One of the earliest prayers I was taught as a child was a bed-time prayer which began: “Night is falling, dear other/And the long day is o’er/And before thy loved image I am kneeling once more… In the course of the prayer-verse were these words:
For one drop of Thy Blood,
Which for sinners was spilt
Is sufficient to cleanse
The whole world from its guilt.
In Catholic devotion this month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ, the price of our Redemption. Although, as theology tells us, but one drop of Christ’s Blood would have been sufficient to atone for the sin-debt to divine Justice, Christ in fact shed all of His life-blood for us on the Cross. This is a demonstrable proof of the self-sacrificing superabundance of God’s love for us wayward sinners.
We know in human terms how appalling it is to witness people indifferent or even contemptuous of the sacrifices which have been made for them: a nation which refuses to recognize the sacrifices of its war veterans, for example, or a new generation which takes the normality of its tolerably pleasant existence for granted without reference to the responsibility which the older generations—who endured much harder conditions of life—undertook to provide for their future.
How much more appalling it is to see the human race so cold and so ungrateful towards the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. And we are talking here about the coldness and ingratitude of so many professed Christians! They acknowledge that Christ, the Just and Innocent One, died a terrible death on a cross for the sake of the guilty, but it does not seem to shape their approach to life very much. They take their cues from the ways of the world just like anyone else.
During this month of July then, we can at least stir up in ourselves the right sentiments of gratitude and awe for—let us say it—the extravagance of God’s sacrifice for us, sentiments so beautifully expressed in these verses of the Precious Blood Hymn Festivus Resonet:
Let the streets resound with festive hymns and the people’s joy be seen in their faces as young and old, each in his rank and carrying a flaming torch, walk in procession.
Yet while we are mindful of His Passion and pay honor to the Blood that Christ shed from His many wounds as He hung upon the cruel tree, it is but right that at least we should shed tears.
The old Adam’s sin resulted in death and misery to mankind, but the new Adam’s sinlessness and loving-kindness gave life back to all men…