on the veil of his Mother, showing her the Price of her sinlessness and glory. How differently the same divine mystery appears in the chalice of grace and honor from how it appears on the places and persons and things who also received it in humiliation and pain. This difference reveals the same unconquerable Lord in all the circumstances of life and death and, as we will see, in glory.
Yes, he is unconquerable even in a tiny drop. Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose teaching on the Divine Blood is the clearest of all the theologians, sings in his poem Adoro Te Devote that a single drop of this Blood can save the whole universe from sin and evil. Such is the infinite value of the Precious Blood. Whatever our trials and sufferings may be, however grave and discouraging our falls have been, whenever the shame and rejection we fear from our defects might come upon us, in war, in financial distress, in family strife, in bodily sickness, in whatsoever suffering we endure, this Blood is the hope of the penitent, the relief of the burdened, the peace and tenderness of hearts, our solace in sorrow, and will be finally our consolation when we are dying.
This Blood, which is the most concrete symbol of the Incarnation, shows the logic of God’s taking to himself a human nature. This means that although human existence and life can come apart in social rejection, (“Crucify him!”), emotional distress, (“My soul is sorrowful even unto death”), physical pain, (“They have pierced my hands and feet, I can number all my bones”), and even death, (“He gave up his spirit”), nonetheless because of the immediate union of the Divinity with the parts of the human nature of Christ, his Person and full presence are undisturbed, still accomplishing the salvation of the world. In the tomb, among the dead, and at the Father’s right hand. He experienced all this more intensely than any other man could, but not even a drop of his Blood was destroyed even as it flowed and fell and settled, but it remained “God from God, True God from True God, begotten not Made, Consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made.”
The Blood of Christ is a mystery of total victory over all that could trouble us in life. That is why we say it saves us. Let us call on this Precious Blood with confidence for all our needs.