It is astounding that with our current technology scientists can create replacements for many parts of our body. New joints and prosthetic limbs can replace deteriorated parts, and there are even a few artificial organs that can be transplanted. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and lifesaving drugs can be administered in order to aid depleted supplies within our system. But it is interesting that the one thing they have not been able to manufacture or replicate is blood. There have been many attempts at making synthetic blood, but the products always fall short, simply incapable of sustaining or saving a human life. The only way to replace blood is to receive it from a human donor. Therefore, donating blood becomes a spiritual action especially because blood only comes from one source, given to us by God when we received the sacred gift of life at birth: when we donate it, we are sharing the sacred gift of life. The life-giving property of blood is reminiscent of the sacrament of Baptism in which we receive new life in the Spirit and the graces needed to nourish and sustain that life. Of course, the obvious connection of blood with our spiritual life is the most important, that is, the Blood of Christ. At the Last Supper Jesus left His Body and Blood for our daily spiritual sustenance and also as an everlasting gift of His presence. Without His shed blood, we would not have salvation; therefore, the blood of Jesus is precious, a gift which cannot be replicated, replaced, or manufactured. Rather, it is the gift which sustains us until we enter eternal life, freely given in the greatest act of love ever offered.
July is often referred to as the month of the Precious Blood of Jesus. Many people are unaware of this because it is not often highlighted, but it is important to meditate and ruminate* upon what an indescribably rich gift this is and to recognize its importance for our spiritual lives. Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53-58) Through it Jesus offered everything we would ever need to find our way back to the Father from whom we have come. His blood offers sustenance in the worst of our sufferings and challenges, and it offers spiritual food to aid our growth in holiness. Any encounter with the Eucharistic Blood of Jesus and the bread become His Body is an entering into the totality of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, and it is personal contact with the Lord who becomes one with us through His humanity and then invites us to become one with Him through His divinity.
However, the Blood of Christ is far more powerful than we often realize. It contains the totality of Jesus, and therefore, it empowers us to minister as His disciples. Another important aspect of the power of His blood is that it enriches our ability to forgive when we do not think we are capable of it. A powerful example of the power of the Blood of Christ is witnessed in the experience of Immaculee Ilibagiza, a college student during the genocide in Rwanda who had to hide in order to survive. A local pastor hid her along with 7 other women, all Tutsis, in a 3x4 bathroom for 91 days. While in the cramped bathroom, she heard that her family had been murdered by a Hutu man simply because they were Tutsi. Filled with anger and grief she felt unable to forgive. Days later, while meditating on the crucifixion of Jesus as she prayed the Rosary, she saw herself kneeling at the foot of the cross, crying out to Jesus for help in giving forgiveness. During the prayer she ‘felt’ His blood dripping onto her head and heard His voice saying, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” Enveloped by His love, she realized that this man was also one of God’s children. A few years later Immaculee returned to Rwanda and found that man. As she approached him, he asked her if she knew what he had done. Immaculee embraced him and then to his shock, offered him forgiveness. That is the power of the precious Blood of Christ. It enables us to do that which seems impossible; it sets us free, it heals, empowers, protects, sustains, sanctifies, and offers everlasting life. There is nothing that could ever be ‘manufactured’ or conceived in our minds or hearts that could ever do those things. The blood of Christ is the very life of God: it is His love which flows over and through us.
Although we cannot partake of the cup at this point due to issues of health,** we can be immersed in it through our participation in all the sacraments which flow from the Eucharist.*** It would be good to reflect upon the Precious Blood of Jesus, perhaps imagining that we are at the table of the Last Supper when Jesus gave this precious gift, or we can meditate upon being at the foot of the Cross as the blood and water flow forth from His side. When at the Sacrament of Reconciliation, imagine receiving a holy anointing of His blood flowing over you, “shaken down and overflowing… into your lap (Luke 6:38).” Ask Jesus to let His Precious blood flow over you when you are in need, whether you are suffering greatly or simply desire a boost in faith. Remember, there is nothing that can ever have more power than the Body and Blood of Jesus given for us, the ultimate gift of life.
May we call upon Jesus, holding onto Him, joyfully giving thanks and praise for His Precious Blood! May we immerse ourselves in the power of His precious shed Blood! And may we find the strength and courage to offer mercy and love through the power of Jesus’ Blood! Let us meet in the Eucharist! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
* To ruminate literally means “to chew on.”
** Let us be clear that the issue is the vessel and not the actual Blood of Christ. We must also remember that when we consume the consecrated bread we are in fact receiving the entire Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Thus, we are receiving His fullness in the bread when we cannot partake of the cup.
*** Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1324: The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.” See also paragraphs 1365 and 1374 for an explanation of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Also see paragraph 613 for the connection with the Blood of Christ and forgiveness of sin: we hear it said (that His blood was offered for the forgiveness of sins) in all of the Eucharistic Prayers which can be used at Mass. Listen for it at the consecration.
Note: For more on Immaculee Ilibagiza go to https://www.immaculee.com/pages/about
1. My photo, Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca, NY.
2. My photo, a priest praying the Eucharistic prayer, consecrating the bread and wine. (Used with his permission)
3. Icon, The Cross of Life - The Flowering Cross, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. You can purchase a copy of this icon in many different mediums at fineartamerica.com/featured/the-cross-of-life-the-flowering-cross-william-hart-mcnichols.html
4. Icon, La Sangre de Cristo, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. Similar to the above, https://fineartamerica.com/featured/la-sangre-de-cristo-242-william-hart-mcnichols.html
Note: In compliance with GDPR rules, I wish to make it clear that I do not gather any information on any of my readers at any time.
Heart Speaks to Heart