by Donal Anthony Foley –
The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus, and the Church makes this dedication because it is important for us to contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist, which contains the life blood of our faith and the Church. This devotion dates back to the early Fathers, who say that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ, and the sacraments were brought forth through His blood. By meditating on the Precious Blood, we are led to a deeper consideration of the sacrificial death of Christ, when He poured out His blood for us on the cross.
We can find a number of references to the Blood of Christ, in a redemptive sense, in the New Testament. St. Peter tells us in his first letter that we were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from our ancestors, “not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.” (1 Pt 1:18-20)
The Book of Revelation emphasizes the power of Christ’s Blood in freeing us from our sins (Rev 1:5). Further on, the text speaks of how the martyrs “conquered Satan by the blood of the Lamb” and by their testimony. (Rev 12:11)
It is very appropriate that the particular message given by Our Lady at Fatima during the July 1917 apparition was imparted during the month dedicated to the Precious Blood. After showing them the vision of hell, the Blessed Virgin told them it was necessary to establish in the world devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and warned that if people did not cease offending God, a future war would take place, involving persecutions of the Church and the pope, during which the good would be martyred. Like her Son, many would shed their blood for the cause of truth as His witnesses – and in fact, the Greek word martyr means “witness.”
We have seen the fulfillment of this somber prophecy in all the sufferings endured by so many millions of Christians martyred under godless regimes during the 20th century. Where they could receive the sacraments, the Precious Blood of Christ in the Eucharist strengthened them.
Each time we attend Mass, it is good to recall this power, particularily at the moment of consecration of the wine in the chalice, when the priest, in the name and person of Christ, repeats His words at the Last Supper: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” (Cf. Mt 26:28)
The Precious Blood in the chalice at Mass is the same Blood that was poured out for us at Calvary.
There are other clear references to the Blood of Christ in the message of Fatima. In 1916, the Angel of Peace thrice appeared to the children and taught them various prayers. During the last of these apparitions, he held a chalice in his hands, above which was a Host from which drops of blood were falling into the chalice.
The angel left the Host and chalice suspended in the air and prostrated himself, repeating a prayer of reparation three times. The Angel Prayer, as it is known, offers the Precious Blood of Christ – along with His Body, Soul and Divinity – to the Holy Trinity in reparation for all the offenses committed against God. The Precious Blood is not only the cause of our redemption but can also be offered in reparation for the sins, sacrileges and even indifference that deeply offends God.
The Last Vision of Fatima
Sister Lucia was given an insightful apparition involving Our Lady and the Holy Trinity during a holy hour in her convent chapel on June 13, 1929. While praying the prayers of the Angel, she saw a vision of the Holy Trinity, with Christ on the Cross and the Holy Spirit as a dove and God the Father above them. She also saw a chalice and a large Host suspended in the air, onto which drops of blood were falling from the face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in His side, into the chalice.
In this vision, we have a striking illustration of the Holy Trinity and of the redemptive power of Christ’s Precious Blood.
The third part of the Fatima secret, which was revealed in the year 2000, is in part, a graphic description of the sufferings endured by the Church during the 20th century, but also points to future events. The children saw a vision in which a bishop dressed in white – the Holy Father – along with numerous clergy and laity, were ascending a steep mountain and are killed before the rough-hewn cross at the top. “Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
Here we see a prophetic vision of all those martyred for the faith, who imitate Christ in shedding their own blood and thus aid the Church that has been making its way to the Cross since the very beginning. As the Catechism (2473) indicates, “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude.”
The Church has always grown from the witness and testimony of those willing to shed their own blood in imitation of Christ. As the early Christian author Tertullian is often quoted, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
St. Clement of Rome, the third successor of St. Peter, strengthened the early Church with these words before he was martyred: “Let us fix our gaze on the blood of Christ and know how precious it is to His Father, because it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world. Let us look back over all the generations, and let us learn that in generation after generation the master has given a place of repentance to all those who have the will to turn to Him.”
Whatever afflictions members of the Church may have to endure in the future, they can be assured that by the power of the Precious Blood of Jesus, they will be strengthened and consoled even in the face of martyrdom.
Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions and maintains a related web site at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also written two time-travel/adventure books for young people, and the third in the series is due to be published shortly – details can be seen at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk