July – The Month of The Most Precious Blood

Altar with bible and chalices

Following on from May being dedicated in the Roman Catholic Church to Our Lady and June being the month of the Most Sacred Heart, July is observed as the month of the Most Precious Blood.   From the Middle Ages onwards it became traditional to link months to specific devotions or aspects of our faith.  The teachings on which these devotions were based existed, of course, from the earliest times of the church. It was the linking of them to certain months which was new and raised their profile, assisting clergy and laity alike to grow closer to God though certain observances.

Cheryl Hadley’s article at  https://www.getfed.com/july-devotion-precious-blood-jesus-6085/   points out that the faithful practised devotion to the Most Precious Blood from the time of Christ’s Passion.   She traces its scriptural roots citing Romans 5:9, Hebrews 10:19 and 1 John 1:7 in particular.   She also draws our attention to the love of Christ engendered in many saints by devotion to the Precious Blood, giving links to writings of St. Catherine of Sienna (one of just thirty six Doctors of the Church) and pointing us to Blessed Gaspar del Bufalo the nineteenth century priest who “…brought this beloved devotion out of the sanctuary and into the hearts of Catholics around the world.”   She gives ideas on how to make an act of love to the Most Precious Blood during this month especially.

Families might find https://teachingcatholickids.com/the-most-precious-blood-of-jesus-monthly-devotion-for-july/ a useful link for ideas of how to observe the liturgical calendar at home by practising these monthly devotions, enabling the core values of the faith to become more alive within your family.  Suggestions are given but the emphasis is on being creative, making it fun and adapting it to your own family.   If you are struggling for ideas for home schooling in this last part of term (or for the coming holiday time), it might be worth taking a look!

To get closer to the heart of devotion to the Most Precious Blood we can turn to St Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 10:19-22 where he writes:

“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

St. Paul draws our attention to Christ the Great High Priest replacing the priests of the Old Testament with His loving sacrifice of Himself on Calvary in place of animal sacrifices for the atonement of sin.

Through the sacrifice of sheep, goats, bulls, etc. in the Old Testament, God had prepared His people for the only sacrifice which would truly atone for the wrong doings of the world.  In the New Testament God Himself in the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, came to earth to be the high priest offering Himself as the pure, spotless, unblemished lamb.   Jesus replaces the unblemished lamb of the Passover meal, slain and consumed to protect the Israelites as their release from slavery was effected and to nourish them as they set out for the Promised Land.  He becomes the “Lamb of God” and the curtain of the temple which separates the Holy of Holies from the people is replaced by the flesh of Jesus opened up by the wound in His side through which His blood flowed for our salvation.

Remarkably, St Paul points out that we actually enter the previously hidden holiest of places of the temple, the sanctuary, through the curtain of Christ’s flesh and encourages us to approach with confidence and a true heart of faith.   He is speaking of our communion, our becoming one, with Christ when we receive the Eucharist – the precious body and blood of Jesus.  It is the Eucharist which protects, nourishes, strengthens and sustains us on our journey to the promised land of Heaven.   The slavery we have been released from is the slavery of sin.   On the cross Christ defeated Satan by His perfect sacrifice of Himself and we reap the benefits of the sacrifice of the Great High Priest, the unblemished Lamb of God.

But what of these days of pandemic which cause us to be physically separated from the Eucharist?   Christ’s deeply loving, freely given sacrifice for us cannot be constrained by anything – including a pandemic.   He is beyond space and time, truly present for us – waiting longingly to be in communion with us whenever we sincerely pray a prayer of spiritual communion.   We can do this anywhere, at any time including when partaking in a televised or online Mass.    Jesus waits in all the tabernacles of the world, His heart bursting with love for us.  He waits to be united with us – to fill us with the nourishing, saving love outpouring from His Most Precious Body and Blood. Let us not disappoint Him this July or ever, whatever our circumstances, but by praying sincerely and humbly achieve true communion with Him today and every day!