The month of July is, in tradition, dedicated to the Precious Blood. Pope Pius IX established a Feast of the Precious Blood in 1849, but this was building on a tradition dating back to scriptural times. The shedding of blood in the Old Testament is seen as a ‘sealing’ of the covenants made between God and his people, and indeed between the people themselves. And so the blood poured out by Jesus seals the ‘new and eternal covenant’ which – in His life, death and resurrection – is the expression and the revelation of God the Father’s love for each one of us.
To eat and drink at the Lord’s table, to have Communion with Christ in His self-giving, is at the heart of what it is to be a follower of the way of Christ; we have to have a personal and individual life of prayer and devotion but this is to underpin our common life, our communal following of the way of Christ. During these past dark months, a sharp focus has been brought to bear on the fact that we indeed do need each other, we rely on others to ensure that – quite literally – we have ‘our daily bread’.
At his live-streamed Masses from Casa Santa Marta at the Vatican, the Holy Father made a particular point of praying each day for those who ensured that our lives were kept as safe as possible and that our loved ones were cared for with dignity.
At the end of March, from a rain-drenched Saint Peter’s Square, he addressed the city of Rome and the whole world – Urbi et orbi – on the uncertainty, fear and fragility which have deeply affected us all in these past months:
‘The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by His cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by His cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from His redeeming love. In the midst of isolation, when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: He is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from His cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognise and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.’