Today at St. Mary’s Hermitage, the Hermits of Saint Bruno commemorate the Most Precious Blood of the Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an adoration, a gratitude and love, directed to Him whose heart poured out its life-blood for our redemption. Whether in its deep cistern, or in its unfailing out-flow, we honour and venerate the price of our freedom and our life.
What else is the blessed Heart of Jesus but the wonderful cup which transmuted the food of earth, not merely into the nourishment of one body, and the life-stream of one person, but into the quickening support of millions, into the circulation of unity through the entire Church of ages, into the ransom beyond price of all mankind, into the golden flood, which flowing ever from the foot of the Lamb, waters and fertilises heaven and earth, becomes the river of life to one, the stream of grace to the other.
For what, again, is the adorable Heart of Jesus but the fountain of Paradise, from what source does the river spring that divides into four branches, carrying refreshment, healing, and life to every region, and to every race? One is a basin of cleansing and regenerating water, washing away all sin and stain; another is a bath that restores or increases strength and vigour to those who have to wrestle and fight for God; the third is a rich flow of consecrating unction like the one that streamed from the head of Aaron; while the last and best is the refreshing torrent of delights, at which saints drink with renewed bliss, and forgiven sinners with strengthening relish.
All these streams of salvation, however different their immediate action, are nevertheless one in source and substance. For what is it that washes away our stains but “the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from every sin?” How did the oil of unction come by its power to strengthen and to consecrate, but from those first instalments of our deliverance, which flowed upon the root of the olive, trickling from the pores of our prostrate Lord, like an enriching dew that saturates their fruit. If not direct from the divine Heart, in full warm outpouring, flowing forth the tide of a spiritual cornucopia, water for our purification, unction for our consecration, and the chalice of salvation. Hence the eucharistic “wine springing forth virgins,” (Zach. 9:17) the sap of the true vine, of which we are the branches, the balsam of soothing and healing virtue which issued, from His body, to the very hem of our Lord’s outer garment, but now rushes out through the open gash, that reaches to the very core of that celestial plant.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, that which is good, which is holy, whatever is perfect upon earth has come to us from, and through, and by the most precious Blood of our divine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This, from the beginning, was in several different ways, and more copiously representing to us than anything else in the New Testament; though its excellence is revealed by the contrast in which it stands with its types. It was to be innocently shed like Abel’s, that it might be shown to plead better and more powerfully than it for mercy, not for vengeance. It was poured out in sacrifice, that it might be proved vastly superior to the blood of oxen and of goats, which had no power to cleanse the soul. (Hebrews 9:13) Finally, the paschal lamb, the noblest type of our redemption, by the anointing with its blood of the door posts of the Israelites, warned away the destroying angel, and made Pharaoh relax his grasp on God’s chosen people, and subsequently freed them; only to be a harbinger of how the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world would baffle and defeat the prince of darkness and of eternal death, and force the oppressor of earth and hell to let His own people go free, to offer sacrifice even in this wilderness.
And how was this? The posts of the gate which alone leads to immortal life, the cross under which all must bend the knee who desire to enter into Paradise, are richly streaked, and more than that, thickly painted with the Blood of “our sacrificed Pasch”, more terrible to His enemies than the brightest flash of Heaven’s lightning. And so, when we partake of the Divine Mysteries, the edge of our mouths, our lips are dyed with the same rich drops that fell so abundantly on Calvary.
With what devotion, then, should we not commemorate this shedding of our Saviour’s precious Blood, at the very mention of which the Church makes her ministers bend their knees, in awe and adoration of a mystery so pro found and yet so sweet, so fearful and yet so tender. As the more deep and terrible is the gulf that opens beneath us, the more we feel drawn towards it, and tempted to plunge into it, so is this abyss of wonderful and unfathomable goodness, awful to contemplate, yet inviting our love to dive into it fearlessly, and taste unsatisfied of its delights.
To think that God should have taken flesh, the very body of man, with all its inferiority of nature but wonders of construction, purely so that He could die, and that He should have blood to shed, for man’s ransom, salvation, and nourishment; to contemplate by what traumatic and burdensome ways this outpouring should have to be made, by what stripes, lashes, wounds, gashes, piercing and perforation of every part of that three times holy Body, to the tearing in two of its divine Heart; to meditate on the formidable truth that God, the Father who loved Him with an infinite affection, should have been pleased, appeased, soothed and turned to love from just anger by this tremendous atonement, baffles and sets at nought all our estimates, all our reasonings on the eternal and infinite ways of a divine imposition. Still how bright this depth, how richly illuminated by every tender tone of love! How meekness and gentleness, mercy and forgivingness, impartiality and self-sacrifice, bounty and liberty, affectionateness and familiarity, parental fondness and brotherly caress play through the abyss, as profound and as measureless, and as incomprehensible as itself! How unsearchable are the ways of God’s love, as much as those of His power! Who has been His counsellor but Himself the infinite goodness urging on the infinite energy of the Divine in all things.
Yet what multiplies beyond the bounds of a limited conception the immensity of this love is, that it is individual and singular. “the whole to all, no less the whole to each.” Every drop of blood, so unreservedly poured out on Golgotha, was gathered into one cup, the whole contents of which every soul is allowed to drink and make its own. The full price was paid for each: the value of each soul is the equivalent of the entire ransom. The treasure is not divided and paid out in single coins, but the entire sum is lavishly given to each profusely. Who can penetrate to the depths of this almighty mercy; yet who can restrain themselves to love it and do his utmost to be worthy of it!
As a consequence, my brothers and sisters in Christ, when we put before you the claims of little ones — little by age or by being of little significance — we are accustomed to lay our principal stress on this one motive, that their souls have been thought worthy of His precious life-blood, by Jesus Christ, their and our Redeemer. When especially we call on you to exercise the highest act of spiritual charity, to save their souls rather than sustain their bodies, the plea comes home with tenfold urgency. Will you not agree and assist to the utmost in saving the souls which He so dearly secured, and loved beyond His own precious life?
To this appeal no one can say, no: it is impossible. Similarly, then, especially, is our pleading the day that you hear these words. It is only by multiplying the means of religious education that thousands of your poor children can be ensured that salvation which Jesus Christ purchased for them. The society to which you are asked to contribute has this for its sole and universal object. It seeks, like the charity of our Lord and Saviour, to embrace all and each, to extend its beneficial effects throughout the whole country, and to reach the smallest and most neglected child with individual assistance.
God will reward you, and give you of His abundance, through the redemption which is by Christ Jesus. Amen.