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Our Catholic devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ allows us to adore the Lord Jesus as we recognize with gratitude and love the value of his most holy blood.
John XXIII’s apostolic letter of 1960 Inde a Primis was dedicated to promoting this devotion. (The letter is not available in English at the Vatican site but a non-official translation can be read here.)
July 1 is traditionally the liturgical feast of the Precious Blood of Christ. As June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, then July is the month of the Precious Blood.
The devotion assists us in focusing our gaze, attention and faith on the mystery of the Love of the Incarnate God, in considering that Christ, pouring out his blood, has offered us and continues to offer us his love, the source of reconciliation and principle of new life in the Holy Spirit.
Devotion to the Blood of Christ is fundamentally an act of love and respect for the unfathomable mystery of divine Love and Mercy.
The First Letter of St. Peter affirms that we have been rescued with the “precious blood” of Christ (1Peter 1:19). And Acts speaks of the Church of Christ “acquired with his own blood” (20:28).
The Blood of Christ is the price that God paid to free humanity from the slavery of sin and eternal death. The Blood of Christ is the irrefutable proof of the love of the Trinitarian God for every person, excluding no one.
The Church commemorates the mystery of the Blood of Our Lord not only in the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ but also in other celebrations, especially for example, on Good Friday during the adoration of the Cross and on the feast of the exaltation of the Cross.
The Vatican’s “Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy” examines devotion to the Blood of Christ in paragraphs 175-179.
There, it is noted that “veneration of the Blood of Christ has passed from the Liturgy into popular piety where it has been widely diffused in numerous forms of devotional practices. Among these mention can be made of the following”: (links to examples are provided by Aleteia, and are not from the Vatican):
- the Chaplet of the Most Precious Blood, in which the seven “effusions of the Blood of Christ,” implicitly or explicitly mentioned in the Gospels, are recalled in a series of biblical meditations and devotional prayers: the Blood of the Circumcision, the Blood of the Garden of Gethsemane, the Blood of the Flagellation, the Blood of the Crowning of Thorns, the Blood of the Ascent to Calvary, the Blood flowing from Christ’s side pierced by the lance;
- the Litany of the Blood of Christ, which clearly traces the line of salvation history through a series of biblical references and passages. In its present form it was approved by the Blessed John XXIII on 24 February 1960(195);
- Adoration of the Most Precious Blood of Christ takes a great variety of forms, all of which have a common end: adoration and praise of the Precious Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, thanksgiving for the gift of Redemption, intercession for mercy and pardon; and offering of the Precious Blood of Christ for the good of the Church;
- the Via Sanguinis: a recently instituted pious devotion, practised in many Christian communities, whose anthropological and cultural roots are African. In this devotion, the faithful move from place to place, as in the Via Crucis, reliving the various moments in which Christ shed his blood for our salvation.
Devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ cannot help but bring us into direct relationship with him. Still, as with any devotion, deviations must be avoided, such as giving the Precious Blood an esoteric connotation, or treating it like magic or with superstition. The Blood of Christ is not an amulet or good luck charm, nor a magic “formula.”
Let us give thanks to God, valuing his redemptive sacrifice which, through his blood, has washed us of our sin and brings us to eternal life.
Translated and adapted from the original Spanish Fr. Henry Vargas Holguin