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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Mighty Message of the Precious Blood: He Speaks for "Life!"

Author Susan Fox
by Susan Fox

“To the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.” (Heb 12:24)

So we learn in Hebrews that the Blood of Jesus Christ is mightier than that of the first martyr of Genesis -- the innocent Abel, victim of Cain’s envy and fratricide.

For though Abel still speaks from the dead, yet he is dust and to dust he shall return.  Not so Christ. “Earth does not cover over the blood of our Redeemer, for every sinner, as he drinks the blood that is the price of his redemption, offers praise and thanksgiving, and to the best of his power makes that blood known to all around him.” (From Reflections on Job by Pope St. Gregory the Great)

And what does the Blood of Christ say? Life!
He begs for life for His persecutors! The blood of Jesus calls out more eloquently than Abel’s, for the blood of Abel asked for the death of Cain, the fratricide, while the blood of the Lord has asked for, and obtained, life for his persecutors.” ( St. Gregory the Great)

“Is it possible to offer, or even to imagine, a purer kind of prayer than that which shows mercy to one’s torturer’s by making intercession for them?” the Holy Pope Gregory added. Yet His persecutors will no longer spare the lives of their unborn children, nor their own lives.  Cowards, they fear suffering so they ask doctors to bear the burden of their murders.

Yet the Precious Blood still speaks from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” More than ever that applies to the hurt inflicted on innocent people today.

But I have to laugh. It is Lent, and the Islamic State, which has kidnapped whole families, murdered people brutally by burning and beheading, is now threatening to kill Pope Francis. His response? In summary, that’s up to God. But I pray it won’t hurt.

In his prayer to God, Pope Francis said, “I ask you just one favor: that it doesn't hurt because I am a big wimp when it comes to physical pain.” Me too, Holy Father, I’m a wimp.

Was that not Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane? “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me.” Any sane, sensible person would pray that.

But the Mighty Message of the Precious Blood in the Garden is:  “Father, not My will, but Yours be done.”  Hmm. He echoes His Mother: “Be it done to me according to Your Word.”

"Don't lay a hand on the boy!" the angel said.
Do not hurt him in any way, 
The “cup” did pass Isaac, carrying his heavy burden of wood up Mount Moriah, apparently unaware that his father, Abraham, planned to sacrifice him when they arrived at the top. For  -- as a test -- God had asked Abraham to take his son, his “only son, whom you love,” and offer him as a burnt offering to God.

Abraham obeyed, and on the way up the mountain, Isaac poignantly reminds his father, that they have the wood and the fire, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

“God Himself shall provide the lamb for the sacrifice,” Abraham unknowingly prophesizes. Hark! Do you hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit? Slicing through time 2,000 years later, God Himself did indeed provide the Lamb for the sacrifice. Isaac was spared on Mount Moriah, and a ram offered in his stead. Abraham had so completely offered his son in his heart, that he received him back like one raised from the dead. (Heb 11:19)

But Jesus was truly, thoroughly and completely sacrificed on Mount Moriah.  “For God so loved the world He sent His only Son.” On the third day, His Father, mother and His friends received Him back –literally raised from the dead.

Publically identified as “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world,” Jesus was crucified at the summit of Mount Moriah, according to archeological evidence. “Mount Moriah, site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”

"Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the
sins of the world."
It was a literal fulfillment of Abraham’s offering of Isaac, "On the mount of the Lord it [the final offering for sin] will be provided." (Gen 22:14)

Dear God, in Jesus’ case I know it hurt.

Meditating on the Passion of Christ is a means of overcoming sin and growing in holiness. The priest who says Mass for us daily at the Augustine Institute in Denver advises us to say only the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary during Lent. Woe, my least favorite mysteries.

But for incentive consider the fact that of the 12 apostles, only John the Beloved was present at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion. But ALL the apostles (save Judas the Betrayer) were painfully martyred --  except John. He died of natural causes.

So over the centuries since Christ died, it has been very popular to meditate on the sufferings of Christ. It is said Our Lady herself walked back over the ground Christ covered during his final hours meditating on His Passion and Death. I have been told on good authority that we only know a small percentage of what He suffered.

But I also know not to ask God about the rest unless I am prepared to experience it myself.  Rwandan teenager Segatashya of Kibeho taught me that.

Segatashya of Kibeho
He had a series of visions of Jesus starting in the summer of 1982 when a beautiful voice said to him, “You there, my child! If you are given a message to deliver to the world, will you deliver it?” Sure he would. He wanted to deliver that message, according to  “The Boy who met Jesus: Segatashya of Kibeho” by Immaculee Ilibagiza.

What is so unusual about Segatashya is that he was literally that little pagan boy from Africa that we American Catholic kids always prayed for in the '50s and ‘60s. He couldn’t read even up to the day he died in the Rwandan genocide that killed more than a million innocent people in 100 days in 1994. It was a genocide he had witnessed 10 years before in a vision from His Friend, Jesus.

He wasn’t educated, having spent his childhood raising beans living in dire poverty. Yet he could accurately quote Scripture from memory, and knew Catholic prayers. But the Church uncovered evidence that nobody taught him anything about Christianity except Jesus Himself.

During the early ‘80s, Segatashya was allowed to ask Jesus anything and he shared the answers with the world from the heart of beautiful Africa.

He was a very curious boy. So, of course, he asked Jesus about the suffering He endured while on earth. The answers are reported in the findings of an official Commission of Enquiry conducted by the Roman Catholic Church.

Jesus answered Segatashya telling him of His sufferings recorded in the Bible: the beatings, carrying his own cross, the whipping, the crown of thorns, the way they nailed his hands and his feet, stuck a spear in his side. But there were 15 other tortures He suffered that people don’t know about. But Segatashya wanted to know them.  

What happened next in Segatashya's relationship with Christ is similar to what happened to St. Paul right after his conversion. When Ananias was sent to St. Paul to baptize him, the Lord said, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:15-16)

“Of course, I wanted to know every pain that the Lord endured for us because he did it for our salvation, so I asked him to tell me what they were,” Segatashya said, adding, “In retrospect, that was a big mistake on my part.”

Jesus sent his mother Mary to answer Segatashya’s questions about his unknown sufferings. She appeared to the joyful boy, ascertained he really wanted to know. “Before I had a chance to finish the sentence, I fell to the ground and felt like someone was smashing my body with clubs and iron rods. I shouted out in pain. There was darkness all around me; I was traveling through a landscape of pure suffering. I tried to stand up – but a great crushing weight kept knocking me back to the ground, as though boulders were being dropped on me from a great height.”

The curious boy begged Mary to stop answering his question, but “my eyes swelled shut. I felt like my spine had snapped in two and my leg bones had been splintered.”

“It seemed the battering would never end, but after my face smashed against the floor for the 15th time, whatever power had me in its grip released me,” he reported, adding “I lay on my back aching so bad I could barely breathe. I was sure my rib cage had been crushed and my lungs ripped open.”

Our Lady appeared and eased his suffering instantly, “My poor child,” she said soothingly. “I was always here to take away your pain. Now you know some of the suffering my son endured to take away the sins of the world.” **

So that’s why this wimp blogger won’t ask Our Lord about His suffering. However, I have picked up some information incidentally along the way without asking.

In fact when I was 11 years old, I quite innocently attended a Catholic Discussion Group led by the Legion of Mary. The topic was the sufferings of Christ according to a book written in the year of my birth, 1953, “A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ As Described by a Surgeon” by Pierre Barbet, M.D. Dr. Barbet studied the Holy Shroud of Turin to gather his medical evidence for the crucifixion. It’s advertised this way: “What the gospels don’t reveal about Christ’s suffering, science does.”

That Catholic discussion was 50 years ago, and I still remember it! Christ, whose feet were nailed to the cross, couldn’t breathe unless he used his legs to push His Body up. So for the entire three hours He hung on the cross, He stayed alive by struggling, suffocating and pushing up on the nails imprisoning His feet to the cross.

The Blood from the Feet of Christ speaks mightily to every single one of us: “I willed to die for you. I wanted to take away your sin -- even before you were born!”

Do you know those two great commandments? Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, strength and being, and your neighbor as yourself? We always focus on ourselves -- how we must love God and neighbor, but how often do we put on God’s glasses and look at ourselves?

Evidence of His Death on the cross demonstrates He loved each and every one of us passionately with His Whole Heart, His Whole Soul, His Whole Being and with His WHOLE STRENGTH.
Listen to this Catholic medical blogger, “Notes of an Anesthesioboist”, who read Doctor of Calvary in high school and wrote about it in 2009.

“Even now, years later, it's hard to be confronted with the Passion narratives without the thought of Christ as a doomed patient who suffered a fate worse than death before finally dying in one of the worst ways imaginable.  I'm amazed he had the presence of mind even to recite psalms as he did.  If he had been taken down from the cross and brought into my Operating Room for resuscitation, I don't know if we could have saved him,” she wrote, explaining in medical terms that He suffered fluid loss, low electrolytes, and he was “hypoxic (deadly lack of oxygen in the blood) and hypercarbic (high carbon dioxide) from the slow suffocation caused by hanging on the cross.”

“To be honest, I can get distracted identifying with what I imagine to have happened to him.  The excruciating agony of nails being hammered through bone.  The muscles cramps. The claustrophobic sense of panic at being pinned to something in an uncomfortable position. The unrelenting pain of head wounds, scourge wounds, bruises from beatings.  The asphyxia.  I can't get past these very physical, physiologic things.”

The physical sufferings are only a small part of Jesus’ Passion. Consider the shock of the people watching the crucifixion. They had witnessed Him raise the dead, heal the sick, forgive sins, and expel demons. Now He did nothing to defend Himself.

The envious chief priests, scribes and elders gloated over His sufferings. They taunted Him: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"  (Matt 27:42-43) Even the criminals taunted Him: “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!’" (Luke 23:39)

Excruciating Humility is the response of the Precious Blood in that moment. The Lamb of God was silent in the face of such persecution. He let the insults go unanswered.

There is so much more. Christ’s Blood speaks
courageously in silence during the scourging. In the Garden, it encouraged His apostles to pray so they would withstand the coming temptations. It poured from His Head while the soldiers crowned Him with thorns. He, the True King of all Nations, was regally silent when His Kingship was mocked. The Blood was kind, working miracles as He met grieving people while carrying His cross. The Precious Blood was generous giving His own mother to mankind from the cross.

The Blood withstood the arrogance of Pilate, admonishing him in the midst of his pride: “So Pilate said to Him, "You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?" Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." (John 19:10-11)

A priest friend of mine one night looked up at the cross and saw Christ actually present suffering on the cross. Strangely, Christ was smiling, the priest said. “Is that you Lord?” he asked with a painful squint.

“Yes, it’s Me.”

“Why are you smiling, Lord?”

“I’m smiling because I’m happy I died for you,” Christ simply told the priest.

It is the same message found in the physical evidence of the crucifixion. It is the same message Early Christians shared in their eyewitness accounts of these events recorded in Holy Scripture.

But the Blood of our Redemption still speaks. Now it is never silent. To make sure He was dead after the crucifixion, they pieced His side with a spear, “And immediately blood and water came out.” (John 19:34)

And a New Birth took place. 

The Church, the Precious Bride of Christ, was born from His Side. Just as God took a rib from Adam to make Eve, so Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection created the New Eve, the Church destined to be living mother to God’s children until the end of time.

"O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!" (Prayer from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy)

The red and white rays from the side of
Jesus, Divine Mercy, represent the
life-giving Blood of the Eucharist
 and the waters of Baptism
The Living Blood from the side of Christ flows into the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, of which all the faithful may partake, Baptism once for all sin, and Eucharist daily to strengthen us in the journey. “The blood that is drunk, the blood of redemption, is itself the cry of our Redeemer,” Pope Saint Gregory said.  

Then there are the cool white robes we get to wear in the next life after we survive the tribulation. Strangely, they are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and made white. (Rev. 7:14)

Who knew? Tide is not necessary, only the Blood of Christ.

Christ, Our High Priest,
makes atonement for our sins 
“But you have come to Christ, the true high priest. Through his blood he has made God turn to you in mercy and has reconciled you with the Father. You must not think simply of ordinary blood but you must learn to recognize instead the blood of the Word. Listen to him as he tells you: This is my blood, which will be shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. (From a homily on Leviticus by Origen)

**Lest you think Our Lord and Our Lady were mean to the teenager Segatashya of Kibeho, they were actually kind. He was being prepared for one of the most difficult apostolates I’ve ever read about. His message was rejected, he was subjected to beatings, prison, he witnessed atrocities and demonic attacks. Plus he knew he would be killed at a young age in the Rwandan Genocide, and I’m sure he faced that with courage and trust in Our Lord, happy and joyful to be seeing his Friend at last.

Did you enjoy this piece? Maybe you would like a Lenten poem by Susan Fox on "The Beloved." It refers to the Beloved Son of God, Jesus Christ.


  1. From another big wimp: I loved this piece. I am hoping and praying that one day Mother Church will restore the Feast of the Most Precious Blood to us. It used to be in July, but was joined to the Feast of Corpus Christi after Vatican II. What would be the benefit of a separate feast? It would give us another opportunity to contemplate just how the Blood was separated from Our Lord's Body. And you have given us many things to ponder on this subject, Susan. If anyone would like to read a beautiful book about devotion the the Precious Blood, I can recommend the one by Fr. Frederick Faber entitled The Precious Blood: or, The Price of Our Salvation, still available from TAN Books.

  2. This is an extraordinary post! Yes, we try to "flee" from the Cross because it makes us "uncomfortable"; we have to face our sins, we have to face them being literally smashed, whipped, crushed into Love Himself. God bless you for this lovely piece of work. He loves us, we must learn how to love Him.