The devotion to the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ has been practised in the Church from early centuries. In the Epistles we find many references to the Precious Blood indicating the importance the Church attaches to the Holy Blood of our Savior. Apostles had no doubt in praising the redeeming power of the blood of the blemishless lamb.
‘You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). We have been justified by His blood (Rom. 5:9). Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood (Heb. 13:12). And the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)’.
St Pope John XIII summarises the reasons for giving such a great honor to the Precious Blood of Jesus in these words. “The infinite love of the Savior is announced in His Name, is symbolized in His heart, and is made eloquent in His Blood.” On another occasion he said; “The world can still set itself right and always will be able to, because the voice and Blood of Christ cry out for pity and mercy… Devotion to the Precious Blood is the devotion of our time…It is devotion for all souls, for the whole world.”
According to St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, whenever we offer the precious blood of Jesus Christ that became our ransom, to the Eternal Father, we are giving Him a gift that is unparalleled and is of infinite value. St John Maria Vianney testifies that offering the holy blood of Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary to God the Father is most efficacious. It is recorded that when St Dominic was celebrating Holy Mass in the presence of around three hundred persons that included the king and queen, the Blessed Virgin was seen positioned above the Chalice and sprinkling the holy blood upon each and every person present in the church. What Jesus once revealed to St Mechtilde (1241- 1298) is worth noting here, for it demonstrates the true value of the Precious Blood of our Savior. “I show my bleeding wounds to my Father to appease His wrath. When he sees the blood, He pardons your sins.”
We should not have any doubt in the above statement as we know that Jesus procured all those graces necessary for the salvation of humankind by shedding his Precious Blood in the Cross. What we are to do is to simply grasp these graces and apply them for the benefit of ourselves and others. Approach it with the firm conviction that the Precious Blood of Jesus is a perennial source of spiritual gifts.
We are familiar with the prayer of St Gertrude, beseeching God’s mercy upon the souls in purgatory and also upon all sinners.
‘Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen’.
St. Catherine of Siena had a special devotion to the Precious Blood. She once said: “Take caution to see priests only as the dispensers of the Blood of the humble, Immaculate Lamb and overlook the faults you may see in them”. Devotion to the Precious Blood is specially recommended for those who are in their last agony. A powerful prayer for the mercy of the Lord to be showered upon the dying person is given below:
‘O Most Merciful Jesus, Lover of souls, I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Thine Own Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and who are to die this day. Amen.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have pity on the dying’.
Precious Blood of Jesus Christ is our refuge not only at the hour of our death. It is our refuge and shield all through our life. Everyday we should consecrate ourselves to the Precious Blood in the hope that at the hour of death it will procure us the necessary graces to withstand our last temptations. A special prayer invoking the Precious Blood through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin is given below. In this prayer, we are commending the last three hours of our life to the maternal heart of the Blessed Virgin with a supplication to offer our final hours on this earth to the Eternal Father in union with the agony of our Lord.
‘O Mother of Sorrows, by the anguish and love with which you did stand beside the Cross of Jesus, stand by me in my last agony. To your maternal heart I commend the three last hours of my life. Offer these hours to the Eternal Father in union with the agony of our dearest Lord. Offer frequently to the Eternal Father, in atonement for my sins, the Precious Blood of Jesus, mingled with your tears on Calvary, to obtain for me the grace to receive Holy Communion with most perfect love and contrition before my death, and to breathe forth my soul in the actual presence of Jesus. Dearest Mother, when the moment of my death has come, present me as your child to Jesus; say to Him on my behalf: “Son, forgive him, for he knew not what he did. Receive him this day into your kingdom.’
Though the devotion to the Precious Blood has been practised in the Church through centuries, it received an added momentum with the messages Jesus gave to Barnabas Nwoye. It was in July 1995, that our Lord called him for the first time. Then he was only a 17-year-old student and was attending a school class in his hometown Olo in Enugu province of Nigeria. Our Lord appealed to Barnabas to adore the Precious Blood and console Him for all the outrages committed against it. Further messages were given to him during the next few years and with the spread of these messages, the devotion to the Precious Blood became more and more popular. It contains the Chaplet of the Precious Blood to be said after the Rosary, followed by the prayers of Consolation, Adoration, Reparation, Intercession and Gethsemane Hour.
Chaplet of the Precious Blood consists of five mysteries relating to the five wounds of Christ. Jesus told Barnabas that the chaplet should be recited immediately after Rosary.
The second component of the devotion (Consolation) is a group of prayers specifically addressed to the Father and Son, seeking to appease them for the ingratitude, blasphemies and neglects against the Precious Blood that take place in the church, in our lives and in the world at large. The Adoration part consists of seven prayers that adore, glorify and make petitions to the Precious Blood.
Reparation is the fourth part of this devotion. In seven anguished appeals Jesus describes the sins, which have kept Him crucified mystically for the last 2000 years. These sins include offences against Holy Mass, neglect of the Sacraments, immodesty, greed, avarice, lust, etc all leading millions of souls into hell. At the end of every anguished appeal Jesus calls on us to lead a life of reparation.
The fifth part of the devotion consists of special intercessory prayers called the ‘Mystical Prayers’. Our Lord revealed these prayers to Barnabas as being the very same prayers uttered by Him during His passion and final breath for humanity. Intercessory prayers include prayers for the defeat of the Antichrist, endurance during the chastisement, protection from the sin of the flesh and sustenance of faith. Perhaps this is one area that we should pay more attention in these days.
The final part called ‘Gethsemane Hour’ is a special prayer – though a bit lengthy- to be said between Thursday 11pm to Friday 3am (or at least one hour between this period) every week. During this time all five components of the devotion mentioned here are to be observed. The intention of Gethsemane Hour is to prepare the faithful to obtain graces that will enable them to endure the Great Chastisement and remain steadfast in faith. A theological commission appointed by the local bishop has approved these prayers. We recommend this powerful weapon given to us from heaven to equip us in the fierce spiritual battle that each one of us has to face.
The month of July has been traditionally associated with the devotion to the Precious Blood. As we know, the Precious Blood of Lord Jesus Christ is the ransom he paid for our souls. We should not let it go unutilised. We should heed the teachings of saints and mystics who have practised the devotion to the Precious Blood with great fervor. Let us also pray trusting that the Precious Blood of our Savior is our refuge at the time of our final battle.
‘Precious Blood, Ocean of Divine Mercy, flow upon us
Precious Blood, Most Pure offering, procure us every grace!
Precious Blood, Hope and refuge of sinners, atone for us!
Precious Blood, Delight of the Holy Souls, draw us! Amen.’
(St Catherine of Sienna)