Quae utilitas in sanguine meo?

160W-2048×1151

Quae utilitas in sanguine meo? — “What profit is there in my blood?” (Ps 29:10) These words of the Psalms can be a source of meditation in a month, like that of July, dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They are words that express the profound sadness, the anguish of one who has the doubt that His sacrifice, unto the shedding of blood, has been in vain.

This thought, this sadness, tormented Jesus since He had the use of reason in the womb of His most holy Mother, because ever since then, He had understood that most men would trample on His Blood and despise the grace that it obtained for them.

It was the sadness that drove Him to weep on Palm Sunday, when before His eyes lay the scene of a city in celebration, whose tragic fate He knew. It was the thought that cost Him the sweating of Blood in the Garden of Olives, when the mystery of evil in future centuries came to His mind. In his Meditations for the days of Advent, St Alphonsus Liguori writes that this suffering was the bitter cup from which Jesus prayed to the Eternal to free Him, saying, Transeat a me calix iste — “Let this chalice pass from me” (Mt 26:39) What cup? Not the physical suffering, but seeing so much contempt for His love. This is why He cried out on the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46) The temptation of abandonment was born from the thought that most men would not pay heed to this shedding of Blood and would continue to offend Jesus as if He had done nothing out of love for them. Certainly at that moment, Our Lord had before His eyes the spectacle of all the crises over the centuries, almost in a crescendo, that would open up within the Church born from His pierced side on the Cross. And yet, there on Golgotha, one drop of His Blood was enough to convert the good thief. Many would reject the fruits of His Sacrifice, but the correspondence to grace on the part of those who would welcome Him would give greater glory to God than any sacrilege and any unfaithfulness. The Blood of Christ would continue to bathe the Church until the end of the ages.

The life of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, dwells in His Blood. Blood, like the heart, is the principle of life. Nothing is more venerable than the Blood of Christ, the Blood of a God and therefore more precious than all the treasures of the earth. Every drop of this Blood has infinite value. The Blood of Christ reminds us of the central mystery of Christianity, that of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, who at the price of His Blood redeemed us and destined us to eternal happiness. “Knowing,” St Peter says, “that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.” (1 Pet 1:18–19)

The Blood of Christ is above all the symbolic and real expression of the Redemption, that Mystery which reminds us that Jesus Christ, with the price of His Blood, an expression of His Love, snatched the human race from sin and the devil and reconciled it with God. This Blood continues to be offered in the Mass, which perpetuates the sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner, because it is the same Victim, Jesus Christ, Who is offered, and it is the same Priest, Jesus Christ, Who offers the immolation of Christ, to apply its fruits to the passing generations, until the end of the world.

But the Passion of Christ did not end on Golgotha, and has never ended: it is the condition of the life of the Church, which always triumphs but always suffers, fights and sheds its blood. Jesus Christ continues to bleed for the outrages and profanations that occur in His churches and on His altars, for the unfaithfulness of His ministers, for the lukewarmness of the good; in short, for every obstacle that is put in the way of the Church’s expansion.

In the course of this struggle, it may happen that those who strive to fight to be faithful to the Church and its Law may not see the fruits of their sacrifice, but may rather get the impression that their efforts, their prayers, their sufferings, their struggle are not accepted by God, and may wonder, “What is the use of my sacrifice?” This is not the case: every drop of sacrifice made with purity of intention is united with every drop of the Blood shed by Christ, and draws its fruitfulness from this shed Blood. The sacrifice of those who fight in the Church is the very Blood of Christ which circulates in the Church and enlivens it. The Church is alive and fruitful because there circulates in its members the Blood of Christ that flows from the Sacrifice of Calvary.

The Church, Pius XII says, “is ‘Bride of blood’ (cf. Ex 4:25). … But the Church is not afraid. She wants to be Bride of blood and pain, to portray within herself the image of her divine Bridegroom, to suffer, to fight, to triumph with Him.”1

The triumph of the Church, also historical, is the perspective that the promise of Fatima opens up to us, and it is in this spirit that the feast of the Precious Blood can be experienced. Dom Guéranger recalls that this festival is the memorial of one of the most splendid victories of the Church. In 1848, Pius IX had been driven out of Rome by the triumphant Revolution; in those same days — just the following year — he saw his power re-established. On 28, 29 and 30 June, under the aegis of the Apostles, the firstborn daughter of the Church, faithful to her glorious past, drove her enemies from the walls of the Eternal City; the conquest ended on 2 July, feast of Mary. Immediately a twofold decree notified the city and the world of the pope’s gratitude and the way in which he intended to perpetuate the memory of those events through the sacred Liturgy. On 10 August, before returning from Gaeta, the place of his refuge during the storm, to resume the government of his States, Pius IX turned to the invisible Head of the Church and entrusted her to Him with the institution of this festival, reminding Him that it was for that Church that He had shed all His Blood.

This Blood is a sign of suffering and struggle, but it is also a promise of victory in time and in eternity.

Notes

1. Pius XII, Address to the men of Catholic Action, 7 September 1947.