The Mystery of the Precious Blood (Part V)

Continuing our meditations on the Precious Blood of Jesus by Fr. Frederick Faber:

The whole of the Precious Blood is in the Chalice and in the Host. It is not part: it is the whole. We may well tremble to think what sanctuaries we are when the Blessed Sacrament is within us. Let us think again of the innumerable stars. Let us multiply their actual millions by millions of imaginary millions more. Let us suppose them all to be densely inhabited for countless ages by races of fallen beings. We have no figures to show the numbers of the individual souls, still less to represent the multiplied acts of sin of all those single souls or spirits. But we know this, that one drop of the thousands of drops of the Precious Blood in the glorified Body of Jesus would have been more than sufficient to cleanse all those countless fallen creations, and to absolve every separate sinner from every one of his multitudinous sins. Nay, that one drop would have given out all those worlds of redeeming grace, and yet no tittle of its treasures would be spent. The worth of one drop of the Precious Blood is simply infinite; consequently, no imaginary arithmetic of possible creations will convey any adequate idea of its overwhelming magnificence. Alas! the very copiousness of our redemption makes our view of it less clear. The very crowding of God’s love causes it to have something indistinguishable about it. Who does not see that it will take us an eternity to learn Jesus, or rather that we shall never learn Him, but that the endless work of learning Him will be the gladness of our eternity?

But this is not all the mystery. It was no necessity which drove God to the redemption of the world by the Precious Blood. He might have redeemed it in unnumbered other ways. There is no limit to His power, no exhaustion of His wisdom. He might have reconciled the forgiveness of sin with His stainless sanctity by many inventions of which neither we nor the Angels can so much as dream. There are vastnesses in Him Who is incomprehensible, of the existence of which we have no suspicion. He could have saved us without Jesus, according to the absoluteness of His power. All salvation must be dear: yet who can dream of a salvation which should seem at once so worthy of God and so endearing to man as our present salvation through Jesus Christ? Even then our dearest Lord need not have shed His Blood. There was no compulsion in the Blood-shedding. One tear of His, one momentary sigh, one uplifted look to His Father’s throne, would have been sufficient, if the Three Divine Persons had so pleased. The shedding of His Blood was part of the freedom of His love. It was, in some mysterious reality, the way of redemption most worthy of His blessed majesty, and also the way most likely to provoke the love of men. How often has God taken the ways of our hearts as the measure of His Own ways! How often does He let His glory and our love seem to be different things, and then leave Himself and go after us!

The Precious Blood is invisible. Yet nothing in creation is half so potent. It is everywhere, practically everywhere, although it is not omnipresent. It becomes visible in the fruits of grace. It will become more visible in the splendors of glory. But it will itself be visible in Heaven in our Lord’s glorified Body as in crystalline vases of incomparable refulgence. It belongs to Him, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, although its work is the work of the whole Trinity. In its efficacy and operation it is the most complete and most wonderful of all revelations of the Divine Perfections. The power, the wisdom, the goodness, the justice, the sanctity, of God, are most pre-eminently illustrated by the working of this Precious Blood.

These are the first thoughts which strike us about the Precious Blood. They are the ordinary considerations which our faith has made familiar to us. We shall have to return to them again in a different connection; and upon some of them we must enlarge in another place. A minuter acquaintance with Christian doctrine teaches us much more. Some little of this much must be introduced here for the sake of clearness and in order that we may better understand what has to follow.

The Precious Blood was assumed directly to our Blessed Lord’s Divine Person from His Immaculate Mother. It was not taken merely to his Body, so that His Body was directly assumed to the Person of the Word, and His Blood only indirectly or mediately as part of His Body. The Blood, which was the predetermined price of our redemption, rested directly and immediately on the Divine Person, and thus entered into the very highest and most unspeakable degree of the Hypostatic Union – if we may speak of degrees in such an adorably simple mystery. It was not merely a concomitant of the Flesh, an inseparable accident of the Body. The Blood itself, as Blood, was assumed directly by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. It came also from Mary’s blood. Mary’s blood was the material out of which the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the artificer of the Sacred Humanity, fashioned the Blood of Jesus. Here we see how needful to the joy and gladness of our devotion is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Who could bear to think that the matter of the Precious Blood had ever been itself corrupted with the taint of sin, that it had once been part of the devil’s kingdom, that what was to supply the free price of our redemption was once enslaved to God’s darkest, foulest enemy? Is it not indeed an endless daily jubilee to us, that the Church has laid upon us as an article of our faith that sweet truth which the instincts of our devotion had so long made a real part of our belief?

Moreover, there is some portion of the Precious Blood which once was Mary’s own blood, and which remains still in our Blessed Lord, incredibly exalted by its union with his Divine Person, yet still the same. This portion of Himself, it is piously believed, has not been allowed to undergo the usual changes of human substance. At this moment in Heaven He retains something which once was His Mother’s, and which is possibly visible, as such, to the Saints and Angels. He vouchsafed at Mass to show to St. Ignatius the very part of the Host which had once belonged to the substance of Mary. It may have a distinct and singular beauty in Heaven, where by His compassion it may one day be our blessed lot to see it and adore it. But, with the exception of this portion of it, the Precious Blood was a growing thing. It increased daily, as He increased in size and age. It was nourished from His Mother’s breast. It was fed from the earthly food which He condescended to take. During His three-and-thirty years it received thousands of increments and augmentations. But each one of those augmentations was assumed directly to His Divine Person. It was not merely diluted by that which had existed before. It did not share in the Hypostatic Union in any lower degree. The last drop of Blood made in Him by the laws of human life, perhaps while He was hanging on the Cross, was equally exalted, equally Divine, equally adorable, with the first priceless drops which He drew from his Blessed Mother.

Our dearest Lord was full and true Man. He was flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone; and His incomparable Soul, although it was incomparable, was simply and veritably a human soul. Every thing in His human substance was so exalted by its union with His Divine Person as to be adorable. Yet it was only His Blood which was to redeem the world; and it was only His Blood as shed which was to do so, and it was only His Blood as shed in death which could be the price of our redemption. The Blood shed at the Circumcision was adorable. The Blood shed in Gethsemane was adorable. If it be true, as some contemplatives have seen in vision, that He sweated Blood at various times in His Infancy because of His sight of sin and of His Father’s anger, that Blood also was adorable. But it was the Blood shed upon the Cross, or at least the Blood shed in the process of dying, which was the ransom of our sins. Throughout the whole of the triduo of the Passion, all His Blood, wherever it had been shed and wherever it was sprinkled, remained assumed to His Divinity, in union with His Divine Person, just as His soulless Body did, and therefore was to be worshiped with Divine worship, with the same adoration as the living and eternal God. At the Resurrection, when His Precious Blood had been collected by the ministry of the Angels, and He united it once more to His Body as He rose, some of it remained unassumed. This perhaps was for the consolation of His Mother, or for the enriching of the Church with the most inestimable of relics. This was the case with the Blood on the veil of Veronica, on the holy Winding-Sheet, on some portions of the Cross, and on the Thorns and Nails.  But this Blood, which was not reassumed at the Resurrection, instantly lost its union with His Divine Person, ceased to be what is strictly called the Precious Blood, lost its right to absolute adoration, and became only an intensely holy relic, to be venerated with a very high worship, but not to be worshiped as Divine or adored as the Blood of God. It was no longer part of Himself. But the Blood in the chalice is the Blood of the living Jesus in Heaven.  It is the Blood shed in the Passion, reassumed at the Resurrection, borne up to Heaven in the Ascension, placed at the Right Hand of the Father there in its consummate glory and beautified immortality. Thus it is the very Blood of God; and it is the whole of it, containing that portion which He had originally assumed from Mary.

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