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The Most Precious Blood

July is the Month of the Precious Blood, and 1st July is the traditional first class Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ (still celebrated in the General Roman Calendar of 1960).

The feast was instituted in the universal calendar by Pope Pius IX in 1849, drawing on support from the Fathers of the Precious Blood and in thanksgiving for the victory of the Papal and French army over revolutionary forces which had driven him from Rome. Pope St. Pius X moved it from the first Sunday in July to 1st July; and in 1934 Pope Pius XI raised the rank to a Double of the First Class to mark the nineteen hundredth anniversary of our Lord's death.

Westminster Cathedral, in 1895, was principally dedicated to the Most Precious Blood and above the portal arch reads: Domine Jesus Rex et Redemptor per Sanguinem tuum salva nos (Lord Jesus, King and Redeemer, heal us through your blood).

As such, the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ uniquely commemorates the redemptive and salvific value of Our Lord's blood shed on Calvary and present especially in the traditional rites of Mass.

A great devotee to the Precious Blood was Father Faber, Anglican convert and founder of the London Oratory. He wrote prodigiously about the devotions, including this article:

SALVATION! What music there is in that word, music that never tires but is always new, that always rouses, yet always rests us! It holds in itself all that our hearts would say. It is sweet vigor to us in the morning and in the evening it is contented peace. It is a song that is always singing itself deep down in the delighted soul. Angelic ears are ravished by it up in Heaven; and our Eternal Father Himself listens to it with adorable complacency. It is sweet even to Him out of Whose mind is the music of a thousand worlds. To be saved! What is it to be saved? Who can tell? Eye has not seen, nor ear heard. It is a rescue, and from such a shipwreck. It is a rest, and in such an unimaginable home. It is to lie down forever in the Bosom of God in and endless rapture of insatiable contentment. Thou shalt call His Name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins. Who else but Jesus can do this, and what else even from him do we require but this; for in this lie all things which we can desire? Of all the miseries the bondage of sin is the most miserable. It is worse than sorrow, worse than pain. It is such a ruin that no other ruin is like unto it. It troubles all the peace of life. It turns sunshine into darkness. It embitters all pleasant fountains, and poisons the very blessing of God which should have been for our healing. It doubles the burdens of life, which are heavy enough already. It makes death a terror and a torture, and the eternity beyond the grave an infinite and intolerable blackness. It is from the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ alone that our salvation comes. Alas! we have felt the weightiness of sin, and know that there is nothing like it. Life has brought many sorrows to us, and many fears. Our hearts have ached a thousand times. Tears have flowed. Sleep has fled. Food has been nauseous to us, even when our weakness craved for it. But never have we felt anything like the dead weight of a mortal sin. What then must a life of such sins be? What must be a death in sin? What the irrevocable eternity of unretracted sin? From all this horror whither shall we look for deliverance? Not to ourselves; for we know the practical infinity of our weakness, and the incorrigible vitality of our corruption. Not to any earthly power; for it has no jurisdiction here. Not to philosophy, literature, or science; for in this case they are but sorry and unhelpful matters. Not to any Saint however holy, nor to any Angel, however mighty; for the least sin is a bigger mountain than they have faculties to move. Not to the Crowned Queen of God's creation, the glorious and sinless Mary; for even her holiness cannot satisfy for sin, nor the whiteness of her purity take out its deadly stain. Neither may we look for deliverance direct from the patience and compassion of God Himself; for in the abyss of His wisdom it has been decreed, that without shedding of blood there shall be no remission of sin. It is from the Precious Blood of Christ alone that our salvation comes. Out of the immensity of its merits, out of the inexhaustible treasure of its satisfactions, because of the resistless power of its beauty over the justice and wrath of God, because of that dear combination of its priceless worth and its benignant prodigality, we miserable sinners are raised out of the depths of our wretchedness, and restored to the peace and favor of our Heavenly Father. For, as there is no earthly misery like sin, so there is no deliverance like that with which Jesus makes us free. Is hope sweet where despair had almost begun to reign? Is it a joy to be emancipated from a shameful slavery, or set free from a noxious dungeon? Is it gladness to be raised, as if by miracle, from a bed of feebleness and suffering to sudden health and instantaneous vigor? Then, what a gladness must salvation be! For, as there is no earthly misery like sin, so there is no deliverance like that with which Jesus makes us free. Words will not tell it. Thought only can think it, and it must be thought out of an enlightened mind and a burning heart, dwelt on for a long, long while. The first moment after death is a moment which must infallibly come to every one of us. Earth lies behind us, silently wheeling its obedient way through the black-tinted space. The measureless spaces of eternity lie outstretched before us. The words of our sentence have scarcely floated away into silence. It is a sentence of salvation. The great risk has been run, and we are saved. God's power is holding our soul lest it should die of gladness. It cannot take in the whole of its eternity. The least accidental joy is a world of beatitude in itself. The blaze of the Vision is overwhelming. Then the truth that eternity is eternal, - this is so hard to master. Yet all this is only what we mean when we pronounce the word salvation. How hideous the difference of that first moment after death, if we have not been saved! It turns us cold to think of it. But oh, joy of joys! We have seen the Face of Jesus; and the light in His eyes, and the smile upon His face, and the words upon his lips were salvation.


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