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OCTOBER 20: Memorial of St. Paul of the Cross, confessor
St Vincent Strambi, Paul’s first biographer writing only 11 years after his death, stated that the Holy Spirit raised up Paul of the Cross to help people find God in their heart. Paul was convinced that God is most easily found by us in the Passion of Jesus Christ. He saw the Passion as being the most overwhelming sign of God’s love for us, and at the same time our best means for union with Him.
Paul often spent many hours in prayer and adoration before Jesus crucified. Throughout his many travels while preaching missions and making foundations of his Passionist Order, he always carried with him a large wooden crucifix in honor of our Lord’s Passion, thus he became known by the popular name of “Paul of the Cross”. Undoubtedly the two greatest characteristics of St Paul were his fervent devotion to the Passion of Jesus and also his extraordinary sacrifices and penances that he made for the conversion of sinners.
Throughout his religious life, Paul continuously sacrificed and made special penances and mortification’s for the success of his preaching missions, that many souls may be converted. An example of his many penances was that he went barefoot in all his travels throughout Italy, regardless of the harsh seasons and climates. And God, Who was pleased with the heroic sacrifices and devotion of His servant, chose to perform countless extraordinary miracles through Paul’s intercession and prayers. As he went about doing good, the frequent extraordinary signs from heaven that accompanied him were a sign to all that God was with him in a most remarkable way. Like his holy predecessors the Apostles, immense crowds gathered and followed him as he went about preaching from town to town. His great love for God and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary radiated to the crowds with remarkable unction through both his words and his actions, thereby causing countless conversions everywhere he went. His austere manner of life, full of sacrifices and penances, encouraged the people to make reparation to God for their own sins.
~St Paul of the Cross, pray for us!
Words and sayings of Saint Paul of the Cross:
“I want to set myself on fire with love…I want to be entirely on fire with love…and I want to know how to sing in the fire of love.”
“Look upon the face of the Crucified, who invites you to follow Him. He will be a Father, Mother–everything to you.”
“Oh Love, oh fire of charity; how powerful You are!”
“I enjoy remaining on the Cross. How beautiful it is to suffer for Jesus!”…..“I rejoice in the nails that hold me crucified”
“Ah, my Supreme Good. What were the sentiments of your Sacred Heart when You were scourged? My beloved Spouse, how greatly did the sight of my grievous sins and my ingratitude afflict You! Oh, my only Love, why do I not die for You? Why am I not overwhelmed with sorrow? And then I feel that sometimes my spirit can say no more but remains thus in God with His sufferings infused into the soul- and sometimes it seems as if my heart would break.”
“Your crosses dear God, are the joy of my heart. How beautiful to suffer with Jesus!”
“I hope that God will save me through the merits of the Passion of Jesus. The more difficulties in life, the more I hope in God. By God’s grace I will not lose my soul, but I hope in His mercy.”
“I am a bottomless pit and deserve no light, so unworthy am I.”
“Christ Crucified is a work of love. The miracle of miracles of love. The most stupendous work of the love of God. The bottomless sea of the love of God, where virtues are found, where one can lose oneself in love and sorrow. A sea and a fire or a sea of fire. The most beneficial means of abandoning sin and growing in virtue, and so in holiness.”
“At holy Communion I had much sweetness. My dear God gave me infused knowledge of the joy which the soul will have when we see him face to face, when we will be united with Him in holy love. Then I felt sorrow to see Him offended and I told Him that I would willingly be torn to pieces for a single soul. Indeed, I felt that I would die when I saw the loss of so many souls who do not experience the fruit of the Passion of Jesus.”
“Oh my Love, what happened to Your heart in the Garden! Oh, what suffering; what shedding of blood! What bitter agony, and all for me!”.
“I felt pain in seeing my dear God so offended. I could faint from seeing so many souls lost for not feeling the fruit of the Passion of Jesus. A desire to convert all sinners will not leave me.”
“Oh good Jesus, how swollen, bruised, and defiled with spittle do I behold Thy
countenance! O my Love! Why do I see Thee all covered with wounds? Oh
infinite sweetness, why are Your bones laid bare? Ah, what sufferings! What
sorrows! O my God, why are You all wounded? Ah, dear sufferings! Dear wounds! I wish to keep you always in my heart.”
“Oh Jesus, my Love, may my heart be consumed in loving Thee; make me humble and holy; give me childlike simplicity; transform me into thy holy love. O Jesus, life of my life, joy of my soul, God of my heart, accept my heart as an altar, on which I will sacrifice to Thee the gold of ardent charity, the incense of continual, humble and fervent prayer, and the myrrh of constant sacrifices! Amen.”
“The world lives unmindful of the sufferings of Jesus, which are the miracle of miracles of the Love of God”
“Oh my good God, how gentle You are! How sweet You are! Oh dear cross, I embrace you and press you to my heart!”
“We ought to glory in nothing other than the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are blessed and don’t know it. You have Jesus Crucified with you.”
HOLY MASS AND ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE MOTHER OF GOD
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
Czestochowa – Jasna Gora, 4 June 1979
- “Holy Virgin guarding bright Czestochowa…”
To my mind come back these words of the poet Mickiewicz, who in an invocation to the Virgin at the beginning of his “Pan Tadeusz“ expressed what then beat and still beats in the hearts of all Poles, by making use of the language of faith and that of our national tradition. It is a tradition that goes back some 600 years to the time of the blessed Queen Hedwig at the dawn of the Jagellonian dynasty. The image of Jasna Gora expresses a tradition and a language of faith still more ancient than our history and also reflecting the whole of the content of the Bogurodzica, on which we meditated yesterday at Gniezno, recalling the mission of Saint Wojciech (Adalbert) and going back to the first moments of the proclamation of the Gospel in the land of Poland.
She who once spoke in song, later spoke in this Image, manifesting through it her maternal presence in the life of the Church and of the motherland. The Virgin of Jasna Gora has revealed her maternal solicitude for every soul; for every family; for every human being living in this land, working here, fighting and falling on the battlefield, condemned to extermination, fighting against himself, winning or losing; for every human being who must leave the soil of his motherland as an emigrant; for every human being.
The Poles are accustomed to link with this place, this shrine, the many happenings of their lives: the various joyful or sad moments, especially the solemn, decisive moments, the occasions of responsibility, such as the choice of the direction for one’s life, the choice of one’s vocation, the birth of one’s children, the final school examinations, and so many other occasions. They are accustomed to come with their problems to Jasna Gora to speak of them with their heavenly Mother, who not only has her image here, one of the best known and most venerated pictures of her in the world, but is specially present here. She is present in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, as the Council teaches. She is present for each and every one of those who come on pilgrimage to her, even if only in spirit and heart when unable to do so physically.
The Poles are accustomed to do this.
It is a custom also with related peoples, with neighbouring nations. More and more people are coming here from all over Europe and outside Europe.
During the great novena, the Cardinal Primate expressed himself as follows with regard to the significance of the shrine of Czestochowa for the life of the Church:
“What has happened at Jasna Gora?
“We are still unable to give an adequate answer. Something has happened that is beyond our powers of imagining… Jasna Gora has shown itself an inward bond in Polish life, a force that touches the depths of our hearts and holds the entire nation in the humble yet strong attitude of fidelity to God, to the Church and to her Hierarchy… For many of us it was a great surprise to see the power of the Queen of Poland display itself so magnificently”.
It is no wonder then that I too should come here today. I have, in fact, taken with me from Poland to the chair of Saint Peter in Rome this “holy habit” of the heart, which has been built up by the faith of so many generations, has been tested by the Christian experience of so many centuries, and is deeply rooted in my soul.
- Several times Pope Pius XI came here, naturally not as Pope but as Achille Ratti, the first Nuncio in Poland after the recovery of independence.
After the death of Pius XII, when Pope John XXIII was elected to the Chair of Peter, the first words of the new Pontiff to the Primate of Poland after the Conclave were a reference to Jasna Gora. He recalled his visits here during his years as Apostolic Delegate in Bulgaria and he asked above all for unceasing prayer to the Mother of God for the intentions involved in his new mission. His request was satisfied every day at Jasna Gora, not only during his pontificate but also during those of his Successors.
We all know how much Pope Paul VI wanted to come here in pilgrimage. He was so closely connected with Poland from the time of his first diplomatic appointment in the Warsaw Nunciature. He was the Pope that did so much for the normalization of the life of the Church in Poland, particularly with regard to the present arrangement of the territories in the west and the north. He was the Pope of our Millennium. It was for the Millennium that he wanted to be here as a pilgrim together with the sons and daughters of the Polish Nation.
After the Lord called Pope Paul VI to himself on the solemnity of the Transfiguration last year, the Cardinals chose his Successor on 26 August, the day on which Poland, and especially Jasna Gora, celebrates the solemnity of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The news of the election of the new Pope, John Paul I, was communicated to the faithful by the Bishop of Czestochowa in the course of the evening celebration.
What must I say of myself, to whom after the barely 33-day pontificate of John Paul I it fell, on 16 October 1978, by the inscrutable decree of Providence to receive his inheritance and the apostolic succession to the Chair of Saint Peter? What must I say, I who am the first non-Italian Pope for 455 years? What must I say, I, John Paul II, the first Polish Pope in the history of the Church? I will tell you: on that 16 October, the day on which the liturgical calendar of the Church in Poland recalls ‘Saint Hedwig, I went back in thought to 26 August, to the preceding Conclave and the election that took place on the Solemnity of Our Lady of Jasna Gora.
I had no need even to say, as my Predecessors said, that I was going to count on the prayers offered at the foot of the image of Jasna Gora. The call of a son of the Polish nation to the Chair of Peter involves an evident strong connection with this holy place, with this shrine of great hope: so many times I had whispered Totus tuus in prayer before this image.
3. And today I am again with all of you, dear brothers and sisters; with you, beloved fellow-countrymen; with you, the Cardinal Primate of Poland; with all the Episcopate to which I belonged for more than twenty years as Bishop, Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow and as Cardinal. So many times we came here to this holy place with attentive pastoral ear, to listen to the beating of the heart of the Church and of that of the motherland in the heart of the Mother. Jasna Gora is, in fact, not only a place of pilgrimage for the Poles of the motherland and of the whole world but also the nation’s shrine. One must listen in this holy place in order to hear the beating of the heart of the nation in the heart of the Mother. For her heart beats, we know, together with all the appointments of history, with all the happenings in our national life: how many times, in fact, has it vibrated with the laments of the historical sufferings of Poland, but also with the shouts of joy and victory! The history of Poland can be written in different ways; especially in the case of the history of the last centuries, it can be interpreted along different lines. But if we want to know how this history is interpreted by the heart of the Poles, we must come here, we must listen to this shrine, we must hear the echo of the life of the whole nation in the heart of its Mother and Queen. And if her heart beats with a tone of disquiet, if it echoes with solicitude and the cry for the conversion and strengthening of consciences, this invitation must be accepted. It is an invitation springing from maternal love, which in its own way is shaping the historical processes in the land of Poland.
The last decades have confirmed and intensified that unity between the Polish nation and its Queen. Before the Virgin of Czestochowa there was pronounced the consecration of Poland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 8 September 1946. Ten years later the vows of King Jan Kazimierz were renewed at Jasna Gora on the 300th anniversary of the time when he, after a period referred to as one of deluge (the seventeenth-century Swedish invasion), proclaimed the Mother of God Queen of the Polish Kingdom. On that anniversary began the great nine-year novena in preparation for the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. Finally, in the year of the Millennium itself, on 3 May 1966, in this place the Primate of Poland pronounced the act of total servitude to the Mother of God for the freedom of the Church in Poland and throughout the world. This historic act was pronounced here, before Paul VI, absent in body but present in spirit, as a testimony of that lively and strong faith expected and demanded by the present time.
The act speaks of “servitude”. It contains a paradox similar to the words of the Gospel according to which one must lose one’s life to find it (cf. Mt 10:39). For love constitutes the fulfilment of freedom, yet at the same time “belonging”, and so not being free is part of its essence. However, this “not being free” in love is not felt as slavery but rather as an affirmation and fulfilment of freedom. The act of consecration in slavery indicates therefore a unique dependence and a limitless trust. In this sense slavery (non-freedom) expresses the fullness of freedom, in the same way as the Gospel speaks of the need to lose one’s life in order to find it in its fullness.
The words of that act, which were spoken with the language of the historical experiences of Poland, the language of her sufferings and also of her victories, receive a response in this very moment of the life of the Church and of the world, after the close of the Second Vatican Council, which, as we rightly think, has opened a new era. The Council began an age of deeper knowledge of man, of his “joy and hope, grief and anguish”, as is stated in the first words of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. Aware of her great dignity and her magnificent vocation in Christ, the Church wishes to go to meet man. The Church wishes to respond to the eternal yet ever topical queries of human hearts and human history. For that reason she carried out during the Council a work ofdeeper knowledge of herself, her nature, her mission, her tasks.
On 3 May 1966 the Polish Episcopate added to this fundamental work by the Council its own act of Jasna Gora: the consecration to the Mother of God for the freedom of the Church in the world and in Poland. It was a cry coming forth from the heart and the will: a cry of the whole of the Christian being, from the person and the community, for the full right to proclaim the saving message; a cry that willed to have universal effectiveness by striking root in the present age and in the future. Everything through Mary. This is the authentic interpretation of the presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, as is proclaimed by Chapter VIII of the Constitution Lumen Gentium. This interpretation corresponds to the tradition of the saints, such as Bernard of Clairvaux, Grignion de Monfort and Maximilian Kolbe.
- Pope Paul VI accepted this act of consecration as the fruit of the celebration of the Polish Millennium of Jasna Gora, as is shown by his bull placed close to the image of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Today, on coming to Jasna Gora, his unworthy Successor wishes to renew it on the day after Pentecost, the very day on which is celebrated throughout Poland the feast of the Mother of the Church.
For the first time the Pope is celebrating this solemnity, expressing together with you, Venerable and dear Brothers, his gratitude towards his great Predecessor, who from the time of the Council began to invoke Mary with the title of the Mother of the Church.
This title enables us to enter into the whole of the mystery of Mary from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, passing through the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, to Calvary. It enables us all to be—the scene is recalled in today’s liturgy—in the upper room, where the Apostles devoted themselves to prayer, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, as they waited, after the Lord’s Ascension, for the fulfilment of his promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, in order that the Church might be born. A special participation in the birth of the Church is had by her to whom we owe the birth of Christ.
The Church, which was once born in the Pentecost upper room, continues to be born in every upper room of prayer. She is born to become our spiritual Mother in the likeness of the Mother of the Eternal Word. She is born to reveal the characteristics and power of that motherhood (the motherhood of the Mother of God) thanks to which we can “be called children of God; and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1). For, in his plan of salvation, the holy fatherhood of God used the virginal motherhood of his lowly handmaiden to bring about in the children of man the work of the divine author.
Dear fellow-countrymen, venerable and beloved Brothers in the Episcopate, Pastors of the Church in Poland, illustrious guests, and all of you the faithful: consent that I, as Saint Peter’s Successor present with you here today, should entrust the whole of the Church to the Mother of Christ with the same lively faith, the same heroic hope, with which we did so on the memorable day of 3 May of the Polish Millennium.
Consent that I should bring here, as I did already in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome and later in the Shrine of Guadalupe in Mexico, the mysteries of the hearts, the sorrow and suffering, and finally the hope and expectation of this final period of the twentieth century of the Christian era.
Consent that I should entrust all this to Mary.
Consent that I should entrust it to her in a new and solemn way.
I am a man of great trust.
I learnt to be so here.
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE MOTHER OF GOD
“Great Mother of God made man, Most Holy Virgin, Our Lady of Jasna Gora…”
With these words the Polish Bishops addressed you so many times at Jasna Gora, bearing in their hearts the experiences and the sufferings, the joy and the sorrow, and, above all, the faith, hope and charity of their fellow-countrymen.
May I be permitted today to begin with the same words the new act of consecration to Our Lady of Jasna Gora. This new act springs from that same faith, hope and charity, and from the tradition of our people shared by me for so many years. It springs at the same time from the new duties that, thanks to you, Mary, have been entrusted to me, an unworthy man and also your adoptive son.
How meaningful for me always have been the words that your Son, born from you, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, spoke from the height of the Cross, pointing out John, apostle and evangelist: “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19:26). In these words I always found the place for every human being and the place for myself.
By the inscrutable designs of Divine Providence I am today present here at Jasna Gora, in my earthly homeland, Poland, and I wishfirst of all to confirm the acts of consecration and of trust that at various times—”in many and various ways” were pronounced by the Cardinal Primate and the Polish Episcopate. In a very special way I wish to confirm and renew the act of consecration pronounced at Jasna Gora on 3 May 1966, on the occasion of the Millennium of Poland. With this act the Polish Bishops wished, by giving themselves to you, Mother of God, “in your maternal slavery of love”, to serve the great cause of the freedom of the Churchnot only in their own homeland but in the whole world. Some years later, on 7 June 1976, they consecrated to you all of humanity,all the nations and peoples of the modern world, and their brothers and sisters who are close to them by faith, by language and by the destinies they share in history, extending this consecration to the furthest limits of love as is demanded by your heart, the heart of a Mother who embraces each and every person, always and everywhere.
Today I come to Jasna Gora as its first pilgrim Pope, and I wish to renew the entire heritage of trust, of consecration and of hope that has been accumulated here with such magnanimity by my Brothers in the Episcopate and my fellow-countrymen.
Therefore, I entrust to you, Mother of the Church, all the problems of this Church, the whole of her mission and of her service, while the second millennium of the history of Christianity on earth is about to draw to a close.
Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Seat of Wisdom, it is to your intercession that we owe the magnificent vision and the programme of renewal of the Church in our age that found expression in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. Grant that we may make this vision and programme the object of our activity, our service, our teaching, our pastoral care, our apostolate—in the same truth, simplicity and fortitude with which the Holy Spirit has made them known through our humble service. Grant that the whole Church may be reborn by drawing from this new fount of the knowledge of her nature and mission, and not from other foreign or poisoned “cisterns” (cf. Jer 8:14).
Help us in the great endeavour that we are carrying out to meet in a more and more mature way our brothers in faith, with whom so many things unite us, although there is still something dividing us. Through all the means of knowledge, of mutual respect, of love, of shared collaboration in various fields, may we be able to rediscover gradually the divine plan for the unity into which we should enter and bring everybody in, in order that the one fold of Christ may recognize and live its unity on earth. Mother of unity,teach us constantly the ways that lead to unity.
Allow us in the future to go out to meet all human beings and all peoples that are seeking God and wishing to serve him on the way of different religions. Help us all to proclaim Christ and reveal “the power of God and the Wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24) hidden in his Cross. You were the first to reveal him at Bethlehem, not only to the simple faithful shepherds but also to the wise men from distant lands.
Mother of Good Counsel, show us always how we are to serve the individual and humanity in every nation, how we are to lead them along the ways of salvation. How we are to protect justice and peace in a world continually threatened on various sides. How greatly I desire on the occasion of our meeting today to entrust to you all the difficult problems of the societies, systems and states—problems that cannot be solved with hatred, war and self-destruction but only by peace, justice and respect for the rights of people and of nations.
Mother of the Church, grant that the Church may enjoy freedom and peace in fulfilling her saving mission and that to this end she may become mature with a new maturity of faith and inner unity. Help us to overcome opposition and difficulties. Help us to rediscover all the simplicity and dignity of the Christian vocation. Grant that there may be no lack of “labourers in the Lord’s vineyard”. Sanctify families. Watch over the souls of the young and the hearts of the children. Help us to overcome the great moral threats against the fundamental spheres of life and love. Obtain for us the grace to be continually renewed through all the beauty of witness given to the Cross and Resurrection of your Son.
How many problems, Mother, should I not present to you by name in this meeting! I entrust them all to you, because you know them best and understand them.
I entrust them to you in the place of the great consecration, from which one has a view not only of Poland but of the whole Church in the dimensions of countries and continents—the whole Church in your maternal heart.
I who am the first servant of the Church offer the whole Church to you and entrust it to you here with immense confidence, Mother. Amen.
Encyclical of Pope Saint John XXIII
ON PROMOTING DEVOTION TO THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
To his Venerable Brother Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See
Venerable brethren: greetings and apostolic blessings.
From the very outset of our pontificate, in speaking of daily devotions we have repeatedly urged the faithful (often in eager tones that frankly hinted our future design) to cherish warmly that marvelous manifestation of divine mercy toward individuals and Holy Church and the whole world redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ: we mean devotion to his Most Precious Blood.
From infancy this devotion was instilled in us within our own household. Fondly we still recall how our parents used to recite the Litany of the Most Precious Blood every day during July.
The Apostle’s wholesome advice comes to mind: “Keep watch, then, over yourselves, and over God’s Church, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops; you are to be the shepherds of that flock which he won for himself at the price of his own blood.” Now among the cares of our pastoral office, venerable brethren, we are convinced that, second only to vigilance over sound doctrine, preference belongs to the proper surveillance and development of piety, in both its liturgical and private expressions. With that in mind, we judge it most timely to call our beloved children’s attention to the unbreakable bond which must exist between the devotions to the Most Holy Name and Most Sacred Heart of Jesus — already so widespread among Christianns — and devotion to the incarnate Word’s Most Precious Blood, “shed for many, to the remission of sins.”
It is supremely important that the Church’s liturgy fully conform to Catholic belief (“the law for prayer is the law for faith”), and that only those devotional forms be sanctioned which well up from the unsullied springs of true faith. But the same logic calls for complete accord among different devotions. Those deemed more basic and more conducive to holiness must not be at odds with or cut off from one another. And the more individualistic and secondary ones must give way in popularity and practice to those devotions which more effectively actuate the fullness of salvation wrought by the “one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, who is a man, like them, and gave himself as a ransom for them all.”  Through living in an atmosphere thus charged with true faith and solid piety the faithful can be confident that they are “thinking with the Church” and holding fast in the loving fellowship of prayer to Christ Jesus, the high priest of that sublime religion which he founded and which owes to him its name, its strength, its dignity.
The Church’s wonderful advances in liturgical piety match the progress of faith itself in penetrating divine truth. Within this development it is most heart-warming to observe how often in recent centuries this Holy See has openly ap proved and furthered the three devotions just mentioned. From the Middle Ages, it is true, many pious persons prac ticed these devotions, which then spread to various dioceses and religious orders and congregations. Nevertheless it remained for the Chair of Peter to pronounce them orthodox and approve them for the Church as a whole.
Suffice it to recall the spiritual favors that our predecessors from the sixteenth century on have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which in the previous century St. Bernardine of Siena untiringly spread throughout Italy. Approval was given first to the Office and Mass of the Most Holy Name and later to the Litany. No less striking are the benefits the popes have attached to practicing devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose rise and spread owe so much to the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. So highly have all the popes regarded this devotion that again and again in their official acts they have expounded its nature, defended its validity, promoted its practice. Their crowning achievement on this devotion are three splendid encyclicals.
Likewise the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, which owes its marvellous diffusion to the 19th-century Ro man priest, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, has rightly merited the approval and backing of this Apostolic See. We may recall that by order of Benedict XIV the Mass and Office in honour of the divine Saviour’s adorable Blood were composed. And to fulfill a vow made at Gaeta Pius IX extended the feast to the whole Church. Finally, as a commemoration of the nineteenth centenary of our redemption, Pius XI of happy memory raised this feast to the rank of first-class double, so that the greater liturgical splendour would highlight the devotion and bring to men more abundant fruits of the re deeming Blood.
Following our predecessors’ example we have taken further steps to promote the devotion to the Precious Blood of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus Christ. We have approved the Litany of the Precious Blood drawn up by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and through special indulgences have encouraged its public and private recitation throughout the Catholic world. Amid today’s most serious and pressing spiritual needs, may this latest exercise of that “care for all the churches” proper to our sovereign office awaken in Christian hearts a firm conviction about the supreme abiding effectiveness of these three devotions.
As we now approach the feast and month devoted to honouring Christ’s Blood —- the price of our redemption, the pledge of salvation and life eternal — may Christians meditate on it more fervently, may they savour its fruits more frequently in sacramental communion. Let their meditations on the boundless power of the Blood be bathed in the light of sound biblical teaching and the doctrine of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. How truly precious is this Blood is voiced in the song which the Church sings with the Angelic Doctor (sentiments wisely seconded by our predecessor,Clement VI  )
Blood that but one drop of has the world to win all the world forgiveness of its world of sin. 
Unlimited is the effectiveness of the God-Man’s Blood — just as unlimited as the love that impelled him to pour it out for us, first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden, in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from out that great wide wound in his side which symbolizes the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church’s sacraments. Such sur passing love suggests, nay demands, that everyone reborn in the torrents of that Blood adore it with grateful love.
The Blood of the new and eternal covenant especially deserves this worship of latria when it is elevated during the sacrifice of the Mass. But such worship achieves its normal fulfilment in sacramental communion with the same Blood, indissolubly united with Christ’s eucharistic Body. In intimate association with the celebrant the faithful can then truly make his sentiments at communion their own: “I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. . . The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul for everlasting life. Amen.” Thus as often as they come worthily to this holy table they will receive more abundant fruits of the redemption and resurrection and eternal life won for all men by the Blood Christ shed “through the Holy Spirit.” Nourished by his Body and Blood, sharing the divine strength that has sustained count less martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day’s fortunes — even if need be to martyrdom itself ffor the sake of Christian virtue and the kingdom of God. Theirs will be the experience of that burning love which made St. John Chrysostom cry out:
Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church… This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works. 
If only Christians would reflect more frequently on the fatherly warning of the first pope: “Look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts.
You know well enough that your ransom was not paid in earthly currency, silver or gold; it was paid in the precious blood of Christ; no lamb was ever so pure, so spotless a victim.” If only they would lend a more eager ear to the apostle of the Gentiles: “A great price was paid to ransom you; glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence.” Their upright lives would then be the shining ex ample they ought to be; Christ’s Church would far more effectively fulfill its mission to men. God wants all men to be saved, for he has willed that they should all be ransomed by the Blood of his only-begotten Son; he calls them all to be members of the one Mystical Body whose head is Christ. If only men would be more responsive to these promptings of his grace, how much the bonds of brotherly love among individuals and peoples and nations would be strengthened. Life in society would be so much more peaceable, so much worthier of God and the human nature created in his image and likeness.
This is the sublime vocation that St. Paul urged Jewish converts to fix their minds on when tempted to nostalgia for what was only a weak figure and prelude of the new covenant: “The scene of your approach now is mount Sion, is the heavenly Jerusalem, city of the living God; here are gathered thousands upon thousands of angels, here is the assembly of those first-born sons whose names are written in heaven, here is God sitting in judgment on all men, here are the spirits of just men, now made perfect; here is Jesus, the spokesman of the new covenant, and the sprinkling of his blood, which has better things to say than Abel’s had.” 
We have full confidence, venerable brethren, that these fatherly exhortations of ours, once brought to the attention of your priests and people in whatever way you deem best, will be put into practice not just willingly but enthusiastically. As a sign of heavenly graces and our affection we im part our most heartfelt apostolic blessing to each of you and to all your flocks, and particularly to those who respond with devout generosity to the promptings of this letter.
Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, the eve of the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Most Precious Blood, June 30, 1960, the second year of our pontificate.
- Acts 20:28.
- Matthew 26 :2&
- Encyclical “On the Sacred Liturgy,” America Press edition (New York: 1954), No. 46.
- I Timothy 2:5-6.
- Acta Sanctae Sedis 18 (1886) :509.
- Cf. Office for the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 2nd nocturn, lesson 5.
- “On the Consecration of mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: 1903), 454– 461; “The Reparation Due to the Sacred Heart,” The Catholic Mind 26 (1928): 221-235; “On Devotion to the Sacred Heart,” The Pope Speaks 3 (1956): 115-149.
- Decree “Redempti Sumus,” Aug. 10, 1849, Decreta Authentica S.RC. (Rome: 1898), II, No. 2978.
- II Corinthians 11:28.
- Bull “The Only Begotten Son of God,” Jan. 25, 1343, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (St. Louis: 1957), No. 550.
- Hymn “Adoro te devote.” Translation from Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford: 1930), No. 89.
- Luke 22:43.
- Hebrews 9:14.
- “Homily 46,” Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (Fathers of the Church, New York: 1957), 469, 471-472.
- 1 Peter 1:17-19.
- I Corinthians 6:20.
- Cf. I Timothy 2:4.
- Cf. Genesis 1:26.
- Hebrews 12:22-24.