Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Feast of the Most Precious Blood

July 1 is the Feast of the Most Precious Blood, beginning the month of July which itself is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood.

The feast originated in 16th century Spain, made its way to Italy, and was extended to the entire Church in 1849 by Pope Pius IX, originally for the first Sunday of July. Later, Pope St. Pius X moved it to July 1 (the Novus Ordo calendar doesn't celebrate this feast at all).

The Precious Blood was prefigured in the Old Testament by the sacrificing of the paschal lamb. While the Israelites were captive in Egypt, God told Moses to kill a young, male lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts and transoms of their homes. Exodus 12:13:

And the blood shall be unto you for a sign in the houses where you shall be: and I shall see the blood, and shall pass over you: and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I shall strike the land of Egypt.

God passed over and avoided punishing those whose homes were covered by the blood. And now, we who are covered by the Precious Blood shed by Lord Christ are also liberated from being punished with death, the wages of our sins. The Blood He shed for us is our hope. Our only hope. Consider the words of St. Peter from I Peter 1:18-20:

Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times for you.

Father Frederick Faber beautifully and powerfully describes the profound reverence we should have for Christ's life-giving and most Precious Blood:

What strikes us at the first thought of the Precious Blood? It is that we have to worship it with the highest worship. It is not a relic at which we should look with wonder and love, and which we should kiss with reverence, as having once been a temple of the Holy Ghost, and an instrument chosen by God for the working of miracles, or as flesh and bone penetrated with that celestial virtue of the Blessed Sacrament which will raise it up at the last day in a glorious resurrection.

It is something unspeakably more than this. We should have to adore it with the highest adoration. In some local heaven or other, in some part of space far off or near, God at this hour is unveiling his blissful majesty before the angels and the saints. It is in a local court of inconceivable magnificence. The Human Body and Soul of Jesus are there, and are its light and glory, the surpassing sun of that heavenly Jerusalem. Mary, his Mother, is throned there like a lovely moon in the mid-glory of the sunset, beautified rather than extinguished by the effulgence round her. Millions of lordly angels are abasing their vast grandeur before the ecstatic terror of that unclothed Vision of the Eternal. Thrills of entrancing fear run through the crowds of glorified saints wdio throng the spaces of that marvellous shrine. Mary herself upon her throne is shaken by an ecstasy of fear before the mightiness of God, even as a reed is shaken by the wind. The Sacred Heart of Jesus beats with rapturous awe, and is glorified by the very blessedness of its abjection, before the immensity of those Divine Fires, burning visibly in their overwhelming splendors. If we could enter there as we are now, we should surely die. We arc not strengthened yet to bear the depth of that prostrate humiliation, which is needed there, and which is the inseparable joy of heaven. Our lives would be shattered by the throbs of awe which must beat like vehement pulses in our souls. But we know the limits of our nature. We know, at least in theory, the abjection which befits the creature in the immediate presence of its Creator.

We can conceive the highest adoration of a sinless immortal soul as a worship winch it could not pay to any creature, however exalted, however near to God. We can picture ourselves to ourselves, prostrate on the clouds of heaven, blinded with excess of light, every faculty of the mind jubilantly amazed by the immensity of the Divine Perfections, every affection of the heart drowned in some forever new abyss of the unfathomable sweetness of God. We know that we should lie in sacred fear and glad astonishment before the throne of Mary, if we saw it gleaning in its royalty. Yet we know also that this deep reverence would be something of quite a different kind from our abjection before the tremendous majesty of God.

But, if we saw one drop of the Precious Blood, hanging like the least pearl of dew upon a blade of grass on Calvary, or as a dull disfigured splash in the dust of the gateway of Jerusalem, we should have to adore it with the selfsame adoration as the uncovered splendors of the Eternal.

Indeed! But to some, the idea of reverencing Christ's Blood is barbaric. Fr. M. F. Walz has this to say about that:

There are some, perhaps, who are more repelled than attracted by the very name and nature of the devotion to the Precious Blood. The idea of blood easily suggests to them that some cruelty has been committed and that consequently some life is ebbing out. "The life of the fiesh is in the blood" (Lev. XVII, 11), and to see blood flow fills us instinctively with horror. When Jesus promised to give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink, we know that "Many therefore of his disciples hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalise you? It is the spirit that quickeneth" (John VI, 61-64). It is true, the devotion to the Precious Blood does remind us that pain was inflicted and that a life was sacrificed ; but we must not forget also that it was divine Blood that was shed and that it was the Man-God Who suffered and laid down His life for us. Let us confess, too, with deep compunction, we sinners have been the cause of the blood-shedding and death. Is this not the underlying reason why this devotion contains this element of wholesome fear ? It was to wash away our sins that this adorable Blood was spilt, and in answer to the words of the prophet, "Why then is thy apparel red?" (Is. LXIII, 2) we may reply with the beloved Apostle, because "He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Apoc. I, 5). St. Bernard calls the Blood of the Passion the roses of divine love.

The devotion to the Precious Blood brings us face to face with two fundamental doctrines of our holy religion: fallen man in all his misery, shut out from Paradise and Heaven, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears; and Jesus, the Son of the living God, restoring the child of perdition to the dignity of a child of God and heir of heaven. An angel with a flaming sword guards the entrance of Paradise lost; but Jesus in the crimson garment of His Blood, all aflame with love, reopens the gate of Heaven for us.

A religion that is divorced from these basic truths is like a nut that lacks a kernel. In our age of luxury and religious indifference, men do not want to be reminded of moral regeneration, of the necessity of struggling against the flesh, the world, and the devil; they do not want to hear of their obligation to use the means of salvation and thus co-operate with God's grace. This effem inate world loathes a Church in which the Cross occupies a prominent place and in which the Crucified is adored and implored for mercy.

Solid piety, genuine and lasting devotion, how ever, must consist in the love of God, must be grounded on the dogmas of the Church, must be rooted in a spirit of sacrifice and self-abase ment, must contain a great love of Jesus Christ and His Church, must be productive of practical charity, and must be willing to undergo sufferings in submission to Divine Providence; otherwise our devotions will easily become whimsical and evaporate into sentimentalism. ((They have for saken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. II, 13). While Moses was upon the mountain praying and receiving the ten Commandments, the fickle-minded Israelites were dancing around the golden calf of their own making. The vagaries of men's minds can never replace the revealed truths of God; neither can the outward forms of piety be a substitute for real and practical religion.

He who is so fastidious in his religious tastes as to feel any aversion at contmplating or worshipping Christ in His Blood, clearly shows that he is wanting in true love of Jesus.

Or let St. Paul explain it to you, as he did in I Corinthians 1:23-25:

[W]e preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness. But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


Some may prepare for this feast by praying the Novena to the Precious Blood beginning on June 22 and ending on June 30, the eve of this feast. For the day itself, the Litany of the Precious Blood would be perfect, as would be the Chaplet of the Precious Blood.

Recommended, too, are these "Seven Offerings, in Reparation for all the Outrages Received by Our Lord in the Precious Blood" from the Raccolta:


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for the propagation and exaltation of my dear Mother, Thy Holy Church; for the safety and prosperity of her visible head, our chief pastor the Bishop of Rome; for the cardinals, bishops, and pastors of souls, and for all the ministers of the sanctuary. Gloria Patri. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood.


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for the peace and concord of Catholic kings and princes, for the humiliation of the enemies of our holy Faith, and for the welfare of all Christian people. Gloria Patri. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood.


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for the repentance of unbelievers, the uprooting of heresy, and the conversion of sinners. Gloria Patri. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood.


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus,Thy well-beloved Son, my Savious and my God, for all my relations, friends, and enemies; for the poor, the sick, and the afflicted, and for all those for whom Thou, my God, knowest that I ought to pray, or wouldst have me pray. Gloria Patri. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood.


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all who this day are passing to the other life; that thou wouldst save them from the pains of hell, and admit them quickly to the possession of thy glory. Gloria PatriI. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood,


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all those who love this great treasure, for those who join with me in adoring it and honouring it, and for those who strive to spread devotion to it. Gloria Patri. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood.


Eternal Father! I offer Thee the merits of the Precious Blood of Jesus, Thy well-beloved Son, my Saviour and my God, for all my wants, spiritual and temporal; in suffrage for the holy souls in purgatory, and chiefly for those who were most devout lovers of this Blood, the price of our redemption, and of the sorrows and pains of our dear Mother, most holy Mary. Gloria Patri. Blessed and praised for evermore be Jesus, Who hath saved us with His Blood.

Glory be to the Blood of Jesus, now and for ever, and throughout all ages! Amen.

As to music, the hymn Salvete Christi Vulnera (Hail, holy Wounds of Jesus, hail)  is the perfect for the day:

Salvete Christi vulnera,
Immensi amoris pignora,
Quibus perennes rivuli
Manant rubentis Sanguinis.

Nitore stellas vincitis,
Rosas odore et balsama,
Pretio lapillos indicos,
Mellis favos dulcedine.

Per vos patet gratissimum
Nostris asylum mentibus,
Non huc furor minantium
Unquam penetrat hostium.

Quot Jesus in Pretorio
Flagella nudus excipit!
Quot scissa pellis undique
Stillat cruoris guttulas!

Frontem venustam, proh dolor!
Corona pungit spinea,
Clavi retusa cuspide
Pedes manusque perforant.

Postquam sed ille tradidit
Amans volensque spiritum,
Pectus feritur lancea,
Geminusque liquor exilit.

Ut plena sit redemptio
Sub torculari stringitur,
Suique Jesus immemor,
Sibi nil reservat Sanguinis.

Venite, quotquot criminum
Funesta labes inficit:
In hoc salutis balneo
Qui se lavat, mundabitur.

Summi ad Parentis dexteram
Sedenti habenda est gratia,
Qui nos redemit Sanguine,
Sanctoque firmat Spiritu.
Hail, holy Wounds of Jesus, hail,
Sweet pledges of the saving Rood,
Whence flow the streams that never fail,
The purple streams of His dear Blood.

Brighter than brightest stars ye show,
Than sweetest rose your scent more rare,
No Indian gem may match your glow,
No honey’s taste with yours compare.

Portals ye are to that dear home
Wherein our wearied souls may hide,
Whereto no angry foe can come,
The Heart of Jesus crucified.

What countless stripes our Jesus bore,
All naked left in Pilate’s hall!
From His torn flesh ow red a shower
Did round His sacred person fall!

His beauteous brow, oh, shame and grief,
By the sharp thorny crown is riven;
Through hands and feet, without relief,
The cruel nails are rudely driven.

But when for our poor sakes He died,
A willing Priest by love subdued,
The soldier’s lance transfixed His side,
Forth flowed the Water and the Blood.

In full atonement of our guilt,
Careless of self, the Saviour trod—
E’en till His Heart’'s best Blood was spilt—
The wine-press of the wrath of God.

Come, bathe you in the healing flood,
All ye who mourn, by sin opprest;
Your only hope is Jesus’ Blood,
His Sacred Heart your only rest.

All praise to Him, the Eternal Son,
At God’s right hand enthroned above,
Whose Blood our full redemption won,
Whose Spirit seals the gift of love.

For a non-liturgical, car-singing song, it's hard to beat "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus," a song written by a Baptist minister in 1876, but with inoffensive lyrics Catholics can sing with no qualms. Here is a version by Guy Penrod:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this I see
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
For my pardon this my plea
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
Naught of good that I have done
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
This is all my righteousness
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

Now by this I'll overcome
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
Now by this, I'll reach my home
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

Glory! glory! thus I sing
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
All my praise to this I bring
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

A symbol for the day is that of the pelican, about which the Aberdeen Bestiary says,

It is devoted to its young. When it gives birth and the young begin to grow, they strike their parents in the face. But their parents, striking back, kill them. On the third day, however, the mother-bird, with a blow to her flank, opens up her side and lies on her young and lets her blood pour over the bodies of the dead, and so raises them from the dead.

In a mystic sense, the pelican signifies Christ; Egypt, the world. The pelican lives in solitude, as Christ alone condescended to be born of a virgin without intercourse with a man. It is solitary, because it is free from sin, as also is the life of Christ. It kills its young with its beak as preaching the word of God converts the unbelievers. It weeps ceaselessly for its young, as Christ wept with pity when he raised Lazarus. Thus after three days, it revives its young with its blood, as Christ saves us, whom he has redeemed with his own blood.

You will find pelicans in many Christian works of art and literature --

--- including St. Thomas Aquinas's hymn, Adoro Te Devote. Gerard Manley Hopkins's translation of the relevant verse:

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Another symbol for the day is the Chalice, or the "Holy Grail," if you prefer, the fate of which no one knows, but about which many legends have arisen. Tradition tells us that St. Joseph of Arimathea, the rich man who allowed Christ to be placed in a tomb he owned, went to England after the resurrection and became a Bishop in Glastonbury. The earliest of the Holy Grail stories, a trilogy written in the late 12th century by Robert de Boron, tell how Joseph brought the Holy Grail with him. These stories later evolved into the 15th century "Le Morte D'Arthur" and other Arthurian tales most have at least some passing familiarity with. To read the original De Boron stories, look for a book called "Merlin and the Grail: Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Perceval: the Trilogy of Prose Romances Attributed to Robert de Boron" (ISBN-10: 0859917797). It's available for reading but not for downloading at the Internet Archive.

Finally, a good habit you might consider adopting is to call on the Precious Blood when blessing yourself with holy water: "By this Holy Water and by Your Precious Blood, Lord Jesus, wash away all my sins."

For further reading, see these books, in pdf format, from this site's Catholic Library:


From the Raccolta

Glory be to Jesus!
Who in bitter pains
Pour’d for me the life-blood
From his sacred veins.

Grace and life eternal
In that Blood I find;
Bless’d be his compassion,
Infinitely kind!

Bless’d through endless ages
Be the precious stream,
Which from endless torment
Doth the world redeem.

There the fainting spirit
Drinks of life her fill ;
There, as in a fountain,
Laves herself at will.

Oh, the Blood of Christ!
It soothes the Father's ire,
Opes the gate of heaven,
Quells eternal fire.

Abel’s blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies,
But the Blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.

Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion
Terror-struck departs.

Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Hell with terror trembles,
Heaven is filled with joy.

Lift ye, then, your voices;
Swell the mighty flood;
Louder still and louder,
Praise the Precious Blood!

St. Augustine
Excerpt from Tractate 120 (John 19:31-20:9)

1. After that the Lord Jesus had accomplished all that He foreknew required accomplishment before His death, and had, when it pleased Himself, given up the ghost, what followed thereafter, as related by the evangelist, let us now consider. The Jews therefore, he says, because it was the preparation (parasceve), that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that Sabbath day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Not that their legs might be taken away, but the persons themselves whose legs were broken for the purpose of effecting their death, and permitting them to be detached from the tree, lest their continuing to hang on the crosses should defile the great festal day by the horrible spectacle of their day-long torments.

2. Then came the soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear laid open His side, and immediately came there out blood and water. A suggestive word was made use of by the evangelist, in not saying pierced, or wounded His side, or anything else, but opened; that thereby, in a sense, the gate of life might be thrown open, from whence have flowed forth the sacraments of the Church, without which there is no entrance to the life which is the true life. That blood was shed for the remission of sins; that water it is that makes up the health-giving cup, and supplies at once the laver of baptism and water for drinking. This was announced beforehand, when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, whereby the animals might enter which were not destined to perish in the flood, and by which the Church was prefigured. Because of this, the first woman was formed from the side of the man when asleep, and was called Life, and the mother of all living. Truly it pointed to a great good, prior to the great evil of the transgression (in the guise of one thus lying asleep). This second Adam bowed His head and fell asleep on the cross, that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from the sleeper's side. O death, whereby the dead are raised anew to life! What can be purer than such blood? What more health-giving than such a wound?

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